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Canon EOS 100D review: tiny digital entry-level SLR camera

The EOS 100D is the world’s smallest and lightest digital SLR. It’s only slightly bigger than the mirrorless EOS M, and it’s significantly smaller than the standard entry-level-size EOS 700D. If you’re looking for an almost-fully-functional digital SLR that’s extremely portable, the EOS 100D ticks all the boxes. See all camera reviews.

The EOS 100D is properly small. The body only measures 117 x 91 x 69mm and 407g, making it far more portable than the 133 x 100 x 79mm, 580g EOS 700D or 125 x 96 x 77mm, 505g Nikon D3200. See Group test: what's the best interchangeable lens camera?

The camera’s dial-and-button layout isn’t particularly compromised by its small size, thankfully — the top of the camera has a mode dial, three-position on/off power and video mode switch, control dial, and shutter button. The back has menu and info buttons, a Live View (or video record) button, playback, trash, exposure compensation, focus, exposure-lock, and a five-way navigation pad — there’s really nothing significant missing compared to a larger or more expensive digital SLR

All of this is on top of the touchscreen-enabled 3-inch LCD panel, which it shares with the EOS M. You can adjust everything critical through the touchscreen — focus point, white balance, ISO, and so on — although it’s possible to turn it off and leave it alone if you’re not a fan.

The camera’s design is just right — we think it’s about as small a digital SLR as we’d be willing to use. Its viewfinder is on the edge of too-small, but it’s perfectly usable for framing a shot, with 95 per cent coverage of the imaging sensor. If you want spot-on framing, you can also use the Live View mode, which is quick and accurate thanks to Canon’s hybrid autofocus, which does an extremely good job of locking on where you want it to without any fuss.

The Canon EOS 100D’s build quality is not excellent, we have to say — it’s sold at an impressively low price, and it’s very light, so we can understand this, but you’ll have a better time holding Nikon’s slightly-more solid D3200. It’s just a little too plasticky and hollow-feeling for our liking, although we are used to more reassuring semi-pro and pro-level camera bodies.

Canon is selling the EOS 100D in Australia in two kit options — with the 18-55mm IS STM lens, and in a twin-lens kit with the 18-55mm and a 55-250mm IS non-STM telephoto zoom lens. You can also buy a silent-focusing 18-135mm IS STM lens separately, and a compact 40mm F2.8 STM prime lens. We tested the camera with the 18-55mm lens alone.

The EOS 100D is built around a 18-megapixel APS-C (24x18mm) sized imaging sensor, the same size as almost every other entry-level, enthusiast and semi-professional camera on the market, right up to the EOS 6D and Nikon D600. It uses Canon’s DIGIC 5 imaging processor, so generally runs fast and produces images that look great.

This ISO 400 shot is entirely clean of image noise, as you'd expect.

Here’s the thing, though — Canon has now had a lot of cameras using this 18-megapixel sensor. From the 550D to the current 700D (that’s four), the EOS M, the 60D, the 7D, and now the EOS 100D, this particular sensor has been used in eight various models ranging from entry-level to semi-professional.

In bright lighting, the EOS 100D can capture great photos.

This should give you some confidence in its good image quality, but since it’s been in use for three years now it’s going to struggle to keep up with comparable models from Canon’s main rival, Nikon.

Even at ISO 3200, there's very little visible grain in images.

The EOS 100D has an ISO range from 100 up to 12,800, extensible to 25,600 with a boost mode. In general use, everything between ISOs 100 and 3200 is perfectly usable, with the higher of these settings introducing a moderate amount of colour image noise and grain.

This ISO 400 image shows consistent colour even in darker areas.

ISO 6400 is usable in a pinch, especially if you’re using photos on the web in smaller sizes, but we’d avoid 12,800 and 25,600 unless it’s absolutely crucial to capture a particular picture.

ISO 100, even in a slightly darker environment, is achievable with show shutter speeds thanks to the lens's image stabilisation.

The camera’s JPEG engine produces generally sharp, vibrant pictures, with a variety of picture styles available for anyone that wants to tweak in-camera or before shooting. You can also capture in RAW and process to JPEG later (not in camera, though), if you want to extract slightly more detail from your images.

A *tiny* bit of background blur is achievable with close focus at the lens's full 55mm range.

The EOS 100D is quick to start up and operate, switching on to capture a photo with a cold-start in just under half a second. Hit the Live View button and the screen lights up, ready to capture, in another half-second. If you’re in continuous shooting mode you can capture images at up to 4 frames per second, which isn’t exactly blazing fast but is decent for an entry-level digital SLR. We have no real complaints about the EOS 100D’s speed, even shooting to capture RAW images, as long as you don’t rattle off long bursts and then expect to keep shooting straight away.

The Canon EOS 100D packs in almost all of the functionality of larger, more expensive, more ‘professional’ digital SLRs into a miniaturised body. Its sensor may be getting on in years, but it’s still perfectly usable in anything more than the worst lighting conditions. If you don’t mind its budget construction — and keeping in mind that you’re not going to get anything especially rock-solid for its asking price — we have no pressing issues with the camera’s design, controls or image quality. If size matters, have a serious look at the EOS 100D.

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