Sunday, January 23

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 review: small size, big image quality

Are most DSLRs too big for your hands? Are most mirrorless cameras too small? Perhaps the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 is the right one. The smallest and lightest of Canon’s DSLRs, this 24-megapixel DSLR comes with a fully articulated LCD touchscreen and has a higher ISO and faster autofocus than its predecessor.

At $ 700 (with the EF-S 18-55mm f / 4-5.6 kit lens), the SL2 also sits on the less expensive side of the company’s lineup. Those looking to upgrade from an older or point-and-shoot DSLR will find the SL2’s updated features appealing, and beginners can learn from the SL2’s Feature Wizard and built-in guides.

PLUS: How to take great photos with the Canon EOS SL2

Editor’s Note: Canon has released a successor to the SL2; the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 ($ 649 with 18-55mm lens), which has many of the same features, but allows you to record 4K video. However the EOS Rebel SL2 is available now for $ 549 (with lens) or $ 449 (body only).

Design: plain and simple, with a touch

Available in black or white, the SL2 measures just 4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 inches and weighs 1 pound, including the battery and SD card. In comparison, Canon’s entry-level DSLR camera T6 measures 5.1 x 4 x 3.1 inches and weighs 17.1 ounces, while Canon’s newest mirrorless camera EOS M5 measures 4.6 x 3.5 x 2.4 inches and weighs 1 pound.

(Image credit: Canon)

The trade-off for the SL2’s size and weight is that, in addition to the solid feel of the grip, the camera has a decidedly plastic feel.

Although Canon reconfigured the position of some of the control buttons, the SL2 is a rather scaled down version of other high-end DSLRs. In its pursuit of simplicity, Canon kept only the most critical dedicated controls such as ISO, Exposure Compensation, Playback, Menu, and Live View. A single control dial sits above the grip.

(Image credit: Canon)

The mode dial is typical Canon style, with automatic, semi-manual, and manual options, including Scene Intelligent Auto, Creative Auto, Scene, and Creative Filters options.

(Image credit: Canon)

A well-organized menu system is available, but like other Canon DSLRs, the SL2 features a Q (Quick Control) button that provides convenient access to settings such as Picture Styles, White Balance, and Metering. Once you set up the camera, there is rarely a reason to access the full menu. But the two My Menu options on the camera allow you to create your own menus, putting your favorite settings at your fingertips.

(Image credit: Canon)

The new SL2 is a 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen LCD. With the ability to tilt the LCD screen and adjust the brightness, the screen is viewable in almost all circumstances. Full touchscreen functionality includes touch focus, touch shutter, and the usual variety of touch gestures (pinch, zoom, etc.). The touchscreen is responsive and, like all fully articulated LCD screens, it can be folded into the camera body to protect the screen while in the camera bag.

MORE: Best DSLR Cameras From Beginners To Pros

A built-in pop-up flash is complemented by a hot shoe for attaching an accessory flash. As is common for this class of camera, there is only one SD card slot. Surprisingly, the SL2 also offers a jack for connecting an external stereo microphone.

New to how a DSLR works? The SL2 offers a new Function Wizard that explains how the different aspects of camera functions work. For example, if you set the camera to Tv (shutter priority mode), an image with a basic text explanation shows the effects of using a fast shutter speed versus a slow shutter speed. It’s a great learning tool, as are the guided menus and capture screens. They are enabled by default, but photographers who prefer Canon’s standard screens and menus can disable them.

Image quality: pretty good

I shot with the EF-S18-55mm F / 4-5.6 IS STM lens, with a 35mm equivalent focal range of approximately 29-88mm. Most of the test images were captured using the standard picture style and shutter-priority or aperture-priority exposure modes.

Image quality was quite good, especially for a camera in this class. The colors are highly saturated and natural looking, as you can see from the images below.

f / 5.6, 1/160 seg, ISO 400

f / 5.6, 1/320 seg, ISO 200

Exposure is accurate in almost all modes. Even the weighted metering in the center of the SL2 did a good job of exposing the reflective water and sand, as well as the darker grassy foreground in the sample image below. It was bright enough to stop the aperture at f / 13 to get a wide depth of field. As a result, almost the entire image, from the foreground to the background and all points in between, was in focus.

f / 13, 1/320 seg, ISO 200

Highlight and shadow details held up well, even in high-contrast scenes like this late-afternoon beach scene.

f / 14, 1/320 seg, ISO 200

High-contrast scenes often produce purple streaks along the edges of darkness against light (or vice versa). There were no noticeable stripes along the edges of the trees against the bright sky.

