Which Canon dSLR? (roundup)

Having trouble choosing among Canon's dSLRs? This guide can help you get started.

Editors' note: This was originally published in May 2012. The most recent update adds the EOS 70D.

Even once you've narrowed a choice down to a specific manufacturer, the decision as to which model to buy can still be complicated and overwhelming; in fact, I'd say it's probably harder to pick the right camera from a particular lineup than it is to decide which manufacturer's wares you like best. Here's my take on Canon's current dSLR offerings and when and whether I think it's worth the extra bucks to buy higher up the line.

On a general note, if your budget is tight, and unless there's a specific feature or performance level you need from a particular model, it's usually a good idea to save money on the body and spend it on a better lens.

At over 3 years old, the 7D is past ready for replacement; unfortunately, the latest rumors say that won't happen in 2013. A girl can dream, though.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Canon EOS Rebel T3
If you're on a really tight budget, you don't have many choices. The T3 kit is widely available for about $450, but it's also 2 years old and should be cheaper by now. If you have just a little more money to spend, I suggest you skip it and get the T3i, which has better video capabilities.
Read the full review.


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Canon EOS Rebel T3i
For most hobbyists, vacation shooters, and nonpro business users: buy the Rebel T3i (street price for the kit just under $600). It delivers significantly better performance and photo quality than the T3, plus you get higher resolution, excellent video capture, and an articulated LCD.
Read the full review.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Canon EOS Rebel T5i
The T5i is the company's best general consumer model, replacing the T4i in Canon's product line. They're nearly identical cameras, and if you can get the T4i for less than the T5i, which is currently going for $750 (body only), $850 (18-55mm kit), or $1,100 (18-135mm kit) go for it. The main thing that significantly differentiates the T4i/T5i from the cheaper T3i is that autofocus system and a very nice touch screen system that's great for shooting video. If you're planning to use high-quality lenses and manual focus, think about saving a little money with the T3i.
Read the full review.


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Canon EOS Rebel SL1
This model is essentially for people looking for something a mite smaller than the standard dSLR, and really only stands out as the best Canon dSLR for people with small hands. At $700 for the kit it's slightly less than you'd pay for the body-only T5i, but has fewer features -- you lose the articulated display, and it has slower continuous-shooting performance and a poorer battery.
Read the full review.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Canon EOS 60D
For better build quality and viewfinder than the T5i or SL1, the 60D still looks like an attractive option given that the price of the body has dropped as low as $600 or so. While it lacks some of the refinements of the Rebel models, the EOS bodies really do feel sturdier than the Rebels, and at half the price of the 70D, it still stands up as a good buy.
Read the full review.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Canon EOS 70D
If you need the fastest performance and most advanced autofocus, the 70D delivers for about $1,200. It's better all around than the older 60D and offers a lot of advantages over the similarly priced but now-old 7D, including better overall performance, an articulated touch screen, and SD card support.
Read the full review.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Canon EOS 7D
For the least expensive model suitable for action shooting or with a weather-resistant build, the 7D might be worth it depending upon the price; most places have it for about $1,400, but that's a bit high given its age. It has a slightly better viewfinder than the 70D, but otherwise is starting to show its age. If you need something in this durability class, you might want to wait until 2014 when (I hope) it will be replaced.
Read the full review.


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Canon EOS 6D
If you want the best value in a full-frame model, it's a hard decision between the $1,900 6D and the older 5D Mark II, though I ultimately come down on the side of the 6D. However, the 5DM2 has been officially discontinued and body-only versions are becoming scarce, so buying that model means forking over about $2,700 for the still-widely-available kit with the 24-105mm lens (which I'm not really fond of). The 6D is a fine camera, but has a more consumer-oriented design and feature set, making it less of a cheap alternative to the 5DM3 than the 5DM2 was; it has an inferior viewfinder, less durable shutter, and single SD card slot. In exchange, however, you gain Wi-Fi and GPS, somewhat better high ISO image quality, and a lighter body in the 6D.
Read the full review.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Canon EOS 5D Mark III
For the best general-purpose professional full-frame camera in Canon's line, the 5D Mark III (street price about $3,299) is probably your pick. It adds a significant boost to its autofocus and continuous-shooting performance over the Mark II and the 6D -- enough that some people who otherwise might have opted for the 1D X needn't -- plus sufficient features and changes in the design that it feels like a better model than its predecessor for shooting both stills and video.
Read the full review.


Canon USA

Canon EOS-1D X
Though I haven't tested it, the 1D X (street price about $6,799) is likely your best bet for the fastest full-frame continuous-shooting possible for a Canon. With a rated speed of 12fps and support for dual UDMA 7 CompactFlash cards, this is obviously designed to continue the 1D's place in the line as Canon's sports shooter.
Read the preview.

 

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