Canon EOS 1200D: hands-on review

The 1100D gets updated with a new 18MP sensor and 1080p video, plus a nifty new companion app
Canon 1200D

You'd like to move up to a 'proper' camera and start taking better pictures, but you think ISO is something to do with tax returns and Depth of Field is a measurement used by famers. Who's gonna teach you to be a proper snapper? Canon's new beginner DSLR, the EOS 1200D, that's who: it's built for beginners and comes with an app that schools you in the pictific arts.

The basics

Canon 1200D rear panel
This is an update to the 1100D, and physically it doesn’t look much different. It’s almost exactly the same size and has a very similar look - standard DSLR with a few curves added. Like the 1100D it’s light and fairly plasticky in comparison to heftier mid-range cameras, but the body materials have been updated, giving it a slightly grippier, more solid feel.

It’s inside that counts, though, namely the new 18MP APS-C sensor, designed specifically for this camera, and new capabilities, particularly the 1200D’s improved low light performance (you can now crank the ISO right up to 12800 for flash-free night shots) and video.

Unlike its predecessor the 1200D shoots proper Full HD (1080p @ 30fps), with focus tracking and exposure control. There's even a mode that will do a quick 'n' dirty editing job on a series of short video clips, for fuss-free filmmaking. 

Appy snapper

Canon EOS 1200D with companion app
Canon EOS 1200D with companion app
Canon EOS 1200D with companion app
Canon EOS 1200D with companion app
This is very much a First DSLR, aimed at people who would like to take bigger and better pictures but are put off by the complexities of bigger and better cameras. With that in mind Canon has developed an app that teaches a new 1200D owner how to use his or her camera, and it’s really rather good.

This isn’t the first time a beginner DSLR has come bundled with a photography course. Nikon’s entry-level 3200 has in-camera photography lessons, but because Canon’s guide lives on the larger, separate screen of your phone, it’s very user-friendly, with video tutorials, guides, explanations of why your shot went wrong and photo challenges. About 30% of the app is specific to the 1200D, with some nice animations that explain to photo-n00bs what the different dials do. The remaining 70% covers the principles of photography in general, and pays more attention than most to subjective (and arguably more useful) subjects like composition. It even tells you how to hold the camera, and what stance to adopt for stability. With that in mind we’d recommend it to anyone interested in developing their skills (if you’ll pardon the pun), whatever the camera.

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