The camera's menus are all logically arranged and easy to navigate. The 600D uses a familiar arrangement of controls, with a five-way direction pad and plenty of dedicated function buttons, many of which undertake double duty, depending on the camera's mode of operation.
The camera also offers an accessory hotshoe, pop-up flash (with red-eye reduction) and support for SDXC memory cards. An HDMI output and a socket for an external microphone are welcome extras, particularly since the 600D is so adept in the video department.
High-definition video at both 1080i and 720p resolutions is supported, at a range of different frame rates -- 30, 25 and 24 -- depending on the effect you're after. You also get the benefit of autofocus when you're shooting movies, should you wish to use it, as well as stereo sound.
Overall, the movie quality is very good for a dSLR and streets ahead of your average compact camera, although the maximum file size for any single clip is 4GB, which is rather limiting for those who like to film long takes.
As for photos, the 600D is equipped with a large, APS-C-sized image sensor with an 18-megapixel resolution. An advanced 14-bit image processor, ultra-high ISO sensitivity -- up to a theoretical ISO 12,800 -- and a nine-point autofocus round out its specs.
The 600D is pretty fast -- it's ready to use more or less as soon as you've switched it on and can shoot continuously in bursts of 3.7 frames per second.
The image quality is exceptionally good too. Detail is ultra-plentiful, with warm, rich colours and only minimal grain, even in areas of shadow. Skin tones are attractive and realistic and, although our test lens was basic, we were able to make full use of the 600D's creative tools to take some great-looking photographs.
Most impressive of all is the camera's performance in low-lit environments. It may pop up the flash if it's set to auto, but often you can get some stunning interior shots without it. A number of our test photos were taken in a north-facing room in the late afternoon, with only limited ambient sunlight. The shots, which were taken at ISOs of between 500 and 800, look amazingly noise-free, crisp and detailed, with perfectly pitched colours.
The Canon EOS 600D isn't much to look at, but it's a great performer, and its creative features and helpful nature make it an excellent choice for both beginners and enthusiasts looking to replace an older dSLR. We wouldn't necessarily recommend it as an upgrade from its immediate predecessor, but its versatility, video capabilities and twisting screen all help to make it a highly desirable snapper.
Edited by Charles Kloet