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(Pocket-lint) - Canon is bulking out its EOS range with a number of new DSLR models, the 800D taking on a more beginner role than its also-announced step-up 77D cousin.

Between the two new models, certainly in terms of specification, there's not a great deal of difference. The 800D lacks the more advanced layout and top LCD panel display of the 77D, giving it a more beginner-focused bent and a price saving of £50 (it's £779 body-only, rather than £829).

The big question, then, is whether the 800D makes any sense as an upgrade to the current 750D/760D models, or if Canon is now cramming excessive numbers of models into its range?

Canon EOS 800D preview: What's different versus 77D?

  • Guided UI interface as standard
  • No top panel LCD display
  • Fewer controls, simpler layout

If you end up gazing into the spec sheets of both 800D and 77D there aren't a huge number of differences. It's when physically looking at the cameras that the more notable differences can be seen.

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The 800D has a Guided UI interface by default (also available in the 77D, but has to be activated) which presents as a more visual rear-screen representation of which shooting mode does what (as input from the mode dial) and how to get more effective results. The 800D also lacks the lock switch and top panel LCD display of the 77D, making for a simpler and more beginner-focused layout.

Canon EOS 800D preview: Mid-level autofocus at a cut price

  • 45-point Dual Pixel AF autofocus system
  • Bluetooth control & file sharing
  • Latest 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor

While the differences between 800D and 77D aren't huge, there's a notable jump over the EOS 750D (and, to some degree 760D). That mainly comes down to the autofocus system, which in the 800D is a 45-point Dual Pixel AF system (as found in both the 80D and 77D). So there's no scrimping on the autofocus ability - it's the very same and just as capable as cameras that cost £50 and £250 more (what you're paging for there is build quality).

Pocket-lintcanon eos 800d preview image 2

The Dual Pixel AF system is important as it functions great when using the camera either through the viewfinder or via the rear LCD screen in live preview mode (activated by pressing a button on the rear of the camera). As some phase-detection autofocus pixels are positioned on the imaging sensor itself the camera is far quicker when using the rear screen than older Canon cameras.

Live preview is as good as DSLR cameras get - although, as we said of the 77D, it still can't quite outsmart the likes of Panasonic's Lumix G range of compact system cameras. Nonetheless, Canon's effort it still very impressive.

Of the 800D's 45 AF points all are cross-type, meaning each is just as sensitive whether you're shooting in portrait or landscape orientation. Ultimately, if you're eyeing-up the 750D then, well, the 800D is far more capable and worth a look in.

Canon EOS 800D review: Screen and viewfinder

  • 3-inch, 1040k-dot tilt-angle touchscreen LCD
  • 0.82x magnification, 95 per cent FoV optical finder

The 800D's rear screen and viewfinder arrangement are one and the same as the 77D's too. Its 95 per cent field-of-view optical viewfinder is what you'd expect at this price point. That crucial “95” number meaning that you won't see the outermost five per cent of what you're going to capture during preview when using the viewfinder (with the 80D it's 100 per cent, which is what-you-see-is-what-you-get) so framing its perfectly accurate.

Pocket-lintcanon eos 800d preview image 5

The screen might be the way the 800D is used even more, however, as it's built on a variable-angle bracket and has touch-sensitivity too. That's great for manipulating the live preview and viewing at waist-level, for example, or twisting the screen around for overhead work. It's sensitive to the touch, which makes for simple press-to-focus action.

However, we do still think that Canon could be more specific with its live preview focus types. Through the viewfinder there's a lot more control per focus point, with each of the 45-points clearly illustrated. On the rear screen, in live preview, the subject tracking and single point AF options are somewhat crude by comparison. Again, Panasonic's G-series are more capable here, which might make something like the Lumix G80 the more logical choice if you're only ever going to use the screen to focus.

Canon EOS 77D review: Latest sensor

  • 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100-25,600 (51,200 extended)
  • Latest Digic 7 processor

On paper the 800D's sensor looks to be the very same 24.2-megapixel one as you'll find in the 80D. That's not precisely the case, however, as it's a new construction, paired with the latest Digic 7 processor - and, again, the same one that you'll find in the 77D.

Will that make a huge difference to imaging potential? We highly doubt it. After all, despite Digic 7's higher speed as a processor, the 800D's maximum six frames per second (6fps) is one frame fewer than the older 80D's 7fps, again matching the 77D.

Pocket-lintcanon eos 800d preview image 6

We're reaching a point where sensors of the same size, resolution and similar era are rendering results much the same as others. What Canon is doing with the 800D is saying this: if you want a more advanced setup then go for the 77D; if you're after some mid-level features but are still learning and want some in-camera guidance then the simpler arrangement of the 800D will be more suitable.

There's also 1080p movie capture at up to 50 or 60fps. No 4K, which is reserved for the ultra high-end Canon cine cameras at the moment (but which is offered at consumer level by just about every other manufacturer).

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First Impressions

On the one hand the Canon 800D busies the EOS DSLR range and could make that purchase decision more complex. On the other, if you know you want a more accessible camera with a and step-by-step user interface then it makes more sense than the 77D. Plus it'll save you money. Match your feature wants correctly and you needn't pay over the odds.

Writing by Mike Lowe. Originally published on 13 February 2017.