f / 14, 1/160 seg. ISO 200

The pop-up flash worked well for filling shadows outdoors, as seen in the images below. If you look closely, you can even see reflections (small white reflections of light) in the girls’ eyes.

f / 5.6, 1/160 seg, ISO 400

Canon’s automatic white balance tends to retain the warm colors of, for example, tungsten lighting. With the SL2, as with other newer Canon cameras, you can set Auto WB to Ambient Priority or White Priority. The former offers warmer images (similar to sepia tones) under tungsten lighting, while the latter adjusts to the light and balances colors to help produce more accurate whites. You can see the difference in the pictures below:

Ambient priority f / 5.6, 1/160 sec, ISO 400

White priority f / 5.6, 1/160 sec, ISO 400

The SL2 uses an older nine-point autofocus system when shooting through the viewfinder, but the camera responded when focusing on a variety of subjects, from children playing to flowers. The images were sharp and detailed, as shown in the flowers below; Look closely and you can see the details of the bugs that landed there.

With continuous shooting at up to 5 frames per second (dropping to 3.5 fps when using AI Servo Continuous AF), the camera is capable of stopping the action, just like the girl running in the image below.

1 / 5.6, 1/160 seg, ISO 400

Canon has equipped the SL2 with its excellent dual-pixel autofocus, which kicks in when shooting in Live View or when capturing video. This AF system provides faster and smoother AF in the latter two modes, so, unlike many other cameras, using autofocus in Live View (usually a slow process) is noticeably faster.

Low light: don’t push it too far

In addition to an auto ISO option, where the camera automatically adjusts the ISO to allow for the chosen shutter speed / aperture combination, the SL2’s manually selectable ISO ranges from 100 to 25600. Low light performance is not bad, even with noise reduction turned off.

f / 5.6, 1/250 s, ISO 1600

But image noise becomes quite noticeable at ISO 3200 and its graininess increases from there. For the best quality, keep the ISO as low as possible, preferably below ISO 3200. Maxing the ISO at 25600 results in noisy images that will probably not even be approved for online publication.

Video: versatil

Video options include Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 60/30/24 fps, along with 1280 x 720 and 640 x 480 at 60/30 fps. Movies are recorded in MP4, which is easy to view and edit.

Manual exposure control is available during recording (set the camera to M on the mode dial), but be aware that changing settings via the command dial produces a clicking noise. Go to the Settings menu, turn off the beep, and use the touchscreen to adjust settings silently (such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and more). If you’re just getting started, set your camera to Auto and let it take care of everything.

Thanks to the use of Canon’s Dual Pixel AF, autofocus is fluid and responsive during video capture. Overall, images are clear and sharp, with precise focus and exposure. Sound quality was fine for casual videos using the camera’s internal microphones, but if you’re more serious about your movies, you can use the SL2’s microphone jack.

MORE: The Best Photo Editing Software From Beginners To Professionals

Video can also be captured using creative filter effects, such as dream, old movies, and dramatic black and white. Time-lapse movies are also available.

Battery life: Mediocre

It’s better to shoot with the viewfinder than Live View for the best battery life (650 shots). When you turn on Live View, the battery life drops to 260 shots. If you plan to shoot a lot of videos, you may want to purchase an extra battery to record longer.

Wi-Fi / NFC / Bluetooth: easy setup

A major addition to the SL2 is its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, a must for all cameras these days.

(Image credit: Canon)

Canon’s free Camera Connect app is available for iOS and Android, and is required to view, transfer images, and shoot remotely. Once the app is installed on your mobile device, the setup is pretty simple. If you have problems, the app has a setup guide.

The process of moving images between the camera and your mobile device (or your computer or other compatible camera) can be a bit slow at times, but the app gets the job done.

Bottom line

The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 performs admirably for its class and price, thanks to a solid mix of beginner and advanced features. The Canon EOS Rebel T6 ($ 450 with 18-55mm lens) is cheaper, but it lacks many of the SL2’s attractive features, including the fully articulated LCD touchscreen.

If you’re on a budget, check out the $ 500 Nikon D3400, which is somewhat larger and heavier, but also offers excellent image quality, has a good feature set, and lasts twice as long as the SL2. Or, if you’re willing to spend a bit more (or already have a Canon or Nikon lens or two), the $ 750 Canon EOS Rebel T7i (body only) is a solid option, as is the Nikon D5600. But both are slightly larger and heavier than the SL2. If you’ve been considering the Canon EOS Rebel T6, save a little more money and go for the SL2. You will get more for the money.

Credit: Theano Nikitas / Tom’s Guide

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