Canon’s triple-digit EOS range has long been a popular option for those seeking either an upper entry-level or step-up DSLR. In recent years, Canon has muddied the waters somewhat by offering not just one triple-digit EOS model at a time but two. In 2015, this approach resulted in the launch of both the Canon 750D and the more advanced Canon 760D.
Fast forward to 2017 and Canon has introduced two new models to succeed the 750D and 760D: the 800D and the 77D. The 800D serves as the successor to the 750D, while the 77D is intended as more of a 760D replacement that is positioned under the enthusiast-grade 80D.
Also referred to as the Rebel T7i for the US market, the 800D shares the same key specs as the 77D, although in keeping with the 750D/760D differences outlined above, gets a simplified control scheme in order to enhance its appeal with first-time and novice DSLR users.
The 800D is built around a 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor – as used inside the more advanced 80D (£840 body-only). While the 750D/760D also sported 24.2-megapixel sensors, neither encompasses Canon’s Dual Pixel AF technology, so while effective resolution remains identical to the 800D’s sensor, it represents a fairly big step forward.
Likewise, the 800D also employs Canon’s latest generation DIGIC 7 image processor, as opposed to the DIGIC 6 chip found inside the 750D/760D. Canon claims that the DIGIC 7 is able to process data 14x faster than its predecessor, which not only enables the 800D to provide a higher maximum burst speed of 6fps (compared to 5fps on the 750D/760D), but also to fire off a higher number of consecutive images when burst shooting.
In addition, the new sensor and processor pairing also allows the 800D to offer a higher maximum native sensitivity setting of ISO 25,600, along with the equivalent of ISO 51,200 in expanded mode. By way of comparison, the 750D/760D both offer a maximum native sensitivity setting of ISO 12,800, with the equivalent of ISO 25,600 available in expanded mode.
Perhaps the most notable enhancement the 800D enjoys over its predecessors is the addition of Canon’s Dual Pixel AF technology. Introduced with the EOS 70D in 2013, Dual Pixel AF is the name given to Canon’s proprietary on-sensor phase-detection technology.
In practical terms the main benefit of Dual Pixel AF is that it greatly speeds up focus acquisition times when the camera is being operated in Live View. The way it works is that each pixel on the sensor’s surface is split into two individual photodiodes – one left and one right. Each of these can be read separately, thereby allowing them to be used for phase-detection AF purposes.
Prior to the introduction of Dual Pixel AF, Canon DSLRs relied on contrast-detect technology and were renowned for providing fairly sluggish AF performance.
The move to Dual Pixel AF therefore represents a big step up in terms of performance. Indeed, Canon claims that its latest iteration of Dual Pixel AF is the fastest on-sensor phase-detection technology currently available to DSLR users. Until now, the technology has been confined to models higher up in Canon’s DSLR range – the 80D and 7D Mark II (£1250 body only), for example. This is the first time the technology has trickled down to Canon’s mid-range models.
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In addition, the 800D’s viewfinder-based phase-detection AF system has also seen a major revamp and now employs 45 individual AF points across the viewfinder, all of which are of the cross-type variety. This is a notable improvement from the 19-point system employed by the 750D/760D.
In terms of exposure modes, the 800D is well served by a generous range of options including the standard PASM quartet for more experienced users, alongside Scene Intelligent Auto mode and 10 individual Scene modes (some of which can be selected directly from the Exposure mode dial) for point-and-shoot duties.
Those wanting to get creative in-camera can take advantage of ten built-in digital filters (including old favourites such as Toy Camera, Miniature effect and a trio of HDR options), or choose one of nine Creative Auto settings, each of which is designed to capture images with a unique ambience.
JPEG processing options extend to Canon’s proprietary Picture Styles, of which there are eight presets and three User Defined slots to customise as you wish. In addition, the 800D also provides a range of in-camera lens-correction tools for minimising unsightly effects such as purple fringing and distortion, alongside the company’s longstanding Auto Lighting Optimizer tool to auto-correct image brightness and contrast.
Canon EOS 800D – Build and design
As with previous triple-digit Canon DSLR models, the 800D is a compact, lightweight and neatly styled DSLR. While it does feel a little plasticky (a common trait of entry-level Canon DSLRs over the years), overall build quality is actually pretty much on par for a camera of this price and specification.
Inside the polycarbonate outer shell, the internal electronics of the 800D are protected by an aluminium alloy chassis. This should provide ample protection against the kind of gentle knocks and accidental scrapes most cameras experience at some point in their lifetime.
However, unlike models further up the EOS range, the 800D’s body isn’t weather sealed – so you’ll need to keep it as dry as possible when shooting in wet weather.
For a DSLR of such modest overall proportions, we found the 800D’s handgrip to be surprisingly deep and pronounced. With our averagely sized hands we were comfortably able to wrap three fingers around it, while the contoured thumb grip on the back of the body offers something to brace your thumb against for a secure grip.
With the new EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II lens attached, the 800D feels exceptionally well balanced too. The camera’s physical buttons and controls are all clearly labelled, well spaced and have a reassuringly responsive ‘clicky’ feel about them when pressed.