Whenever a producer constructs a new body, it, basically, always comes to be treated as the already seen. The EOS 100D, too, has got many design elements that it shares with the rest of cameras from its gamut, but its dimensions definitely make it specific:
If we disregard the fact that obviously it is (one out of many) designed for the right-handed, the Canon EOS 100D features a very unique design in relation to other DSLRs of this producer! Its dimensions of only 117 x 91 x 69 mm make it a unique recorder – the smallest DSLR camera that the world has ever seen, regardless of the category and the size of the sensor! As if the race for minimizing the volume of today’s cameras inspired the Canon project team to design as smallest camera as possible just for the sake of competition with their rivals, so that they would show that it is not necessary to leave out the mirror and to disown the concept of the DSLR in order for to obtain a truly tiny product! In order for the entire situation not to be just a deception caused by the visual impression, the entire conception is also accompanied with an extraordinary minute overall mass, so the 100D will encumber the hand with only 407 grams, together with the battery!
Of course, the first question that arose from our perspective is: “And what is the price of all that?” It is not about finances, but about quality. Are the reduced dimensions and considerably lighter weight the result of huge savings on all levels or is some other technique of reduction applied? After the first touch, it seems that the doubts were not reasonable – according to many aspects, the Canon 100D seems even more convincing than some larger cameras, and each and every comparison with the EOS 100D becomes redundant, which gets us even closer to the belief that this is not the direct heir to the feeblest Canon DSLR.
We are absolutely sure that the designer team has had the toughest challenge so far – to pack the system, which does not lag behind similar cameras according to any criterion, in an extremely small housing so that neither the performances nor the owner’s hands would have to suffer. After a relatively wrong impression with which, in an ergonomic sense, left us the previous model of the lowest Canon’s class, the EOS 1100D, we could not have possibly expect that such a tiny body can be packed in such a harmonious whole. The hand grip is realized in such a way that the shutter button practically bridges the hollow between it and the mount, thus leaving plenty of room for the fingers of the right hand and, at the same time, the index finger. With that fact, along with smaller dimensions, what is achieved is the effect that makes the 100D even more comfortable than some larger cameras! If we add to that a rubber finish that covers a significant part of the body and is accompanied with a new texture, as well as a much better fit between the camera and the fingers, it is clear why the grip seems more secure to us. Bearing that in mind, we can conclude that the lion’s share of work was conducted regarding this aspect!
The basic construction of the camera is made of metal (more precisely an aluminum alloy), while the elements of the internal construction and the case are made of composite materials and plastic, by means of which the maximum firmness and a noticeable saving in the final weight are achieved. The curtain is estimated at regular 100,000 actuations, so the 100D does not lag behind in that domain either. What we remembered it by during the test was an unexpected jerk during the release! Since the camera is minute and very light for that matter, the mechanism of a curtain and mirrors, which is used with larger cameras, seems inadequate. Nonetheless, we must hedge and make it clear that that is only our personal impression because we have not been able to find any proof that that jerk could cause blurry images. The mount is completely electro-mechanical, compatible with all the EF/EF-S lenses, as well as all the other Canon cameras.
SENSOR, PROCESSOR, AND A FEW MORE THINGS
The Canon APS-C sensor is the only item that, so to say, does not excite us. The problem with it is not of a technical, but of an evolutionary nature. While other manufacturers of sensors and cameras intended to catch up with Canon several years ago, the aforementioned company decided not to do almost anything in that field as the feeling of superiority overpowered logic. In the meantime, there was pretty much going on with the CMOS, thus, Canon ended up outplayed overnight on its home court and placed in the situation in which it must 'wring' the existing technology instead of developing more advanced one. The result of all that is the multiyear 'recycling' of the well-known 18MP APS-C senor, which was gladly accepted gladly on the occasion of the promotion of the EOS 7D, and sometimes later the 550D.
Let's remind - this has to do with a sensor developed in the CMOS technology, with the resolution of 18MP (more precisely – 5184 x 3456 pixels). The 1.6x crop factor, which the acronym APS-C (Advanced Photo System type-C) points to, represents a multiplier by which the equivalent focal length and Field-of-View (FOV) width are obtained in relation to a 35mm full-frame sensor, also known as the Leica format. In a concrete example, that means that the kit lens Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM on this body offers a coverage roughly equivalent to that of a 29-88mm lens on the 35mm (full-frame) sensor, which is obtained by multiplying a specified focal length with a corresponding crop factor. Even though that may cause certain difficulties regarding the realization of a wider field of view (since the choice of Ultra-Wide-Angle lenses is rather limited), APS-C sensors in combination with telephoto lenses offer an impression of a significantly greater focal length, which is why they are particularly handy for all the situations which lay stress on the tele-range.
