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Canon 650D vs 7D – Which Digital Camera Should I Buy?

Updated on January 2, 2013
Self portrait - shooting with my Canon 7D
Self portrait - shooting with my Canon 7D

Choosing a new camera can be quite a daunting job, especially when you are looking to buy a ‘serious’ camera rather than a point-and-shoot. It’s not as simple as deciding which is the best camera, because each has its pros and cons. The question you need to answer is “Which is the best camera for me?”

Let me begin by saying that I own a Canon 7D. It is a very good camera, but I carry a camera everywhere I go, and the 7D is rather heavy. As I am a very small person, I find it quite a strain carrying it around all the time and recently acquired a smaller camera for everyday use. None the less, I love my 7D.

Before you decide which camera to buy, you need to define what you plan to do with your camera.

  • Are you going to shoot a lot of sports? If so, you will want a camera that it really quick. If you set the drive of the 7D to continuous, it will shoot at 8 frames per second in good light. The 650D will only give you 5 frames per second. This is still pretty quick, but if the action is fast enough, those extra 3 frames may give you a shot that you would have missed with the 650D.
  • Do you want good video performance? The newer technology makes the 650D a winner in this department. The 650D will give you continuous autofocus while filming video. The 7D requires you to change focus manually. The 650D also has a stereo microphone, while the microphone on the 7D is mono.
  • Do you plan to shoot mainly using the viewfinder? If you are going to do things the old-fashioned way and shoot exclusively using the viewfinder, the 7D will serve you very well. It has 19 selectable focus points, compared to 9 on the 650D.
  • Do you want great performance using the screen instead of the viewfinder? The 7D can be rather sluggish when using live view (using the screen to compose your shot). In this department the 650D’s newer technology will give you a huge advantage. Not only is live view performance much quicker, but the 650D is the first Canon DSLR to sport a touch screen. Among the features of the touch screen is the ability to shoot the photo by simply touching your desired focal point. In certain situations this can be a huge time saver.
  • Do you want an articulated screen for live view shooting? The 650D offers this feature, which can be useful if you need to hold your camera overhead to get a difficult shot in a crowd or if you want to take a photo from ground level and aren’t keen to lie flat on the floor to take the shot.
  • Are you likely to shoot in bad weather? The 7D is both water-resistant and dust-resistant. The 650D is not.

The 650D is substantially cheaper than the 7D, and if it meets your requirements it will give you a bit of extra money to spend on quality lenses, which can be more important for getting good photos than a more expensive body.

If you are looking for portability, you might also consider Canon’s entry into the mirrorless market – the EOS M. Like a DSLR, it uses interchangeable lenses. There are only two lenses available for it at this stage, but more are likely to follow soon. With an adapter, however, you can use lenses made for a DSLR, so you won't be too limited if you have access to the lenses you need. The EOS M is a bit like a mini 650D. It has the same size CMOS crop sensor. However, the EOS M does lack an optical viewfinder, which means you can only shoot using the screen. It also lacks a pop-up flash, but it does come with a small flash which you can use on the hot-shoe, and you can also use the same powerful flashes as you would use on any Canon DSLR.


Note: In some countries the Canon 650D is known as the Canon Rebel T4i.


Which Canon camera would you be most likely to buy?

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    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I can see where pros want to buy this, but it costs a bit too much for someone like me to afford. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Gina145 profile image
      Author

      Gina145 4 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks, alocsin. They are both good cameras, as are cheaper DSLRs like the Canon EOS 1100D (or EOS Rebel T3, depending where you live). Some of the older models are also available quite cheaply where I live, or you could look into buying a refurbished model.

      If you don't want interchangeable lenses, there are many interesting models available at a variety of price levels and image quality has really improved a lot in the last couple of years.

    • jantamaya profile image

      Maria Janta-Cooper 4 years ago from UK

      Great article providing enough information about both cameras. It'll help me to buy my new camera (my old one needs to be replaced slowly). Thanks for writing it. Voted up.

    • Gina145 profile image
      Author

      Gina145 4 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks Maria.

      Good luck choosing a new camera. I know how difficult it can be.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That was very helpful. Within the next six months I want to buy a new camera, so I'm reading reviews on HP and jotting down notes. Thank you.

    • Gina145 profile image
      Author

      Gina145 4 years ago from South Africa

      One thing to consider - within the next six months there are sure to be some newer models available which may have interesting new features.

      Good luck making your choice. It isn't easy.

    • profile image

      Skyring 3 years ago

      I've got both a Rebel T4i and a 650D - I got one off eBay, but when I saw the other in a local second hand shop with a bunch of lenses and filters and a good carry bag, I bought the other. Not entirely happy with the autofocus in Liveview, so I've just switched up to a 70D, which has many of the best features of both 650D and 7D.

      Should Canon replace the 7D with (say) an 8D, then I might be tempted to move up to full frame.

    • Skyring profile image

      Peter 3 years ago from Canberra

      Ah, that's me. Just signed up. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Gina145 profile image
      Author

      Gina145 3 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Skyring. When Canon replace the 7D it probably won't be with a full frame camera. They've already introduced a cheaper full frame camera since this Hub was written. That's the 6D. I've heard good things about it but I've never tried using one.

    • Skyring profile image

      Peter 3 years ago from Canberra

      Just looked through the DPReview entry. Not for me, I think. I love that articulated touchscreen too much. The GPS is tempting, but I think all in all it is too much money for fullframe and GPS, over what I already have.

      Give me a year or two to outgrow my 70D!

    • Gina145 profile image
      Author

      Gina145 3 years ago from South Africa

      In addition to my 7D I now have an Olympus OM-D E-M5 mirrorless camera which I carry everywhere with me as I find the 7D rather heavy for daily use. My Olympus has a touchscreen too and I'm loving that.

      I don't imagine you'll outgrow your 70D in a hurry. When I wrote this Hub the 70D wasn't available yet or I may have bought that instead of my 7D.

    • profile image

      digitalcameracomp 11 months ago

      Nice article. When having a digital camera comparison it is quite hard to choose only one and find the one that is perfect for you with the large number of models out there. I have yet to decide on a digital camera. We will see, maybe i will go for the 70D :)

    • Gina145 profile image
      Author

      Gina145 11 months ago from South Africa

      Hi digitalcameracomp The 70D is a pretty good camera. It wasn't available yet when I wrote this Hub.

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