on November 4, 2013
Im a casual photographer, who travels a lot and wanted a SLR to take with me. I also want to enhance my photography as a hobby, although I don't plan on ever being professional. I've owned several compact digital prior to this camera.
Even though I knew what I was ordering, I couldn't get over the size. It's so small for an SLR and so lightweight. I've checked multiple times because I didn't think it was loaded in my bag, it felt empty. No kidding, it's that light weight. But still has all the buttons you need, well placed and easy to operate. It also feels tough and durable, so don't be dissuaded by the light weight or small size. I'm not sure about the concern some voiced about it being "too small" to hold. It's very comfortable. If you are going to shoot for 2 hours straight and/or have shot with a larger camera for 5 years, then maybe this would take some getting used to. But it's very easy to manage, comfortable to hold and feels solid in my hand.
I've been experimenting for a couple months now with various settings, different creative shots and I love the camera. Any failures are certainly mine as an amateur. It's easy to shoot, fast enough (I'm not shooting for the NHL) and takes accurate, colorful pictures that are only limited by my creativity. I've shot macro, landscape, architecture, pets and portraits. I love it. It has a deep, feature rich set of custom options, menus and settings. I'm almost addicted to loading my amazing photos into a post photo software (name omitted) and playing with them to see how incredible they can get. That being said, they look incredible (when composed properly) straight from the RAW image. Also remember, this is a canon, so you can use virtually any lens ever created by them.
The improved AF Focus and STM lens is evident when shooting video. Video is amazingly clear, the AF does a good job keeping up with most subjects (again not shooting NHL or nocturnal animal scenery). The touchscreen, nearly silent lens combo is a huge improvement over prior versions. All but the most demanding professionals will find it does a remarkable job.
Not many, seriously.
No built in stereo mic..(minor issue use an external)
No built in wifi (use an eye fi card)
I kept this simple as there are some more technical reviews out there. I thought simple usage from a consumer standpoint would be most helpful. My advice, be very careful hanging your hat on some of the Amazon reviews that are overly technical. Some of the reviewers don't know as much as they pretend and quote erroneous facts, like the fact that this camera uses "contrast phase detect" for it's auto focus. Wrong, older canon's did, not this one. If you really need the technical details read a review by dpmag, dppreview, camera labs etc. They will be spot on accurate and not a pseudo professional opinion. Happy hunting...
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This is a very compact DSLR similar in ability and layout to a Rebel T2i/T3i for stills. Enhanced autofocus has made it Canon's best DSLR for point-and-shoot style movies (superseded by the 70D in 2014). Paired with small primes, it makes for an exceedingly capable travel camera. Larger kits can make the T5i preferable. Smaller kits come more readily from mirrorless cameras with smaller senors.
==== Rebel T5i:
9-point AF w/ 9 cross points
Hybrid AF w/ 9% frame coverage
13m flash range
==== Rebel SL1:
+ 14 oz, 30% smaller by volume
+ Hybrid AF w/ 64% frame coverage
-- 4 fps
-- fixed touchscreen
-- 9 point AF w/ 1 cross point
-- 9.4m flash range
-- mono mic
This is the smallest DSLR from any make. It's a whole size tier below the T5i and level with a number of mirrorless bodies. Whether that's a worthwhile ergonomic compromise depends on the use case. With a small lens like a 40/2.8, the combined package reduces to prosumer point-and-shoot dimensions. Anything more ample (even the kit 18-55) and the bulk of the lens rapidly offsets the SL1's space efficiency.
In-hand, the SL1 is a fingertip camera. The palm of my large right hand doesn't rest easily against the body without finger contortions, so support comes mostly from the left under the lens. It feels (and looks) lilliputian if you're used to larger DSLRs, but that's the only real adjustment; the button layout has no surprises relative to the T2/3/4/5i.
* Single cross-point AF.
First, context: Canon uses autofocus to differentiate between DSLRs. More expensive cameras tend to have 'better' autofocus. Precisely what that means, and whether it matters, depends on your requirements. With the addition of movie capability, we've got three parameters to consider: stills with static subjects, stills with movement, and movies with movement. A complicating factor is that performance depends greatly on whether you're shooting through the viewfinder or from the rear LCD ("Live View"). Unlike point-and-shoot and mirrorless bodies, Canon DSLRs (and all others save Sony's) have two entirely separate autofocus systems.
When I talk about 'phase-detect' AF and 'cross-points', these are characteristics of the viewfinder AF system. The SL1's phase-detect AF array has 9 points. Only the center point is a cross-point. Cross-points (shaped like a +) detect contrast in any orientation. The 8 outer points (shaped like lines) only see contrast that's near perpendicular to them. The practical implication is that the T4i/T5i will be somewhat faster and more consistent with off-center compositions with wide-aperture lenses (e.g., 50/1.8) and motion-tracking.
Both systems outperform the contrast-detect focus in any current mirrorless body with motion. You focus through an optical viewfinder that'll never wash out, show noise in dim lighting, lag the action, or smear colors. In exchange, you lose the clever information overlays of electronic viewfinders (EVF), the face tracking that's become a part of many contrast-detect systems, and the precise matching between what the EVF shows and the camera records.
Here's the phase-detect breakdown for this body:
VF, stills, static: fast and accurate in frame-center
VF, stills, movement: moderately fast and accurate in frame-center
VF, movies, any subject: not possible
This is the same AF array as in the T2i/T3i. If you were happy with those bodies, you'll be equally so with this one.
* Hybrid AF II.
