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Canon EOS Rebel T5i review: Same as it ever was

The Canon EOS Rebel T5i is pretty much the same as the T4i, and that's a mixed blessing.

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Lori Grunin
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Lori Grunin

Senior Editor / Reviews

I've been writing about and reviewing consumer technology since before the turn of the century. I'm also a photographer and cat herder, frequently at the same time.

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6 min read

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No, your eyes aren't deceiving you: the only significant differences between the now-discontinued Canon EOS Rebel T4i and its replacement, the T5i, are the price and the kit lens options. There are some small enhancements, including a new finish and grip; 360-degree rotation mode dial; and real-time shooting with creative filters with Live View preview. Interestingly, I also found some performance differences between the T5i and its predecessor, most notably in significantly better continuous shooting. But overall it's really the same camera and in this case, that's a mixed blessing.

Canon EOS Rebel T5i (Body Only)
7.8

Canon EOS Rebel T5i

The Good

The <b>Canon EOS Rebel T5i</b> retains the great articulated touch-screen implementation that's optimized for video, and delivers the same excellent photo quality and solid video as its predecessor. Plus the performance is slightly improved.

The Bad

The phase-detection autofocus system is feeling its age and competitors have caught up with the Live View performance. The tiny autofocus points in the viewfinder also remain annoying to use, and the feature set remains lackluster.

The Bottom Line

While the Canon EOS Rebel T5i is -- almost literally -- the same solid camera as its predecessor, it's starting to lag frustratingly behind the competition in some ways.

Image quality
I think Canon tweaked its default settings so that still-photo colors aren't quite so out of whack, though there are still some hue shifts. JPEGs look clean up through ISO 800, which is typical for this class, and usable at full scale to about ISO 1600 and ISO 6400 at smaller magnifications. While a 13x19 print of an ISO 6400 photo wasn't quite as clean or sharp as I would have liked, it doesn't look that bad.

Video also looks about the same as the T4i's; good, but not significantly better than you get from similarly priced competitors. While I didn't see any rolling shutter, there's quite a bit of aliasing and moire. I do like the tonality of low-light video, despite the appearance of some color noise on blacks. (I'll be uploading video samples soon. Please check back.)

Canon EOS Rebel T5i photo samples

See all photos
Click to downloadISO 100
http://i.i.cbsi.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim2/2013/05/21/IMG_0625.JPG
ISO 800
http://i.i.cbsi.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim2/2013/05/22/_MG_0708.JPG
ISO 3200
http://i.i.cbsi.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim2/2013/05/22/_MG_0807.JPG

Performance
With respect to speed, the T5i is roughly comparable to the T4i, though with oddly better burst shooting. It powers on, focuses, and shoots in 0.7 second; time to focus through the viewfinder, expose, and shoot in good light is a zippy 0.2 second, rising to about 0.8 second in dim. In Live View with the 18-55mm STM lens, it takes 1.2 seconds and 1.4 seconds under similar conditions. That's a lot slower than the T4i was with the 18-135mm lens, but pretty close to my results with the T4i using the standard 18-55mm lens. Hm. Shooting two sequential JPEGs or raw files runs about 0.3 second, rising to 0.7 second with flash enabled. Without flash those times jump to 2 seconds in Live View.

The camera's ability to sustain a burst is great: with a 95MBps SD card, it blew through 30 JPEG frames at 7.6fps without slowing. This seems to be the result of better buffer handling rather than mechanical differences. Once you factor in autofocus that slows down, though I didn't time it, and remember that the T5i has the creaky old nine-point phase-detection AF system. It can only sustain a raw burst for six frames (at 5.8fps) before slowing.

I also used the Live View with non-STM lenses and while it's still kind of slow for capturing fast-moving subjects (which you should use the viewfinder for, anyway), it's not bad.

Shooting speed (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

















0.70.30.30.80.2

Canon EOS Rebel T4i

0.60.30.30.70.3

Nikon D5200

0.30.20.20.80.5

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

7.7

Canon EOS Rebel T4i

5.4

Nikon D5200

5.1

Design and features
On the right shoulder of the camera sits the mode dial, which has the usual manual, semimanual, and automatic modes, plus a three-way on/off/movie switch, and the mode dial now rotates 360 degrees. The three multishot modes that used to be on the dial now reside in a scene program slot. They are HDR Backlight Control (which automatically combines four image exposures to retain detail in shadow and highlight areas for backlit subjects), a four-shot Handheld Night Scene mode, and Night Portrait.

35642128_mode_620.jpg

Tweaks to the mode dial are one of the few differences between the T4i and T5i. It now rotates 360 degrees, and the exposure-based program modes -- Night Portrait, Handheld Night Scene, and HDR Backlight Control -- are now subsumed under the SCN scene program entry.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The articulated touch screen remains a favorite of mine for shooting video. It's responsive and has an intelligent user interface, including the usual capabilities, like touch focus, that streamline Live View shooting. You can view the screen pretty well in direct sunlight. You don't have to use it if you don't want to, though operations like selecting ISO sensitivity go much faster when you can directly select rather than having to cycle through them. It also might matter to you that you can only manually select ISO sensitivity in whole-stop increments, though in auto mode it uses third-stop increments. Overall, I find Canon's interface straightforward and easy to use.

But I still hate the tiny autofocus points in the viewfinder; you can't see them until you prefocus, at which point you realize that you're too high, low, or off to the side. Though it can blaze through a burst, if you can't keep the subject on-target all that speed is wasted. Nikon switched to AF areas for the D5200. It's your turn, Canon. Plus, I'm not crazy about the flat buttons. While I rate the camera 8 for design, it's a grudging 8; the great LCD and otherwise logical control layout keep it from sinking.


Canon EOS Rebel T4iCanon EOS Rebel T5iNikon D5200Pentax
K-30
Sony Alpha SLT-A65V
Sensor effective resolution18MP hybrid CMOS18MP hybrid CMOS24.1MP CMOS16.3MP CMOS24.3MP Exmor HD CMOS
22.3mm x 14.9mm22.3mm x 14.9mm23.5mm x 15.6mm23.7mm x 15.7mm23.5mm x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier1.6x1.6x1.5x1.5x1.5x
Sensitivity rangeISO 100 - ISO 12800/ 25600 (exp)ISO 100 - ISO 12800/ 25600 (exp)ISO 100 - ISO 6400/ 25600 (exp)ISO 100 - ISO 12800/ 25600 (exp)ISO 100 - ISO 16000
Burst shooting5fps
6 raw/22 JPEG
5fps
6 raw/22 JPEG
5fps
n/a
6fps
8 raw/30 JPEG
8fps (10fps with fixed exposure)
13 raw/17 JPEG
Viewfinder (mag/ effective mag)95% coverage
0.85x/ 0.53x
95% coverage
0.85x/ 0.53x
Optical
95% coverage
0.78x/ 0.63x
Optical
100% coverage
0.92x/ 0.61x
Electronic OLED
0.5 inch/ 2.36 million dots
100% coverage
1.09x/ 0.73x
Autofocus9-pt AF all cross-type; center cross to f2.89-pt AF all cross-type; center cross to f2.839-pt AF
9 cross-type
(Multi-CAM 4800DX)
11-pt AF
9 cross-type
(SAFOX IX+)
15-pt phase-detection
3 cross-type
AF sensitivity-0.5 to 18 EV-0.5 to 18 EV-1 to 19 EV-1 to 18 EV-1 to 18 EV
Shutter speed1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 x-sync1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 x-sync1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync1/6,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/180 sec x-sync1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/160 x-sync
Metering63-zone iFCL63-zone iFCL2,016-pixel 3D color matrix metering II77-segment1,200-zone
Metering sensitivity1 to 20 EV1 to 20 EV0 to 20 EV0 to 22 EV-2 to 17 EV
VideoH.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/30p/ 25p/24p; 720/60p/ 50pH.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/30p/ 25p/24p; 720/60p/ 50p1080/60i/50i/ 30p/25p/24p; 720/60p/50p/ H.264 QuickTime MOVH.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/24p/ 25p/30p; 720/ 50p/60pAVCHD 1080/60p @ 28, 24Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/60i @ 17Mbps
AudioStereo; mic inputStereo; mic inputStereo; mic inputMonoStereo; mic input
Manual aperture and shutter in videoYesYesYesn/aYes
Maximum best-quality recording time4GB/12 min4GB/29:5920 min4GB/25 min2GB/29 min
ISOpticalOpticalOpticalSensor shiftSensor shift
LCD size3 inches articulated, touch screen
1.04MP
3 inches articulated, touch screen
1.04MP
3 inches articulated
921K dots
3 inches fixed
921K dots
3 inches articulated
921K dots
Memory slots1 x SDXC1 x SDXC1 x SDXC1 x SDXC1 x SDXC
Wireless flashYesYesNoYesYes
Battery life (CIPA rating)440 shots440 shots500 shots480 shots (lithium ion); 1,600 shots (lithium)510 shots
Size (WHD, inches)5.2 x 3.9 x 3.15.2 x 3.9 x 3.15.1 x 3.9 x 3.15.1 x 3.8 x 2.85.3 x 3.9 x 3.3
Body operating weight (ounces)20.820.819.922.9 (est)22 (est)
Mfr. price$849 (body only)$749.99 (body only)$799.95 (body only)$849.95 (body only)$899.99 (body only)
$949 (with 18-55mm lens)$899.99 (with 18-55mm STM lens)$899.95 (with 18-55mm VR lens)$899.95 (with 18-55mm lens)$999.99 (with 18-55mm lens)
$1,149 (with 18-135mm STM lens)$1,099.99 (with 18-135mm STM lens)$1,099.95 (with 18-105mm lens)n/an/a
Release dateJune 2012April 2013January 2013July 2012October 2011

The camera tends to disappoint on the features front, too. It's got the basics you'd expect from a $700 body, but lacks a lot of modern options, like GPS or wireless, as well as interesting traditional features, like time-lapse, multiple exposure, and intervalometer. I also miss peaking for manual focus in Live View; it would make focusing with every lens besides the STM model so much easier. The T5i does include the Video Snapshot mode carried over from the camcorders and PowerShots for shooting quick clips.

Conclusion
Competitors have improved their Live View/contrast autofocus systems to the point where Canon's version, with its requirement of special lenses for optimal performance, is starting to look less appealing. The T5i is a fine camera and I really like the touch screen for video, but the old AF system and terrible AF-point visibility in the viewfinder make shooting action stills awkward. One of the reasons you still might want to buy a dSLR rather than a more compact interchangeable-lens camera is the optical viewfinder, and the T5i's simply isn't compelling when you consider competitors such as the Nikon D5200 that produce equally good stills and video but offer a better viewfinder and phase-detection AF system.

Canon EOS Rebel T5i (Body Only)
7.8

Canon EOS Rebel T5i

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 8Image quality 8