Life sucks if you're a DSLR.
Five years ago you were Charlie Big Potato, strutting around town with a haughty air of superiority in your 'I've got more megapixels' than you T-shirt. But now? Now you're yesterday's news. Those hipster mirrorless cams have stolen your thunder with their retro style and skinny frames, and even the average smartphone now matches you for pixels. The shame!
You could just give up the fight, find yourself a niche among a certain type of photographer and slowly decline into irrelevance.
Or, maybe, you could reinvent yourself as the people's champion: a spectacularly easy-to-use entry-level snapper that takes spectacularly sharp snaps.
Guess which option the Canon 750D has taken?
Easy as (a photo of) pie
So why's the 750D so simple to use? Well for starters there's its touchscreen.
One of the reasons why everyone uses smartphones to take photos these days is because they're so simple to operate: hold them up, touch the screen and you're done. By contrast proper cameras - particularly DSLRs - can look a bit intimidating what with all their buttons and dials.
But while the 750D does have plenty of switches to flick and dials to twirl, it also has a touchscreen. And you can use that touchscreen to take photos. Very easily.
The Canon's far from the first DSLR to get this feature - indeed its predecessor the 700D also had it - but it's far ahead of its rivals in terms of implementation. It helps that the screen itself is super-sharp - it's a 3in TFT LCD with 1040k-dot resolution - but more importantly it's super-swift in operation: touch the screen and the shutter fires seemingly instantaneously.
You can also use the screen to change settings and the like and although we still generally prefer the physical controls for setting exposure, it's incredibly handy to be able to swipe through pictures and even zoom in with a pinch.
Another big help is that the screen is of the twisty-turny variety. Canon's again ahead of the field here, because while many camera displays can now swivel up or down, few can move fully in 360 degrees as this one can. It's a contortionist's dream, and makes shooting from any angle not just possible but often easy, especially when combined with the touchscreen.
Build quality is decent: it's an all-plastic affair and won't turn any heads with its looks, but it's solid enough, impressively light and comfortable to hold. The physical controls are well placed for easy-access and there are dedicated buttons for most things you might actually use: white balance, drive mode, exposure compensation, autofocus points etc.
As well as being easy to handle, the 750D is easy to shoot with. Much of that is due to its excellent autofocus. The 750D inherits the 19-point setup seen in the mid-range 70D and teams it with the Hybrid CMOS AF III system found in the new EOS M3.
Don't worry too much about the details though - all you really need to know is that it's exceptionally fast to lock on to a subject even in dim light and does a really good job at tracking moving subjects. Alright, so it's not a camera that's aimed at pro sports snappers - its 5fps burst speed makes that clear - but it'll capture every flailing limb of your kid down the park.
The move to the AF III system really bears fruit though when you switch to Live View. The 750D is almost as swift to focus when using the rear screen as it is through the viewfinder and also does a pretty good job of tracking moving subjects. As recently as a couple of years back, Live View was the last resort option, but no more - here the combination of touchscreen, twisty display and excellent autofocus make it genuine alternative to the viewfinder.
That said, we still love having a viewfinder too. There's something about shooting with the camera up to your eye that aids composition as you focus (pardon the pun) solely on what's in the frame rather than what's happening around it. It's also better in direct sunlight, helps you keep the camera steady when shooting and at the time of writing is better for action shooting.
As a proper DSLR, the 750D has an optical viewfinder rather than the electronic type you get on compact system cams. Which is better? Well EVFs have come on leaps and bounds recently, with the likes of the Fuji X-T1 packing fast, high-res mini-displays which do a great job in most situations and offer several key advantages over optical viewfinders. Chief among them is the ability to see exactly what you're going to get before you take it: change the depth of field on a CSC and it'll be visible; not so on a DSLR.
But this advantage only makes itself felt on a big, high-res electronic display. Most CSCs aren't half as good as the Fuji X-T1 in this regard, and many cheaper models don't have one at all. An optical finder is also often better in low-light, where EVFs can get very noisy.
So, while the 750D's optical viewfinder isn't the biggest out there and only offers 95% coverage, it's still likely to be better than what you'd get on an entry-level CSC. For now at least.
A camera that's easy to use is all very well, but a bit of a waste if it can't also take good photos. Fortunately, the 750D excels on this front.
If you were to open the body up you'd find a new 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor inside, and it's (mostly) that which we should thank for the image quality.
Canon's entry-level cameras had been stuck at 18MP for years, starting way back with the 550D in 2010 and continuing until 2013's 700D. As a result, it was in danger of being left behind: Nikon had upped the game when it released the 24MP D3200 in 2012 and right now you could buy a 36MP compact system camera (the Sony A7r) or a 20MP smartphone (the Sony Xperia Z3+, for one).
All of this means that the jump to 24MP here is most welcome. No, megapixels aren't everything - it's what you do with them that counts - but the extra cropping potential over 18MP isn't to be sniffed at. And, as well as buying you plenty of photographic real estate, having that many megapixels helps dig up masses of detail in shots.