In the T3i and prior, Live View focusing from the rear LCD was achieved by contrast-detect. This method is vastly slower than phase-detect and, in Canon's DSLR implementation, isn't capable of tracking motion in movies. It's reasonably quick and quite accurate with stills. It isn't possible to use the main phase-detect array without interrupting Live View because a mirror gets in the way.
The T4i/T5i added a second phase-detect system integrated into the imaging sensor itself that boosted acquisition speed and improved motion tracking to mediocre/adequate levels, but only for the center 9% of the frame. The SL1 expands this system to 64% frame coverage. The result is significantly more confidence with continuous autofocus in movies. With off-center subjects, it hunts (bringing the scene in and out of focus) much less than the T4i/T5i.
Here's the contrast-detect breakdown:
LV, stills, static: reasonably fast and accurate over the whole frame
LV, stills, movement: slow, accurate when it can keep up
LV, movies, static: reasonably fast, occasional hunting
LV, movies, movement: slow, accurate when it can keep up
Motion tracking is still short of exceptional. STM lenses (which use a stepper motor instead of standard USM or a noisy micro-motor) work more quickly and precisely than non-STM lenses. They'll track slow, undemanding subjects and faces. For more challenging movement, either prefocus, manually focus, or jump to the next performance tier comprised of Sony's 'translucent mirror' DSLRs, many mirrorless bodies (e.g., Panasonic G/GH), and Canon's own 70D. The SL1 has no focusing aids (e.g., focus peaking) for Live View except full-screen zoom. Focusing accurately by hand on a moving target is very challenging.
Everything else is to lesser consequence. A slightly weaker flash, a slightly slower framerate, a smaller battery, one less microphone channel. Even the loss of LCD articulation isn't much of a bother unless you're continually shooting from vantage points away from the viewfinder.
A major advantage of the SL1 is that, like the T4i/T5i, it has a new touchscreen that that significantly lowers the EOS learning curve. It's capacitive and almost as responsive as a modern smartphone. Adjusting functions (e.g., exposure, white balance, focus points; everything) is as simple as tapping what you want. The camera won't be at the ready when you're manipulating the LCD, but thanks in part to an integrated 'feature guide' that explains most options, you probably won't need to pull out the manual on first acquaintance.
Phone gestures (e.g., pinch zoom, swiping) are now part of the picture review system, which makes checking focus vastly quicker and more flexible than on any other non-touch EOS body. Focus itself is touch-enabled in Live View mode, so you can tap to focus on static subjects anywhere in the frame without ever having to manipulate the 9-point AF system.
The interface isn't necessarily intuitive, but photography in general isn't intuitive. There's a large gulf between a design for novice users that hides complication and one for experienced users that makes powerful features easily accessible. By offering redundant touch controls, Canon straddles this line surprisingly well. This is a camera that can grow with you.
This sensor is functionally identical to those in the T2i/T3i/T4i/T5i/60D/7D save for the pixels devoted to phase-detect. Noise and dynamic range are similar in raw. Expect acceptable results up to ISO 3200. Nikon's D5100 is slightly better, Sony's A65 slightly worse. It's about two solid stops better than a typical point-and-shoot.
Unless you're in a JPEG-only shooting mode (e.g., multi-shot NR, HDR), raw gets the most out of this camera. JPEG often lacks the flexibility for significant changes in post. Raw shooting also lets you defer decisions (e.g., white balance, sharpening, noise reduction, color, lens corrections, tone curves, and even exposure) that distract from catching whatever moment you're after.
That aside, if your scene and shooting technique don't call for major adjustments on the computer, you're likely to be pleased with the JPEG output.
The 18-55/3.5-5.6 STM is a stellar optic. Focus is as fast as the camera allows, near-silent, and inaudible in movies, as is the IS system. If you upgrade, it'll be for speed, a different range, or perhaps more contrast, not because it isn't sharp enough. The 18-135/3.5-5.6 STM is equally impressive, though about an inch longer and twice the weight.
Light and small primes are well-suited to this body. The 40/2.8 STM, 50/1.8, 28/1.8, and 28/2.8 are all more compact than the kit lens. Larger lenses work as with any other EOS body, though some will be slightly more awkward when you're trying to adjust the zoom ring and support the rig from under the lens at the same time.
For video, buy SD cards 32 GB or larger. My pair of 16 GB cards have been inadequate for even a one-day event. The highest recording quality uses 350 MB/minute, equating to about 90 minutes per 32 GB card. For stills (~7 MB in JPEG and ~25 MB in raw), two or three 8 GB cards is plenty.
Interface responsiveness isn't much affected by card speed. Faster cards have three advantages: they can shoot longer bursts at 4 FPS, clear the picture buffer more quickly, and record video at the highest quality without risking a speed warning. Buffer depth is 28 JPEGs and 7 raw files with a standard SD card. Buffer cycling times are much lower with UHS-1 ('Ultra High Speed'). In one-shot mode, this difference is invisible; very fast cards would only make sense if you were time-limited on card-to-computer transfers with a USB 3.0, SATA, or Firewire card reader.
If you buy protection filters for your lenses, try Hoya's "DMC PRO1 Clear Protector Digital" line. They have very high light transmission and cause no visible flare. Digital sensors filter UV natively, there's no reason to pay more for that feature. I've written reviews on the relevant Hoya product pages with more details and why you might (or might not) want a filter.
Whether this DSLR is your huckleberry depends on your priorities. This is new territory for Canon. The SL1 is sized to compete with mirrorless, but the EOS lens line doesn't have many compact options to pair with it. And it never will, because the SL1 uses an APS-C sensor, the second-largest available. That applies doubly for Canon's mirrorless EOS-M, which looks like a deck of cards beneath an Evian bottle when attached to any of the f/2.8 zooms or longer telephotos.
Canon's lens line is simultaneously the greatest strength and weakness of this body. The EOS mount makes accessible some extraordinary and unique high-dollar glass. If you want to shoot supertelephotos, or real tilt-shift, or superfast primes that see in the dark, or macro lenses that'll fill the frame with Roosevelt's head on a dime, there's no other system that has it all under one umbrella. And if you've already invested in it, the SL1 is the obvious choice.
But what if that's not you? What if you plan to stay with the general-purpose lenses that just about every system contains? The advantages of the SL1 narrow considerably. They are: subject isolation, motion tracking with stills, the immediacy of an optical viewfinder, and Canon's highly polished user interface.
Relative to a M4/3s body like Panasonic's G6, the SL1 will have more foreground and background blur at any given aperture. If you're all about creamy backgrounds for portraiture, the difference is noticeable. You can still isolate with M4/3s, it just takes a closer subject and more telephoto.
Motion tracking for stills used to be a huge arrow in the SL1's quiver. It still is relative to most mirrorless bodies, though recent ones have gotten surprisingly fast. Likewise for low-light focusing, formerly a mirrorless weakness. Still, if your subjects are often running children, or anything that moves toward or away from you at high speed, the SL1 will have a higher hit-rate.
The optical viewfinder is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you're seeing the scene in real-time with no processing delays from imaging hardware. On the other, you're not seeing what the camera sees. The DSLR shooting process involves a lot of chimping, where you take the shot with the viewfinder and immediately check the exposure with the rear LCD. Not so with mirrorless: what you see is what you get, for better or worse. The SL1 finder maintains an edge with fast action and in very dark conditions that'll cause OLED/LCD viewfinders to fade to black.
And then we have Canon's UI. They've polished it for thirty years and the effort shows, particularly relative to recent entrants like Sony's NEX line. But Panasonic and others are closing the gap. This SL1 isn't the only camera with a touchscreen and logical menus. More to the point, mirrorless bodies are often less clunky than the strange amalgam of 'Live View' and traditional mirror shooting that defines this camera and other DSLRs. That may well consume the SL1's advantage.
So what conclusions?
If you're all about small size and you can sacrifice the SL1's advantages, mirrorless is where you want to be. The Olympus OM-series leads the pack now in this price range. Tomorrow, the leader may be something else.
If you want to pair this body with fast, high-dollar EOS lenses or bulky accessories like an external flash, the T5i is a better alternative. The cost difference disappears into the system cost. The SL1 maintains an advantage with continuous focus in movie-mode, but lags everywhere else.
If you want the smallest possible EOS-compatible body, the EOS-M has identical image quality in a truly miniature package. After a recent firmware update, it's now acceptably fast at focusing, though still well behind the SL1 in general responsiveness.
But if your priorities favor DSLRs, hands-off autofocus in movies, and small size, the SL1 is the best choice in Canon's arsenal. A compromise, yes, but a good one.
on January 12, 2014
Its been a few years since I owned a Rebel. In 2004 I purchased the original Rebel 300D, it was my first digital SLR. I purchased it leaving my well loved film Minolta Maxxum 8000i behind. Since that first original Rebel which I later gave to a friend, I have purchased three (3) additional Canon camera bodies in the last 3 years. A Canon 40D, a Canon 7D, and my current pro body and first full-frame, the 5D Mark III. Unfortunately magnesium alloy bodies can get very heavy and too big and noticeable for just casual shooting. I wanted a smaller camera that I can have with me all the time but it seems like Sony has the best mirror-less camera as of the date of this writing (1/11/2014. The Sony 7r would mean not only buying an expensive new body, but new lenses. I'm to heavily invested in Canon L and prime lenses today.
Along comes this little gem, the SL1 or 100D. It is not mirror-less, and if you connect a large lens it loses its size advantage quickly but with a smaller lens, you essentially have a mini t5i that you can fit into a small backpack and have with you all the time with very little or no compromises. Amazon's pricing during the 2013 Christmas holiday season made it even more irresistible -- a downright steal. It has most of the features its bigger siblings in the Canon EOS lineup has with wonderful full-time hybrid CMOS autofocus during video mode shooting. It has Multi-frame noise reduction, high resolution rear touch screen, shoots full HD 1080p at 30 fps, most of its intelligent and creative modes allow shooting in RAW, which If I remember correctly was not the case with earlier Rebel cameras; perfect for handing the camera off to friends and relatives to take a picture of you but yet still have some control over the exposure when you do, and have a high quality CR2 raw file for further editing in Photoshop later. It has amazing low light capability, up to ISO 25600, 14-bit per channel with highlight controls. This little camera can also serve as a second camera because its compatible with all Canon's EOS lenses. It has some creative filters, although the miniature effect is the only one I like, especially in video mode. Some of the special effects can be added later after the photograph has been taken and it will allow you to apply the effect on a copy, rather than the original photograph so you will have both the original photo and one with the special effect. This little camera has built-in lens aberration correction and in camera cropping just like its bigger brothers do and a programmable auto focus system like other Canon's do too. You can also program the asterisk button on the rear to detach auto focus from shutter release if you like this. I have this setup on my Canon 5D Mark 3 and after getting use to it, find it more useful than having AF and Shutter on a single button. It has a mirror lockup to reduce vibration with larger telephoto lenses. It has four metering modes, evaluative, partial, spot and center-weight metering modes. Full data display with RGB or combined histograms, Auto Lighting Optimizer, in camera HDR (3 frames) , touch screen LCD display that let you skip, zoom in or out with your fingers with familiar finger gestures like those used for iPhone and Android.
