Canon model numbers explained: Here’s how the weird DSLR camera naming system works


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Can’t decipher Canon model numbers? Read this guide

If you’re looking for a DSLR, a Canon is usually a very good choice. Pretty much all the models in the Canon range are capable of taking great pictures, and with a great range of lenses – including a huge second-hand market – and simple-to-use controls, it’s easy to see why Canon DSLRs are so popular. However, when looking for your Canon DSLR, you’ve probably noticed that Canon uses a pretty confusing naming scheme for its cameras. To help you work out which camera is which, and what these names actually mean, keep reading.

Canon model numbers explained

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All Canon DSLR cameras in the UK at least have the prefix EOS, so you can pretty much ignore that part of the model name immediately. Instead, the first way to differentiate Canon DSLR models is by looking at the number of digits in its name. Strangely, and rather counterintuitively, Canon DSLRs with fewer digits – such as the EOS XD – are actually more sophisticated than those with more digits, like the EOS XXXD. More confusingly still, each range or level, such as the XD or the XXXD range, has its own set of naming conventions.

XD model names

In the one-digit XD range, the higher the model number, the less advanced the camera. So the 1D is the most advanced, professional-grade DSLR Canon sells, while the 6D isn’t as sophisticated. It’s important to note, however, that Canon will often update DSLRs without completely changing their names. So the 5D Mark IV represents the fourth and newest version of the 5D, for example.

XXD model names and lower

However, in the XXD range, the larger the model number, the better and newer the camera. For example, the 70D has recently been replaced by the all-new, and rather good, 80D, while Canon has also recently released the 77D, a newer camera that’s a small step down compared to the 80D.

In the XXXD range, models are named in the same way, so the higher the number, the better the camera; so the 800D is superior to the 700D. The same is true of the XXXXD range too, so the 1300D is better than the 1200D.

However, it’s important to remember that these rules do not apply between ranges, and only make sense in their XX range. To give an example, the 760D is better than the 750D, but both are superior to the 1000D.

It’s pretty incredible for a technology company such as Canon to have such a strange naming scheme, and it’s clearly confusing for people when choosing which DSLR to buy. However, with this guide, and our extensive Canon camera reviews, you should be able to choose the best camera for you.