It also handles noise brilliantly, and for that, we also have the new DIGIC-6 processor to thank. You'll get superb images in good light at anything up to ISO 800; in fact, you can barely tell the difference between shots at ISO 100-400 and the step up to 800 is only noticeable if you're really looking. ISO 1600 and 3200 are also perfectly usable, and even shots at 6400 are acceptable.
As always with Canon, the colours are a little muted for our tastes, but you can easily ramp them up beforehand in the settings or afterwards in your photo editor of choice.
If we're being critical (and we probably should be, given that's our job) we've seen Nikon's equivalent DSLRs and the cream of the CSC crop produce slightly better results overall. Most of that is down to dynamic range - the amount of difference in the darks and lights the sensor can capture - but in real-world use it's unlikely to be an issue.
If you're the type to pixel-peep every photo, the 750D will probably lose out when compared to, for instance, the Nikon D5500 or Sony A6000. But then if you're that type of person you're probably better off spending a bit more money and buying a Nikon D750 or Sony A7 II.
Video is a bit of a mixed bag. On the up side the footage is crisp and you get continuous autofocus while shooting. Plus, if you're using one of Canon's STM lenses, it'll be virtually silent as you zoom and focus, which is handy. On the down side, Canon's still stuck in 2013 when it comes to framerates - you get full 1080p quality at 30fps but not 60fps, and there's no 4K at all.
We're not going to mark the 750D down for those failings though. This is an entry-level camera after all.
Bells and whistles
You might not expect to get many extras on an entry-level camera, but as well as the aforementioned touchscreen you also get built-in Wi-Fi and NFC here. Those two combine nicely with the excellent Canon Camera Connect app to give you yet another way of snapping away.
Wi-Fi's been a common inclusion on DSLRs for some time now, but in our experience it's about as much use as a chocolate teapot. The surprise on the 750D is that it actually works. Alright, so setting it up the first time is a bit of a pain, but once that's done you get a decent, stable connection. There's no dedicated Wi-Fi button, but if your phone or tablet has NFC (and most Androids now do) then subsequent connections are a matter of touching the two devices together.
The app itself is better still. You can use it to control pretty much all aspects of the shooting process remotely, meaning you can set the camera up on a tripod, stand a few feet away and take a nicely exposed selfie should you wish to (you shouldn't). It's particularly handy for long exposures, or for placing the camera somewhere hard to reach while still being able to see a live feed of what it's viewing.
Plus, you can use it to download images from the camera straight to your phone, which is great if you want to share them straight away but don't have a laptop with an SD reader close to hand.
Other extras include a built-in flash which, while no substitute for a proper standalone model, is useful as a fall-back option and a bevy of creative modes. These are best described as 'fun for five minutes'. They won't change your life, or your shooting style, but generally work quite well; you get the likes of fish-eye, HDR, toy camera and the other usual suspects.
You might well have noticed there's another new entry-level camera in Canon's line-up in the form of the 760D. So what's the difference? Well on the inside, nothing at all.
It has the same sensor, same autofocus system, same processor, same menus. The screen is the same, viewfinder is the same, video options are the same.
What is different is the control scheme. The 760D is aimed at slightly more experienced snappers and accordingly gains an extra settings wheel on the rear, an LCD display on top and a couple of mode locks. Oh, and it'll set you back an extra £50 or so.
If you're the type of photographer who leaves your camera in auto, you're better off with the 750D. But if you shoot in manual or aperture- or shutter-priority modes - or plan to in future - you might find the 760D a better fit.
Canon 750D Verdict
If you come to the Canon 750D expecting the very best DSLR on the market, you'll be disappointed. It is, unashamedly, an entry-level camera. The build quality doesn't compete with that of pricier models, there's no weatherproofing, the dynamic range is way behind what you'd get on some of Nikon's range and it won't be winning any camera fashion shoots.
But if what you're really looking for is a camera that makes it spectacularly easy to take photos way beyond what any smartphone could, you need look no further.
Sure, there are plenty of good compact system cameras out there these days, but at this price point they generally lack many of the same features as the 750D, and often won't have a viewfinder either. Plus, DSLRs are still usually better for shooting fast-moving action - the 750D more so than most entry-level models - and we might hasten a guess that many people considering this camera will be using it to take pictures of hyperactive kids. Finally, it's worth considering Canon's lens line-up, which is bigger and better than that offered by any rival.
Of course the 750D's predecessor the 700D also has access to those same lenses and is around £100 cheaper these days, making it a potential rival itself. But for us, the advantages the newer camera has in terms of resolution, autofocus and overall performance make it the model to choose if you're starting from scratch. Is it worth upgrading if you already own the 700D? Probably not - you'll be better off paying a little extra for the excellent 70D, should you feel you've outgrown the entry level.
Of its non-Canon rivals there are two that stand out - the Sony A6000 and Nikon D5500. The Sony has a lot going for it, including fast autofocus, small size and good EVF, but it's not quite as user-friendly as the Canon. The D5500 has a very similar spec to the 750D and which you prefer will probably come down to which side you fall on the age-old Canon vs Nikon debate.
Either way, the Canon 750D is a joy to use and will very rarely let you down. Maybe the age of the DSLR isn't over yet after all.