Canon EOS 250D Review

May 7, 2019 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Canon EOS 250D (called the Digital Rebel SL3 in North America) is the world's lightest DSLR camera with a movable screen.

The 24.1 megapixel 250D / SL3 offers Dual Pixel CMOS Auto Focusing with a whopping 143/3,975 AF points in live view mode and a more basic 9 AF points when using the optical viewfinder, both working down to -4 EV and supporting eye-detection in live view.

There's also a vari-angle LCD screen with touchscreen capabilities, a 63-zone metering sensor, an ISO range of 100-25,600 (expandable to 51,200), an improved guided user interface, the latest DIGIC 8 processor, 5fps continuous shooting, up to 1,070 shot battery life (when using the optical viewfinder), and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The 250D's upgraded video mode now offers 4K HD recording at 25/24p as well as Full HD recording at 60/50/30/25fps, one of the main differences between this camera and the previous EOS 200D / SL2 model.

The Canon EOS 250D is available in three colours - Black, White, and Silver & Tan - priced at £529.99 / €599.99 body only. The EOS 250D can also be purchased with the EF-S 18-55 f/4-5.6 IS STM lens in a kit for £599.99 / €709.99.

In the USA, the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is available in Black or White priced at $599.99 body only or $749.99 with the EF-S 18-55m f/4-5.6 IS STM lens.

Ease of Use

The new EOS 250D / Digital Rebel SL3 is exactly the same size and weight as the EOS 100D / Digital Rebel SL1 model that it replaces in Canon's extensive range of cameras, measuring 122.4 x 92.6 x 69.8mm and weighing 453g, once again making it the the world’s smallest and lightest DSLR camera with a vari-angle screen.

The EOS 250D also has the same chunky handgrip as its predecessor, around which you can comfortably fit three average-sized fingers, with your little finger supporting the base of the camera, which offers just enough support to use the camera with some of the larger EF lenses that Canon offers.

In terms of build quality, the Canon EOS 250D / SL3 certainly feels solid enough for an entry-level DSLR, although as you'd perhaps expect not quite in the same league as the company's semi-professional models.

And like all of Canon's APS-C digital SLR cameras, the EOS 250D / SL3 is compatible with the manufacturer's entire line-up of lenses, including both EF and EF-S glass. When changing lenses, EF lenses need to be aligned with the red dot on the lens mount, whereas EF-S lenses must be aligned with the white square.

We tested the EOS 250D with the recent EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens, which offers a fairly versatile focal range and crucially includes image stabilisation. This is important for Canon, as competitors like Sony, Olympus and Pentax all offer image stabilisation in their comparable cameras.

The difference between Canon (and Nikon) and the others is that Sony, Olympus and Pentax have opted for stabilisation via the camera body, rather than the lens, which therefore automatically works with their entire range of lenses. Canon's system is obviously limited by which lenses you choose, but it does offer the slight advantage of showing the stabilising effect through the viewfinder, whilst Canon and Nikon also claim that a lens-based anti-shake system is inherently better too.

Canon EOS 250D
Front of the Canon EOS 250D

The LCD screen is mounted on an articulating hinge which means you can pull it out to face forwards, as well as tilting it downwards and upwards. This proves very useful if you want to shoot from an awkward angle, but you will have to switch to using Live View in order to take advantage of it. The screen also folds into the body of the camera, which is great for keeping it protected from scratches when not in use.

The 1,040K-dot resolution of the rear LCD panel is identical in resolution to the 200D's display. The screen has an aspect ratio of 3:2, identical to that of the sensor, so the photos fill the screen completely, with no black stripes running along the top and bottom.

The EOS 250D / SL3 again features a touch-screen which supports a variety of multi-touch gestures, such as pinching and swiping, for choosing shooting modes, changing settings, tracking faces, selecting auto-focus points, and focusing and taking a picture in Live View mode. In playback you can swipe to move from image to image and pinch to zoom in and out, just like on an iPad or other tablet device. The ability to focus and take the shot with a single press of your finger on the screen makes it quick and easy to capture the moment.

The 250D can tag your images with GPS data (latitude, longitude, altitude and shooting time) using the always-on Bluetooth connection. We prefer having GPS built into the camera rather than having to sync it with an additional device, although it does consequently suffer from the issue of slightly affecting the battery life.

One of the changes Canon has made to the 250D, compared to its predecessor, the 200D, is the graphical user interface. It now has an even more “friendly” design, which is likely to appeal to those who are new to DSLR photography. It displays helpful advice and hints on how each of the settings you’re using will affect your finished image. For example, if you change the aperture, it will advise that shooting at wide apertures is useful for blurring the background. More experienced photographers can choose to turn off the new GUI if you wish.

The EOS 250D's top-mounted shooting mode dial has a multitude of letters and icons. The so-called Creative Zone features Programmed Auto (P), Shutter Priority (Tv), Aperture Priority (Av), and Manual (M) modes. The fully-automatic Scene Intelligent Auto mode analyses the scene in front of you and automatically picking the best settings.

Canon EOS 250D
Front of the Canon EOS 250D

The EOS 250D also has a Creative Auto mode which is targeted at beginners who have grown out of using the Scene Intelligent Auto mode, allowing you to change a few key settings using the LCD screen via a simple slider system for changing the aperture and exposure compensation, or Background and Exposure as the camera refers to them. Creative Auto has been extended with the introduction of Basic +. Essentially a more extreme version of the well-established Picture Styles, this offers nine options including Standard, Vivid, Soft, Warm, Intense, Cool, Brighter, Darker and Monochrome, all of which can be interactively tweaked to suit your taste.

Reflecting its more consumer-friendly nature, the 250D also offers ten creative filters, which are only available when shooting in Live View mode and for JPEGs, not RAW files. These include Soft Focus, which dramatizes an image and smooths over any shiny reflections, Grainy Black and White creates that timeless look, Toy Camera adds vignetting and color shift, and Miniature Effect makes a scene appear like a small-scale model, simulating the look from a tilt-shift lens.

Two other notable shooting modes are HDR Backlight, which takes three shots at different exposures and combines them into one with greater shadow and highlight detail, and the Hand-held Night scene mode which again takes multiple images at fast shutter speeds and blends them together for a sharp result.

There's also a host of scene modes including Flash Off, Portrait, Group Photo, Landscape, Sports, Kids, Food, Candlelight, Night Portrait and, oddly enough for an interchangeable-lens camera, a close-up mode as well. The majority of these scene modes allow users who do not want to fiddle with shutter speeds, f-stops, white balance or ISO settings to let the camera know what type of photo they are about to take, which helps the EOS 250D / SL3 to optimise these settings for that particular subject. The Feature Guide in the EOS 250D's menu system usefully provides a brief description of each setting and its effect.

In the Creative Zone (PASM), the photographer gets to set a lot of shooting variables, including white balance, sensitivity, AF mode, exposure compensation, drive mode and so on. Most of these functions have their own dedicated buttons - ISO on the top panel, the rest on the back - while others can be set on the interactive status screen accessible via the Q (quick control) button. Examples for the latter include file quality settings, metering mode, flash exposure compensation and Auto Lighting Optimiser.

The available white balance settings are Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent and Custom; there is no way to enter a Kelvin value manually. You can fine-tune any of the presets using the White Balance Correction feature. The ISO speed can be changed by pressing the ISO button and turning the control wheel in front of it. You do not have to hold down the button while turning the wheel. The ISO speed can be set from ISO 100 to ISO 25600 in full-stop increments. If you turn ISO Expansion on in the Custom Functions menu, you can even dial in the ISO 51200 boosted setting. Auto ISO is also available. The chosen ISO speed is also displayed in the viewfinder.

Canon EOS 250D
Rear of the Canon EOS 250D

The EOS 250D / SL3 offers a range of three auto focus modes (One Shot, AI Focus and AI Servo) and there's a 9-point AF module, which remains unchanged from the EOS 200D / SL2. Only the centre sensor is a cross-type, rather than all of them. One Shot AF is equivalent to AF-S, while AI Servo is the same thing as AF-C on other manufacturers' models. AI Focus is similar to what some other camera makers call AF-A in that it automatically switches from One Shot AF to AI Servo if a still subject starts moving. As regards AF point selection, it can be done manually by hitting the AF point selector button first, then using the four-way controller to select the AF point. The chosen/active AF point lights up in red in the viewfinder. In use, we found the AF system to be pretty quick with the Canon EF-S 18-55m f/4-5.6 IS STM kit lens.

There are a number of drive modes available on the Canon EOS 250D / SL3. These include Single Shot, Continuous Shooting, Self-timer and Remote Controlled Shooting. In Continuous Shooting mode, the camera can take pictures at a speed of 5fps for up to an unlimited number Large Fine JPEGs or 6 Raw files.

The metering modes offered by the EOS 250D / SL3 include Centre-weighted, Evaluative, Partial and Spot. The difference between Partial and Spot metering is that the former uses 9% of the frame area, whereas the latter uses only 4% (still a bit too much for spot metering, but there you go). Both of these selective metering modes are midtone-based; there is no highlight- or shadow-based spot metering available as with some rivals. In use, we've found that the Evaluative metering mode provided fairly good exposures with a variety of subjects, thanks to the advanced 63-zone metering sensor. When shooting contrasty scenes, it is worth using the Evaluative mode in conjunction with the Auto Lighting Optimiser feature, accessible by hitting the Q button and using the interactive status panel.

