Best Canon camera
20th Jan 2013 | 16:13
The full range of Canon's best DSLR and compact cameras
Best Canon DSLR cameras
Canon's name is synonymous with a plethora of the best cameras on the market. In the DSLR market it's the key player, and has outsold its nearest rivals for several years.
Loyal customers help contribute to this success, yet Canon's world-class range of up-to-date cameras ensures there's always something worth coming back for.
So which Canon camera is best for you? We give you the lowdown on the Canon range of DSLRs, compact system cameras (CSCs) and compact cameras.
Best Canon DSLRs explained
The Canon EOS DSLR range encompasses three sensor sizes: APS-C, APS-H and full-frame (35mm), with its CSC also using an APS-C sensor.
The Canon-produced APS-C format sensor can be found in the company's range of consumer cameras. However, its size differs from the Sony-made sensors found in Nikon and Pentax cameras. As such, these (ever so slightly) smaller-sensor Canon DSLR cameras have a 1.6x crop factor.
This means that on an APS-C format Canon camera a 100mm lens produces images similar to a 160mm on a full-frame camera, whereas 100mm on a Nikon/Sony/Pentax DSLR offers a 150mm equivalent.
Canon also makes a full-frame DSLR series that's a great option for professionals or serious amateurs. The 36 x 24mm sensor size - the same size as traditional 35mm film - is ideal for producing the utmost in image quality, and offers greater depth of field control than small sensors.
The Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, now discontinued, sported a APS-H CMOS sensor. The APS-H sensor is a Canon-only venture. The 1.3x crop (ie a 100mm lens provides a 130mm equivalent) is roughly halfway between APS-C and full-frame sizes. It's this balance between final image quality and a smaller overall kit that makes it ideal for many on-the-go pros. We wonder if we'll see it again in a future Canon camera.
In terms of lenses, all Canon DSLRs use the EF-mount. However, it comes in two flavours: the original EF and the more recent EF-S version. EF lenses are the pricier, often pro-spec lenses designed to produce an image circle large enough to cover a full-frame sensor or 35mm film. EF-S lenses are designed for the smaller-sensor APS-C format Canon DSLRs.
Meanwhile Canon's first compact system camera, the Canon EOS M, features a new EF-M mount. However, EF and EF-S lens can be mounted on the M via the Mount Adaptor EF-EOS M.
EF-S lenses are designed to fit with a shorter distance between the lens's rear element and the compatible host camera's sensor than their EF equivalents. This means an image circle only large enough to cover APS-C sensors is produced.
But also, due to their design difference, mounting an EF-S lens on a larger-sensor Canon DSLR would result in damage, due to a clash between the camera's mirror and the rear lens element. This isn't applicable the other way around, so new photographers using a post-2003 Canon EOS DSLR with an APS-C sensor size needn't worry about compatibility.
Best Canon APS-C DSLR
Canon EOS 1100D/Canon EOS Rebel T3
Price: £360/AU$870/US$550 (with 18-55mm kit lens), 12MP, HD video: 720p
Canon's entry-level EOS 1100D, known as the Rebel T3 in the US, is designed with new photographers in mind. It's Canon's most affordable EOS DSLR by quite a margin, which makes it best for those on a budget who are looking to step into first-time DSLR use.
A 12 megapixel APS-C sensor delivers decent images, whether using the full array of manual controls or the point-and-shoot Creative Auto mode.
Read our Canon EOS 1100D review
Canon EOS 600D/Canon EOS Rebel T3i
Price: £425/AU$490/US$600 (body only), 18MP, HD video: 1080p
The 'middle ground' of Canon's consumer range, the EOS 600D (or T3i as it's known in the US) has a very similar 18MP sensor to the found in the higher-spec 60D and 7D models, which makes the 600D great value for money.
Best for enthusiasts, families and creatives, one of the 600D's standout features is its 3-inch, 1040k-dot, vari-angle LCD screen. Not only is this display a higher resolution than you'll find on any competitor DSLR camera, but the ability to manoeuvre it into any given angle is a great feature to have.
Read our Canon EOS 600D review
Canon EOS M
Price: £530/AU$880/US$780 (with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 STM IS Lens), 18MP, 1080p video
Canon finally enters the CSC fray with the long awaited EOS M, which uses the exact same 18MP APS-C format sensor and other innards as the Canon EOS 650D. One notable difference from the 650D, however, is the use of the new, smaller Canon EF-M lens mount.
Canon wanted to produce a high quality camera that is easy to use and bridges the gap between compact and DSLR cameras. On the face of it, it seems to have achieved this and more, with adaptors for your EF and EF-lenses even available.
Read our Canon EOS M review
Canon EOS 650D/Canon EOS Rebel 4Ti
Price: £535/AU$760/US$800 (body only), 18MP, HD video: 1080p
Although it uses an 18MP sensor, it's a different unit to the one in Canon's other SLRs as it has pixels that are used by the hybrid AF system.
It's the first SLR to feature a touch-screen, but all the usually button and dial controls are present as well. The 650D is also Canon first SLR to allow full-time autofocus during video shooting.
