Cosmetic changes on the housing of the camera indicate that at least one of the serious criticisms leveled at the predecessor has been replied to:
The Canon 1200D is more or less similar to its predecessor as far as the shape is concerned, but the entire design is on a significantly higher level. The body with the same dimensions as before (130 x 100 x 78) is somewhat lighter than the 1100D (480 grams), and the reduction in weight was achieved by increasing the overall firmness of the structure by using composite materials instead of a classic plastic housing. That is how Canon introduced the monocoque structure even in the lowest class; it combines carbon fiber with plastic elements, and most of it relies on the basis made of aluminum alloy. In comparison to the majority of similar actions, here there is absolutely nothing to indicate that all this happened with an intention to economize since composite materials are anything but cheaper.
The new camera seems more robust when carried in hands, the comfort of use has been raised to a higher level, mostly thanks to the embossed rubber lid, which replaced the detestable smooth surface, due to which using in the conditions of heavy perspiration was like a nightmare for owners of the EOS 1100D. As we mentioned the robustness, let's say that the curtain is mechanical and it is estimated at 100,000 actuations on average, which fits the usual values.
The mount is compatible with all the EF and EF-S lenses that have ever been produced, but without limitations, which is one of the items that Canon is particularly proud of. For a reason, we must point out, even though the EF lens is ranked as relatively ‘young’.
SENSOR, PROCESSOR, AND A FEW MORE THINGS
The sensor is one of those things that are not bad in essence, but at the same time point to a lack of inventiveness in Canon and a wish to sell a couple of more millions of cameras on account of their reputation. A few years ago, at this stage of the review, we would predict bad results if this policy continued, and now we are no longer sure of our ability to predict, so we can just state that this may not be the last camera that carries this sensor. To put it simply, the passivity that the lower part of Canon’s offer exudes leaves us speechless. For those who are not bothered by business policy and who can enjoy photography despite it, we will say that this is a sensor which dates from 2009, which somehow still keeps up with the modern times, but is more than ready to be replaced, since in technological terms, a period of 5 years is almost ancient history.
For those who are not that conversant, this is a Canon APS-C sensor produced in the CMOS technology, with the highest resolution for that format - 18MP (more precisely – 5184 x 3456). The crop factor 1.6x, which is indicated by the acronym APS-C (Advanced Photo System Type-C), represents a multiplier by means of which the equivalent focal length and the FOV (Field-of-view) are achieved in relation to the 35mm full-frame sensor, also known as Leica frame. In this concrete example, this means that the kit lens EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II on this body provides a coverage roughly equivalent to that of a 29-88mm lens on the 35mm sensor, which is obtained by multiplying the specified focal length with the corresponding crop factor.
The reason for our resignation at the beginning of the article is based on one specificity that has to do with the last generations of this sensor. Namely, primarily with the EOS 650D, Canon started introducing the Hybrid-CMOS technology into this class, which provides considerably better autofocus in the live view mode, and at the same time, in the video mode. This suitable ‘trifle’, which at least partially managed to compensate for the advanced age of the sensor, magically disappeared from the list of its characteristics! Reasons? There are no logical ones, so the only plausible explanation seems to be the idea of separating beginner from advanced cameras more clearly. To tell the truth, this is common practice in the world of technology, but we believe that Canon could try to be more like its competitors and draw a thicker line below which no one should be allowed to go. In this way, we find ourselves in a situation in which a ‘new’ camera not only is not new, but it also takes over characteristics from the models that have been around for several generations!
‘Methuselah’ of the semiconductor industry – 18MP Canon CMOS *
The basic ISO range is the same as with the 1100D. It begins with 100 and expands to 6400, yet in comparison to the predecessor, the new model features expanded ISO 12800 (labeled with an H).
The Digic IV processor is… yes, you read it correctly. The camera that has been announced in 2014 features the central processor that dates back to the age when the 18MP sensor was announced for the first time! Some would say this is “unacceptable”, while we consider this even expected since the missing of the hybrid focus right from the start imposes the limitations because of which a newer and better processor would not bring any major benefit in any sense.
Canon Digic 4 processor*
The dust reduction system, whose absence we criticized on the predecessor, was left out from the list of specifications yet again! The limits to which the process of economizing in the lowest Canon class goes is almost unbelievable! Unfortunately, as we predicted in some previous reviews, general trends do not start only from one company; in order for a trend to grow, it is necessary that more of those companies accept the same system. It is a fact that Canon, although the first among famous companies, is not the only one to have adopted the policy of giving less than expected regarding technical elements, and the epilogue of such a company policy is in front of our eyes at this very moment. We have almost reached the stage where we are happy when nothing is left out!
Fortunately, the light meter survived the effects of economizing, so it is a still excellent two-layer 63-zone iFCL system of metering that, according to Canon, apart from the incoming light, meters the color spectrum as well, at the same time analyzing information received from each of the 9 AF points and giving attention to the subject in focus, regardless of the currently selected mode, which is precisely what the acronym iFCL stands for (intelligent Focus, Color and Luminance). The 63 zones provide more accurate metering since the average light is collected from considerably smaller individual areas, and as it is well-known that digital sensors are particularly sensitive to red tones, additional balance was achieved by two-layer metering, whereby each of the layers is sensitive to different wavelengths of light. One layer is specially turned to the red-green spectrum, whereas the other is aimed at the blue-green. In this way, wrong metering when red tones dominate the frame is maximally avoided, which is a famous weak point of digital sensors. There are three modes of metering: the Evaluative, which has to do with all the AF points and makes sure the light obtained by sampling the entire scene is reduced to average; the Partial, which meters 10% of the central frame zone; and the Center-weighted average, which meters the average with the stress on the central zone. The Spot metering is, as is the case of all previous Canon cameras of this class, left out from the list. In comparison to some other things, we do not consider this such a major handicap, bearing in mind the target class of this model.
Two-layer 63-zone RGB sensor of light metering* and a schematic representation of the metering zone
The autofocus system was taken over from the predecessor, and its improvement, in addition to everything we have seen so far concerning the rest of the key elements, would be splitting hairs. Nonetheless, this AF system is still competitive, as rival models do not offer anything extremely more advanced. This is a solid, phase Multi-BASIS TTL AF system with 9 points arranged in a shape of a rhomboid, one of which is central-type.
TTL-SIR autofocus sensor with 9 AF points *
The percentage of the frame that is covered by the points is mediocre, but it can be said that it enables composing without the need for too much reframing. There are three standard AF modes to choose from: the One-shot, which is used the most, after focusing locks the AF point until the shutter is released; the AI-Servo, which continuously tracks the mobile subject with a selected point; and the last one, the AI-Focus, which represents a combination of the previous two – firstly, it focuses with a selected point and gives confirmation (audio and light), and in case it registers movement of the focused subject, it automatically switches to the servo mode and continues tracking until releasing. Each of the three modes can be used with one point selected in advance, or with the Automatic Selection method of selecting points, when the camera determines the active points by itself, mostly in relation to the closest subject that is covered by the focusing field.
The AF-Assist, a function of ancillary light when focusing in low-light conditions, does not feature a dedicated lamp, but is performed with the built-in flash, with a series of short (and often irritating) flashes, by which it helps the AF system. The good thing about this AF-Assist function is the fact that all the AF points are covered instead of only the central ones, which is a frequently applied solution on other cameras. In addition to this way, the AF-Assist can be entrusted to the IC lamp of the flashgun or to the ST-E2 Wireless Transmitter.
The optical viewfinder is based on the pentamirror, which is common for this class. The frame coverage is 95%, and the magnification is 0.80x. The Eye-point, i.e. the maximum distance of the eye from the viewfinder at which it is possible to encompass the entire frame is 21mm, which is suitable for people who wear glasses. There is also a dial for regulating the diopter, and its operational range is from -3.0 to +1.0.
The focusing screen is fixed, and all the 9 points are engraved and as such – permanently shown in the viewfinder. The points themselves are additionally lightened with red during confirmation or selection, and what the view looks like can be seen in the following illustration (the red rectangle indicates the percentage of the encompassed view in the frame):
Viewfinder of the EOS 1200D
The sum of information and parameters that are encompassed by the view in the viewfinder, from left to right, are the following: the locked exposure indicator (AE-Lock); the flash activation indicator; the indicator of the locked power of the flash in the E-TTL mode (FE-Lock); the high-speed flash mode indicator; the flash compensation indicator; the current exposure duration; the aperture; the light meter scale with the range of ±2; the Highlight Tone Priority function indicator; the ISO value; the white balance correction indicator; the indicator of the monochromatic color style activation; the number of images that can be taken in the burst mode; and the focus confirmation indicator.
CONTROLS AND OTHER DETAILS
The arrangement and functions of the controls have not changed much, yet those conversant will easily spot some minor modifications. The look from the front is as usual. The central place is occupied by an EF/EF-S mount, to the left is a relatively narrow (yet comfortable enough) grip, covered with high-quality embossed rubber, whose texture reminds of the skin. In the area between the grip and the mount, there is an LE diode, which signals postponed shutter releasing and carries out removing of the red-eye effect, provided that the built-in flash is used. We notice straight away the absence of the infrared receiver for remote releasing, which may seem banal, but represents a really serious fault. Since the IC releases do not cost much, and they can increase the camera usability to the unimagined limits, we consider bizarre, to say the least, the decision that this class should continue insisting on basic controls, even though the direct rival in this class (Nikon D3300) offers not one, but two (!) IR receivers so that users could take control regardless of their position in relation to the camera! We would exaggerate if we said that we did not expect insisting on this fault. Finally, when such a number of things are sacrificed so that the camera would be distanced as much as possible from the higher model in the hierarchy, anything else was not to be expected.
The most noticeable detail on the right side of the camera is the label, below which is a big button for disengaging the lens in order to remove it. Above is a miniature mono microphone intended for recording sound in the video mode, and we notice that the control for lifting the built-in flash is missing once again, just as with the EOS 1100D. We believe that this brought considerable economization in the production. After all, the well-being of buyers is the most important thing, isn’t it?
The look from above is very minimalistic, so we will not spend too much time describing it. The central position, as always, is occupied by the pentamirror housing, within which is a built-in flash, as well as an ISO-518 hot shoe of the flashgun. To the left is a miniature mono microphone, by which the camera signals the confirmation of focus or postponed releasing, and at the same time it is used to emit audio components of the video recording. The arrangement from the pentamirror to the right is a little tighter. The toothed mode selector has 13 positions intended for photo and video modes, and at its base is a mechanical switch by means of which the camera is turned on/off.
The mode selector, aside from the modern version of the FullAuto mode, named Scene-Intelligent Auto, marked with a green symbol, has got two more completely automatic modes. One is No-Flash, which prevents the use of the built-in flash, regardless of the conditions, while the other is the so-called Creative-Auto, which interactively leads a user to select adequate parameters for the situation that he/she is in, without too much emphasis on technical details. In addition to the aforesaid, the camera features classic creative modes, too: Manual (M), Aperture priority (Av), Shutter priority (Tv) and Program AE (P), which provide much greater control of basic parameters that the camera offers. There is also a set of five scene modes at one’s disposal, which laymen will use gladly (at least in the beginning) as they make it easy to work in certain circumstances: Portrait, Landscape, Close-Up, Sports, Night Portrait. The last mode is aimed at the video mode.
On the most bulging part of the grip, on the place where the index finger of the right hand fits naturally, is a two-level shutter button. The first level is used for measuring and focusing, whereas the second performs final releasing and taking of an image. A little moved backwards in relation to the shutter button is a front (in this class, one and only) control dial, whose role changes depending on the selected mode. It can be aperture, exposure or, when used in combination with some other controls, some less important function. On the previous generation, the last button made us feel slight disbelief – instead of the ISO button, which was situated on this spot most frequently, now is a button for activating the built-in flash. This time we were not surprised like last time, yet staring at this solution in disbelief persists.
