DSLRs are the favourite type of camera for hobbyist photographers, enthusiasts and pros. Canon is one of the two main players in the DSLR market (the other is Nikon) and the current Canon DSLR line-up falls into three categories, aimed at beginners, enthusiasts and professionals.
We'll also reserve a special mention for Canon's only mirrorless compact system camera, the EOS-M.
All current beginner-level Canon EOS cameras are intuitive and easy to use, even for those with absolutely no prior photographic knowledge. Intelligent auto modes and scene modes tailor the camera settings to make the most of wide-ranging shooting scenarios, while semi-automatic and manual modes let you take over the settings when you're ready and as you learn new skills.
Canon EOS 1200D/Canon EOS Rebel T5
Sensor: APS-C format CMOS | Megapixels: 18.0Mp | Autofocus: 9-point AF, 1 cross type | Continuous shooting: 3fps | Monitor: 3-inch 460,000 dots | Video: 1080p
If price is the key determining factor when you're choosing a DLSR, then the 1200D has to be a very strong contender. It delivers great image quality, classic DSLR design and handling and access to Canon's full range of lenses and accessories.
The biggest problem with the 1200D is that it's just not that exciting. Its predecessor, the EOS 1100D, was on the market for a full three years, so it would have been nice to see some more audacious specs, such as built-in Wi-Fi or a touch-screen display, but the 1200D really offers more of the same – a set of basic but effective features for budget-conscious photographers and novices.
Nevertheless, Canon has once again produced a reliable camera capable of creating some beautiful images. If you're in the market for your first DSLR and you're fine with a no-frills purchase, then the 1200D is a great option.
Canon EOS 100D/Canon EOS SL1
Sensor: APS-C format CMOS | Megapixels: 18.0Mp | Autofocus: 9-point AF, 1 cross type | Continuous shooting: 4fps | Monitor: 3-inch, 1,040,000 dot, touch-sensitive | Video: 1080p
An exercise in downsizing, the 100D is the most compact and lightweight D-SLR that Canon has ever made, yet still features plenty of upscaled attractions, incuding an 18Mp sensor and a 3-inch 1040k touch-screen LCD that adds touchscreen operation.
The 100D uses Canon's Hybrid CMOS AF system where a selection of its photosites are used for phase-detection autofocus, making continuous autofocus possible when shooting video.
It also features the beginner-friendly Scene Intelligent Auto shooting mode, as featured on the Canon EOS M, 700D and 70D. A step up over the older and more basic 'green square' full auto mode, it analyses scenes as you're composing shots, not only checking brightness, contrast and colour, but also detecting faces and watching out for movement.
Naturally, you can adjust all shooting parameters in the more advanced 'creative zone' of the shooting dial that includes the usual P, Av, Tv and M options. The sensitivity range is good too, stretching to ISO 12800 in its standard range, and all the way to ISO 25600 in expanded mode.
Canon EOS 700D/Canon EOS Rebel T5i
Sensor: APS-C format CMOS | Megapixels: 18.0Mp | Autofocus: 9-point AF, all cross type | Continuous shooting: 5fps | Monitor: 3-inch, 1,040,000 dot, touch-sensitive | Video: 1080p
A little larger than the 100D and nearly 50 per cent heavier, the 700D sits at the top of Canon's beginners' range of D-SLRs. Like the 100D, it has nine autofocus points for phase-detection AF in regular stills shooting mode, but this time all nine points are cross-type, rather than just the central point. This makes for improved autofocus performance with greater accuracy when using any of the peripheral points.
A larger capacity battery boosts life to 440 shots compared with the 100D's 380 shots, and the 700D also boasts a faster maximum burst rate of 5fps instead of 4fps. Both cameras feature a high-resolution 1040k, 3-inch touchscreen LCD, but the one in the 700D is a 'vari-angle' screen with full articulation.
The same features that make the 100D so ideal as a beginners' camera are retained in the 700D. These include an on-screen feature guide, Scene Intelligent Auto and a wide range of scene modes, as well as a Basic + mode for adjusting 'ambience' settings like vivid, soft, warm and cool.
Sensor: APS-C format CMOS | Megapixels: 18.0Mp | Autofocus: 31-point Hybrid CMOS AF | Continuous shooting: 4.3fps | Monitor: 3.2-inch, 1,040,000 dot, touch-sensitive | Video: 1080p
This is Canon's one and only entry so far in the mirrorless compact system camera market. The EOS-M uses the same 18-megapixel CMOS sensor as Canon's entry-level DSLRs, but introduces a new lens mount – the removal of the mirror means that the distance from the lens to the sensor is shorter and regular Canon SLR lenses won't fit (though you can get an adaptor).
The EOS-M is a decent enough camera and the picture quality is first rate, but its conservative design means that it's smaller than a DSLR but still not really pocket-sized (a problem for many compact system cameras). With the 18-55mm lens mounted the M feels unbalanced in your hand and the slim grip on front doesn't provide enough purchase.
Canon's Hybrid AF system isn't as fast as Panasonic or Olympus's contrast detection systems – or Sony's Hybrid AF system – and the M isn't suited to shooting anything other than stationary subjects.
• Read our Canon EOS-M review.