Read our Canon 650D review
Canon EOS 60D
Price: £675/AU$980/US$1,000 (body only), 18MP, HD video: 1080p
The Canon EOS 60D is best for enthusiasts seeking a more rugged camera than the likes of the 600D. Although the Canon website doesn't make as much of a song and dance about the 60D's body as it ought to, this is among the key reasons to buy this camera.
Part sealed for protection against the elements, the 18MP EOS 60D is a step closer to a sturdy professional camera outfit.
Read our Canon EOS 60D review
Canon EOS 7D
Price: £1,100/AU$1,500/US$1,300 (body only), 18MP, HD video: 1080p
When the Canon EOS 7D was launched, it was touted as a camera "designed by photographers for photographers". Its launch came prior to the 60D's announcement and, at the time, looked to be a potential replacement for the longer-running 60D series. Although the 60D and 7D have a very similar 18MP APS-C sensor as in the 600D, the 7D's higher price and additional features such as full environmental sealing make it Canon's highest specified EOS DSLR with an APS-C sensor.
A focusing system with 19 cross-type focus points mean the camera zips onto subjects in portrait or landscape orientation, and the 8fps continuous shooting mode is far quicker than the 60D's 5.3fps burst. The Canon EOS 7D is best for demanding amateurs, but is easily good enough to be used professionally.
Read our Canon EOS 7D review
Best Canon full-frame DSLR
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Price: £1,340/AU$3,600/US$2,200 (body only), 21.1MP, HD video: 1080p
Now that the Canon EOS 5D Mk III has been introduced, the Canon EOS 5D Mk II can be bought for a bargain price.
So if you've always wanted to experience shooting with a full-frame camera then there's no better introduction than this superb camera. (Note, it takes EF lenses only, not EF-S).
Read our Canon EOS 5D Mark II review
Canon EOS 6D
Price: £1,650/AU$2,300/US$1,800, 20.2MP, HD video: 1080p
Wi-Fi technology is slowly appearing in compact cameras and CSCs, but the Canon 6D is the first DSLR to feature it built in, along with GPS features. A 20.2 megapixel full frame CMOS sensor combined with a Digic 5 processor enables a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-25600, which is great for low light and landscape work, but can be extended to ISO 50-102400 if necessary.
There's no doubt where the 20.2MP Canon EOS 6D is aimed. With some professional features stripped, you're left with a camera finely tuned to the needs of the enthusiast, capable of taking photos rich in colour and tone.
Read our Canon EOS 6D review
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Price: £2,340/AU$3,600/US$3,500 (body only), 22.3MP, HD video: 1080p
While it might not have the headline-grabbing 36MP pixel count of the Nikon D800, Canon's latest full-frame camera has lots to offer enthusiast photographers. For a start it has the same 61-point wide-area autofocus system as the flagship Canon EOS-1DX. This is a big improvement on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, which has nine user selectable AF points and six assist points, giving a total of 15.
We also really like the 5D Mark III's in-camera HDR system that can record all three bracketed images (in raw and JPEG) format as well as the merged image.
Read our Canon EOS 5D Mark III review
Canon EOS 1D X
Price: £4,850/AU$7,300/US$6,800 (body only), 18.1MP, HD video: 1080p
The 18.1MP full-frame sensor can churn out images at 12fps (14fps in High Speed mode) and offers other mind-bending features such as extended sensitivity up to ISO 204,800 and a 61-point autofocus system. The Canon EOS 1D X is suited for us by professional photographers working in the studio, out in the field or a mix of both. A true workhorse. (Note: it takes EF lenses only, it's not EF-S compatible).
Read our Canon EOS 1D X review
Best Canon compact camera
When it comes to compact cameras, there's a Canon model to suit all tastes. Divided into the IXUS (or PowerShot ELPH in the US) and PowerShot ranges, the former is best for point-and-shoot use, while - generally speaking - the latter is best for more demanding users seeking higher-end features, and in some cases, manual control.
However, it's not as clear-cut as that: some of the low-end PowerShot models are less significant than some IXUS models, plus a number of the latest high-end IXUS models offer manual controls and settings that blur the boundaries between the two ranges.
In the US, the IXUS range is known as the PowerShot ELPH series - confirming that, in some cases, the camera's name won't always dictate its ability.
Here are some of Canon's best compact cameras, arranged in current market price order.
Canon IXUS 125 HS/Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS
Price: £135/AU$200/US$150, 16.1MP, 1080p video
The Canon IXUS 125 HS's image quality is very good, especially given that cramming so many pixels onto a small 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor could have potential pitfalls. These are successfully minimised by the HS system and Digic 5 processing engine, which succeed in the goal of producing high image quality in difficult conditions.
It's important to note that those who may occasionally want to experiment with manual settings should look elsewhere. This is strictly a point and shoot camera aimed at those who want to snap and go, and it does this well.