Not easily noticeable at first sight, yet the same scattering of controls and subfunctions occurred with the rear side of the camera as well. Moved to the bottom left corner is a 3” display, and above it is an optical viewfinder. Just next to the viewfinder is a dial for the regulation of the diopter, and not far from it is a control for switching to the live-view mode (LV in further text), by means of which the process of video recording starts in the video mode. In the top right corner is a usual pair of controls for zooming and (in combination with the cursors) selecting active AF points. To the right from the display is a bigger group of controls, some of which have dual functions. The one located highest is a control for exposure compensation, i.e. a change of the aperture. Blithe absence of responsibility for the dysfunctional design can be seen precisely with this control – its dual function is deleting existing images! Even at first glance, we deemed this control as potentially problematic, and it turned out in practice that we had been right. Namely, when a photographer takes a photo, after each taken image, the camera switches to the preview mode, and at that point this control changes its purpose and becomes a control for deleting. With only a few wrong button combinations, it is possible to do a serious harm to the existing images! And all that because of the wish to economize or to change the design at any cost! Rarely do we see such absence of logic, and although until a couple of moments ago we were ready to declare the absence of the dedicated ISO button by far the most nonsensical change of the decade, we now believe that the gaffe with the position of the control for deleting assumed primacy in that race!
The control by which the Quick Control Screen is activated, interactive management of parameters on the main screen, is located just below the Av button for exposure compensation. To the right is the Disp. (Display) control, by which the display can be temporarily turned off or the view of parameters in the LV mode can be changed. Below is a set of 5 buttons, which represent a surrogate of a multidirectional button, and their role is also dual. Their regular purpose is managing a set of various parameters, such as the ISO value, the release mode, the AF mode and white balance, but they are sometimes also used when navigating through the menu system, reviewing images, as well as when selecting an active AF point. As for the process of selecting an active AF point, the old criticism remains. In comparison to the Nikon D3300, where this operation is available by directly managing the cursors, with small Canon DSLRs (but also with some more advanced) it is sometimes necessary to activate the function of changing the active point, and only then reach for the cursors, which unnecessarily slows down the overall procedure. In the center of the four mentioned buttons is a Set control, which is used to confirm selected options or the selection of the central AF point. On the very bottom of the rear side, next to the display, is a Menu button, by which the menu system is activated, and next to it is a Playback button, which is a control for switching to the preview of existing images. Not far from them, moved to the bottom right corner is an LE diode, by means of which the camera signals the used memory space, no matter whether the material is being inputted, or the information is being read from the memory card.
We will use this opportunity and draw your attention to one… well, let’s say paradox – as it can be seen from the photos of the body of the EOS 1200D, it does have certain flaws, but the decision that a low-rank camera (both technologically speaking and regarding the price) features some kind of dedicated control for selecting the white balance is slightly odd since the models such as the EOS 70D, let alone the 6D, do not have it! Sometimes such segregation leads to illogicalities of this kind, which simply force us wonder about what we get for our money.
The absence of a memory slot did not catch us by surprise this time, and as with the predecessor or the tiny EOS 100D, it is located in the same compartment like the battery, below the lid on the bottom side of the camera. The positive effect of this undertaking is increased firmness of the grip, which quite frequently ‘crepitates’ when the camera is being held in one’s hands, precisely owing to the lower quality of the memory card lid. The negative effect is not so much expressed now, but with the largest studio heads it can be sometimes impossible to change the card or the battery without unmounting the tripod pad.
The memory controller is compatible with SD cards (Secure Digital), including the majority of the current revisions, such as the SDHC and SDXC. It also supports Eye-Fi cards, by which images can be transferred to compatible devices wirelessly. Unfortunately, the support for the fastest UHS-I cards has not been provided, so they will function with the speed of the class 10.
Mutual compartment of the SD memory slot and battery
The memory requirements are average, as well as the camera resolution. An 8GB card can collect 24 minutes of material in the maximum quality, the same amount in the 720p resolution (due to the faster frame rate) and almost 100 minutes if recording takes place in the smallest, VGA resolution. The increase in the requirements occurs in identical situations as in the case of photographs – the more dynamic the scene, or the more the noise, the more spatially demanding the image.