The Live View button is within easy reach of your right thumb. A grid line display and very useful live histogram can be enabled to help with composition and exposure, and you can zoom in by up to 10x magnification of the image displayed on the LCD screen. Focusing in Live View via a half-press of the shutter release as normal. During Live View recording you can also use the touch-sensitive screen to change AF point, and to fire off the shutter release if you want to. This setup can be particularly useful for macro and still life shoots, where you’re using the camera on a tripod and don’t want to look through the viewfinder.

In Live View the Canon EOS 250D has one of the more advanced AF systems on the market for this class of camera. Canon have built on the proven phase-detect Dual Pixel CMOS AF System in their DSLRs to develop a new variant with no less than 3,975-points, almost as many as on the EOS R and EOS RP mirrorless cameras. These cover almost the entire frame, making tracking moving subjects easier and more precise, and allowing you to focus on off-centre subjects without having to reframe. You can also now enable eye-detection in live view for the first time on any Canon DSLR camera.

Canon EOS 250D
Tilting LCD Screen

In lower light, the Canon EOS 250D still does well to lock onto the target almost all of the time, thanks to its imprived -4EV rating. It is very unusual for a false confirmation of focus to be displayed. In very low light, the lens may hunt for a while - depending on the lens you’re using - but it’s only the absolute darkest of conditions that the camera fails to lock on to a subject at all.

Autofocus speeds proved to be quick and accurate when using the camera's optical viewfinder in good light, and also when using the Live View mode thanks to the implementation of the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system. Changing to AI Servo mode allows you to track a moving subject - the 250D coped reasonably well with movement which is not too quick and is moving in a predictable pattern. Shooting at 5fps should give you enough scope for some gentle sports and action, but you may struggle to capture super high speed action.

Live View is also used for the Canon EOS 250D / SL3's movie mode. If you turn the On / Off switch to the third position denoted by the movie camera icon, the camera will enter the Live View Movie mode automatically. The EOS 250D has a large choice of frame rates, offering a choice of 25, 30, 50 or 60fps when recording Full HD video clips and 24 and 25 fps in the new 4K mode. Note that the available frame rates are also dependent on what you have set in the menu under "Video system": NTSC or PAL, and also note that the previous 200D's 24fps frame rate in 1080p when set to NTSC video has been inexlicably removed on the EOS 250D.

Thanks to the latest Digic 8 processor, the 250D takes the title of cheapest Canon DSLR camera to offer 4K video recording, which, in conjunction with the vari-angle LCD screen that be rotated to face forwards and the Mic-in port, promises to make the 250D a Vlogger's dream ticket.

All is not quite as rosy as a glance at the spec sheet would indicate, though, as the 250D automatically applies a 1.7x crop on the sensor in 4K mode, which effectively changes the focal length of the fitted lens and makes wide-angle shooting virtually impossible. This gets even worse when using the digital stabilisation system during video recording, which extends the fitted lens by 2x, and also the ISO range tops out at ISO 6400, rather than 25600 as when shooting stills.

Canon EOS 250D
The Canon EOS 250D In-hand

The final nail in the coffin for 4K video is the fact that the excellent Dual Pixel CMOS AF system doesn't actually work when recording in 4K, only 1080p, with the camera reverting to the much slower and less accurate contrast-based AF system. So all in all, 4K video is something of a half-baked disappointment on the EOS 250D, just like it was on the EOS M50 mirrorless camera.

On a more positive note, the EOS 250D is the latest model to feature Canon's CR3 14-bit RAW file format, as well as a new C-RAW option that creates full resolution RAW files that are approximately 30 to 40% smaller in size than standard RAW files without any appreciable drop in quality.

The EOS 250D's built-in pop-up flash doesn't feature a built-in Integrated Speedlite Transmitter for controlling up to two groups of off-camera Speedlites, instead relying on an external transmitter. Note that it also doesn't have a more advanced PC Sync port for connecting the camera to external lights, all of which rather limits the 250D's use in studio environments. There is the expected hotshoe for use with one of Canon's external flashguns, but Canon have rather contorversially removed the central pin from the hotshoe, making it impossible to use with third-party flashes, unlike the previous EOS 200D which did offer third-party support.

There is also a built-in microphone for stereo recording on top of the camera, and you can connect an external microphone equipped with a stereo mini plug to the camera's external microphone IN terminal. The Video Snapshot feature allows short clips of 2, 4 or 8 sec to be merged into a single movie file, for footage that is short, easy to edit and of similar lengths to the clips used in most TV programmes. The clips are saved to a Video Snapshot Album and you can add a soundtrack in-camera.

The EOS 250D runs on the same LP-E17 battery as the EOS 200D which, according to measurements that conform with CIPA standards, now provides enough power for 1070 images when using the optical viewfinder, a big increase on the 650-shot life of the EOS 200D / SL2, entirely down to using the latest, more efficient Digic 8 processor. The battery can be charged in the supplied LC-E17 charger. Also in the box is a neck strap, a software CD and a user manual, which Canon thankfully provides in printed form in several languages.