So you’re just getting into photography, and you’re considering upgrading from your smartphone, to a DSLR. After looking around at options, you’ve decided that going second hand, and buying an older camera, like the Canon 1200D, also known as the Canon Rebel T5, would be preferable.
In this review, we’re going to go through what the Canon 1200D, released all the way back in February 2014, can, and can’t do, and if it’s a useable camera in late 2022, and beyond.
Size & Build
In This Article
First, let’s look at the camera’s physical aspect. Measuring 129.6mm x 99.7mm x 77.9mm, and weighing in at just 480g, with card and battery, this DSLR is very portable.
I personally prefer beefier cameras, like my Canon R5, but I get that most people prefer smaller cameras. If you’re looking to take a smaller camera with you to take photos in your local area, or you just prefer your camera take up as little space in your backpack as possible, this would be a great fit.
Naturally, your choice of lens would also effect things, but we’ll get into lenses a bit later in the review.
When it comes to build quality, the 1200D is mostly made of carbon and glass fibre, and also polycarbonate resin. It feels nice to the touch, especially for the budget.
So, when it comes to image quality, what can the Canon 1200D’s 22.3mm x 14.9mm 18MP CMOS Sensor do?
Well, just like with any tool, it largerly depends on who’s using it. If you understand how light works, what composition is, how to interact with your models, how to find the best angles, etc. you can get some fantastic results with very rudimentary gear.
Infact, some of the most famous photos ever taken, were captured using equipment that was far more basic than this camera. This is something to always bear in mind, as you progress on your journey into photography and videography.
Before I actually show you some of the photos I’ve taken with this camera, let’s talk about the ISO, camera’s processor, and its capacity to focus.
So, when it comes to ISO, you can do between 100, and 6400, with the ability to expand to 12800. ISO, in the case of DSLR cameras, basically brightens the image. The higher the ISO, the brighter the photo will be. The problem is that it will also introduce noise into the image, if you’re trying to compensate for low light by just bumping up the ISO.
The 1200D’s DIGIC 4 processor will do an ok job of removing some of the noise, but the general rule is that the newer the processor is, the better the job it can do at removing noise.
Lowering the shutter speed will allow you to capture some more light, but the lower the shutter speed is, the higher the chance is that you will introduce motion blur, or shake, into your image.
Actually, as a side note, when it comes to shutter speed, this camera can do up to 1/4000s max.
When it comes to auto focus, the 1200D is too old to have Dual Pixel AF, and also you only have 9 AF points. You can absolutely manage with 9 AF points, but bear in mind that autofocus on this camera won’t be as magical as what you get on the newer, but much more expensive Canon cameras.
And now, here are some photos I’ve taken on this camera. Feel free to let me know down below which one was your favourite.
Now, we’ve covered image quality from a photographic perspective. But what about video?
As you might imagine, the cinematic capabilities of this camera won’t exactly wow anyone in 2022. It can do 1080p at 30fps, and it can also do 720p at 60fps.
Given the absence of Dual Pixel AF, and the fact that you only have 9 AF points, don’t expect much from autofocus during filming.
With that in mind though, if you’re filming subjects that aren’t moving too much, like interviewing someone, or filming static objects, then this camera will work. If you’re willing to use manual focus as well, you can still get some great video with it.
There is also another aspect, that is not often discussed, which is that by using a piece of gear that has severe limitations, like the T5 here, you’ll actually become far better at your craft.
If your first camera is something like the Canon R, or R5, you won’t learn anything. The reason is because these cameras are so good, that they can usually just read your mind, in which case, why would you actually need to get good?
If, on the other hand, you’re starting with something like the Canon 1200D, the severe limtations that will be placed upon you will force you to get creative, and thus problem solve, and learn.
After all, why learn manual focus, when the camera can just read your mind, and focus immediately? Why learn how to expose the image properly, when auto mode knows exactly what to do?
Why learn what you should focus on when taking portraits, if the camera’s magical eye detection AI can immediately focus on the nearest thing that resembles an eye?
If you’re using a limited piece of gear, you’ll have to learn how to focus. You’ll have to switch to manual mode, and fiddle with aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, until you get a good result. You’ll have to use manual focus, and try to get that eye to be as sharp as possible.
As a result, when you do eventually upgrade to a more expensive camera, you’ll be able to get so much more out of it.
At first glance, the Canon 1200D may seem useless for vlogging. But don’t judge a book by its cover.
Now, this camera doesn’t have a flip screen, so you really can’t see what you’re doing. But technically, you can still vlog with it if your camera’s in the right position.
