For some shooters the Canon EOS REBEL T4i – 650D is the holy grail – a Canon DSLR with full-time autofocus while shooting video.
Here are are a few questions to ask yourself before putting your hard earned cash down…
1. Are you willing to live with Canon’s new STM lenses?
To get the full time auto-focus you’ll need to use one of the two Canon STM lenses with a stepping motor built to keep the lens in focus. Right now you can choose from either the kit EF-S 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS STM and EF 40mm F2.8 STM.
All non-Canon lens will not auto-focus while shooting video. Some Canon lenses may auto-focus but make so much noise while doing so that it’s picked up by the shotgun mic on your camera. Or they may auto-focus but constantly shift focus while hunting for the focal object.
And, if you do go with the 18-135mm you’ll have to deal with the changing exposure as the f-stop slides from F3.5 to F5.6 as you zoom so no zooming during a shot.
Low light shots will be okay with the 40mm F2.8 if you need a medium wide angle lens for the shot.
I haven’t seen footage of any other lenses working with the auto-focus but I do know that Canon could not released a camera with this feature until they had lenses to support it.
2. Are you willing to deal with the touchscreen LCD?
I’ll confess I’m a Sony lover but many people hate Sony cameras because they use a touchscreen LCD for much of the interface. Every touch leaves a finger smear and soon you’re wiping the LCD down so you can check focus.
Of course, you’ll have an interesting time using the touchscreen if you also want to use any of the LCD loupe add-ons so you can see the LCD in bright sunlight.
3. Are you willing to deal with another drain on the battery?
I have a Canon 60-200mm L with an anti-vibration feature built into the lens. Turning that on cuts battery life on a Canon T3i enough that I had to add a battery adapter to hold two batteries, buy several more batteries and another charger.
I still manage to make it through a day of normal shooting by swapping batteries, loading up the chargers and keeping an eye on the battery level. It’s not a big deal but it’s one more thing that has to be kept track of and dealt with during a shoot.
If I’m shooting from a stable tripod I keep that lens feature turned off.
I have a feeling that full time auto-focus will produce at least as much drain on the batteries as the anti-vibration feature, maybe more depending on how much focus shift is going on.
4. Are you willing to have your camera decide to shift focus when it decides?
This is the biggest deal-breaker for me. I don’t want my camera deciding to change white balance, exposure or focus anytime except when I decide to make the change.
Almost all video camcorders come with full time autofocus. And virtually every pro shooter I know immediately turns it off and locks it down.
Even if you’re shooting run-n-gun news you don’t want the camera to suddenly decide to pull focus when you shift the shot a bit to one side or the other.
I’ve worked many shoots with camera ops on “c” cameras that were not highly experienced. I always stop by each camera, make sure the autofocus is turned off and instruct them to leave it off no matter what.
Maybe I’m biased but there are hardly any circumstances I can think of where the benefits of autofocus over-ride the problems.
Okay, so what about the rest of the camera?
The rest of it looks pretty great – solid sensor, manual audio control, stereo mic in, and great processor.
I’m just not sure it will shoot video that looks any different than a T3i or even a T2i. And, for the extra cost, I’d be happier with either of those cameras and another lens (or two).
Sorry to be down on Canon for their hot new camera but that’s the way it looks to me.
What do you think – is this the camera for you? Leave a comment and let me know…