DSLRs can be pretty daunting, what with all their knobs and dials and hundreds of jargon-y acronyms. 

Enter the Canon EOS 800D, a camera designed from the body up for beginners.

With its novice-friendly built-in photography guide and super-fast autofocus it should be a cinch to just pick up and start shooting with - but it's also packed with the latest tech to make sure the photos you take are up there with the best.

We went hands on with it to see what it's like in action.

 

Entry level, but top-spec

Canon may call the 800D ‘entry level’, but the specs are anything but - because inside it there's a 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 7 processor.

That processor is Canon's latest - and therefore, greatest - while the sensor is the same one found inside the EOS 80D, an enthusiast (ie much more expensive) Canon model which we gave a whopping 5 stars to last year. All of which means it should produce awesome pictures, with rich detail and accurate skin-tones.

Though we did get to take a few shots with it in our brief hands-on, we weren't able to take the photos away with us, so we can't confirm exactly how good the shots are; you really need to view shots back on a laptop to look at the detail. But even just viewing them on the 800D's screen was enough to impress us. That shouldn't really be a surprise, because the 800D's predecessor the 750D was also capable of taking fantastic images.

No excuses, newbie

ISO, aperture, AV, TV, huh? That doesn’t looks like a TV to me. Oh what do they all mean! Which way do I twizzle this knob? Oh blinzkis! I can see only black. Oh right, the lens cap is still on.

If that all sounds like a typical conversation every time you're handed a DSLR then the 800D might just be the answer.

Canon's long had an app which offers users tips and tutorials to help them master photography, but it’s not always convenient to whip out your phone, fire up the app and start tapping in your ISO questions as the sun goes down. Especially when you're trying to hold a camera at the same time.

The solution, according to Canon, is take the best bits from the app and put them in the camera itself, then call the whole thing the User Guide Mode. The 800D defaults to this mode, meaning that you’ll be shown handy tips on the screen as you shoot.  

It's a trick that Nikon has also tried in its entry-level cams, and while we don't need that kind of help ourselves, obviously, we can see how beginners might find it incredibly reassuring in use. Canon's version of it certainly looked impressive in our brief time with the camera. The instructions are clear, with plenty of simple graphics to help illustrate the points, and don't get bogged down too much in jargon.

How useful they are will depend on your current level of expertise, but if you already know it all then maybe the 800D isn't the camera for you anyway.

Unfussy design

Canon doesn't tend to shake things up too much from one release to the next, and body-wise the 800D is pretty similar to the 750D before it, and the 700D before that, and so on. 

That means that it's relatively unfussy, with a typical DSLR layout and design. It's not going to turn any heads in the way that a flashy compact system camera might, but it does instil a certain amount of trustworthiness. 

In the hand, the 800D feels like a Canon. That's hardly surprising given that, well, it is a Canon. But you know what we're getting at. It's comfortable to hold, with a well-contoured grip that fits nicely in the hand, and is surprisingly light to boot. That could be because it's mainly made from plastic, but at this price point that's to be expected. It's well designed for beginners, with plenty of controls within easy reach but the ability to just stick things in automatic mode if you want.

Ultimately, there's nothing much to look at body-wise, but that just means you can spend longer gazing at the photos you take instead. 

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Where to buy Canon EOS 800D: