My first video year with Canon EOS 200D (SL2)

In April 2018 I’ve bought Canon EOS 200D as an upgrade/refresh to my previous Canon EOS 450D. First I was a bit lost in all Canon product lines (despite tracking their releases occasionally) and wasn’t fully decided whether I want to go up the line (77D/80D) or even two (7D Mk II), stay in the “same level” +10 years (800D) or try something cheaper and rely on all those years that it will still be an upgrade.

After checking many reviews I decided to go “lower” and just try some cheap small video capable Canon DSLR. I nearly bought 2000D before seeing all those (often overwhelmingly) positive reviews about 200D (or SL2 in America). The next day I had it in my hands.

My new Canon EOS 200D

BTW, I’d blame Peter McKinnon. Sure I wanted video capable camera before, but his videos seriously raised my interest into videography – although I’m not interested in vlogging, my life is way too settled for that. Also, our previous camera became obsolete, not to mention how difficult it was to download videos from it. Having a single camera both for stills and videos was the right solution for me.

What I like

For around 600€ (now, I payed a bit more then) you’ll get Canon EOS 200D with kit lens 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM (released in 2017), which is a nice start. Flip/touch screen is great. My previous camera had 9 focus points, so no upgrade there, but it’s OK with me (in this price range). Otherwise it’s faster and better in any conceivable category compared to my old rig, as expected, of course, but mind you, I went down a category. I really loved the progress of those 10 years.

And then there is video. Sure, experts can compare it with other cameras, sometimes in similar price range, there is no 4K, which I don’t need at all – I still had to buy a new disk for all my 1080p videos, not to mention processing time of 4K. It’s probably not great by Full HD standards either, but it’s not bad at all. I like the colors – my previous camera had unreal toyish green, this one is fine most of the time with AWB, which is perfectly fine for my needs. And there is 60 fps in 1080p, which I really like. Sure I’d welcome 120 fps for those “slo-mo” effects, but I’m fine with what I’ve got.

I also like its wireless capabilities. While I don’t understand exactly why it doesn’t pair with bluetooth and needs to act as a wifi network, I can use it easily with Canon Camera Connect, although on older Android it didn’t show live view for stills, only videos, but on my current phone it works fine. It makes any remote controller obsolete for my needs.

What it caused

My additions to the camera are always in low hundreds, I’d not be able to explain 1000+€ red ring lens to myself, less so to my wife. But this called for upgrades! I had standard 17-85mm USM Canon lens, but for video it was noisy and slow to focus. Also, for video shooting I wanted greater zoom range. While I’d love something like 15-85mm lens, it’s a bit wider and longer than kit lens, but it’s just too much for me at 750€, even if the price tag is justified. Also I’d like to have either STM or nano-USM, not older USM focus.

I already had their EF-S 10-18mm STM lens hit, EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM pancake and the first generation of EF-S 55-250mm – but the last one was very noisy and jerky in video. With this I was truly video-friendly only up to 55mm. So I checked my options and decided to buy EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM. While there is also nano USM version, nowadays even for roughly the same price, at the time the price difference was bigger and I opted for combo with lens hood, which in Canon case, as we know, may be pretty costly when bought separately.

STM lenses line-up

I like this lens really, it’s my everyday lens and when I go for a trip I shoot most of my videos with it – the rest is mostly on 10-18mm ultra-wide and very little on my next longer addition. 18-135 STM probably doesn’t excel in anything, but today the kit lenses (this is often a kit lens) are now way better than years ago, and this one is from that category. It’s solid, good for video (STM), good zoom range (I’d love a bit wider, but there you go), I bought it in a first week of having 200D and I never regretted the decision.

Like any other videographer, I bought a microphone too – and like for the most of the casual ones, it was RODE VideoMicro. The sound is much better, although not stereo anymore.

Rode VideoMicro with a “dead cat” and EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

And finally, I wanted some longer lens as well – but how long does it have to be? 400mm? 600mm?! In the end I went for EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM, that is the nano USM version, because this time I found a nice deal on it and could step up a bit from that notorious 55-250mm range. I bought a hood from JJC because the price on Canon’s hood is outrageous.

EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM, finally some long barrel

Making videos

As mentioned, most of my videos are made on 18-135mm range, although I use 10-18mm a lot too, especially for time-lapses.

I already had had Movie Studio Platinum (AKA Sony Vegas) and was comfortable with it – there was no reason to change into anything more professional.

Previously I always just cut the video, added some titles and that was it. Very raw documentary. But then I wanted to add some juice to our family trekking trips, maps, mix it with photos… and, this is a big game changer, music! Because I wanted to use my videos only to YouTube (“publish” is a strong word for unlisted videos) I could use YouTube Audio Library with many good tunes.

Using music adds a lot to the mood of the video and it also creates space for B-roll sequences. Even when I’m no quality videographer, music changed my videos a lot. Add some transitions, play with Event Crop/Pan, put those keyframes in sync with music and it’s a whole new level immediately.

What I don’t like on 200D

First I want to stress that I love that camera, I like the new opportunities, I like the way it handles, I like most of the features, touch screen – it really is a great product.

But I have some gripes with it. Compared to 450D it forgets some shooting settings, like AE compensation or bracketing when you switch it off. Stranger so, it forgets bracketing when you go to video and back, but remembers AE (thanks for that at least) and continuous shooting (now that’s not good, I had it there because of bracketing then). So it’s not very consistent in this.

I understand why camera resets things for casual photographers, but I’d prefer to remember these settings since I learned to switch my camera off and on anytime. There is probably not much reason to be so aggressive turning it off so often, but (I hope) it saves some battery, depending on the display auto-off timeout.

Talking about display, it doesn’t turn off when you take the camera to your face (no proximity sensor), but OK, I get it – although it disturbs me when taking a picture, especially in darker environments. If I set auto-off to short time, it’s OK for stills, but for videos it may be too low. It then puts the mirror back and you have to wake it up, which flips it up again.

Also, the camera is really small! While I don’t care while taking pictures, I don’t like how deep the “star button” (lock exposure) is. So I switched it with AF point selection which I hardly use in the middle of action (this is probably not that kind of camera anyway) – thanks for this feature, Canon. But it also switched zoom/unzoom of the picture (blue functions) which doesn’t make sense really.

I also don’t use live view button to start the video, don’t know why, and the shutter button is really noisy. It’s easy to cut at the start and end of the take, but I also use it to lock focus sometimes. It really is noisy compared to 450D. Funny enough, while it provides more obvious half-press feedback, something is not quite right as I often see refocus after recomposing (and yes, I’m in a single shot focus), so the mechanics of it and the action is probably not quite perfect.

Finally, what bothers me most often is how the display flips its orientation. When outside and you rotate it, it flips upside down only for the last 15-20 degrees, which is way too late. If you set up a scene for time-lapse from in-front of the camera, e.g. camera is in the corner of the room, and from a bit above, you can’t turn the display towards you really.

And it’s already upside down…

You have to face the lens – which is impractical if you want to shoot from low – or set it up upside down. That sucks. I don’t understand why it doesn’t flip around horizontal position, anything else means that you’d lean over the camera when you’re behind it – it just doesn’t make any sense. I’d take it if the angle was let’s say 60 degrees, but less than 20? Sure, rare needs, but now I wonder why it’s not adjustable (that’s probably unfeasible) or at least why can’t I reverse it manually (or lock the current rotation) with some on-screen control?

In conclusion

Sure there are missing video features, but that would be wanting too much from this little sweet camera. But even with couple of those gripes, I can recommend it for anyone who wants to start with video on this system (Canon that is). It’s a great camera for still pictures as well, you can mount any EF/EF-S lens on it, sensor is not bad at all – I mean for this price it’s just an incredible camera.

I really love it.

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