What is new on it is familiar to us thanks to the compact Fuji F300 EXR, and that includes phase-detection pixels implanted inside the photo-sensor, so as to finally arrive at a solution to the slow, and in the continuous mode unusable contrast focus. The Hybrid-CMOS AF, which is Canon’s view of this principle, was firstly witnessed on the EOS 650D and EOS M, not exactly in the perfect condition. Undoubtedly, an obvious improvement was witnessed; however, due to a very low coverage of the sensor with phase-detection cells, the limited hybrid focus use did not come to light exactly in the way users, and we believe the manufacturer as well, expected. Canon decided to improve its technology, which resulted in the 100D with the Hybrid-CMOS AF II.
More than well-known 18MP Canon CMOS in the APS-C format
with implanted hybrid phase-detection cells which cover 80% of the frame
How does the hybrid focus work? Firstly, it is important to make a distinction in relation to the classical AF sensor. The hybrid focus does not rely on it. At all! Instead, phase-detection photo-sensors are 'implanted' in the main sensor, so that the image projected on them can be compared, and in that way the phase difference that corresponds to the distance of the focused subject is achieved. After that comes the deflection of the focal mechanism to the correct position of the desired plane, whereas in the final phase of sharpening, precise titivation is entrusted to the contrast focus (CDAF), which we are already familiar with owing to the LV mode, and is considered remarkably accurate, albeit slow. A tendency towards reconciling these two concepts emerged because of the need for a better focus in the video mode that, being dependent on the LV mode, does not allow for the use of the conventional AF sensor. That is how the hybrid focus appeared, as a solution to the problematic continuous focus in the video mode, which is the primary reason of the poor use of the DSLR video for the purposes of amateurs. The negative effect of this solution is the fact that phase-detection pixels must be located somewhere, which means that some photocells are being sacrificed in order to be used for focusing. While forming the final image, these pixels would be masked with the identical technology by which hot pixels or dust on the sensor are masked as well.
Experiences of dealing with the EOS 650D suggest that advancement is worth sacrificing a certain amount of pixels, as well as that the effect that their shortage exerts on the final image is practically unnoticeable. Nonetheless, we hope that the Canon 100D brings with it higher performances, which will be discussed in more detail later.
The processor that must accompany all this has not been changed – it is still the Digic 5. In comparison to the Digic 4, which characterized the EOS 1100D, the Digic 5 brings plenty – better video support, an undoubtedly higher speed, as well as support for higher levels of the internal processing. In practice, it should bring a tangible improvement concerning general performances and provide the smallest camera in the DSLR category with performances that even some more expensive models would not say no to.
Canon Digic 5 processor *
Sensor dusting is one of the items that caused unfavorable comments of the photography public regarding the EOS 100D. Not because this system was bad, but because it did not even exist in the first place. The acts of saving that accompanied the entire performance of the 1100D did not (luckily) repeat on the smallest camera, so the cleaning system was present once again. It is about technology that Canon labels EOS Cleaning System. This system consists of a piezoelectric element that vibrates, thus shaking off dust from the low-pass filter, and it is located in the chamber together with the sensor. The chamber is secured with a special anti-static coating and is grounded in the camera housing, which results in suppressing both stockpiling of static electricity, which appears owing to the charge generated by the sensor, and the friction of the shutter and mirror mechanisms. Unless adjusted otherwise, dusting is activated each time the camera is switched on or off. Additionally, it can be activated while using the camera, too, if one wishes so. The efficiency of this system of self-dusting has been proven over many years of use in cameras of all classes, and if there is any case that certain particles cannot be removed, it can be compensated for by using software ‘dusting’ (Dust Delete Data), which, in conjunction with the attached software, can help removing the remaining dust, by mapping it on a RAW image.
EOS Cleaning System for the fight against dust
The familiar, two-layer, 63-zoned iFCL system of metering is inherited from other Canon cameras. This light metering sensor meters, in addition to input light, color spectrums, at the same time analyzing information obtained from each of the 19 AF points and firmly situating the subject in the focus, regardless of the currently selected AF mode, which the acronym iFLC stands for (intelligent Focus, Color and Luminance). The 63 zones enable more accurate metering since they gather the average of light from considerably smaller individual areas, and since it is well-known that digital sensors are particularly sensitive to red hues, additional balance is achieved with dual-layer metering, whereby each layer is sensitive to different light wavelengths. One layer is specially aimed at the red-green spectrum, whereas the other is intended for the blue-green one. In this manner, wrong metering is maximally avoided when red hues prevail in the frame, which is a weak point with digital sensors. There are four modes of metering: Evaluative, which makes use of all the AF points and provides light obtained by sampling the entire scene; Partial, which meters 9% of the central zone of the frame; Center-weighted average, which meters the average, with an emphasis on the central zone; and Spot, which meters 4% of the area in the center. Unfortunately, the light meter is still not improved to offer metering in relation to the selected AF point, which, based on the number of the AF points, we consider a deficiency.
