Canon has unveiled the 18-million-pixel EOS 600D (Rebel T3i), an improved version of the EOS 550D with a flip-out 3in screen and features designed to win over compact camera users.

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The 600D boasts an 22.3×14.9mm (APS-C-size) CMOS imaging sensor and 14-bit Digic 4 image processor.

It will replace the EOS 500D and sit above the one-year-old 550D in the range when it debuts in April at a body-only price of £679.

In a meeting with Amateur Photographer, Canon made clear that it wants this ‘enthusiast’-level camera to attract people coming from a ?technology? or ?high-end? compact camera background ? those who are after the picture quality offered by the larger sensor on a DSLR.

?It?s not a scary step,? said David Parry of Canon UK?s Product Intelligence Team.

Canon hopes that automatic functions on board the 600D should make it more accessible to the family user, as well as the keen photographer.

?We are definitely broadening the range of people who can use this [type of ] camera,? said Parry.

Asked if the 600D is Canon?s answer to growing competition posed by compact system cameras, he said that this model is aimed at a ?different kind of buyer?.


Canon EOS 600D image

To help pull in DSLR newcomers, Canon has added a Feature Guide to the user interface, for example. This gives them a brief description of each of the key settings and the effect of using it.

Also new is Scene Intelligent Auto, which analyses the scene and ?automatically? selects the best settings.

However, Canon claims that, unlike similar modes on compact cameras, Scene Intelligent Auto will optimise the settings for the type of subject in a countless number of different combinations.

?If it sees a blue sky it will try to make the blue as vivid as possible,? said Parry, adding that the technology treats different areas of the scene in different ways, to adjust variables such as white balance, contrast and exposure.

So, if a person is also spotted in the scene, the camera should adjust the settings to make their skin appear more ?natural?.

Scene Intelligent Auto uses data provided by the 600D?s ?Scene Detection Technology? to analyse faces, brightness, movement contrast and subject distance. A new Picture Style Auto mode has been added, so users can create a Picture Style for a particular image, based on this analysis.

Also key to the ?more approachable? ethos of the 600D is the introduction of Easy Wireless, a Speedlite option designed to make wireless flash less complicated to use. The 600D adjusts settings for the user when the flash is set to slave.

Page 2: More EOS 600D spec and NEW LENS

And in a nod to increasingly feature-packed compact cameras, Canon has introduced a Fish-Eye Effect to the Creative Filter options. This sits alongside miniature, toy camera and grainy b&w.

Trickling down from the EOS 60D, is Basic +, technology which aims to allow the user to easily choose the creative effect they want to achieve from eight options, including ?Cool? and ?Intense?. When shooting according to the level of ?ambience? in a scene, for example, exposure compensation and white balance is adjusted according to preset styles.

Like the 550D, the maximum equivalent ISO sensitivity achievable is ISO 12,800. The 600D also incorporates its sibling?s 9-point AF-system, 3,7 frames per second burst rate, and 63-zone dual layer metering system.

The 600D shoots Full HD videos (1920×1,080 pixels) but, unlike the 550D, adds a new feature called Video Snapshot.

This allows photographers to take short clips (of two, four or eight seconds duration), to document key moments of action.

The idea is to prevent the user ending up with lots of uninteresting footage to edit afterwards. These clips can then be stored in an album for playback later, as one movie.

Borrowed from the higher-end EOS 60D is Movie Digital Zoom, which crops the sensor from 3x to 10x.

As well as body only, the EOS 600D will go on sale in a kit that includes a new, redesigned, 18-55mm IS [Image Stabilization] lens, costing £769.

The EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II is billed as a versatile, compact zoom and will replace the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS.