There is no doubt at all in my mind that Canon’s move from 700D to 750/760D is a good one, and that the increase in pixel-count and processing power will have a very positive effect on the desirability of this class of EOS DSLR. I’ve long thought Canon’s 18-million-pixel sensors something of half-way house - neither high nor low in resolution - and that they sit in a peculiar position in the market.
Not that a sensor’s relationship to other brands and bodies is always forefront of mind in the likely customer of the upper end of Canon’s entry class. Neither indeed has that oddity of pixel count had an impact on how successful these sensors have been.
It is remarkable, with the arrival of these 700 series EOS bodies, that now the latest entry level cameras from both of the main players in the DSLR market feature a 24-million-pixel resolution. Indeed, now Canon finds itself in a situation where cameras from the entry sector disrespectfully out-class its glorious hero, the EOS 5D III, when it comes to the number of pixels on the sensor. That will take some explaining in camera stores all around the globe!
Readers of DPReview will know that pixel-count is far from everything and that volume of pixels alone does not a professional camera make, but it is a truth not universally acknowledged.
Splitting the atom
What may also take some explaining is the actual, factual, difference between the Canon’s non-identical and unequally gifted near-twins, the EOS 750D and EOS 760D. You are probably better informed about camera equipment than is the majority of the population and are more likely to appreciate the importance of certain features and functions. You may well see quite clearly that a lack of AF servo in drive and movie shooting in the 750D makes it a lesser camera than the 760D. You will see too that the inclusion of an electronic level, a locking mode dial and a top-plate LCD makes the 760D actively more useful.
|The Rebel T6s / EOS 760D offers a handling experience much more similar to higher-end EOS DSLRs than the slightly cheaper Rebel T6i.|
What less informed people may see though, when the cameras are next to each other on the shelf, is that they have different control layouts and different price tags.
The headline spec on the point-of-sale display will be the same, so the immediate conclusion could be that placing the exposure mode dial on the shooter’s left, adding an old-fashioned top plate display panel and using a thumb wheel instead of four-button ring is going to cost the photographer an extra 8%. Is one layout really more valuable than the other? And how much are we prepared to pay for a lock on our exposure mode dial? Perhaps we might ask how cheated we feel at having to pay extra for something we obviously need. Just how loose has Canon made that dial on the 750D to make us want a lock?
We all like an upgrade
The idea of paying to upgrade a standard service is nothing new in other industries, but it rarely comes to the camera market in such an obvious way. You can pay for extra leg room on a plane, a nicer seat in the theatre and of course extra airbags, more gears, wider wheels and better sound system in a car. As far as I can remember though, Canon has never offered us two cameras with the same sensor and asked us to pay more for one, to get some extra features before. It is common enough in the compact market for brands to produce exclusive models for mass market retailers, usually with fewer features than the version that goes market-wide, but that doesn’t usually happen to DSLRs.
Canon’s idea is that the 750D is designed for the user moving up from lower end, or older, EOS models. The 760D is intended to catch the eye of the enthusiast looking for a fully-featured lower-cost body; the aspiring EOS 7D II owner working their way upwards or the photographer who already owns a high end EOS looking for a second body. The similarity in layout between the 760D, the EOS 6D and the EOS 70D and 7D ll, as well as the EOS 5D lll, would make the cheaper camera it an ideal companion in a sticky situation. When the shoot needs to continue we’d rather welcome a handling experience that mirrors that of the body which just died.
Whether lower end users will find it quite so necessary to feel at home as they progress upwards is a different matter – sometimes a change of handling is a physical indication of our progress and symbolic of the step we are taking. The whole idea of having alternative designs forces us to question whether there is such a thing as a more 'professional' layout of camera controls, and whether the button/dial interface of the 750D is easier to use or simply not as good.
|The Rebel T6s / EOS 750D is designed in the 'classic' Rebel way, with no top-plate mounted LCD screen and with the exposure mode dial on the upper-right of the body.|
I wonder also where this leaves the poor EOS 700D user who would like to upgrade to make the most of the new sensor, DIGIC 6 processor, the new abundance of AF points and better AF system. If he or she goes to the EOS 750D for the sake of a familiar control layout, that familiarity comes at the cost of servo AF in live view and manual exposure in movie mode. If he or she wants to retain that AF servo feature it will be necessary to learn the new handling language of the EOS 760D without simultaneously progressing in a significant way up the EOS ladder.
Doubling up, double standards and duplicity
While Canon will of course present this double vision as one of unbeatable benefit to the consumer, we all know that is never the end of the story. Will Canon sell more of the two bodies combined than it would if the company had simply introduced one? I doubt that having two will increase total sales, but it may well help to maintain a decent price for specialist retailers (and Canon) for longer.
|The original Digital Rebel (left) side-by-side with the EOS 10D. In 2003, the Digital Rebel offered photographers most of the features of the more expensive, metal-bodied 10D (including the sensor) but at a significantly lower price.|
In the turbulent entry-level market cameras are often caught in destructive price wars, as large scale retailers drop prices quickly and dramatically to gain volume and share. Those actions force specialist stores to follow, and lead them to a situation where they can’t make enough money selling DSLRs to survive. By producing versions for different end-users perhaps Canon is giving the larger retailers something to do battle with, while the more specialist stores can stand apart and do proper business with a variation that will appeal to their more advanced audience.
The reason the EOS 760D costs more than the EOS 750D needs explaining in way that mass market retailers simply can’t manage. Consequently, the EOS 750D will probably be their model of choice. Specialist dealers do have the time, the interest and the skills to go into detail, and should understand the benefits of actively selling. When the principles of what separates these bodies is made clear, I suspect that most keen and budding photographers will think the extra asked for the EOS 760D money well spent. Those stores that can’t tell the difference will sell more 750D bodies.
Choice, not compromise
In the past I have objected to the dual bodies which forced us to pick one feature over the other – such as the EOS 1D/1Ds and Nikon’s D1X/D1H that made us choose between resolution and speed, when in an ideal world we should have been offered both facilities at once. This EOS 750D/760D concept is a different situation however, and I rather admire Canon for trying it.
If it has been done just to help maintain margin in a competitive market I really don’t mind, as we need specialist retailers to survive so we can ask them questions, get them to demonstrate tripods and let us try on lenses. The extra choice it offers entry-level shooters to not buy features they don’t need or understand is a good thing, and if the handling of the EOS 750D really is easier to grasp… well how can helping a new photographer be bad? That high-end users can now stoop a little lower for a back-up body, without learning a new handling system, is also a positive step – even if they find their back-up now has more pixels than their main machine!
Good luck with it
This dual body concept is a very interesting idea, and I will be fascinated to see what difference it makes and how photographers receive it. Its success will rely on retailers making the most of what suits their customers and the differences being explained in a clear way – or a choice not being offered at all when what is needed is obvious. If it works we might see the idea translated to other segments of the EOS line and implemented in different ways – perhaps where full frame meets professional video.
What complicates this issue, of course, is that Canon will continue to offer the EOS 700D (Rebel T5i) alongside this pair of new bodies. I’m not sure how many times I’d be able to stand behind the counter making clear the difference between those three to a novice photography without my head melting.
Damien Demolder is a senior contributing writer for DPReview and the former editor of Amateur Photographer Magazine, the world's oldest weekly photographic publication. www.damiendemolder.com
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