Two-layer 63-zoned RGB sensor of light metering *
Since the EOS 100D is a DSLR, it features an auto-focus system that we are already familiar with from other Canon cameras from the lower class. It is a phase Multi-BASIS TTL AF system with 9 points, arranged in the shape of a rhomboid, where the central one is crosstype, i.e. doubly sensitive.
The percentage of the frame that the points cover is moderate, but it can be said that it enables composing without the need for too much reframing. Three standard AF modes are offered: One-Shot is used most frequently, and it is a mode by which focus is performed once and then locked, until triggering or releasing the AF command; AI-Servo is a mode of continuous focus, by which the selected subject is permanently tracked by changing the distance in relation to the selected AF point; AI-Focus is a mode that combines the previous two by primarily confirming the focus that is performed once, and if it detects a distance change, it automatically switches to the Servo mode of tracking.
Each of these three modes can be used with one point selected in advance, or in the Automatic Selection mode, when the camera determines active points by itself, most frequently in relation to the closest subject that the 3-point focus field covers.
The AF-Assist, a function of subsidiary light while focusing in badly lit conditions, has not got a dedicated lamp on the 100D as well, yet it is performed by virtue of the built-in flash, a series of short (and often irritating) flashes, by which it helps the AF system. The good side of such an AF-Assist function is the fact that all the AF points are covered, instead of only the central one, which has frequently been applied with other cameras. Along with this way, the AF-Assist can be entrusted to the IC lamp of the flashgun or the ST-E2 wireless transmitter.
9 AF points in the viewfinder, where the central one is crosstype
Typically for DSLRs, the viewfinder is optical, and as with all other cheaper models, it is based on a pentaprism, which is considered a more economical and darker solution. It provides modest 95% frame coverage, while together with the 0.87x magnification level, the viewfinder is comfortable to work with. The maximum distance of the eye from the optical element, along with which the entire frame can be viewed (the so-called eyepoint), is almost 19mm, so using the camera with glasses will be relatively easy. The diopter regulation is conducted in the range of -3 to +1 via a dedicated dial, which is located on the right-hand side of the viewfinder.
The view inside the viewfinder encompasses all the usual indicators and parameters that have to do with Canon DSLRs, while the fixed focal plane has engraved view of AF points. What it looks like in practice you can see in the following illustration:
Viewfinder of the EOS 100D
For information only, the viewfinder of the EOS 100D offers a pretty extensive spectrum of information, which will even take turns in some cases owing to the impossibility to be all emitted at the same time. From left to right, there are: the indicator of locked exposure (AE-Lock); the indicator of the readiness of the flash and its high-speed synchronization; the indicator of the flash intensity compensation; the exposure time; the aperture; the light meter scale of the ±2EV range; the indicator of the Highlight Tone Priority function; the ISO value; the indicator of special setting of white balance; the indicator of the monochrome color style; the memory buffer availability and the indicator of the focus confirmation.
CONTROLS AND OTHER DETAILS
The significantly smaller dimensions imposed a need for an adjusted arrangement of the controls. The front side is characteristic and very similar to other Canon DSLRs, but with several obvious differences. Firstly, the handgrip is designed in such a way that the space for fingers is not open up to the top of the camera, yet it is closed at the bottom with a 'platform' on top of which is a two-level shutter button. In this way, the small dimensions of the body are reconciled with a still very comfortable position of the fingers, which usually represents one of the greatest problems with cameras of smaller dimensions. We also notice a considerably different texture of the rubber base, on which no expense was spared, so virtually the whole right side is covered with it. In comparison to the irritating solution that we criticized with the EOS 100D, this solution lends itself to touch and is very comfortable even after holding the camera in one’s hands for a long time. The space is saved for the IR receiver, so it is located on its spot, on the handgrip itself. The central place of the front part is occupied by the EF/EF-S mount, which seems almost absurdly hefty on the camera of these dimensions, and the right side is dominated by a button intended for detaching the lens for the sake of disassembling. Above it is the well-known button for activating the built-in flash, and this time, there is an LE diode for signaling delayed releasing and removing the red-eye effect when the flash is used. In the bottom part is the control DOF-preview, which is used for temporary closing of the aperture at a selected value, in order for the photographer to see the effect before releasing the shutter, regardless of the mode in which the camera is.
The upper side is also relatively similar to other Canon cameras, but with a minimalistic approach, in accordance with the dimensions. The central part is occupied by the housing of the prism, hidden below the plastic, built-in flash and flashgun hot shoe in accordance with the ISO standard. To the left are miniature openings for the built-in microphone and speaker, while to the right there are several controls: the most prominent among them, the mode selector, occupies most space. It offers 12 positions. Four of them belong to the group of classic ones, the so-called 'creative' modes – the Manual (P), Aperture Priority (Av), Shutter Priority (Tv) and Programmed Auto (P), while three positions are completely automatic, without an over-defined intention: the Creative-Auto (CA) is a mode that gravitates halfway between the scene and creative modes, and its basic intention is to simplify parameter determining, which does not involve too many technical terms, but picturesquely guides the user towards the desired parameters; we are already familiar with the No-flash mode, and it is used for turning off the flash regardless of the working conditions, whereas the Scene-Intelligent Auto mode is a substitute for the former Full-Auto mode. The SCN is a collection of six scene modes grouped on one position, and apart from it, there are four more available scene modes on the selector that are used most often, in view of the project team – the Portrait, Landscape, Close-up and Moving-subjects. The basis of the mode selector is formed by a triple-positional mechanical switch for switching on the camera, which besides the functions of switching on and off, demonstrates also the function of switching to the video mode, which we consider to be a better solution than an individual position on the selector, since it provides much shorter time until the beginning of video recording.
To the front of the mode selector is a regular button on the upper side of the camera intended for the change of the ISO value in the steps of 1EV, which we are used to with Canon cameras of the lower rank. To the right from it is a control dial which, depending on the selected photo or video mode, performs the selection of exposure time or aperture opening. Just at the front, where we expect it, is the two-level shutter button, which controls focusing, light metering and, finally, releasing.
The view from the rear side also does not deviate from what we are used to. The dominant element (without doubt) is the display. Due to the dimensions of the body, its 3” diagonal occupies the largest part. We do not understand what the reasons for a surprisingly large frame of the display are, but we believe that it was possible to pack it a little more tightly so that it does not affects that much the arrangement of the controls. In this situation, the controls are not arranged badly, yet the impression that it could be done better prevails. Just above the display, in the center, is the optical viewfinder, and to the top of it is the sensor, by means of which the camera regulates the closeness of the face so as to deactivate temporarily the view on the display and in that way save a little energy. To the left from the viewfinder are two controls: the Menu, which is used to enter the menu system, while the Info is used for various purposes – by means of it, the display can be turned on/off, the view of parameters in the classic or live-view mode can be called up, and the amount of information in the images / video recordings preview mode can be changed, too. On the right side of the viewfinder is a dial for the diopter regulation, and further to its right is a control for starting the live-view mode in the photography mode, as well as for starting/finishing video recording in the video mode.
The rubber base of the rear side of the camera, although not too big, spreads over the most important part and since it is most frequently located below the thumb of the right hand, it ensures extra safety while holding the camera in one’s hand. In the upper part are two buttons which we are already familiar with, although they are now placed vertically, so in the upper right corner is a control for the selection of an active AF point, i.e. the magnification in the preview mode and live-view mode, while underneath it is a control for locking the exposure duration, that is to say the minimization of the view in all the modes. We consider the concept of an active AF point control to be a weakness of Canon DSLRs of the lower category since they demand from users constant press on the selection control, and then the selection of an active point by means of cursor buttons. This way of operating is impractical, slow and provokes errors to arise, particularly when a quicker reaction is needed. Why it is not possible to conduct direct selection solely by means of cursor buttons we have not got a reasonable answer, except that in this manner a clear-cut distinction in comparison to higher classes is drawn.
To the right of the display a prominent spot is occupied by a set of cursor buttons that conduct the selection of an active AF point, the navigation through the menu system and the change of working parameters. In the center of this control is the Q/Set button, and its purpose is to confirm the selection of individual parameters and options and activations of the Quick Control Screen, which is a system of the interactive parameter control. Above the cursor buttons is a control for the exposure compensation, depending on the active photo/video mode, while under it are buttons for switching to the images preview mode, i.e. their deletion. In the lower right corner is an LE diode, which signals the business of the memory controller due to the operations such as reading the memory card or writing information on it.
Contrary to the common practice, the memory card compartment is located under a lid together with the battery. Such a solution is frequently encountered with compact cameras, and while it rarely poses serious problems with them, this can be highly impractical with DSLRs. Namely, since the lid is significantly bigger than the slots which are located under it, it often happens that even relatively small panels for mounting on a stand cover it and in that way make the act of changing the memory card or battery completely impossible, without taking the camera off the stand and dismantling the panel. It may seem trivial, yet in practice this is a serious oversight!
The memory card slot is intended for the cards of the Secure Digital standard (SD), and all the variants of this standard are supported – from the classic ones, to the SDHC and SDXC. The support is also provided for faster USH-I subvariants, and on the list is also the Eye-Fi technology of the wireless image transfer, provided that adequate compatible devices are used.
The speed demand of this camera is within minimum since neither the resolution, nor the burst is too big. In order to work satisfactorily, it is sufficient to have an SDHC/SDXC card of the class 6, while it is desirable that it should be of the class 10 or faster so that discharging the not-so-big buffer would last less.
The average size of files does not vary greatly in relation to all the previous cameras with which the EOS 100D shares the same sensor, so an 8GB card can store around 350 RAW, 1300 JPEG or 260 combined RAW + JPEG, in the maximum quality.
The video segment operates in a significantly different way, so whether it will be possible for a video recording to be stored or not depends mainly on the memory card. The manufacturer recommends cards of the class 6 at least, whereas we would rather play it safe and give priority to the class 10, since in some cases while using slower memory cards, it can happen that a camera cancels recording a video because the card cannot follow the needed speed of input. This is especially important because the rated speed does not necessarily have to be realistic. Due to the FAT32 standard of storing files, video recordings are limited to the maximum 4GB per file. The flow, which the camera generates per minute of the video recording, depends on the resolution and used degree of compression, so a minute of the 1080p material would take 330 MB, while in the lower, HD resolution (720p) it will occupy the same space, which is the result of the twice as fast frame rate. The lowest, VGA resolution (640 x 480) takes 83 MB per minute. By that calculation, we arrive at around 24 minutes of video material in both HD resolutions or around 95 minutes which can be stored on an 8GB card.
Compartment of the SD memory card slot and the battery
The battery LP-E12 is a completely new model, which had its premiere together with the EOS 100D. It is a lithium-ion battery with the capacity of 875mAh, which is slightly greater than with the battery LP-E10 of the EOS 1100D, even though it is 10 grams lighter. In spite of the greater capacity, the battery is rated as having a considerably smaller number of shots, so the manufacturer states approximately 380 shots with the full battery according to the CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) standards. In practice, when the live-view mode is rarely used, and the image preview is not overused, it can be expected that the camera can shoot as many as 450 shots with only one charging, while that number markedly declines if one uses the combined RAW+JPEG input, or some of algorithms of internal processing, such as noise reduction, the removal of vignetting and chromatic aberrations, and similar things. The live-view mode is not thrifty as well, so you can expect only 150-200 shots with a non-stop active display. The similar goes for the video recording – it is drastically more demanding, not only because it overuses the display (since video recording is achieved through the live-view mode), even when the video recording itself is not active, but also because of the permanently active memory controller, which stores information on the memory card. On this account, Canon predicts that the charged battery may last for about 65 minutes. Even along with the acknowledgement that it is not possible to put a bigger battery in the small camera, we admit that we are a little confused with the information about the equal capacity with the previous battery, but drastically smaller battery autonomy. Since the 100D has not got anything regarding the systems which would suck drastically greater energy than is the case with the EOS 1100D, what remains unclear is why this camera barely manages to reach 380 shots. The charging of the completely empty battery lasts around 2 hours and a half.
All the connectors are located on the left side of the camera, below the rubber lid. There are four of them in total. From top to bottom, there are the 3.5mm microphone stereo input, the E3 connector for remote shutter releasing, the combined USB 2.0/Audio-video/GPS connector and the mini-HDMI output. By the combined USB-A/V connector, the camera can be connected to a computer, with the aim of transferring images or remote controlling by means of the enclosed EOS Utility application. The same connector can also be used for connecting the camera to an external analog display, not only with the aim of viewing images, but also with the aim of controlling the camera in the live-view mode. Aimed at the view on the external display, only in the digital form, is the mini-HDMI connector. If we have a TV that supports the HDMI-CEC standard, the camera can be controlled in the preview mode by means of the standard remote control.
Connectors: microphone stereo input, E3 remote,
combined Audio-Video/USB/GPS and mini-HDMI
Frankly, this is the first time we have expected that one modern camera would have a display decreased in comparison to previous models, and the assumption was that such a thing would have to happen since decreased dimensions of bodies do not allow too much space for a large diagonal. Canon’s project team had a different vision, so the 100D took the already routine 3” display, nonetheless. In this respect, we arrive at a paradoxical situation in which a smaller camera features a bigger display than the once-upon-a-time smallest camera (EOS 1100D) had!
Since there is space to spare, the Canon 100D has got a fixed display instead of a rotating one, with the 3:2 aspect ratio and the resolution of 1,040,000 dots. The display has not got an ambient light sensor, so in order to set the light intensity, it is necessary to use the option in the main menu, which provides the light intensity selection in 7 steps. The color reproduction is no less than exceptional, just as we are used to with Canon DSLRs, and a similar conclusion can be reached in relation to the angle of view, which is almost ideal.
