Regular readers will know that I love smallest-in-class gadgets, with the exception, perhaps, of TVs and phones, where excessive smallness is both pointless and unhelpful. But with cameras especially, I can’t see what’s not to love about small and light – so long as the model is serious and not just a convenient snapshot machine. This explains my scepticism about food-mixer-sized DSLRs, and my love of neat, mirrorless interchangeable lens options, from Olympus, which started the trend, to Panasonic, Sony and even Nikon and Canon, whose nice EOS M (which I reviewed here last year) was the last entrant from a major marque in this now substantial niche.
So when Canon says it has the smallest ever DSLR, I’m interested. These cameras, when not elephantine, do have advantages. The pictures they produce tend to have less depth of field, which sounds like a bad thing, but lends that professional, blurred background look. They turn on and zoom instantly, take photos faster and are more flexible. For basic snapshots, they’re absurd, but for taking more ambitious pictures in demanding circumstances it’s like driving across rough terrain in a Land Rover rather than a BMW.
The Canon EOS 100D (called Rebel SL1 in the US) is not remotely pocket-sized, but next to a normal DSLR it is oddly small and Munchkin-like; it’s 25 per cent smaller and 28 per cent lighter than its nearest comparable Canon. Yet the 100D is a perfectly viable machine that sits in the palm of one hand, doing almost everything a grown-up DSLR does. It’s complicated and vastly adaptable of course, like its bigger brethren. A day with the instruction manual will reap rewards; on the other hand, I achieved crisp, luminous photos just by putting it on the most automatic of settings and snapping away. After some of the fickle, fussy and slow mirrorless models I’ve been out and about with, the 100D was a pleasure to use. Try one if you’re passing through an airport shop this month; they’ll all have it, as it’s a wonderful and adaptable travel companion.