What it does lack is a headphone jack for monitoring audio levels, the battery is small, so video recording time will not be as good as other Canon cameras, so have a charged up spare battery for recording video. Lenses with IS switched on and using the built-in flash will kill the battery quickly. But if you use a fast 50mm 1.8 or 1.4 or even the Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM lens, you should get the most battery life you can per charge. I think this is probably the best camera deal for dSLR photography, especially if you can get it with instant cashback or rebates so shop around.
Just thought I pass on this tip to other photographers. The Opteka LP-E12 batteries make good additional batteries for the SL1. They give you slightly more life and 1/4th the price of the original Canon battery. Opteka LP-E12 2000mAh Ultra High Capacity Li-ion Battery Pack for Canon EOS-M & EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR Cameras So if you shoot plenty of video, the Opteka battery seems to be a good choice, and at one fourth the price of the original Canon part, you can have four times the battery life.
I am impressed with my new Canon SL1 with the 18-55 kit lens. As a long time dedicated amateur photographer with a shelf full of other equipment, including fancier and much more expensive equipment, this will now be the one I take with me and use most of the time. Here's why:
* Incredibly small and incredibly light. The biggest single reason for the recent spate of mirrorless cameras (Sony NEX, Fujifilm X) is now negated! I am sitting here looking at the SL1 next to my Fujifilm XE-1 with a comparable 18-55 zoom lens. The SL1 is lighter and smaller than the Fuji mirrorless camera with its electronic viewfinder. The SL1 optical viewfinder, while more compressed than the one in a large high-end DSLR, to my eyes is still far superior to any electronic viewfinder, which is like looking at a fuzzy little television from the 1960's. Canon appears to have achieved the small size by repackaging the sensor and shutter; impressive engineering and I expect that Nikon and others will have to follow suit. Let's hope we will now see a new generation of tiny DSLRs.
*Image quality: OK you say, it's small. So what am I giving up? Answer is - not really much. Image quality is excellent. The electronics of sensors have advanced rapidly in the last few years and the newest entry level camera is going to perform better than the high end product you bought two years ago. And new half frame sensors may be comparable to full frame sensors from a few years back. Also, the entry level DSLR market is the most competitive. Nikon (D3200) and Canon (SL1 or T5) are forced to give you more for your money than with high end full frame cameras. The SL1 is a bargain. Yes, you can get a marginal improvement in images and controls by going up market, but you will pay 3X as much in dollars, and in weight, and in volume. The cost of any technology is usually on a log scale; 90% of state of the art costs X and 95% costs 3X and 99% costs 9X. It makes no sense to ride this curve unless you do very specialized or commercial photography. For most of us, the most important thing is whether we have the camera with us when the photo opp comes up.
*Comparison. The images coming out of this Canon SL1 are lovely, contrasty and with excellent colors. I compared directly with my full frame Nikon D600 and also Sony NEX 6 at ISO 400. Results; unless you are a fanatical pixel peeper, they are all in the same ballpark. Only by blowing up the central 10% to fill the computer screen can one begin to see significant differences. If you do make this extreme blowup, the full frame D600 had the cleanest, lowest noise, and finest detail. But then the D600 costs 4X the SL1 and weighs more than twice as much! And anyway, does it really matter if some other sensor is s-l-i-g-h-t-l-y better? No it doesn't. Having the 'best' equipment is just not the determining factor in capturing beautiful photos that I will take pride in years down the road. The SL1 gives me 90% of the quality I will get from any camera anywhere at 1/4 the cost of a high end DSLR. The main difference is that the viewfinder is cramped and the settings are in menus rather than dedicated buttons. Big deal. You can still do any creative thing you want and win photo contests with this camera.
*How about the kit lens?: Just fine. By profession I am interested in the details of lens design and I admire beautiful finely crafted Zeiss lenses just as much as as the next fanatic. But as a photographer I can tell you that for actually capturing once-in-a-lifetime handheld photo opportunities with a sharp high quality image, there are two things that matter much more than ultimate optical quality: a) image stabilization and b) zoom so you can scale the desired image to fill your sensor. Are high quality prime lenses "better?" In practical terms, usually not. For most photography, they will not produce a more detailed image unless your camera is on a tripod and the scene just happens to be matched to the focal length. For general opportunistic or travel photography, squeezing out the last iota of lens quality is close to irrelevant. This is especially so these days when the camera JPG engine corrects typical lens defects such as distortion and chromatic aberration automatically. Modern lenses no longer have to be perfect in the glass; they all end up pretty much alike after the software corrections are applied. This is also why spending hours diddling around with RAW images in Photoshop no longer makes much sense for most of us - the JPEG engine has been programmed to optimize the specific lens - and it will take much time and skill to equal or improve on this on one's own. Today, post processing is not optional so JPEG is how cameras should be judged.
Image stabilization in particular has a lot more to do with sharpness for handheld photos then ultimate lens quality. The stabilization on this Canon lens works fine, showing its best advantage with shutter speeds around 1/10 to 1/25 second and giving effective reduced jitter as if you were shooting at 1/200. (If the required exposure is much slower than 1/25, let's say 1/5 or slower, even IS will not help - and if it's much faster, don't need IS and it won't improve anything.) And as noted, using a zoom has a lot bigger impact on quality then the niceties of a prime lens because one doesn't need to crop down. If I crop to the central 1/4 of the image area because my lens did not frame the scene optimally, I am throwing away 3/4 of my pixels, so I no longer have 18MP anyway. Overall results will be better with a zoom, even if it's optically imperfect.
*So is mirrorless no longer needed? There is one factor which does still favor mirrorless over SLR; the size of lenses, which are limited by the laws of physics and the long flange-to-sensor distance that comes with an SLR mirror. For the Canon SL1 or any SLR, zoom lenses will usually be bigger than the body. So I also bought the 40mm f2.8 Canon pancake lens which is compact for walk-around, although if I have to use a fixed lens I would prefer a wider angle. Canon makes a dozen other mid range zooms such as the 15-85, but you will have to accept a weight of 575-645 g compared to 205 g for the kit lens. In fixed focal lengths, Canon also makes two nice wide angle (24 mm and 28mm) lenses with image stabilization that weigh only 260-281 g and would offer a good match for the SL1. The 50mm f1.8 should be considered instead of the 40mm; faster and costs less. And of course you may already own a shelf full of Canon EF or EF-S lenses.
*But isn't the SL1 plasticky? Yes, it is plasticky, and there are tacky "sculpted" buttons on the back, ala consumer cameras, and the shutter release is not as snappy as my Nikon D600. It does not give the impression of a professional tool. I regret that Canon interpreted "small and light" as "entry level;" I would have been willing to pay more for a compact but higher precision package. But it's also very light. And it's so handy I'm going to take it with me when I travel as opposed to leaving my big full frame Nikon at home. And if it gets stolen or dropped, not such a tragedy. Every camera is a compromise. In my opinion enthusiasts sometimes obsess too much over 'build quality.' Yes, there is a tactile pleasure to high precision Leicas from the 1950's, but that kind of mechanical quality is no longer necessary for quality photos. Cameras today, like so many other products are made of plastic and software but the results - photographs - are better than ever.
*Interface and ease of use. Canon along with all other Japanese camera brands cram their interfaces with all sorts of useless clutter in the form of indecipherable icons, unnecessary modes and confusing redundancies. What does that odd little icon which looks like an upside down flag with a teardrop mean? Why not just use plain old WORDS to label it? And has anyone you know actually used the "Food Mode?" Is it really more convenient to have three or four redundant ways to change the ISO setting, or just confusing? Canon and the other makers should really drastically simplify the whole thing - look at your iPhone, which does many more things than a camera but has very few icons and labels and buttons. All the major Japanese cameras have the same overly complicated philosophy, but the SL1 Canon is somewhat easier to figure out than most, and the touch screen is a definite plus. In any case, although this is considered an 'entry level' DSLR, the full manual nevertheless runs to 388 pages, so plenty of options. There is also a remote control available as an option, to get yourself in family photos or for nature photography. In short, there is very little you can't do with the SL1.
*Flaws? There is one real photographic deficiency. When I switch to Live View for still photos (this means lock up the mirror and use the LCD to frame photos, like a point-and-shoot), the autofocus becomes very slow and hunts for a lock. The mirrored autofocus runs on a fast phase detection principle but in Live View the sensor focusses using some combination of contrast detection (slow in poor light) with special phase pixels. The solution; don't use Live View for still photos, keep it for movies. Other minor annoyances: the on/off switch is not in the most natural place. Also the optical viewfinder picture is not only cramped but also does not capture 100% of the full sensor field; more like 79%, so you will have to learn to compensate by overfilling the viewfinder frame a bit. I wish the buttons on the back were bigger (Note to Canon: Just because the back of the camera is small does not mean the buttons have to be small - get it?) Finally the flash pops up when I don't want it to, although there is mode dial setting to suppress that.
*Movies. Since one cannot use the optical SLR viewfinder to make movies, an SLR like this is not really the best camera for movies. In you want to concentrate on movies, the Sony NEX design is much better suited.
*Bottom line: This is a great little state of the art camera and lens which takes lovely still photos without much fuss in an affordable tiny package. It benefits from the latest up to the minute sensor technology, the photos are quite comparable to high end mirrorless or other half frame DSLR cameras and only slightly inferior to full frame costing much more and weighing much more. Yes, it is cluttered with too many modes and icons, but they all do that. With the kit lens you get the benefits of zoom and image stabilization and still the overall package is very portable. There is very little one might wish to do in art photography which cannot be done with the SL1. Speaking for myself, a small half-frame camera with an optical viewfinder is just the ticket - the best overall combination of image quality, viewfinder and functionality for the size and weight. It seems to me that the main justification for half frame mirrorless designs with electronic viewfinders has been negated. Is there a time when I won't use the SL1? Yes, for street photography where people may be intimidated by having a camera pointed at them - the Sony NEX with its articulated rear display is better for that. But for any photography where SLR works best, Canon has produced an advance similar to that of the Olympus OM series in the 1970's. Small is beautiful. Bravo, Canon; you will sell a lot of these!
Note added in response to comments below:
Thanks to everyone who commented but perhaps I did not make my viewpoint clear. Yes I know a knowledgable PhotoShop artist who spends time fiddling with an image may produce a better result than the in-camera JPEG. That's not the point. Post RAW processing is no longer optional since lenses are now designed assuming their distortions and aberrations will be corrected in software. Since the efficiency of the in-camera JPEG is part of the product and the mode most people will use, it should be part of the review. For any hobbyist who insists on doing it all by hand, be my guest, knock yourself out!