The routine novelty in the recent times has been a touch screen display. In the case of the 100D, we have got an advanced capacitive touch screen display, in comparison to older resistant ones which react to pressure, but still exist on the majority of GPS devices. By means of a capacitive display, far greater sensitivity was achieved, and consequently, precision as well. The percentage in which the display did not react in the way we would have liked is extremely low, so it can be regarded statistically inconsequential. The operations which users have at their disposal in this way include almost everything – from setting the basic parameters, changing important settings and options, all the way to selecting an active focus point or releasing the shutter. As for the preview mode, the situation is similar. At one’s disposal are all moves which we are used to with touch screen cell phones, from scrolling to maximizing or minimizing the view. Fortunately, for those who might not like this novelty, Canon provided the option to toggle it off, so the display can be treated as any other.
The touch screen display makes the function such as the Quick Control Screen more logical than ever. All the options can be easily accessed, while the scope of information and parameters is such that it will not be too complicated to get used to it and utilize the ability of fast navigation and controlling. If you have not encountered the function Quick Control Screen before, we just wish to state that it represents an adequate substitution for the status display, which is particularly handy for working with stands, when the camera is at eye level and when the status display is really hard to see. This function is activated by pressing the Q/Set button on the rear of the camera, after which the view on the display will acquire the following shape:
Quick Control Screen: View of parameters and offered options
The scope of parameters comprises everything that may be required, even more than that: the selected mode indicator, the exposure time, the aperture, the ISO values, the Highlight Tone Priority indicator, the locked exposition (AE-Lock) indicator, the scale of light metering in the range of ±3 EV with AutoExposure Bracketing markers, the indicator of flash power compensation, the Eye-Fi indicator, the selected color style, the white balance, the WB bracketing, the Auto Lighting Optimizer indicator, the focus mode, the release mode, the light metering mode, the shooting quality, the battery and GPS status, the multi-shot NR indicator, and a number of shots remaining until charging the memory buffer.
The live-view mode (hereafter, LV) used to be completely disregarded on DSLRs in the past, whereas with the popularization of the video mode, it suddenly acquired significance, even though its usability is by no means limited to its video recording. Despite all the improvements which have occurred lately, shooting while holding the camera in front of oneself is still problematic with larger cameras, and since the EOS 100D is not one of them, we were interested to find out what we can expect from the new Hybrid-CMOS AF II, the hybrid focus in the LV mode, which strives to improve both its performances and its accuracy. Of course, the LV will remain by far the most usable camera while working with stands, mostly under the controlled conditions.
Let's remind: in order for the sensor view to be possible in the LV mode, the mirror mechanism must be raised from its usual position so as to free the path to the sensor, and in that way, the possibility of framing through the viewfinder is toggled off, and more importantly, the possibility of using the phase AF sensor ceases since, in order for it to function, it is necessary that the mirror be in its lower position. For those reasons, the LV mode has its own, independent focusing system, known as the 'contrast focus', i.e. the CDAF (Contrast Detection AutoFocus). Its way of operating differs technically from the phase focus, and so far, it was mostly characterized by some positive, but also some negative features. The positive one, without doubt, has always been its accuracy and nothing has changed concerning that, whereas the negative ones, the low speed and functioning in the badly lit conditions, were seen as the main factor due to which this type of focus did not achieve popularity on DSLR cameras. The Canon EOS 650D was the first Canon camera which promoted improvement in this field by means of the hybrid focus, and it was followed by the 700D and EOS M. Although presented at the same moment as the 700D, the EOS 100D brings the second generation of this focus technique. The original idea was based on the phase cells built in the main sensor, when a phase comparison of the projection on those cells is performed by means of a special algorithm during focusing and in that way the conventional AF sensor is somehow simulated. When the focal plane is brought to the boundaries of toleration, the classic contrast focus takes over and accurately finishes the operation.
The greatest difference in relation to the first iteration of the hybrid focus lies in the way phase cells are spread over the main sensor. With the EOS 650D, they were concentrated on a very small area in the center of the frame (just around 10%), so the hybrid focus functioned only as long as the focusing field was within that area. In case the focusing field had been moved outside, the focus would have operated by relying solely on the CDAF technique, which had its obvious implications not only on the speed, but also on the overall ability to operate in the badly lit conditions. As for the EOS 100D, the hybrid focus is available over a considerably larger area, which can be seen in the following illustration:
Focus field in the LV mode in relation to the phase focus
80% of the frame coverage with phase cells on the main sensor secures an entirely different level of control and speed of the focus. The far edges of the frame are not covered after all, and the reasons for that are quite simple – owing to the reduction of sharpness on the edges of the majority of lenses, the focus would be almost useless on the far periphery, so it has been decided that it simply should not be at one’s disposal so as to preclude any inadequate handling. On the other hand, 80% of the area of the sensor represents essentially much more than any phase sensor can offer, irrespective of the brand, so in the long run we can be more that satisfied.
