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Review: The New Canon EOS 200D – More Than Meets The Eye

Canon‘s massive popularity stems from the fact that they make great DSLR cameras for all photographers, whether you’re just beginning a photography hobby or a seasoned professional with decades of experience.

The new Canon EOS 200D is a perfect case in point – a light entry-level DSLR for new photographers. We took it out and about for a test to check out its capabilities.

First Impressions and Specifications

Small, white and light, it was almost comical pulling the brand-new Canon EOS 200D out of its box. A few weeks ago, the folks over at Canon Singapore were kind enough to send me a unit of the Canon EOS 200D for review purposes. I predominantly shoot with my Nikon and Fujifilm systems, but it is always refreshing (bewildering) to have another system to shake things up.

I tested the EOS 200D and bundled 18-55mm kit lens at my favourite shooting spot, Little India. Image: Ian Ling

The EOS 200D’s arrival in an age of super-compact, super-fast interchangeable lens mirrorless camera systems was one that took me a while to justify. While its colour offerings (Black, White, and Silver & Tan) seem to hint at an entry-level lifestyle-usage target audience, Canon had packed some of its more professional offerings into this 24-megapixel package. Dual pixel AF, combined with a touch-sensitive articulating LCD screen, would probably appeal greatly to users keen on snapping quick selfies. It also offers convenient Live View shooting with Touch Shutter functionality, and also offers a great video experience, since it does not hunt around for focus as much as some other systems with lesser contrast-detection autofocus systems might (ahem, Nikon).

Despite the blazing fast Live View focus, the EOS 200D features a paltry 9 AF points. It also has a standard ISO range of 100-25,600 (expandable to 51,200). It, however, has the latest DIGIC 7 processor, which the same one on board the EOS 6D Mark II. It also offers 5fps continuous shooting, and Bluetooth, NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity. The 200D’s video mode offers 1080p Full HD recording at 60,50,30,25 and 24fps, while still allowing for full manual control over exposure and microphone gain.

Touch Shooting allows for tack-sharp images by combining focusing and shooting. Image: Ian Ling

After figuring out menu-diving strategies and overcoming the strange focus modes and the fact that the zoom ring twists the wrong way on Canon’s lenses, I set up the EOS 200D as I would my personal EDC (Everyday Carry) camera. Reluctantly, I fished out my Fujifilm X100S out from my bag, replacing it with the EOS 200D. There, it comfortably occupied prime estate in my Billingham Hadley Pro, which I brought with me everydayeverywhere.

Handling

At 453g (body only), the EOS 200D was a very manageable weight, even as an EDC camera system. Paired with its kit lens (in a matching white finish), which most beginners would stick to, it offered a flexible 28-85mm equivalent zoom range, sufficient for everyday applications like selfies, landscapes, portraits, and street photography. Mirrorless offerings do come in at a similar price, size and weight, while offering a larger viewfinder and dual control dials at the cost of decreased battery life.

While a comfort to operate even without a strap, its shape proved a tad unwieldy for some applications. A family selfie I took at a restaurant table proved to be a little gymnastic affair as it turned out I was sitting on the ‘wrong’ side. With its characteristic DSLR-shaped bulk, no amount of contortion could allow me to snap steadily at arm’s length since I was seated on the opposite side of the shutter. I solved it by flipping the camera upside down, and relied on my mum’s directions to frame the shot and my thumb to click the shutter. Not exactly the best selfie experience.

The EOS 200D’s small size makes it a dream to handle for a small-handed gentleman as myself. Image: Ian Ling

Thus, for lifestyle users, or individuals keen on an easier operation, I would readily recommend any of the mirrorless offerings – a slimmer form factor like that found on the EOS M6 and M10 (without the ‘DSLR pentaprism’ bump) would allow greater portability and ease of use.

Speaking of selfies, another selfie I attempted (this time wisely standing on the left and holding the camera in my left hand) hunted wildly for focus while we were in the dark. I only managed to acquire focus lock by standing directly under a nearby street lamp. I must say my expectations for the Dual Pixel autofocus system were slightly dulled by that experience.

I also found the white chassis a little off-putting (though I reconciled that with its black accents, it approached something of a Star Wars Stormtrooper aesthetic). It did, however, stay pretty clean despite daily use for two weeks.

Build

The satin-finished plastic build of the EOS 200D is well justified by its featherweight chassis:  it is marketed as the world’s lightest DSLR. Its build quality left little to be desired. While nowhere near the heft of a brass Leica or the robustness of a magnesium-alloy clad EOS 1D X Mark II, the EOS 200D’s grip area was solid to the touch, LCD swivel joint was robust enough, and there was little rattling or flex in the body shell that was significant enough to induce worry.

The buttons, mode dial and shutter release, too, had sufficient snappiness and not too much of the spongy not-sure-if-I-pressed-it quality to it. However, the dials and switches are a different story. The power switch is a three-stage deal: OFF – ON – Video. Used to the trigger-finger switches on my other camera bodies, I found myself accidentally accessing the video mode plenty of times as I brought the camera to my eye, missing the decisive moment. This occurred either by flicking the switch too far, or by clicking it once, but whilst powered on already. The switch’s end state at the Video option might be far from ergonomic.