Second, yes it is possible to get somewhat better, somewhat lower noise images at high ISO from a full frame sensor such as the D600. But in my tests this was only apparent if I crop to a small part of the original image. Normally the difference - in my judgement - is not great enough to make it worth lugging the big heavy D600.
One more update: Consumer Reports just reviewed the SL1 and rated it near the top of DSLR overall
on February 25, 2015
I love this camera! I bought it to replace my Canon xTi (purchased in 2008), which still worked but I wanted a new camera because both the technology and my photography skills had gotten better in 7 years. When I was doing my research on new DSLR cameras, I had a hard time deciding which camera to buy. It was between the t5, sl1, and t5i. I chose this one because it had a better light sensor than the t5 and t5i, but the price wasn't as high as the t5i. At first, I thought I needed a camera with more umph to increase my skills more (like the 70D). I was worried because this camera is advertised as a beginners camera, and hoped that I would be bored with it. I am definitely NOT bored! I feel like it's easy enough for a beginner but there is so much to learn with photography that it will propel you forward for quite awhile. I love how it's a rebel series, and I knew how to use it out of the box because it was so similar to the xTi. Of course there are a lot of similarities between the xTi and the SL1, like the ISO can go much higher than the xTi, but I usually stay under 400 as much as I possibly can, but in the higher numbers the pictures look better compared to the same ISO as the xTi. Everything looks better with this camera!
The first thing I noticed about this camera is how small and lightweight it is. I can take 800 pictures in an hour and at the end of the shoot, I don't have as much of a camera shake problem from having a tired hand. The quality of the pictures are fantastic. The pictures are coming out so super clear that there is almost too much detail and I find myself photoshop-ing the crust off my baby's nose! In reality though, I don't spend nearly as much time fixing the photos as I used to. Most of the images I submitted are original and untouched. Additionally, the SL1 is a super fast camera and can keep up with toddlers very easily. A few things that I love that I didn't know I would love is the touch screen. I also love the super quiet auto-focus on the STM lens. And I love how I can use all my old Canon lenses and gear that I have collected over the years.
This camera is quickly becoming my go-to camera because of the pictures that come from it. In the two weeks I've had it, I've already taken several thousand pictures, and at the end of my shoots, I have a higher % of good pictures compared to the other cameras I own and tested before buying this one. Bottom line, I would make this purchase again in a heart beat, and this time I wouldn't take to long to decide on this camera!
on July 8, 2013
I'm a long time Canon owner/user, the SL-1 is my fourth digital Rebel. I had a T3i that I purchased a year ago, and I loved that camera. When I saw the SL1 I was intrigued, so I ordered it. Very happy with the SL1, gives up nothing to the T3 except that the LCD screen is fixed, not swiveling, but I didn't use the swivel feature anyway, and the SL1 adds a very capable touchscreen that really works. I love the small size, paired with a smaller kit lens (I have the 18-55USM IS that came with the T3i, which is a bit smaller than the current STM lens they package these cameras with today) it is a VERY portable and light full featured DSLR. I also have the 15-85mm, 10-22mm and 55-250 canon zooms, all terrific lenses in their own right (particularly the 15-85, GREAT all around lens). Those lenses add weight and bulk, but the smaller camera body size still helps, and you can always put the kit lens on when you want the light/compact camera to carry around.
Image quality is superb, acceptable noise on images I shot the other night in a dimly lit coffee house @ 3200 ISO.
Best camera I've owned. I did a lot of research to see if I could justify an upgrade to a Canon 6D or 5D, but the price penalty (thousands for new camera bodies and lenses) and the weight and bulk penalty (considerable) didn't justify what I consider to be marginal improvements in image quality, at least for my needs, which are partly professional (I used this camera quite a bit for work) and for my own personal photography.
So take the plunge, my guess is 90% of you will love this camera. The camera feels higher quality to me than the T3i, nicer cosmetics, slightly higher quality plastics used.
on May 9, 2013
I've had several smaller cameras like the Canon G11. All had one fault that troubled me. They could not shoot quickly when a grand child photo op materialized. Setting up for a particular shooting situation was far too time consuming, but more importantly, there was too much delay once the shutter was depressed. When shooting flash with red-eye protection turned on the delay is worse yet. The SL1 is slowed a bit with red-eye on but not much and for all other shooting is as fast as other Canon DSLRs. Shots using available light are near instantaneous under normal lighting as is typical of Canon DSLRS and as is essential for shooting pets and grand kids. When shooting available light in low-light conditions the SL1 can take a second to focus but is still DSLR-quick, much quicker than lesser camera types.
Another issue I have with smaller cameras is a secure and comfortable grip. While the SL1 is dimunitive by SLR standards, it still fills the hands comfortably and doesn't feel like it's going to slip through your fingers as a Digital Elph or an S100 or S110 does. My right hand fingers do bottom against the front of the body (I'm tall with longish fingers) but not problematically so. The thumb rest on the back of the body is excellent; as good or better than any DSLR I've had before. The grip is great in spite of the small body and allows secure one-handed shooting. And, of course, the light weight means many shots before fatigue sets in.
As with any small camera with a large sensor, physics prevents an equally compact lens though the 18-55 kit lens is surprisingly compact and light. With the standard two-handed grip with the left hand underneath and the right hand up the right side, the zoom and focus rings are as easily accessed as on any larger dslr and lens and sure beat the rubbery electric zoom controls on more compact cameras.