The division of autofocus modes and methods is different than in the classic operating mode, along with some kinds of specificity. There are three contrast focus methods in total, and we have been familiar with them for some time thanks to other Canon DSLRs. The default method is Face + Tracking, which operates in two ways. In case there are faces in the frame, the AF will give them priority and follow their position in the frame. If the continuous focusing is active, the faces will be treated with the focus as well, and the priority will have the face closest to the lens. When there are no faces in the frame, this method will function identically as the FlexiZone – Multi. The latter mode permanently shows in the proper order the entire focus field (those 80% of the frame) divided into 31 zones, and it basically behaves like the Auto-selection AF, giving priority to the closest motives in the frame. By pressing the button Erase, the 31 zones are changed into 9 larger, which can be manually selected and in that way the entire work speeded up. The FlexiZone – Single is what we are familiar with concerning the LV thanks to older Canon cameras, and it represents a method by means of which one focus field is flexibly moved across the frame and the focus is kept on it. What is more, it functions both in the continuous focus mode and in the single focus mode. When the working conditions are taken into account, the CDAF is rated at 0-18EV, which is the aperture range with just half an aperture lower value in comparison to the main AF sensor. Canon states that the CDAF will function best with brand new STM (Stepper-Motor) lenses, which employs the Focus-by-Wire technology of the electronically driven focus ring, which is silent and thus the most adequate for video needs. This recommendation can be interpreted as a sort of announcement of the entire range of STM lenses in the period which is to follow.
Of course, the Quick-AF mode, when the phase focus system is temporarily activated, still can be taken into consideration for certain rare situations where the new CDAF will not manage to combat too little light and similar obstacles. Manual focusing, a treat by which the LV provides a perfect control of deep sharpness, focus position and the like, is aided by the option of magnifying the view on two levels – 5 times and 10 times:
Magnification in the LV mode
The LV is also equipped with the display of the standard parameters in the photo and video mode, which can be toggled off if needed. When the touch screen display is active, the parameters can be interactively changed by activating the Quick Control Screen (Q/Set control):
Display of the parameters in the LV mode
Here we also have a framing grid:
Framing grid in three variants
For quite some time, light metering in Canon’s entry-level class is not limited only to the Evaluative metering, so it is not surprising that the EOS 100D has got a bit more sophisticated system of determining optimal exposure. According to the system of operating, they are very similar to their counterparts in the classic operating mode: the Evaluative conducts sampling of the average of the entire scene, yet by analyzing 315 zones into which the entire frame is divided. The Partial metering functions similarly as the metering by means of the conventional light meter, which carries the same name, which means that metering is limited to only one part of the frame and encompasses a 10% zone. The Center-weighted Average metering mode is present as well. It is known that it meters the average of the entire scene, yet with a 75% emphasis on the center part of the frame. There is also the Spot metering which meters quite a small area of only 2.6%, disregarding the rest of the frame. Metering is operative in the range of 0-20EV, which is to say that major surprises can occur only in extreme situations.
The view is accurate, credible and remarkably fluid, which is why the feeling of frames being skipped is not experienced, regardless of magnifying or selected parameters. The Exposure Simulation functions immaculately and it is operative in all the modes, but (in contrast to the option with more advanced Canon cameras) it cannot be turned off, which can pose a problem in case you use some of the 3rd-party flashes or releases without the possibility of E-TTL communication with the camera. In case of using E-TTL compatible flashes, the camera will switch off this function by itself so as to enable visibility even when parameters are not matching since metering does not take the flash into consideration. The change of parameters is unlimited and in that aspect, Canon is the current benchmark as it offers everything that a user might need – from the change of basic parameters, such as the ISO value, aperture and exposure duration, all the way to those specific ones such as the change of color styles, white balance and the like. What is new is the possibility to use one of seven creative filters whose effect can be seen in real time, which we had a chance to see on the EOS 700D, a recently introduced model and not so much praised by the market. Although it is not a significant novelty, this option demonstrates in effect the absolute power of this new processor since something like this was inconceivable a few generations ago.
Releasing in the LV mode can be classic or by touching the display. By means of touching, it is also possible to perform both focusing and releasing, and we do have no reason to doubt that some will love this option.
The Canon 100D almost completely took over the video segment from the 650D, with only a few minor modifications. The basic aspect ratio of the video recording is 16:9, and there are two popular HD resolutions at one’s disposal – the higher one, 1920 x 1080 (the so-called 1080p), with 24/25fps for the PAL, or 30fps for the NTSC standard; and the lower one, 1280 x 720 (720p) with 50fps for the PAL, or 60fps for the NTSC. There is also the lowest resolution, 4:3 VGA (640 x 480), with 25/30fps.
