While the 1200D’s ISO range is fairly standard – 100-6,400 native, expandable to 12,800 – what’s really quite remarkable is how well it performs within that range. As expected, noise starts to noticeably increase once you get past ISO 1,600, however overall the images are exceptionally clean right he way up to maximum. We would be perfectly happy printing images we shot at ISO 6400 at A4 size, and with post-production noise reduction this can be improved further.
There’s a slight trade-off – the Digic 4 processor’s in-camera noise reduction makes JPEGs a little soft – but it’s still a commendable performance.
Manually controlling white balance is easy but rarely necessary – the 1200D’s white balance detection is excellently balanced. The colour rendition is exemplary. Scenes are represented accurately, with rich, vibrant and punchy colour to every style of shot in our test. Skin tones look great, the skies in landscapes even more so.
The dynamic range of the 1200D is both competent and versatile, responding well to every situation we threw at it. The balance between shadow and highlight detail is pretty much spot on, and it’s especially pleasing to see how much detail you can preserve in the background while still keeping the foreground subject in sharp focus. If you want to push it further, Canon’s Auto Lighting Optimiser can give a little extra boost to dark shadow areas.
The 1200D features a 63-area iFCL colour-sensitive meter, which we saw not only in the 1100D but also in the rather higher-end EOS 7D. In use, it’s very accurate and only rarely gets fooled by a scene. Even in challenging, high-contrast conditions, it delivers.
It’s easy to pick holes in the 1200D: not enough AF points, poor AF performance in live view, a paltry 3fps maximum burst shooting speed, the low screen resolution. All this is true, but we suspect it also rather misses the point. The 1200D is intended, completely and unapologetically, for the first-time DSLR user, and in that respect it does a lot of things right.
It’s easy to use, it’s got a host of intuitive features and the images it produces are, on the whole, excellent. Its solid construction means you can carry it about just about everywhere without worrying, and the EOS Companion app does a great job of easing you into the experience. For a first-time user, at that price, it’s hard to ask for better.
Despite a slightly lacklustre specification, the Canon EOS 1200D delivers a superb first-time DSLR experience. For an extraordinarily competitive price you get a lot of solid under-the-bonnet features like superb native ISO performance, a solid metering system and a sensor with a nice fat megapixel count.