Canon EOS Rebel T5 (1200D) review: Rebel T5: Not bad, but not best

Manually focusing via the viewfinder works fine in high-contrast scenes, but it's too dim to focus on dark subjects in low light. Generally, when the autofocus system has trouble focusing in those conditions, you'll probably have trouble manually focusing as well.

And the reflective, low-resolution LCD display is unpleasant to use in Live View mode for both stills and video. It's quite difficult to see in sunlight, and because it's fixed rather than articulating, you can't angle it for a better view. Checking focus of the shot is also difficult because of the low-resolution screen. At least it's a little bigger than the T3's.

The battery life is possibly one of the few important areas in which it bests the T3i -- by only about 60 shots -- although even there it's significantly worse than its predecessor, the T3.

And keep in mind that there's no full-time autofocus when shooting video. On one hand, I can understand not including it, since you can hear the lens movement -- it's loud -- and there's no input for an external mic. But it really limits the flexibility for people who just want to shoot a video clip occasionally.

Shooting speed

Sony Alpha ILCE-3000
0.5
0.8
0.7
0.7
1.9
Canon EOS Rebel T3i
0.3
0.9
0.4
0.4
0.5
Canon EOS Rebel T5
0.3
0.9
0.5
0.4
0.5
Nikon D3200
0.3
0.5
0.5
0.6
0.3
Canon EOS Rebel SL1
0.3
0.8
0.3
0.2
0.6

Legend:

Shutter lag (typical)
Shutter lag (dim light)
Typical shot-to-shot time
Raw shot-to-shot time
Time to first shot

Note:

In seconds, shorter bars indicate better performance

Typical continuous-shooting speed

Sony Alpha ILCE-3000
2.6
Canon EOS Rebel T5
3.1
Canon EOS Rebel T3i
3.8
Nikon D3200
3.9
Canon EOS Rebel SL1
4.1

Note:

In frames per second; longer bars indicate better performance

Design and features

The T5 uses a slightly modified version of the T3's body. It's just OK, and the design only occasionally gets in the way of shooting. You can grip it comfortably, and all the back controls are easily reachable with your right thumb.

The control layout is straightforward and functional. The four navigation buttons bring up ISO sensitivity, drive mode (single; burst; and 2-, 10- and custom self-timers), white balance, and autofocus mode options (Single focus, AI focus, and Servo AI).

Exposure compensation, movie record/live mode, menu, Quick Control, playback, and display buttons occupy other spaces around them. All of the buttons are flat with little tactile feedback. The only buttons with any sort of travel are the exposure lock and AF point selector buttons, positioned for thumb-based operation. They still manage to feel mushy.

You can program the Set button in the middle to bring up image quality, flash exposure compensation, depth-of-field preview, or toggle the LCD display on and off. The LCD toggle is already assigned to a button and the depth-of-field preview is usually impossible to see in small, dim viewfinders like this one, so you're pretty constrained in your button assignments. You can also reassign the pop-up flash button to control ISO speed, though that, too, has a dedicated button on the back. The limited feature set doesn't really require a lot of direct-access flexibility, though.

The top holds the hot shoe, mode dial, flash popup button and power switch. The mode dial contains all the the usual manual, semimanual, and automatic modes. Unlike many manufacturers that have a smart/intelligent auto mode (the auto mode where you can change a few settings), Canon calls its comparable mode "Creative Auto"; Canon's Scene Intelligent Auto is actually plain, old auto.

If you have to dive in to the menu system, you'll find it straightforward and easy to navigate. A My Menu Settings tab allows for programming quick menu access to the most frequently needed options.

As with the T3, the T5 has the old mode dial that doesn't rotate 360 degrees, so to get from the manual modes to movie mode on the opposite side of the dial requires a long turn -- even auto mode is a bit far if you switch between stills and movies frequently. Like all the old designs, you must switch into movie mode to shoot video.

The SD card slot is inconveniently located in the battery compartment, and the only connectors are for a wired remote, USB, and HDMI out.

The feature set is quite basic. Like the T3, the T5 lacks spot metering. I think it's because of the small viewfinder; Canon tends to have large spots for its meter, and the combination of a small viewfinder and a large spot means you're already at the partial meter size, anyway. In practice, I found very little difference in the results I got from the metering choices because of it.

Also similar to dSLRs at this price, there's no Wi-Fi built in, so if you want it you'll have to add it yourself.

Its one advantage over the D3200 is the inclusion of exposure and flash bracketing, as well as shutter-speed control in movie mode. However, the D3200 includes a mic input.