The recording is encoded by the variable bit rate (VBR), real time in the MPEG-2 (H.264) format and together with the uncompressed stereo PCM audio with 16 bits and 44 kHz, and it is packed in the MOV container. As with other cameras, the video is, regardless of the selected quality, limited to the maximum 4GB per recording, owing to the limit which is imposed by FAT32 file system, used on memory controllers of today’s cameras. In conjunction with the compression quality which is performed by the encoder, this enables about 12-minute recording in the highest resolution, while about 30 in the lowest. Variations are possible depending on the conditions of recording, with a special emphasis on the presence of light. In the conditions of poor light, when the use of higher ISO values is forced, noise affects even a greater output file.
The video recording control is flexible and it is provided in a completely automatic or manual mode, with the shutter speed which ranges from 1/30 to maximum 1/4000 seconds. The shutter is set in accordance with the measures defined in advance, standard for photography. For those less informed – a faster shutter will render the shot visually more fluid ('faster'), and it is closest to the one on TV cameras. Contrary to that, a slower shutter (closer to the selected frame rate) produces more blurred frames, which results in a 'softer' projection, closer to the film shooting technique. The aperture can be set to any value limited to the lens choice, and it is not recommendable to change it during shooting due to abrupt transition, which is characteristic of the diaphragm of lenses. The ISO value is not limited as well, and it also functions in the AutoISO mode, when the cameraman will be maximally spared from the need for frequent interventions, particularly in situations which involve more dynamic light and a frequent change of conditions in general.
In comparison to the situation with EOS 650D, the second iteration of the hybrid focus this time has brought a notable advance concerning the performances – not only with regard to the speed, but also with regard to the accuracy. The focus is faster, safer and without too many unpredictable skips of the focal plane, and if you respect the manufacturer’s recommendation and use modern lenses equipped with the stepper motor (STM), you can expect and even better result! The evident improvement can be noticed even when using the continuous focus – the truth be told, not in the way that is expected from the conventional phase focus, yet far better than it used to be.
The audio is recorded at 44 kHz with 16-bit depth, and it is written uncompressed in the PCM format. Without additional equipment, the audio recording can be toggled off or entrusted to the built-in microphone. The input signal can be controlled entirely automatically, with continuous input calibration (the so-called Auto Gain Control), or, if needed, it can be set completely manually as well, with an accuracy of 64 steps on the scale, following the peak-meter as an indicator of optimal strength. In addition, there is also an option for filtering the roar produced by the wind. The built-in microphone is too sensitive for the majority of needs, which is quite understandable bearing in mind its position inside the body, whereas unwanted sounds from the body cannot be eliminated, so it is recommended that one should acquire a suitable external microphone, which is supported by a 3.5mm stereo input. Condenser microphones, which demand additional power supply from the connectors, are not supported, so they require corresponding external support.
The rest of the settings include all the predefined and subsequently created color styles, white balance, removing vignetting for lenses in the internal base, as well as the Auto Lighting Optimizer and Highlight Priority options. Noise removal, owing to the processor’s demands, is not supported during the video recording, so in order for that to be performed, one is to rely exclusively on processing in the post-processing stage.
In the preview mode, it is possible to carry out certain basic actions on the video material, such as the ability of basic trimming (cropping) of the recorded video material and recording on the card under a different name, so that the original remains intact. That is a convenient possibility for instant processing without excessively discussing details, which will be welcomed by novices and all those who want instant results, without switching on the appropriate software on the computer.
The Canon EOS 100D has got a noticeably weaker pop-up (built-in) flash, version 9.4, and it covers an 18mm wide angle (29mm equivalent) at the ISO value of 100. The valid E-TTL II algorithm is supported, when the power range can be compensated to the aperture of ±2, and it can work in the manual mode as well, when the minimum power is only 1/128. Since the special AF-Assist lamp is not at one’s disposal, the built-in flash, by means of a series of short flashes, will be used instead, as is the case with other Canon bodies. The flash can be set to fire on the first (at the beginning of releasing) or the second curtain (at the end of releasing, so as to collect as much ambient light as possible), whereas the FEB (Flash Exposure Bracketing) is not at one’s disposal.
The support for flashguns applies to all the E-TTL / E-TTL II compatible models. On the flashgun, the AF-Assist is performed with a special IC lamp, whose help is considerably more effective, whereas it attract considerably less attention. If the compensation is set right on the flash itself, it has priority over being set inside the camera. The maximum speed of flash synchronization, regardless of whether the built-in or flashgun is used, is limited to 1/200 seconds, while in the aperture priority mode it can be set to 1/60, 1/200 or be set automatically. The Flash Exposure Bracketing (FEB), which represents multiple releasing with a predefined series of flashes of different intensity, can be set for three shots in a row, and there is also support for the Multi flash, which is serial releasing of the selected intensity, at a certain frequency.