At face value, all the headline-grabbing features of Canon's new EOS Rebel T4i DSLR Camera (EOS 650D in Europe) look identical to those of the T3i (EOS 600D) before it, but not everything is at it first appears. Canon says that the new flagship Rebel model is its most consumer-friendly DSLR to date, and is the first of the company's cameras to feature a sensor-based hybrid AF system that allows for continuous autofocus while recording video. It also benefits from the latest DIGIC 5 Image Processor that's six times faster than its predecessor, and a high resolution multi-touch display panel with touch focus and shutter operation.
The new Rebel is the first entry-level EOS camera to include the company's DIGIC 5 Image Processor, offering 14-bit image processing for advanced color rendition and greater speed/responsiveness. Together with the T4i's 18-megapixel APS-C (22.3 x 14.9 mm) CMOS sensor, this gives the camera high-speed continuous shooting capabilities of up to five frames per second and a sensitivity range of ISO100 - 12800 (expanded up to ISO25600 in H mode for more extreme low lighting conditions without needing to use the built-in pop-up flash).
The sensor-based Hybrid AF system uses a combination of phase detection and contrast AF for faster Live View still image and video recording performance, which may well result in a similar kind of continuous tracking autofocus enjoyed by cameras like Sony's α57. There's a 60D-like nine-point all cross-type sensor array with a high-precision dual-cross point at center for much faster and precise focusing when using high-speed f/2.8 lenses, and a new Movie Servo AF for near-silent continuous autofocus during Full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution at 30, 25 or 24 fps) video recording when using one of the new Stepping Motor lenses.
Canon has provided a multi-touch upgrade to the vari-angle 3.0-inch, 1.04 million dot resolution Clear View LCD monitor, with an anti-smudge coating and hardened glass protective cover. The electro-static touch-panel offers some familiar ground for those stepping up from smartphone photography to their first DSLR, with support for gesture controls such as pinch and zoom and swipe and drag actions, although there's also an optical (fixed pentamirror) viewfinder for more traditional users. The panel offers a wide 170° viewing angle, and it can be tilted 180 degrees forward and 90 degrees backward once flipped out.
Canon has introduced a few new multi-image shooting modes to the T4i. A Handheld Night Scene mode quickly snaps four consecutive images and combines them into one blur-free, well-exposed low light shot without so much as a tripod in sight. The Multi-Shot Noise Reduction mode also captures four shots for a single image with minimal noise/image grain, and the HDR Backlight Control takes one under, one over and one correctly exposed frame before combining them into one image that shows greater highlight and shadow detail as well as vivid color reproduction.
An enhanced Scene Intelligent Auto mode concentrates on faces, colors, brightness, movement and contrast to select the best settings for each scene, and images can be recorded in both RAW and JPEG image formats, with simultaneous capture of both also possible.
For the first time in a Rebel camera, the T4i features a built-in stereo microphone with a distortion-reducing attenuator function, and a new Video Snapshot feature records short video clips that can be stitched together into one file. WAV background music files can be uploaded to the camera's SD, SDHC or SDXC media card for use while playing back videos through the camera, and the T4i is compatible with Canon's hot-shoe-mounted GP-E2 GPS Receiver for recording information such as latitude, longitude and altitude, and even the direction of the camera, along with captured images.
The EOS Rebel T4i DSLR Camera will be available at the end of this month for a body-only price of US$849.99, or $949.99 if bundled with an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II kit lens. There's also a special Movie Kit bundle for $1,199 where Canon throws in the new EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens. That Stepping Motor lens is also available separately for $549.99, while the similarly new EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens is priced at $199.99.