[Imaging Week] The arrival of the Canon EOS T5i on the DSLR scene didn’t make much waves, and for good reason: this update of the T4i (650D) is so close to its predecessor that you have to dig into the software to find a difference: the EOS T5i can preview the Creative Filters in real-time, which is one of the most underwhelming (although welcome) feature addition to this camera. Yes, since the Txi line of product has usually been a sweet spot for entry-level DSLRs, I thought that it would be worthwhile to take a closer look to see if there is more than meet the eye…
18.0 megapixels APS-C sensor
9-points AF contrast and phase detection
Touchscreen articulated LCD display, 1M pixels
1080p 30FPS video recording, H.264 compression (or MJPEG)
SD card (SD/SDHC/SDXC) storage
Official specifications at Canon.com
The T5i feels very much like the T4i, and although Canon tweaked the ergonomics a bit by making the buttons a bit easier to find by raising their profile, things are pretty much the same as before. Not that it’s a bad thing: there are quite a few Canon Rebel users that are very happy with the existing setup. Of course, you still find the touch screen that is most useful when filming because you can “tap to focus”, a feature that is extremely handy in many filming situations. Finally, you can also expect to do things like “pinch and zoom” when in playback mode, but I want to set your expectations properly: this is no smartphone speed.
I really like the tilt/swivel display in the back. It’s not a new feature, but it can be a lifesaver when shooting for filming from odd angles or in a crowd. Sometime, it’s the little things that make a big difference.
Since the hardware isn’t really ground breaking, the photographic abilities of the Canon Rebel T5i are near-identical to the T4i, which were very decent for the price. I snapped some photos with it, and overall, it does feel like the T4i both in terms of auto-focus speed and image quality, although this would really deserve some photos in a controlled environment, to have some kind of scientific proof.
I was more interested by the autofocus in movie mode, which is can be problematic since the T5i cannot truly use its phase-detection (which makes the auto-focus so fast in photo mode), but has to use a contrast-based auto-focus instead, like many other cameras do. Note that Canon can partially use the phase-detection hardware thanks to a hybrid auto-focus system and this probably explain why the focus isn’t jumpy/jerky. The result was a relatively slow auto-focus, but there was no “jerky” jump in focus as we’ve seen with the EOS-M. It’s probably better to shoot movies where the subject is relatively static, and I wouldn’t recommend shooting objects in motion – especially if they come towards or go away from the camera.
Still, I would consider this performance to be pretty good for this price-range, and most mirrorless cameras won’t fare much better anyway, especially if you take the price into account (of course, mirrorless system can be substantially smaller!).
The Canon EOS Ti5/700D [$899 MSRP, $749 street price] stands its ground in the consumer-level space, but we’re a bit bummed that Canon was not able to improve upon the T4i/650D design in a significant way. There are a number of things in terms of low-light photography, or auto-focus that could have been improved, and we expected a more impressive pace of innovation from a player like Canon. Still, this is a pretty consumer DSLR, but without making strides in terms of features and performance, Canon lets the mirrorless systems catch up with, if not surpassing, its own products. At the moment, mirrorless system aren’t an obvious replacement when it comes to price/performance, but they do win when it comes to size/performance — that’s really up to you to decide if you prefer small or more affordable. If you like “affordable”, now is a good time to find a discounted T4i [$650 street price]…