For a complete overview of the T5's features and operation, download the manual.

Conclusion

Let me start by making it clear that as long as you don't care that you're not getting the best camera for the money, or even a good bargain, you'll probably be perfectly happy with this camera as a replacement for a point and shoot. Once it's been out a while and the price drops, it may not be as bad a deal.

If history repeats itself, lots of people will buy the T5. However, if you do want a better camera for the money now, buy the older T3i (until supply runs out) if you're set on Canon. And when you can't find the T3i at the low price anymore, go for the now-cheap Nikon D5100 (until its supply runs out), or the Nikon D3200.

Once you've made your purchase, check out our tips for learning and using your dSLR.

Comparative specifications

Canon EOS Rebel T3
EOS 1100D
EOS Kiss X50
Canon EOS Rebel T3i
EOS 600D

Canon EOS Rebel T5
EOS 1200D
Kiss X70

Nikon D3200
Sensor effective resolution 12.2MP CMOS 18MP CMOS 18MP CMOS 24.2MP CMOS
Sensor size 22 x 14.7mm 22.3 x 14.9mm 22.3 x 14.9mm 23.2 x 15.4mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.6x 1.6x 1.6x 1.5x
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 6400 ISO 100 - ISO 6400/12800 (exp) ISO 100 - ISO 6400/12800 (exp) ISO 100 (exp)/200 - ISO 6400/12800 (exp)
Burst shooting 2fps raw/3 fps JPEG
5 raw/unlimited JPEG
3.7fps
5 raw/34 JPEG
3fps JPEG
6 raw/unlimited JPEG
4fps
unlimited JPEG as tested
Viewfinder
(magnification/ effective mag)
Optical
95% coverage
0.80x/0.50x
Optical
95% coverage
0.85x/0.53x
Optical
95% coverage
0.80x/0.50x
Optical
95% coverage
0.80x/0.53x
Hot Shoe Yes Yes Yes Yes
Autofocus 9-pt AF
center cross-type
9-pt AF
center cross-type
9-pt AF
center cross-type
11-pt AF
center cross-type
AF sensitivity 0 - 18 EV -0.5 - 18 EV 0 - 18 EV -1 to 19 EV
Shutter speed 1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb;
1/200 sec x-sync
1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb;
1/200 sec x-sync
1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb;
1/200 sec x-sync
1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync
Metering 63 zones 63 zones 63 zones 420-pixel 3D color matrix metering II
Metering sensitivity 1 - 20 EV 1 - 20 EV 0 - 20 EV 0 - 20 EV
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV
720/30p/25p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/30p/25p/24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/30p/25p/24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/30p/25p/24p; 720/60p/50p
Audio Mono Mono, mic input Mono Mono; mic input
Manual aperture and shutter in video No Yes Yes Aperture only
Maximum best-quality recording time 17m 4GB/11m 29m59s 20m
IS Optical Optical Optical Optical
LCD 2.7 inches fixed
230,000 dots
3 inches articulated
1.04m dots
3 inches fixed
460,000 dots
3 inches fixed
921,000 dots
Wireless connection No No No Optional Wi-Fi
(with WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter $60/£55/AU$100)
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wireless flash No No No No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 700 shots (VF); 220 shots (LV) 440 shots (VF); 180 shots (LV) 500 shots (VF); 180 shots (LV) 700 shots; n/a
Size (WHD) 5.9 x 3.9 x 3.1 in
129.9 x 99.7 x 77.9 mm
5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in
150 x 99.1 x 78.7mm
5.9 x 3.9 x 3.1 in
129.6 x 99.1 x 78.7 mm
5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1 in
125 x 96 x 76.5 mm
Body operating weight 17.5 oz
496 g
18.6 oz
527 g
17.5 oz
496 g
17.6 oz
499 g
Mfr. price (body only) $n/a
£420
AU$n/a
$500 (est)
£680
AU$520
$n/a
£350
AU$530
$n/a
£345
AU$600
Primary kit $450
£460
AU$n/a
$600
£770
AU$549 (est)
$550
£400
AU$650
$530
£550
AU$730
Alternate kit $n/a
£n/a
AU$n/a
$n/a
£n/a
AU$840
(18-55m and 55-250mm lenses)
$n/a
£n/a
AU$1300
(18-55mm and 75-300mm lenses)
$780
£n/a
AU$920
(18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses)
Release date May 2011 March 2011 March 2014 April 2012

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Optical Zoom 3 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CMOS
  • Sensor Resolution 18.0 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical
  • Optical Sensor Size 14.9 x 22.3mm
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