Operation and controls

Top of camera controls

The EOS 650D has much the same set of controls as its predecessor, with just a few small (but helpful) differences. Immediately behind the shutter button is the main control dial that's used directly to change the primary exposure setting (program shift, shutter speed, or aperture), or other settings in concert with the various buttons. Next there's the ISO button, which is extremely well-placed for operation with the camera to your eye; you simply press it then spin the dial to change the value, which is displayed in the optical viewfinder.

The main power switch surrounds the mode dial. Flicking it beyond the ON position to the movie camera icon puts the camera into movie mode. The mode dial has a plethora of scene modes, including the new multiple exposure-based Hand Held Night Scene and Backlit HDR options.

Rear Controls

The back of the camera follows the familiar Canon layout, with most of the buttons clustered together for operation by your right hand. The two buttons on the shoulder of the camera are used for auto exposure lock and to reposition the active focus point. In playback mode these buttons zoom in and out of the image.

The button beside the viewfinder serves dual purposes. When shooting stills, pressing it switches the camera into Live View mode for composition using the rear screen. With the camera's power switch set to movie mode, however, this button initiates and ends the video recording process. On the other side of the finder we have the menu button and next to it the 'Info' button that's used to cycle between different screen information views.

Alongside the LCD we have the small triangular exposure compensation button and, below it, the 'Q' button which activates the Quick Control screen, which is now touch sensitive. In the image above you can see the touch buttons on display during live view. A 4-way controller offers direct access to drive mode, white balance, autofocus mode and Picture Style, with a button used for confirming settings in its center. Underneath are the playback and delete keys.

Front Controls

The front of the camera has just two controls, both on one side of the lens throat. The flash button is used to pop-up the built-in unit, and below it is the depth of field preview button that stops down the lens to show the effect of the aperture on the final image, a function that is particularly useful in live view, with its bright clear image.

As you'd expect in an entry-level SLR, there's precious little in the way of customization available - the buttons control the functions printed on them, and can't be manually reassigned to anything else. The exception to this is in live view, when the 4-way controller is re-dedicated to moving the autofocus point, and its usual functions moved to the Quick Control menu. This behavior isn't new and with previous Rebel models we've noted that for some new users, this inconsistency can be confusing. Yet with the 650D's wide-armed embrace of touchscreen operation, users may be more apt to seek out these settings via the touchscreen in the first place.