The switch itself does not inspire much confidence, too. Whilst the rest of the body indeed might be deemed “plastic fantastic”, the switch itself – the first interface a user would interact with – is more “plastic drastic”. I have to admit I was slightly afraid it would fall off from use.

The sole settings dial on the EOS 200D is an upgrade from the EOS 100D, with a more aesthetically and tactilely-pleasing knurled finish. However, it was a plasticky deal yet again – lacking the rubberized or soft finish you would expect of higher-end DSLRs. Moreover, the dial’s action is rather loud and cumbersome.

Image Quality and Shooting Experience

The EOS 200D leaves little to be desired in terms of image quality. With the latest DIGIC 7 image processor, and an APS-C sized 24-megapixel sensor that is essentially the same as the one on board the EOS 77D, the real limiting factor is the slow bundled kit lens. While sufficiently sharp and capable, 18-55 F4-5.6 kit zoom posed a limitation to low-light shots with its slow aperture. Whilst the image stabilisation (IS) featured on the lens might help in this area, I had plenty of blurred shots when my subject moved. A relatively cheap investment in the ‘nifty fifty’ EF 50 F1.8 lens might be a prudent investment for new photographers, allowing for impressive portraits with great bokeh, and outstanding low-light performance all at a relatively cheap price.

As with all sensors Canon use on its DSLRs, dynamic range is not the EOS 200D’s forte. Image: Ian Ling

Speed rather impressive: boot-up times were quick, focus speeds were snappy whether Live View or through the optical viewfinder. A slight point of note would be the time it took for the camera to snap between Live View/Video modes to the optical viewfinder. This delay inadvertently led to a few shots missed. The tap-to-shoot functionality made shooting a breeze: there is a slight delay but is completely within reason for most applications. This intuitive approach to photography would be most appreciated smartphone photographers looking for an upgrade.

The flip-and-swivel style articulating LCD screen definitely offers and edge on the flip-only offerings of the competition. This allowed easy framing for selfies and the ability to frame low angle portrait shots – perfect for cat-portraiture enthusiasts (or owners of babies that are learning to crawl). It also allows for a 180-degree pivot over the side since the camera bump would otherwise obstruct the operation of more standard flip-up screens.

The flip-and-swivel articulating screen allows for unique low-angle portrait compositions like this. Image: Ian Ling

Whilst probably sufficient for entry-level photographers, the paltry 9-point autofocus system might limit tracking action shots in continuous shooting, especially in comparison to the EOS 800D’s 45-point AF. The high-ISO performance isnt’ anything to shout about: details disappear at high ISOs.

Henrietta, ISO 25800. Out of camera JPEG. Cropped slightly. Image: Ian Ling

Given the limited interface real estate, only the ‘Q/Set’ button is customisable, leaving the rest of the functions for users to menu-dive. It might be just my poor intellect, but I spent 10 minutes looking for the intervalometer function to shoot a time-lapse during an event I covered, only to discover that I had to physically flick the switch into video mode just to access it through the menu. Lessons were learnt that day.

Beginners would be spoilt by the beginner mode – showing, in simply understood graphics, the effects of setting changes. Stop down the aperture and the slider moves toward  the graphic with a sharper background. Slow the shutter speed and a symbol of a running man becomes blurrier. I can’t be certain, but I felt that the battery drained significantly faster in this mode since the LCD remained powered on with bright animations.

The guided user interface explains how what you’re changing affects the image you’re taking. Image: Canon UK

Video

You could check out an event video we did a couple days ago when we were invited to GameStart 2017. All footage was shot handheld, IS on the bundled 18-55mm kit lens was useful.

Connectivity

The dedicated Wi-Fi button on the left of the pentaprism bump made it easy for me to access the images I took whilst it remained in my bag. The Canon Camera Connect app that is required to access your camera wirelessly was unremarkable and functioned as it should, though wireless shooting was not the fastest, and image previews took a tad too long to load. All images on this review that were taken on the EOS 200D here were transferred on to this post wirelessly.

Is it for you?

If you’re keen on building an ecosystem of Canon lenses, or already have access to Canon lenses, perhaps. The EOS 200D’s raw performance and specifications leaves little to be desired. But if you’re just starting out or are porting from another system, you should consider carefully. Whilst it is light, compact, and the ‘beginner mode’ on the Canon 200D might prove useful, its ergonomics and speed leaves some things to be desired.

The key quibbles I had while using the EOS 200D: difficulty when using it to take selfies, cheap-feeling interfaces, too few autofocus points, and a slow transition time between video and still modes.

The best things about it: Dual Pixel autofocus in an entry-level body, fully-articulating LCD screen, its light weight and compact form factor.

The Canon EOS 200D is available at all major camera retail stores at a SRP of SGD949 (kit with 18-55 lens).

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