The cropped sensor in the Canon Rebel T5 might also be a little bit of an issue. That is, if you put a 50mm lens on it, and hold the camera at arm’s length, it’ll mostly just capture a close-up of your face.
The Canon 18-55mm kit lens would be a good option for vlogging if it includes IS in the name. The reason is because not only can the lens zoom all the way out to 18mm, thus getting your head and potentially some of your upper body in shot, but the IS also adds some stabilisation, potentially making your footage less shaky.
Again, this camera isn’t neccesarily recommended for vlogging, as you don’t have a flip screen. However, it can technically be used for that purpose.
What about filming online content? If you stay in one place, then the camera will do fine, as you can just place it on a tripod, and ideally put a bit of distance between it and yourself.
You can probably use something like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8, and get some really buttery blurred backgrounds. Not sure how well the camera will be able to autofocus when you’re at f/1.4 though.
You could have someone manually focus on you I suppose, and thus as long as you don’t move too much, that should work just fine.
The 3″ screen on the back of the 1200D is pretty standard, and it won’t really impress anyone. At the end of the day though, it’s just a piece of glass that shows you what you’ve captured.
The screen is also obviously static. You can’t flip it, turn it around, or really do anything with it.
Just like any other of Canon’s more basic cameras, the controls on the back are pretty basic. If you’ve owned a Canon camera before, you’ll quickly get the hang of things.
The Canon 1200D doesn’t offer any Wi-Fi connectivity, or anything like that. After all, it’s an entry-level camera from 2014.
With that in mind, even on my Canon R5, I don’t use any of its connectivity options. When I get home from a shoot, I either take the SD card out, and pop it in my MacBook, or I use a USB cable to connect the camera to my laptop, and transfer everything over.
Given that I like to run all my photos through Adobe Lightroom, I don’t see the point in transferring photos to my phone as I take them.
In terms of storage, as you might expect, this camera only has one SD card slot. The main reason why you would want two SD card slots, is so that you have a backup. If one of your SD cards becomes corrupted, you would still have the other one to recover from.
The Canon 1200D uses an LP-E10 battery, which will last around 500 shots. This is a decent enough amount, but make sure to bring some spare batteries with you, just in case.
As you would expect, this camera is not weather resistant. You’ll generally want to avoid exposing it to water, dust, that kind of stuff.
If you want this camera to last you a few years at least, I’d be careful to not expose it to the elements too much.
When it comes to the camera’s maximum shutter count, I wasn’t able to find an exact number online, but it’s probably around 100,000.
If, by chance, you happen to know exactly what it is, feel free to comment that down below.
The maximum shutter count is the theoretical number of photos you can take with a camera before the shutter starts to fail. When purchasing a second-hand camera, which you would be doing in the case of the 1200D, make sure you check the current shutter count so you know what you’re getting into.
Any respectable seller should have no problem providing the shutter count of the camera, as that will affect its value. If they don’t provide you with that information, it could be because the number is very high and they’re trying to sell a camera that will soon become more or less useless.
When it comes to compatible lenses, this camera can work with basically any EF or EF-s lens you have. As someone who loves lenses, I made a new playlist on my YouTube channel that will get you started learning about them.
So, should you buy the Canon 1200D?
Despite it being released back in 2014, it can actually take some great photos, if you know how to handle it. If you don’t know what you’re doing, as mentioned earlier, this would actually be a great camera to start learning on.
Why is that?
As I’ve said, the limitations that this camera will force you to deal with will not only teach you how cameras work in general, but it will force you to actually be more creative. You won’t really have a choice.
Dealing with this in the beginning will actually make you a way better photographer and videographer in the long run.
Even though this camera isn’t specifically amazing at anything in particular, it can be used for landscape photos, portraits, street photography, and basically anything else.
In fact, just like other affordable cameras, it might be great for street photography, as the fact that it’s older, and thus less valuable, might make you less of a target for thieves.
I almost never use my main camera, the R5, outside, except for when I’m shooting in more isolated locations, like forests, or really big parks, as I don’t like to draw that kind of attention.
If you’ve already learnt a bit about photography and videography, and you’d like to graduate to something more mid-range, feel free to have a look at the camera review playlists on my YouTube channel.
If you’d like to purchase any of the items I’ve mentioned in this video, or see how much they cost in your country, I have a link down below where you can view them.
Thank you for reading my review of the Canon 1200D. I invite you to have a look at some of my other articles. We have something for everyone, whether you’re interested in audio, or cameras and lenses. Alternatively, if you prefer video reviews, feel free to have a look at my YouTube channel.
Down below you will find all of the items I talked about in this article.