Last month Canon announced two new mid-range DSLRs in the form of the EOS 800D and the EOS 77D. We recently got the chance to go hands-on with the duo at The Photography Show 2017. Read on to see what we thought of the upcoming cameras, how they differ, and which one might be right for you.

Launched at the same time, and with a price difference of just US$150, the Canon 800D (known as the Rebel T7i in the US) and 77D have an awful lot in common. They each feature a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, a DIGIC 7 image processor, and an AF system with 45 autofocus points and Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF.

This allows the cameras to share solid mid-range specifications such as an ISO range of 100 to 25,600 (expandable to 51,200), and shooting speeds of up to 6 fps (frames per second). They can also both shoot Full HD 1080p video at 60 fps.

But, with so much in common, you might be asking why there are two models, and that's exactly what we set out to discover when we went hands-on. Getting to grips with the two cameras, we were struck by how differently they handled and generally felt to use. Indeed, Canon told us the decision to have two such similarly specced devices was because their controls and interface will see them appeal to different users.

As such, and because an exhibition hall isn't the ideal place to test things like image quality, we'll be focusing on the physical differences in this article. That said, in our brief time with the cameras, we were impressed by the performance of their 45-point cross-type AF, and the images we snapped looked just as good as you'd expect from a high quality mid-range DSLR. Needless to say, we're looking forward to reviewing the cameras in more detail soon.

While there are a number of differences between the 77D ($900 body-only), which is on the left in our images, and the slightly more affordable 800D ($750 body-only), their build-quality is identical. They are both lightweight and compact, but feel well made. They also feature a nicely-shaped ergonomic grip which is comfortable to hold when shooting.

When we looked at the cameras side-by-side it was easy to see how they're pitched at different users. The 800D has a more basic control layout, much like that found on many beginner DSLRs, which will make it appeal to less experienced users. Meanwhile, the slightly more expensive 77D is going to be better suited to enthusiasts and sees changes such as its mode dial moved to make way for an LCD panel which displays camera settings, something commonly found on higher end cameras.

Around back, the 77D boasts more direct controls. Key features here include a rear control wheel around the menu buttons, which makes it easier to quickly change settings like aperture and shutter speed. It also gains an AF-on focus button, giving the option to activate AF from the rear of the camera rather than just using the shutter button, and has a slightly different control layout.

This all makes shooting with the two cameras feel very different, and which is best for you will depend on your experience level, and how you want to use a camera. The 800D feels much simpler to use and could suit smartphone or mirrorless camera upgraders. Meanwhile, the 77D has the sort of controls some users expect and demand from a camera of this caliber.

Another difference between the two is the menu system they use out of the box. The 800D comes with a guided interface mode which helps users to understand what different settings are for, and how to change them to take the sort of photos that are desired. This visual interface cuts out the photographic jargon, and makes changing settings far less intimidating.

We found this to work particularly well with the vari-angle touchscreen, which both cameras have. It gives less experienced users a way to feel more confident when making changes to settings. However, the 77D can also use this mode, it's just not activated by default.

Overall, both cameras look like good options for those wanting a mid-range DSLR and choosing between the two will be a case of deciding how you want to use the camera. The 800D gives an easy introduction to shooting with a very capable DSLR, while the 77D allows more experienced users to do things like change settings faster when using manual controls.

However, it's important to remember that internally the cameras are the same and are therefore both capable of taking the same quality images, so it's just a case of how you want to get there.

The Canon EOS 800D (Rebel T7i ) and EOS 77D are both due to be available in April. The 800D will cost $750 body-only, or $900 with a 18-55-mm lens, while the 77D will set you back $900 body-only, or $1,050 with a 18-55-mm lens.

Product pages: EOS 800D/Rebel T7i, EOS 77D

View gallery - 15 images