Canon has of course, been providing video capability in its DSLRs since the ground-breaking EOS 5D Mark II. And the EOS 650D inherits many of the same specs as its predecessor, the EOS 600D, including Full HD 1920 x 1080 output at 30 fps, manual exposure control and basic in-camera editing capability for trimming the beginning and end of clips. There are some notable differences though.

The 650D adds built-in stereo microphones that sits just forward of the flash hotshoe. The manual audio controls also now include an attenuator for use in situations where sudden loud noises may cause clipping. You can also enable 'Movie Servo' continuous AF in video mode. Gone, however, is the digital zoom option found in the EOS 600D.

Video specification

The 650D offers progressive HD video capture at 1080p resolution and 30 or 25 frames per second, or 720p resolution and 60 or 50 frames per second, with the available frame rate dictated by whether you have switched the camera to NTSC or PAL video mode. There's also a 24fps option for 1080p irrespective of the video system you've selected.

The camera's built-in internal microphones provide stereo audio, and there is also a 3.5mm socket for using an external microphone. You can manually adjust the sound recording levels, with both wind filter and attenuator options available via the menu system.

Sizes 1920x1080p: 30/24 fps (NTSC), 25/24 fps (PAL)
1280x720p (HD): 60 fps (NTSC), 50 fps (PAL)
640x480 (SD): 30 fps (NTSC), 25 fps (PAL)
Audio 44.1kHz Mono (Internal Mic), Linear PCM
Format .MOV MPEG-4 AVC, H.264
File size 330 MB/min (1080P), 330 MB/min (720P), 82.5 MB/min (VGA)
Running time 22 min for 1080P, 22 min for 720p, 1h, 32min for VGA

Using movie mode

With the EOS 650D, accessing movie mode has become simpler. Movie mode now sits as a third position on the power switch (as opposed to occupying a mode dial position as on the EOS 600D). This means that from any shooting mode it is always just one click away. Engaging full manual exposure control has also been made easier. While in movie mode just set the shooting mode dial to M and you can adjust shutter speed, aperture and ISO.

You might reasonably expect that setting the mode dial to A or S would allow for changing just the aperture or shutter speed respectively, but it does not. Those values can only be changed with the mode dial set to M, meaning you must adjust both while watching the exposure indicator until you get a 'normal' metering reading.

Exposure compensation is available in P, A, and S modes. And with any of the camera's scene modes active you can select the AF mode and video quality setting. Video capture is initiated by pressing the Record / Live View button just to the right of the viewfinder.

You have a choice of three autofocus modes you can select before recording - Face Detection (with subject tracking), FlexiZone-Single (user defined AF point) or FlexiZone-Multi (automated AF point selection). Regardless of which AF setting you've chosen, when 'AF w/shutter button during filming' is set to 'On' you can force the camera to reacquire focus with a half-press of the shutter button. Of course you can also choose to focus manually.

All of the touchscreen benefits we enjoyed in shooting stills carry over in video mode as well. The Quick Control menu offers a fast way to adjust settings and you can set the AF point simply by tapping the screen. The camera's articulated LCD screen aids greatly in shooting video from very low or high angles, or simply manoeuvering the screen in a more shaded position for glare-free viewing.

Even the movie edit screen gains touch controls; here you can trim the start and end points.

In our EOS 600D review, we noted that focusing in video mode was that camera's Achilles heel. Canon has sought to address that with its introduction of a completely new 'hybrid AF' system in the EOS 650D that makes use of phase detection in combination with contrast detection AF methods. One of the more obvious benefits of this hybrid approach is that phase detection AF will ensure (for objects in the central area of the frame) that the lens begins its initial focus search in the correct direction, rather than racking all the way through its focus range before 'locating' the subject. This obviously makes for more pleasant-looking video footage. The 650D also breaks ground by offering continuous AF in video mode - dubbed 'Movie Servo'.

While the results of these changes show noticeable improvement over the EOS 600D, AF in video mode is, unfortunately, still slow. In our time spent using the camera, we've not been able to reliably maintain focus on objects moving to or away from the camera at even a moderate walking pace. As it stands it's hard to envision situations in which continuous AF that is this slow has any practical benefits for tracking moving subjects. As with the EOS 600D, we still recommend shooting video in manual focus, or at the very least pre-focusing the lens with a half-shutter button press before you start recording.

Video snapshot mode has gotten a minor, but useful update as well. As with the EOS 600D, video snapshot mode allows you to record very short clips (of either 2, 4 or 8 seconds) and combine them into an album for sequential playback. You can even add background music. The EOS 650D adds the welcome ability to change the playback order of the album's clips, giving you an option other than the default chronological sequence. You can now also delete clips from albums. is still obviously a mode geared to the point-and-shoot crowd, but we're glad that the seemingly arbitrary inability to change clip order has been changed.

You can also capture still images while recording video by pressing the shutter button. This leaves an obvious gap in the recorded video, however, as well as adding a very audible mirror flip to the clip.

Movie mode displays

When set to movie mode, the camera's shooting menus display two additional tabs with movie-specific control options.

The first movie menu allows you to configure how the camera handles focus and button operation during movie recording as well as enable a grid display. The second screen allows choice over options including frame rate and sound recording options. You can enable video snapshot mode here as well.
You can manually set the recording volume to ensure adequate audio levels without clipping and distortion. In movie mode you can cycle through four information screens displaying shooting information, camera settings and a histogram.

Video quality

As with previous entry and mid-range Canon DSLRs before it, the 650D's video image quality is quite good with pleasing colors and contrast. It does impressively well at high ISOs, as you can see in our video samples below. Exposure is generally spot on, and for more challenging situations like strongly backlit subjects, you have easy access to exposure compensation to give the footage a bit of a 'lift'. You can shoot video in any of the camera's Picture Styles.

When its APS-C sensor is combined with a reasonably fast lens, the EOS 650D offers the opportunity for creative use of shallow depth of field, something that will be a revelation to anyone used to shooting video with their smartphone or compact camera.

The 650D gets a pair of stereo microphones - a first for a Canon DSLR. Sound recording is pleasant enough, aided by the manual control over audio levels and a visual sound meter. Budding filmmakers have the option of connecting an external mic via the camera's 3.5mm socket. But for the vast majority of users the built-in mics will more than suffice.

While we're on the subject of sound, however, its worth noting that you can hear the focusing mechanism in quiet shooting scenarios on each of the kit lens options other than the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens. Focusing with the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens is significantly quieter than the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II zoom, but audible nonetheless.

Sample video 1

This video highlights the EOS 650D's auto exposure as well as the audio capabilities of its built-in stereo microphones. The camera was set to Flex-Single AF using the default 'Movie Servo' continuous autofocus mode. The wind filter is disabled for maximum sound quality. With the mic levels set to 'Auto', the vocals have good presence and are well balanced between the lead and background voices. There is, however, audible wind noise in the clip.

You will also notice that when a passerby walks briskly through the frame, this causes the camera's metering system to set a temporary (and much delayed) lowering of the exposure level.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 29 sec, 172.7 MB Click here to download original .MOV file

Sample video 2

This video clip highlights the directional capabilities of the built-in microphones at their default 'Auto' sound levels. With the mics to the side of, rather than directly in front of the sound source, the vocals and banjo playing are perhaps slightly muffled. Yet the audio still maintains a fairly impressive presence. Crowd noise emanating from behind the camera is rather prominent, however.

The AF point was set in the center of the frame on the musician's face. With Movie Servo (continuous autofocus) enabled, you can see a bit of focus hunting as the musician moves his head within the central area of the frame.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 29 sec, 173.4 MB Click here to download original .MOV file

Sample videos 3 and 4

You can shoot video on the 650D with a great deal of manual control over both exposure and image settings, which gives you plenty of creative options. In this first clip, the camera is set to auto exposure. Here this has resulted in a shutter speed of 1/250 sec. which 'freezes' the falling water, giving it an unnatural look. The camera was also set to the Monochrome color mode with a sepia tint.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 5 sec, 34.1 MB Click here to download original .MOV file

By manually setting the camera to its minimum (for video) shutter speed of 1/30 sec. you can achieve a much more pleasing and natural-looking result.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 11 sec, 66 MB Click here to download original .MOV file

Sample video 5

This video was shot in lowlight at ISO 6400 using the EF 40mm f/2.8 at its widest aperture. The camera was set to manual focus and panned while mounted on a tripod. While noise and some color artifacts are visible, the output here is nonetheless quite impressive. At this ISO I was able to use a shutter speed of 1/100 sec., which means you have the ability to shoot eminently usable nighttime handheld video with only available light; a huge benefit for those doing documentary or reportage.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 31 sec, 185.8 MB Click here to download original .MOV file

Sample video 6

This video was shot using the EF-S 18-55 IS kit zoom. Image stabilization was enabled and you can see how well it does in steadying this handheld pan. It also highlights, however, the very audible sounds of this lens' focus mechanism.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 18 sec, 108.8 MB Click here to download original .MOV file