The Canon EOS 600D is getting on in age, having initially been released back in 2011 and has since been superseded by newer models in Canon’s entry-level Digital SLR range including the EOS 700D and EOS 750D/760D. As such, it’s now quite hard to find the EOS 600D apart from on the used camera market. As a used body only, it’s often available for less than £200, meaning it’s potentially still an interesting prospect.
Its predecessor, the 550D, introduced an 18-megapixel sensor, an improved metering system and significant improvements to video capture. At first glance, the 600D seems like a much more conservative update. The 3in screen is now articulated, the handgrip is chunkier than before and the camera can control Canon Speedlite flashguns wirelessly. Automatic exposures are more sophisticated and there’s some on-screen assistance for less experienced photographers. Continuous performance remains at a relatively pedestrian 3.6fps, with a buffer that lasts for just six RAW exposures. It’s not a list that’s likely to see many 550D owners rushing to upgrade.
Then again, an articulated screen is one of those features that quickly becomes impossible to imagine living without. It allows the camera to be used at elbow height, above the head, for self-portraits and on a tripod without having to contort yourself to see the screen. It helps that this 3in, 1-megapixel screen is extremely high quality. The drawback is that – in keeping with other EOS cameras – autofocus in live view mode is hopelessly slow. When shooting handheld it’s pretty much essential to use the optical viewfinder. The articulated screen is still welcome for tripod use, though, and it really comes into its own for video capture where it’s useful to be able to move the camera freely while recording.
The ability to control external flashguns wirelessly is another feature that’s easy to underestimate. Off-camera flash is a fantastic way to improve the quality of indoor photography, unlocking an array of advanced studio lighting techniques. It’s also extremely effective for capturing casual portraits by bouncing the flash off a wall or ceiling – doing so simulates natural ambient light while allowing low ISO speeds and eliminating the risk of motion blur. Our two example shots below show what we managed with and without the help of a Canon Speedlite 430EX II off-camera flash (click to enlarge).
Shot with ambient sunlight, the high ISO setting adds lots of fine noise
While here off camera flash produces a natural looking light, but at low ISO settings
The 600D can remotely control various Speedlite models from the 270EX II (£150) up to the 580EX II (£350). Unlike other affordable wireless flash systems we’ve seen, this one is fully compatible with Canon’s E-TTL automatic flash metering and exposure, which is much more practical than manual settings for casual portraits. It’s also possible to control multiple flashguns in two groups and set their relative power, with or without the camera’s integrated flash. Configuring these advanced settings is a little fiddly because the relevant menu page must be navigated to after each test shot. However, the creative potential of this feature can’t be stressed enough.