While the body is small, seemingly half the size of a 5D or 50D or 60D or 7D, the controls are pretty much as accessible as those on these larger cameras and far better than on an more compact camera. I wasn't excited about the touch screen, being adicted to the Canon Q screen, but it's a winner. I use it more on every outing. I thought smudges from use of the touch screen would be a problem but that has not been the case even with a protective film applied. The LCD is very bright. I've only had to set it to full brightness for use in ver y bright sunlight.
If you are a Canon shooter now, you will be up to speed on this camera in an hour or two without ever cracking the manual (mine is still sealed). If you are new to DSLRs, the SL1 is probably as good a place to start as any.
I won't get into a lot of the technical details since they are well covered by others. It seems to do at least as well as any APS-C camera I've had. Suffice it to say, feature-wise, the SL1 has just about everything you can get in the Rebel line except the weight and size and the flip-out LCD. For me it's the perfect second camera for backup, to carry on long hikes, for use at the grand kids birthday parties and soccer matches, and for casual walk-around duty. I'll rarely be without it. My full frame DSLR will now be reserved for serious landscape and portrait shooting.
It's been about two months now and I'm over 800 shots on the SL1. I like it better every time I pick it up in part because it lifts up so easily! I've now shot a five day vacation (one that did not justify taking the 5DIII) and a granddaughter's birthday party as well as a few family outings and some construction going on across the street. And lots of experimenting in the back yard. Here are my key findings:
The dedicated ISO button is a blessing. Because one runs into noise issues more often in a smaller sensor (compared to a full frame sensor in this case) keeping an eye on ISO is a good idea. Mostly I put ISO on auto and set it for a maximum of 3200 and shoot Av and the camera does a good job of balancing ISO and shooting speed, dropping below about 1/60 only when ISO would otherwise go above 3200. When a special situation arises such as when I have something to brace against the ISO button makes it very easy to force the ISO down for that shot.
The Av +/- button is also handy. It lets you easily adjust Aperture and/or compensation in the Quick menu, surely the two most frequently accessed adjustments.
At ISO 3200 noise is hardly a problem for jpeg shooters. RAW shooters used to a 5DII or 5DIII and using the SL1 as a "backup" or for less demanding outings may be shocked at the noise. Even though it looms large compared to the full frame cameras, I don't think it's any worse than canon's other 18 MP bodies (60D, 7D, other Rebels). But, higher ISO images from the 5DII and 5DIII that did not require noise correction will typically require some color and luminance noise correction if taken with the SL1 (or any 18 MP Canon APS-C body). There are APS-C cameras with lower noise but I think none that offer the benefits of the SL1 (especially at the new lower price!).
The silent shooting mode is great. It's quieter than the quiet mode in my 5DIII!. It also slows the 4 frames per second burst mode down to an often more suitable 2-3 fps. As with my 5DIII, I set the SL1 on silent mode early on and it's been on that setting since (I may go back to the 4 fps mode when the grand kids are old enough for sports).
If I have an issue with the SL1, it's the zoom range of the kit lens. I love the compactness of this lens and the always excellent Canon image stabilization. However, at 18-55mm, it's plenty wide for casual use, but is a bit short on the tele end (88mm full frame equivalent). At my grand daughter's birthday party I shot well over 20 images at the maximum 55mm setting. Almost every one needed to be cropped. While this is a bit of a nuisance, the 18MP of the SL1 is sufficient to allow a lot of cropping so long as you are not printing beyond about 8x10. Also, unless you are an expert (I'm not), there is risk of zooming in too far and getting a less than ideal framing that you are stuck with. When cropping down from a too large image, you always get a perfect framing of the subject(s) (and you can crop to 4x6 or 8x10). Living with a maximum 88mm tele reach is thus not a bad thing. The logical upgrade would be to an 18-135mm zoom (29-216mm) though such lenses are considerably larger and weigh about 16 oz, almost three times the six oz of the kit lens. The SL1 would not be nearly so handy with such a lens.
I'm continuing to transition to the touch screen. I think I'll miss it when I next take the 5DIII out.
on September 30, 2013
The Canon SL1 is a really small and light DSLR. At just 13 ounces, the SL1 body is lighter than some point and shoot cameras (ie the Canon G15). Even with the Kit 18-55mm STM lens attached, the SL1 is only 2 ounces heavier than the Canon G-1X and comparable to many compact system cameras. I do not believe there has been a SLR this amall/light since the Olympus E-4xx series (circa 2007 or so) This is obviously achieved by using a lot of plastic and rubber. But the camera does have a pretty solid feel. I suspect that individuals with large hands may find the camera too small.
Ultimately, it's about the quality of the photographic images produced. The SL1 truly excels in producing terrific looking photographs in all lighting conditions (An external Flash with bounce capabilities such as the 270EX is essential for indoor photography). The photographs rendered are crisp and very well contrasted. Noise is well controlled without too much detail loss through ISO 3200. Even ISO 6400 is quite usable for small prints. However, to my personal frustration, there are no incremental ISO settings between stops(ie ISO 2000) sometimes forcing the use of a higher than needed ISO setting. Careful examination of some of the photographs (especially those with small text) shows some softness (even after software sharpening), but I suspect that's from the kit lens. Shooting at a smaller aperture (i.e F8) does improve the sharpness somewhat.
There is a definite improvement in the 'live view' (LCD framing) since my last Canon SLR (T2i). However if you regularly prefer Live View to an optical viewfinder, the SONY SLT series or even a compact system camera (ie the Olympus PEN series) is a better choice.
The Really Good: Terrific Image Quality under almost all conditions; Really small and light yet with almost all the features of larger/more expensive SLRs; Decent menu system; Bright/sharp LCD; Decent Live View for an SLR; The Automatic White Balance & Metering almost always gets it right.
What can be improved: No Articulating LCD; No independent AutoFocus infrared beam (uses the flash which works much harder under dim lighting); Only 2 ISO stops between ISO 800 & ISO 6400 (1600 & 3200); Memory card on bottom sharing battery compartment (SD card can't be taken out while on a tripod); 18-55mm kit lens not that sharp; RAW editing software really bare bones.
There really aren't too many choices for those that prefer a true DSLR (an optical viewfinder with a through the lens (mirror) view)as Canon and Nikon are really the only two camera manufacturers out there. Olympus has some excellent DSLRS but they haven't developed any new true DSLRs since the E-620 some years back; Panasonic and Fuji have gone exclusively "mirrorless" and it appears Sony is similarly not manufacturing anything new with an optical viewfinder.
I am a big fan of the Nikon D40/D40X/D80/D90/D5000 etc cameras of a few years back. I compared photographs taken of identical scenes with the D40x and the SL1 and the renditions were (eerily) almost identical. The D40X was a little sharper (most probably the lens); the SL1 less noise at higher ISO sensitivity settings (about a full stop better). Comparing the Nikon D3200 to the SL1, I prefer the SL1; less noise at higher ISO settings and nicer color rendition. The Nikon D5200 (which unklike the SL1 has an articulating LCD) was a little harder to compare to the SL1. The colors are rendered so differently by each of these cameras. The Nikon D5200 is much warmer with the Canon much crisper. Both cameras delivered excellent High ISO results although the Nikon has incremental settings between stops allowing much more precise ISO settings.
The .jpgs were much better on the Canon. You really need to shoot RAW with the Nikons. Fortunately, Nikon's included Raw processing/editing software is pretty good improving the photos greatly.
The AutoFocus on all of the Nikons were quicker than the SL1 in dim lighting although both the Canon and Nikons focused very accurately. In total darkness, the Canon could not (auto)focus at all. The Nikons relying on an infrared beam, (somewhat incredibly) focused effortlessly under such conditions.
The Nikon raw editing software is much better (much more options) than the Canon software (If you shoot RAW with Canon, you really need Adobe). Nikon's non-professional lenses are better than Canon's non professional lenses although many of Nikons older lenses are not compatible with the auto focusing system of many of Nikon's newer/lower end cameras.
In comparing the SL1 with the Canon T2i/550D, an entry level DSLR from a few years back (which also uses the same 18MP sensor as does the current entry level model the 700D) the image quality is very similar, that is to say excellent. Under artificial lighting (indoors), the photographs look almost identical at all ISO settings. In Natural lighting (Outdoors) at base ISO, the photographs taken on each camera are also similar but I actually prefer the color rendition and light metering on the older T2i. The SL1 body is about 25% lighter than the T2i body. However, there is a downside to this svelte; larger/heavier lenses make the SL1 feel very unbalanced and uncomfortable to hold. Consequently, an 'upgrade' from other recent Canon DSLRs for image quality purposes or else upgrading with the intention of using heavier lenses is not worthwhile.
If you are seeking an affordable, small, true DSLR with an emphasis on image quality, The Canon SL1 should be near the very top of your list. This is especially true for those that do not like using software to reprocess their photographs. An external bounce flash (ie 270EX) is a 'must'for proper exposure and color rendition indoors and to get the most out of this camera.
on September 21, 2013
Since I traded my Sony Nex5N for this Rebel SL1, I haven't had any regrets. I was looking for a good smaller camera as a backup to my Canon 40D. Since I got the SL1, I haven't really even picked up my 40D. This camera does everything I need and then some. I can pair it with all my EF lenses... 24-105mm f4L (though it's a bit of a silly combination), Canon 70-200 f4L, Tamron 17-50mm f 2.8, and the Canon EF 40mm f2.8 pancake. So far, I use the 40mm and the Tamron 17-50mm on it the most, as they seem to give me a nice small flexible package. My only wish is that there was a nice 28mm pancake to give me a good street photo outfit.
I shot a high school football game last weekend. (caveat, I'm a portrait photographer, not a sports photographer) I started out with my 40D and 70-200mm f4L. I was having serious back focus issues, and couldn't compensate to save my life. I missed a lot of important shots. I finally took a chance and put my zoom lens onto the SL1. Everything from that point on was perfect. This little camera saved my day. It stepped up to the plate and did more than I ever expected from it.
on November 10, 2013
I got the EOS Rebel SL1 for its size and weight. I wanted something light and smaller enough due to wrist (Photoshop mouse-itis) problems, but I didn't want a limited point and shoot. I just could not use my way bigger and heavy 5-year old DSLR anymore, a day of use gave me days of aching wrist pain. So I gave this a try. I LOVE the feel in hand. I mostly use the manual, shutter- and aperture priority modes. I can't comment on the pre-sets or video, never use them. There is plenty to like about the SL1 and lots to learn. The on-screen menu is helpful providing one reads the manual. However, what I did not like was having the battery die on me after a half day of shooting. I assume to keep this all plastic camera light-weight, Canon used a smaller battery. You'll need to carry bunch of extra batteries and keep them charged up before heading out. Otherwise, it's a great starter DSLR beyond point and shoots for ultimate photographic creativity.