For the past year or so I have been on a quest to find a replacement for my trusted old Canon 400D. I have been tempted by the mirrorless cameras from Olympus and Sony, swayed by the Nikon D5300 and awed by the Sony RX1. But I never took the plunge, as I did not want to throw away my old camera and lenses accumulated over the years or give it away at throwaway prices. Now, I have with me the 1200D which could be a good, affordable replacement for my camera, though it is hard to call it an upgrade. I took the camera with me on a trip to cover Computex 2014 in Taipei. Here are the results.
The 1200D has a very compact chassis, not much different from the other entry level cameras from Canon. The camera offers a good grip and stays balanced even when you are using zoom lenses. All the buttons and controls are to the right of the 3-inch LCD, which is fixed to the body and is not touch enabled. There is a simple mode dial on top with Manual and Preset controls. The control ring just above the trigger lets you change the values in any manual setting. A button next to the viewfinder lets you switch to the Live LCD mode, useful when you are shooting video.
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I first used the camera extensively during a visit to the famous Shilin Night Market in Taipei. While the stuff on sale did not excite me much, it was a good night out for the 1200D. As I jostled my way through the thick crowd of tourists, I made occasional stops to pull out the camera with its stock 18-55 lens to click some pictures of the exotic foods on offer. I never use the flash, even at night and prefer to adjust the shutter speed to get what I want. The 1200D did not complain and played along. In fact, some of the pictures came out much better than what I expected, given that each staff had different light sources ranging from halogen to LED lights.
The auto-focus of the camera was particularly impressive. It is fast and lock on to the subject real fast, even in low light. At no point did I have to strain to get the focus right. When you have multiple subjects it is quite easy to shift from the one in the foreground to background. This should make the 1200D an easy camera to learn with for first timers.
TEST IMAGES: INTERACTIVE IMAGE BELOW
As far as first timers go, I think the Creative Auto mode in the camera can really help them move from being addicted to full auto to finding the versatility and fun of manual. This mode lets you do minor adjustments even as the camera does the rest. The interface is intuitive and easy to tweak in all modes.
I also used the camera while covering the Computex, Asia’s largest tech fair. I used it to photograph senior industry leaders I was meeting and could get great shots in the first attempt itself. At the Intel keynote, I was seated a dozen rows away from the stage, but the EF-S 55-250mm lens that comes in the kit was good enough to get me good pictures of Intel President Renee James as well as some of the cutting edge products she had on stage.
Even during the visit to main exhibition all, which is a riot of colour and glamour along with being a showcase of the new tech trends for the coming months, the low-light capabilities of the 18 megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor shone through. I could use the zoom again to get detailed pictures of the devices. The colour reproduction of the camera is very impressive, while the background defocus gives a profession tinge to even the most mundane of pictures.
The only thing that I was not happy with was the full auto mode where some pictures with the flash appeared a bit burned out or too bright.
If you are looking to buy your first DSLR, this is certainly among the best option in India right now. I recommend the camera not just because of its ease of use and superb results, but also because its two-lens kit makes it a good value for money buy. Both Flipkart and Amazon are offering this package at around Rs 31,000, making it the ideal starter kit for amateurs and families.