The Canon 1200D took over the battery from its predecessor, which most often means quite good news. As it is not possible to achieve better results regarding battery autonomy unless the dimensions are enlarged, the decision to ‘employ’ the already known Li-Ion battery labeled LP-E10 also means a lower price when acquiring spare ones. This is a battery that does not belong to a group of ‘smart’ models, so it is impossible to follow its capacity in four steps. As we have explained earlier, the battery shares its compartment with the memory card, and is located on its usual spot. Along with a new battery comes a charger labeled LC-E10 (for the version that is plugged in directly into a socket), as well as an LC-E10E (for the version that includes a voltage cable, which we had during the review):
LC-E10E charger with the LP-E10 Li-Ion battery
The capacity of the new battery is relatively small – 860mAh – and it produces the voltage of 7.4V. Nonetheless, although we marked positive the use of the existing battery, the situation with autonomy is slightly odd in practice. Namely, even though the EOS 1100D managed to pull off the rated 700 shots with the very same battery, the EOS 1200D manages ‘only’ 500. Where the reasons for such a drastic decline in battery autonomy are hidden, we are not familiar, yet with increased economization the rated number of images can be frequently overcome and the figure of 700 achieved. In the video mode the situation is somewhat tougher to economize, so the rated autonomy is hard to overcome. The overall battery capacity will be enough for about 75 minutes of continuous video recording or somewhat less if the recording takes place in the conditions of low temperatures.
As with other models that demonstrate the same arrangement, placing the battery and the memory card under the same lid has led to another problem – the absence of a battery grip, which is not entirely unimportant with the camera this small. Whether this action is justified, it could be discussed, but in any case such a situation is tough to handle even with a grip of other manufacturers since its installation would result in the memory card being unable to be taken out.
Located on the left side of the camera, below the rubber lid, are the connectors. There are only three of them. From bottom to top, there are: an E3 connector for remote control, a combined USB-A/V connector and a mini-HDMI type C.
The combined USB-A/V connector can be used for the purpose of connecting a camera to a computer so that images could be transferred to it, but also in order to control the camera via an included EOS Utility application. Apart from that, the camera can be connected to some of the analog video outputs with the same connector, also with the aim of viewing images or a LV view on a bigger screen. The third function that has been added to it, but was not available on the predecessor, is compatibility with external GPS receivers, such as a dedicated Canon GP-E2 module. When the module is attached to the camera and activated in the menu, each image is automatically inscribed with geotag information with accurate coordinates. In this way, each photograph is marked, so it is possible to see on interactive maps the exact location where the photo has been taken.
The role of the mini-HDMI type C connector is similar. It can also be used for an external view of the LV mode, but for viewing the existing images, too. If an external display (it is most frequently an LCD/plasma TV) supports the HDMI-CEC standard, it is possible to control the basic functions of the camera in the preview mode by means of its remote control, which can really be useful sometimes.
Connectors: stereo michrophone input, E3 remote, HDMI and
The display is not among the best that can be seen on Canon cameras, but it is still significantly improved in comparison to the old one. Unfortunately, Canon did not decide to switch definitely to more logical 3:2 screens in all the classes, so the EOS 1200D is the only model whose display features the 4:3 aspect ratio. We hope the last one, too. The resolution has been doubled and totals 460,000 dots, or if we ‘translate’ it to the dimensions that everyone is familiar with, it is 480 x 320 pixels. The diagonal has also been enlarged, so instead of 2.7”, it now totals 3” (7.6cm). This will be more than welcome to modest aficionados of the video recording.
The higher resolution has brought a better view, contrast and lighting have also been improved, which is why the new camera will not have any problems with a view in the conditions of stronger light. The color reduction is excellent as well, whereas the field of view has not been changed, and it totals 170̊ in both axes, which provides solid consistency even from more extreme angles of view.
Since the 1200D, as well as all the cameras of this class, does not feature a separate status display, its role has been occupied by the main one. In comparison to former cameras, which showed only the most basic parameters on the main display, the today cameras enable even their interactive change; this function on the EOS 1200D is named Quick Control Screen and it is activated by pressing the button next to the display, marked with the letter Q. After that, the parameters can be changed by navigational buttons, by direct movement of cursors on the display and by the confirmation via the Set control on the camera. The look of the Quick Control Screen function can be changed by selecting four color themes, and what they look like in combination with the offered parameters, you can see in the following illustration:
The range of the parameters that can be accessed in this way varies depending on the mode that is currently active, and the widest choice occurs when a mode from the creative set is being used. Next to the label of the currently active mode, the first row from top to bottom is reserved for the primary parameters – exposure duration, aperture and ISO value. The rest of the space is filled with a light meter scale ranging from -3 EV to +3 EV, as well as with all the other important functions, such as: the flash compensation indicator, the color style, the white balance, the WB Bracketing function indicator, the Auto Lighting Optimizer, a control for activating the built-in flash, the autofocus mode, the release mode, the light metering mode, the quality of recording, the battery indicator and the remaining number of images that can be stored on the memory card.
Of course, frequent use of the main display negatively affects the camera autonomy, so the view can be temporarily turned off by pressing the Disp control and thus some energy will be saved. What is more, energy consumption is also affected by the degree of the brightness of the screen, and it can be adjusted manually in seven levels. What the screen looks like in the shooting mode can be seen in the following illustration:
View of basic parameters on the Quick Control Screen
The live view mode on DSLR cameras in the technical sense can be compared to the one that we are already used to using compact cameras; however, the ergonomics is considerably disturbed, mostly owing to larger dimensions and weight of DSLRs. Such a design renders photographing with one’s arms extended impossible, so the live view mode on these cameras (hereafter, LV) is used by placing the camera on a tripod, in situations that require greater accuracy, and at the same time allow more time per image. For those that are not very conversant, we will say that the LV represents a framing technique by means of the main screen, when an image is projected directly from the main sensor to the screen.
The live view mode is a field where Canon is traditionally strong. That, apart from the high-quality and smooth view at 30 fps, also encompasses a range of other functionalities, which we will direct your attention to some time later. The frame coverage in the LV is 100% of the frame, which is expected since it comes directly from the main sensor. The exposure simulation is one of the crucial advantages, and it stands for visual depicting of the final image, practically before it is even made. This means that, in case a change of any of the primary parameters (the exposure length, the aperture or the ISO values) takes place, the camera will react with a corresponding degree of additional lightening or darkening of the view, so that the view is as faithful to what the camera will photograph as possible, if you press the shutter button home. In this way, both time and the curtain are saved since the work is very accurate, and it includes virtually everything that affects the final result. The simulation also encompasses the white balance, no matter whether it is set from the list of the offered presets, or is manually measured, and the same goes for color styles with additional parameters. The only parameter whose effect is not permanently simulated is the Depth-of-Field (DOF) since its view depends on the current aperture, and it is always maximum until releasing or beginning the video recording. For the preview of its effect, it is necessary to activate the DOF-preview control, and since it has not got its dedicated button, the Set control can be reprogrammed to perform this function. In comparison to more expensive Canon DSLRs, on those of the lower class, where the 1200D belongs, it is not possible to turn the exposure simulation off. Many wonder why anyone would want such an option, but the explanation is more than simple – in case of using the flash or the shutter button that is not produced by Canon, the camera will not recognize it and will not deactivate automatically the exposure simulation, although its effect practically does not make any sense after releasing; all the more so because in the process of making the final image, the flash that is not included in metering will take part. However, this is not new and most of the users will never be in the situation to be bothered by this fault. We mentioned it nevertheless – if for nothing else than because of potential buyers who may find this argument important.
For a long time, the autofocus in the LV mode was problematic for all DSLRs, and Canon began to cope with that situation in the previous generation, when it offered the hybrid focus to the world market; that focus consisted of the solution on the level of the sensor and the software algorithm that managed the sensor. Unfortunately, it was decided that this advanced technology should not be introduced to the 1200D, so potential buyers of this camera are denied fast autofocus in the LV right from the start. As a consequence, the AF in the LV on the Canon 1200D is on the level that did not move on in any way in relation to the predecessor, the EOS 1100D, which is three years old.
Let's explain what the problem is for those that are not conversant with it: as the mirror in the LV mode is located in the upper position, the main AF sensor is unable to perform its function, so the only way of focusing is completely independent and known as contrast focus (Contrast Detection Auto-Focus, hereafter the CDAF; on the camera, it is labeled as AF-Live). It is activated by using the main sensor, and it operates according to the technique of measuring contrast, by means of moving the focal plane until the maximum sharpness is achieved on color edges, i.e. the maximum contrast on differently colored areas within frame. It is characterized by high accuracy because while moving the focal plane, a level of contrast is constantly sampled, and the position in which the contrast is the strongest is assumed. Negative features are not unknown, and they include low speed, as well as tremendous hesitancy in the conditions of low light. Moreover, such a basic CDAF can be used mostly for static scenes, so each movement in the frame will usually result in the focus ‘wandering’, back and forth. The CDAF speed on the EOS 1200D is noticeably behind the one offered by Canon cameras with the hybrid focus. The focusing process itself takes place in relation to the position of the graphically shown rectangle (focus field), which can be moved on the display via the cursors, almost to the very edges of the frame.
As many other cameras nowadays, the Canon 1200D also features the Face Detection focus method, whose algorithm effectively recognizes up to 35 faces in the frame and positions the focus field in relation to them. The priority is given to the faces that are closer to the camera, and we will not waste too many words about its usability, except for the fact that this type of focusing is more appropriate to be used on compact cameras. In any case, for casual photographing, it may as well be usable.
If there is need for faster focus, Canon in all classes also offers the possibility of using the classic, phase focus, labeled as Quick AF. What is more, it does that in a very simple way – after pressing the shutter button to the first level, the mirror is temporarily lowered, the focus system performs focusing and at the same time returns to the initial position, after which it is ready for releasing. At the moment of pressing the shutter button to the first level, the view disappears from the main display for a moment (the so-called blackout), luckily only for a short time, so the overall speed in the LV mode is much higher than in the AF-Live mode, although it should not be forgotten that this way of work is significantly louder. When this focus mode is active in the LV, AF points appear on the display, as well as in the viewfinder, and the selection occurs in the identical way.
A special treat in the LV mode is the manual focus. No matter whether it has to do with a wish for greater accuracy or with the absence of the AF on a manual lens - the manual focus in the LV mode is the real deal. It acquired profound significance in the video era, while the high-quality display, although not having very high resolution, provides pinpoint accuracy even without additional magnification. When working with a tripod, the magnification of 5x and 10x will make sharpening extremely accurate, and the focal plane can even then be moved within the frame. How the magnification affects the view, you can see in the following image:
Magnification in the LV mode
The LV mode is equipped with a view of the standard parameters in the photo and video mode, and if needed, they can be switched off by successively pressing the Disp control:
View of parameters in the LV mode
The framing grid is available in two variants, and it can even be switched off:
Framing grid in the LV mode
After a relatively limited video mode on the EOS 1100D, we did not expect a significant progress in this generation. Although not drastically improved, the video mode on the Canon 1200D is still better than the one on the predecessor. If for nothing else than at least owing to the Full HD (1080p) resolution, which was not at one’s disposal on the previous model.
The video recording proportions have the standard 16:9 aspect ratio, and several resolutions are offered: the highest, Full HD (1080p, i.e. 1920 x 1080), available at 24, 25 or 30 fps, in the progressive scan (a technique of drawing each single line of the frame); what is more, there is the 720p resolution (1280 x 720) at 50 or 60 fps, which depends on the fact whether the PAL or the NTSC standard has been selected. In addition to these, there is 4:3 VGA resolution (640 x 480 pixels), which can be recorded at 25 or 30 fps, and is progressive as well.
The recording is simultaneously encoded in the MPEG-4 (H.264) format, with a variable bitrate, together with the uncompressed mono PCM 16-bit 44 kHz audio and is packed in a MOV container. As well as with other cameras, the video is limited to the maximum 4GB in one piece, due to the limit imposed by the FAT32 file system, used on memory controllers of today’s cameras. In combination with the quality of the compression performed by the encoder, this provides recording of up to 12 minutes in the maximum resolution, while it manages up to 30 minutes in the lowest. Variations are possible depending on recording conditions, primarily light. In the conditions when light is low, the camera will strive to use higher ISO values; consequently, the amount of noise will affect a bigger output file.
The video control has been upgraded. In comparison to the virtually none, which ‘adorned’ the EOS 1100D, any improvement would be enormous; however, the upgrade practically equaled the 1200D with the EOS 700D, if we leave aside the continuous focus, stereo audio and some other sundries of the more expensive model. The parameter control is possible in the completely manual and automatic mode. The ISO value can be set in the range of ISO 100 to 6400, either manually or automatically.
The audio, unfortunately, remained at a limited level. The recording is 16-bit, by sampling at 44 kHz, and it is written uncompressed in the PCM format. The audio recording can be toggled off or entrusted to the built-in mono-microphone, whose input signal is entrusted to the automatic, continuous calibration of the input (the so-called Auto Gain Control), so the camera will decide for itself when and how much the input level should be amplified. Since there is no connector for an external microphone, the built-in one will usually catch all parasitic sounds as well, such as the sounds of the focusing system (in case you reach for the CDAF, which we heartily recommend to be avoided), of the lens stabilization, etc.
The rest of the feasible settings encompass all the predefined and subsequently created color styles, white balance, removal of vignettes for lenses in the internal base, as well as the Auto Lighting Optimizer and Highlight Priority options. Noise removal, due to the processor requirements, is not available during video recording, so if needed, one can rely solely on post-processing.
In the preview mode, it is possible to perform some basic actions with the video material, such as the possibility of the basic trimming of the recorded video material and recording it under a different name on the memory card, so that the original remains intact. This is a favorable possibility for instant processing without excessive attention to detail, which will be welcomed by beginners and everyone that wants instant results, without turning on the dedicated software on the computer. Although the official manual states that the class 6 memory card is the functional minimum, we recommend that the card not be slower than the class 10 by any means.
The built-in flash of the Canon 1100D, at the time, downgraded what had once been offered by the EOS 1000D, and the 1200D only followed the traced path of its predecessor. Thus, its Guide Number (GN) is still 9.2 at ISO 100, although logically the built-in flash should be stronger on a cheaper camera since the percentage of buyers who opt for the flashgun in this class is proportionally smaller. The angle covered by the flash is 17mm, and the recovery time is two seconds on average. It can be used solely in the E-TTL II mode, its power being determined automatically, by using information from the light meter, and the flash compensation ranges from -2 to +2 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 steps. The E-TTL II mode supports the Evaluative and Average modes of measuring the flash power. The manual mode is not available.
In low-light conditions, the flash can be used instead of the missing AF-Assist lamp, with a series of short flashes, by means of which the flash provides additional light to the scene and makes focusing easier regardless of the selected AF point.
The support for flashguns applies to all E-TTL / E-TTL II compatible models. The AF-Assist takes place on the flashgun with a special IC lamp, whose help is considerably more effective, and it attract much less attention. If the compensation is set on the flash itself, it is given priority over it being set in the camera, which may be useful in practice since Canon did not predict the existence of a separate control for setting the compensation level on the body itself.
The maximum flash synchronization speed, regardless whether the built-in flash or flashgun is being used, is limited to 1/200 seconds, while in the aperture priority mode it can be set to 1/60, 1/200 or be automatic. Special functions, such as the Flash exposure bracketing (FEB) – multiple shutter releasing with a predefined range of flashes of different intensity - or the Multi flash - serial shutter releasing with selected intensity and determined frequency - can be used exclusively with flashguns and under the condition that they are compatible. Even though systematic support does exist, the newest flashes with radio releasing can be used to a very limited extent. The synchronization of the distant flash via the Canon ST-E3 RT shutter release or a corresponding flashgun will be limited to only 1/100 seconds, while neither the High-Speed synchronization nor releasing of a group of flashes is available.
As with all other Canon cameras, a corresponding set of special settings (Custom Functions, C.Fn) is available in a section of options intended for the flash. Nevertheless, it still causes slight confusion at first sight, so it is recommended that the manual be consulted before engaging in detail adjustment.