Canon 1200D review by a beginner – user friendly and effective

Photography is a fun hobby I have. I’m an amateur, and I don’t kid myself otherwise, but there is something so thrilling about framing a great shot and someone being impressed. It’s been an interest for me for awhile and I was so proud when I saved up for my first ‘proper’ camera. It had manual capability, aperture and shutter priority and could record. It had to be awesome!

The Others

Canon Powershot SX210 IS

Canon Powershot SX210 IS

It wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong it had its moments. Like when we were in Kruger Safari Park and I was getting ‘close-ups’ of the animals without risking my life. My fiancé, Andy, who is a much better photographer, thought my purchase.. interesting. He let me discover some more of its limitations myself though and it didn’t take me long. It was not a ‘proper’ camera as I had thought.

Crocodile at Kruger Safari Park

Photograph of crocodile taken from about a mile away

All those cool half blurred shots, not very easy. Those sharp images, not quite what I was getting. Looking back I think my understanding wasn’t very good either but generally, I couldn’t do what I wanted.

Shortly after I bought the Canon Powershot SX210 IS, a compact camera, my fiancé bought the Canon 550D, a digital SLR, to replace his Nikon D40X, also a dSLR. I began to use the Nikon and it was much better,  the next step. It was producing the photos I wanted but I began to experience issues when I wanted photos from ground level. The challenges were in using glasses and the camera. I am short-sighted and looking through a viewfinder whilst getting a photo in focus in hard. My snail demonstrates that I missed this; he was supposed to be in focus.

Snail in the garden with wrong focus

Snail in the garden with wrong focus


I began to get frustrated again. Photography became a chore. I left it for a few months. My fiancé suggested I play around with his Canon 550D. This was when things changed. This was comfortable to carry, easy to use and it enabled me to take the photos I wanted. It had a display view so I could place the camera on the ground and still use my glasses to see whether the photo was in focus. I could have full control with the DSLR, learning more about the different features. This was awesome. But it wasn’t mine.

Canon 1200D

Canon 1200D

Unboxing the Canon 1200D

Cue the Canon 1200D. A birthday gift, my very own DSLR. I may be biassed (I did get a bit giggly when I opened it) but this is truly something different. Upon opening it, I skimmed over the manual and discovered that there was an app to accompany the camera. An app which would help teach me some ‘tricks’.

Again, I state I am an amateur and I struggle with remembering how to do the shot I want. Like taking a photo of a moving object, or whizzing kitten. Spending an evening playing with the new camera, which thankfully came with some charge in it as it has a different battery to the other Canon, and following the tips on the app, I was able to get some nice shots. What was better though as remembering those steps days and weeks later. This app from Canon was a nice form of tutorial that worked well for me.

Seasaw Action Shot

Taken whilst on a sea-saw and moving


So far I have been able to do everything I want with the camera, by myself. This was a huge bonus as I hate asking for help again, and again and again with the same thing. It is lighter than the Canon 550D, and although a cheaper model, I find its User Interface (UI) nicer. The buttons are placed in more logical positions, which enable me to use them without looking. This is helpful when you don’t want to take your eye away from the viewfinder. I have full manual, aperture and shutter control among other controls that I have not experimented much with yet.

It was the photo of the seesaw that really sealed my love of this camera. I took it all by myself, whilst we were both rocking on the seesaw and yet it is perfectly in focus. Having the ability to take HD videos is a huge bonus for me too after the Nikon.


Nothing is perfect though. For me and what I need, the Canon 1200D is brilliant but there are three features I miss:

  • Proximity sensor – this means that the display does not detect me looking through the viewfinder like the Canon 550D does
  • No depth of field preview – this would enable me to preview what it would look like after I had taken the shot with my current aperture setting
    UPDATE: One reader has brought it to our attention that I do indeed have this feature, although it’s hidden away in the settings, it can be assigned to a key on the back of the camera.  Not quite the ergonomic button by the lens that is available on the 550D and old film cameras from the sixties onwards, but still an improvement.
  • No infrared sensor – this would enable me to use a wireless remote to take photos

These, although limiting, do not inhibit my experience and so far it has been my favourite and the most usable of the digital cameras I have tried in the last few years.