Read our Canon IXUS 125 HS review
Canon PowerShot SX260 HS
Price: £210/AU$300/US$230, 12MP, 1080p video
Sporting a 20x zoom lens offering an angle of view equivalent to a 25-500mm lens on a 35mm camera, the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS should be very well equipped for those who wish to travel light. A 12MP rear-illuminated CMOS sensor, coupled with the latest Digic 5 image processor, enables this compact camera to take great quality images, even in low light. The image stabiliser system will also help with taming camera shake when shooting at low shutter speeds.
Full HD video can be recorded and output via the built-in HDMI interface and global positioning information can be recorded for sharing on image and video sharing websites. Advanced photographers will also appreciate the inclusion of manual exposure options, whereas a wide range of automatic shooting options are also included for those who are less technically inclined.
Read the Canon SX260 HS review
Canon IXUS 510 HS/Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS
The Canon IXUS 510 HS (known as the Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS in the US) offers an enormous amount to the casual photographer. The ability to upload images to social networks using the camera's integrated 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi is useful for those who don't want to travel with a laptop in tow. Alternatively, being able to send images to an iPad - which could be loaded with an image editing app - is a good way of processing and sending shots.
Lest we forget, there's a Canon compact camera underneath all the tech niceties, with an impressive 12x optical zoom (28-336mm in 35mm terms), a 10.1 megapixel sensor and Canon's much-vaunted High Sensitivity (HS) System for better performance in low light.
Read the Canon IXUS 510 HS review
Canon PowerShot D20
Price: £260/AU$330/US$290, 12.1MP, 1080p HD video
Canon's rough-and-ready PowerShot provides a good range of beginner-friendly photography features, as well as advanced camera technologies. Along with intuitive point-and-shoot modes, there's a selection of underwater shooting options to make aquatic photo capturing a stress-free experience. Some handling issues – both underwater and on dry land - take a bit of the shine off this camera's overall performance. But what this compact lacks in speed, it makes up for in image quality.
The build quality and ability of this camera to produce consistently well-exposed, detailed images can't be faulted, and additional features such as built-in GPS and Full HD video mode broaden the Canon D20's appeal. It's got a lot to offer, but if you're after an everyday rugged all-rounder camera, some similarly priced rivals may offer a more comprehensive package.
Read our Canon PowerShot D20 review
Canon PowerShot S110
Price: £370/AU$480/US$450, 12.1MP, 1080p video
Aimed squarely at the serious photography enthusiast, the Canon PowerShot S110 aspires to build on the success of its original ancestor - the pioneering Canon S90. It boasts a freshly designed high-sensitivity 12.1MP 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, Digic 5 processor, 0.2 second autofocus acquisition, a 3-inch capacitive touchscreen, raw shooting, ISO 80-12800 range and Wi-Fi, among other features.
With plenty to appeal to beginners and more advanced enthusiasts alike, the Canon S110's inclusion of Wi-Fi connectivity adds to its potential attractiveness to tech-savvy photographers too, even if it is tricky to set up.
Read our Canon PowerShot S110 review
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Price: £380/AU$590/US$450, 12.1MP, 1080p video
The Canon PowerShot SX50 is a bridge camera with a 50x optical zoom that covers the equivalent of 24-1200mm. This is a phenomenal zoom range that most DSLR users can only dream of, or perhaps look to achieve at huge expense. On top of this, it also boasts a 100x digital zoom, raw shooting and the same Digic 5 processor we've seen in Canon's top DSLRs.
What bridge cameras such as the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS offer is fantastic flexibility in a smaller, lighter and cheaper package than a DSLR. The trade-off is a smaller sensor and the impossibility of changing lenses. For anybody looking to purchase a bridge camera, the Canon SX50 is easily one of the best options currently available on the market.
Read the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS review
Canon PowerShot G15
Price: £440/AU$560/US$500, 12.1MP, 1080p HD video
At first glance, the Canon G15 looks pretty similar to the Canon G12, but there are a few significant differences. The most notable of these is the stacked or overlapping mode dial and exposure compensation dials on the top, and a new f/1.8 lens with 5x zoom.
Canon has manufactured a high quality compact camera in the shape of the Canon G15. It is capable of producing great images with bags of detail, good punchy colours and pleasing shallow depth of field effects.
Read our Canon G15 review
Canon Powershot G1 X
Price: £500/AU$700/US$700, 14.3MP, 1080p HD video
Although the zoom range is limited when compared to other Canon G-series cameras, the trump card of the Canon G1 X is its unusually large sensor. A larger sensor has more surface area to receive light, improving image quality at high sensitivities and boosting dynamic range. Interestingly, Canon has opted to stick with the 4:3 aspect ratio, rather than 3:2 as most APS-C sensors are, even though the sensor in the G1 X is roughly the same height as APS-C format.
In order to make the most of what the sensor can offer, Canon has equipped the G1 X with the latest Digic 5 processor, which promises better control over noise at high ISO sensitivities, faster operation and smoother 1080p video recording.
The 4x zoom lens provides an angle of view equivalent to a 28-122mm lens on a 35mm camera, and the usual array of direct controls found on G-series cameras should make manual operation a pleasure.
Read our Canon G1 X review