Canon eos 600d

The direct competitor for Nikon's D5100, the Canon EOS 600D has notable similarities - most prominently a 3-inch, vari-angle LCD screen. However in the Canon camera's instance the screen is as high a resolution as they (currently) come, at a whopping 1,040k-dots. The articulating mount means it can be put through almost any angle for unusual framing and is particularly useful for lower-angled shots when capturing video.

Auto Focus

The 600D utilises a contrast-detection autofocus system when in live view (and therefore movie mode), which is far from swift off the mark. Indeed focusing isn't any better than the budget Canon EOS 1100D model and has trouble with over- and under-focusing when attempting to acquire focus. It's therefore best not to re-focus during movie capture unless you're tweaking manual focus only.

Unlike the Nikon D5100, the 600D doesn't offer a continuous autofocus option during movie capture.

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Exposure

Although the autofocus isn't great, the 600D offers plenty of manual control - through from aperture and shutter speed to ISO sensitivity and exposure compensation, everything is at your disposal should you so wish. Of course a quick flick of a button in the main menu can also set the exposure to 'Auto' for point-and-shoot simplicity too.

Movie Digital Zoom

One quirk of the 600D is the Movie Digital Zoom option that gives an additional 3x magnification without loss of resolution (it can offer up to 10x mag though this will come with some loss of detail).

As the 1920x1080 Full HD movie resolution only equates to around 2-megapixels in total, it's far smaller than the full 18-megapixel sensor on offer. By using a smaller portion of the sensor, the camera is able to multiply its zoom capabilities.

Theoretically the 600D's sensor could fit three 1080p captures side by side across its sensor, hence the 3x equating to no detail loss.

Performance

Video files are captured at 24, 25 or 30fps and rendered as MOV files using the H.264 compression codec.

Quality is very good overall, with a (variable) 45mbit/sec data rate in our test squeezing some 360MB of footage into a single minute.

Audio is dealt with using on on-board microphone, though those looking for better sound will be pleased to see the 3.5mm mic jack for external microphones. The linear PCM sound quality is good (though can get distorted due to wind when using the built-in mic).

Key video specifications

Approx price: £700 with 18-55mm kit lens
Sensor: APS-C sized (1.6x magnification)
LCD screen: 3-inch, 1040k-dot, vari-angle
Maximum resolution: 1080p capture (1920x1080px)
Frame rate: 24, 25 or 30fps
Compression: H.264 video compression and Linear PCM audio
File format: MOV file format
Exposure modes: Programme and Manual shooting options
Focus mode: Single (AF-S) and Manual (MF) focus options
Connectiveity: HDMI-C and mini-USB AV out ports, 3.5mm jack for external microphones