Consumer SLR Camera Roundup (2014)
18MP CMOS Sensor | Extremely small size | Hybrid AF 2
What we like:
- Super small design
- Excellent live view autofocus
- Useful touchscreen
What we don't like:
- Default dynamic range not as good
- Non-STM lenses struggle in live view
- No articulating LCD
Canon's response to mirrorless cameras is the smallest SLR on the market: the Rebel SL1/100D. Like many Canon DSLRs, it has an 18MP sensor, but in this case with second-generation hybrid AF, giving faster, smoother focusing in both live view and movie shooting. Slotted below the T5i/700D, the SL1/100D has a simplified feature set, but one that's not too compromised for the family photographer. It uses Canon's clever touchscreen interface but there's no articulated LCD for a camera this small.
The Rebel SL1's kit lens, the 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 STM, uses a stepper motor that helps the SL1 focus more quickly and quietly, which is important for movies. Image quality is good, and what chromatic aberration exists in the lens is easily fixed with the camera's built-in correction.
In good light the Canon SL1/100D produces excellent quality images, with low noise and good color. High ISO images are also good, even above ISO 6400. Raw dynamic range is not quite as good as some of its competition at low ISO but this difference isn't visible in JPEGs.
"The SL1/100D has a simplified feature set, but one that's not too compromised for the family photographer"
Though Canon reduced the grip size compared to past models, it's still quite usable for all but those with the largest hands. Its controls are smaller and have been moved around a bit compared to other Canon SLRs, but they're still easy to access and understand.
It's mostly in its Hybrid AF 2 mode that the tiny SL1 impresses, working well enough in live view mode that we were able to use the camera as easily at arm's length as through the optical viewfinder - at least while we had an STM lens mounted; using legacy lenses slowed things down a bit.
We thought the Canon Rebel SL1/100D was the company's best-targeted SLR to date, and its target is family photographers who want great images from a small camera without a lot of fuss.