Canon EOS 700D/Rebel T5i Hands-on Preview
With the EOS 700D/Rebel T5i, Canon's made an early move to replace last year's 650D/Rebel T4i, though one with only very minor refinements. Indeed the changes over the 650D are so subtle that it's the older T3i/600D that stays on alongside the 700D - while the too-similar 650D fades into the sunset. The only real changes are that the 700D offers real-time preview of Creative Filters in Live View mode, includes a redesigned new mode dial that turns 360 degrees, and has a new 'upmarket' body finish.
Apart from those additions, the 700D is essentially identical to the 650D, making this the least distinct upgrade we've seen in this range of cameras. Elements carried over include the 18MP CMOS sensor, a 9-point cross-type AF sensor, 3-inch, a 1.04m-dot vari-angle LCD screen, and Full HD video mode. Its Hybrid AF system was also brought over from the 650D, and while the simultaneously announced 100D/Rebel SL1's Hybrid AF II covers a wider area than the one here, neither is said to be any faster than the rather slow implementation on the 650D.
Canon EOS 700D / Rebel T5i key features
- 18MP APS-C 'Hybrid CMOS' sensor
- Phase-detection AF from imaging sensor for Live View and Video
- Continuous autofocus in movie mode with subject tracking
- New 18-55mm STM kit lens with stepper motor for improved live view/video autofocus
- 14-bit DIGIC 5 processor
- ISO 100-12800 standard, 25600 expanded
- 5 fps continuous shooting
- 9 point AF system, all sensors cross type, central sensor F2.8 (from 60D)
- 63 zone iFCL metering
- 1080p30 video recording, stereo sound with internal or external mics
- 1.04m dot 3:2 touch-sensitive vari-angle ClearView II LCD (capacitative type, multi-touch support)
The only other significant change made over and above the 650D is the ability to preview and apply Canon's 'Creative Filter' processing effects at the point of shooting, rather than adding them as a post-shot process. This ability to preview the effect (as now offered on the majority of cameras), makes it easier to pre-visualize how the final result will look - helping to inspire the capture of images that only work well in conjunction with the processing effect.
Meanwhile, the simplified mode dial removes any possible frustration of running up against the end of the dial's range of motion, and the larger, raised icons could be easier to find and use in low light situations.
The EOS 700D, like the 650D before it and the EOS 100D announced alongside, features a touchscreen. The screen is capacitative rather than resistive, meaning that like the now-ubiquitous smartphone, it's sensitive to contact rather than pressure and capable of interpreting more complex user input. In Live View and Movie modes the screen can be used to specify the point of focus and release the shutter, as we've seen before on several mirrorless cameras. It also supports multi-touch and gestures, meaning that it offers phone-like pinch-to-zoom and image-to-image swiping in playback. The results is a user experience that smartphone users will immediately find familiar.
Like the 650D, the 700D's entire interface can be controlled by touch in a completely seamless fashion, including the onscreen Q menu that's used to access secondary functions, and the entirety of the menu system. Fortunately this doesn't come at the cost of external controls, and the EOS 700D offers essentially the same level of button-and-dial operation as its predecessors; the screen simply adds an additional control option.
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens
Introduced alongside the EOS 700D is the EF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 IS STM lens. While the camera itself doesn't appear to offer much of an upgrade, the option to buy it with the new, stepper-motor-driven 18-55mm STM lens stands out as its main attraction. It promises better movie focusing and up to four stops of image stabilization, along with a close focusing distance of 0.25m and a circular seven-bladed aperture. An internal focus design means the lens does not extend on focusing. Available separately for $249, the 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 IS STM lens should cost considerably less when purchased as a kit.
Those familiar with using just about any camcorder are accustomed to smooth and reasonably accurate autofocus, while the average SLR focuses slowly (indeed previous Rebels only focused when prompted by the user). Because an SLR can't use its phase-detect sensor while in Live View and video modes, the camera is usually left to struggle with contrast-detect autofocus. And, because non-STM lenses aren't designed with this focus method or for this purpose, the results were often jerky shifts in focus with focus motor noise audible on the video's sound track. Older Rebels were even known to gain up exposure during video if you asked them to focus.
The 700D will also be available bundled with the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, which offers an extended zoom range at a higher price. Canon's only other SLR lens with an STM motor is the EF 40mm F2.8 pancake. All are designed to take full advantage of the Hybrid AF system found in the EOS 650D, 700D and 100D, with quiet autofocus, helpful when shooting video, and full time manual focus.
|The EOS 700D's Hybrid AF II system is designed to work optimally with Canon's three-lens STM lineup which consists of an 18-55mm, 18-135mm and fixed 40mm pancake lens.|
|Compared to the previous EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II lens, the STM version is slightly longer to accommodate the internal focus system, and has a 'proper' manual focus ring at the front of the barrel that drive the focus group electronically. As with the older design it's physically shortest in the middle of its zoom range, and extends on zooming either to 18mm or 55mm (click here for a comparison at 55mm).|
The STM focus motor is extremely quiet and, when using the optical viewfinder, impressively fast, offering a noticeable improvement over its predecessor. But switch the camera to live view and, just like the 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, it slows down significantly. This is a unfortunate - Canon's live view AF system still distinctly lags behind the competition.
Canon says the Hybrid AF system is primarily designed as a video tool. The on-imager phase-detection system means that the autofocus system is able to make use of the company's extensive understanding of phase-detection subject tracking. It also means that, if you're focusing near the center of the image, the camera will always know in which direction to begin searching for focus. Systems based solely on contrast-detection can sometimes get this wrong, with the result that the camera re-focuses all the way out of focus before coming back again, resulting in a video that suddenly drops totally out of focus before recovering.
|The camera's hybrid AF system uses a combination of contrast-detection AF and on-imager phase-detection AF. The contrast detection can be used across much of the image area (marked by the red dotted line), with phase-detection limited to the central region (bounded by the green dotted line).
For reference, the spread of the conventional phase-detection points is also marked and these are used if 'Quick AF' is used in live view mode.
The phase-detection system is used for identifying where the subject currently is, with contrast detection kicking-in to fine-tune focus. This means there will still be a slight 'focus wobble' as it confirms focus, but it should be considerably reduced thanks to the combination of the two AF technologies. However, while hybrid AF is available with all lenses, smooth and quiet AF for video is dependent on the use of the latest STM lenses.
Overall, while Canon says that the Hybrid AF system means live view focus is considerably improved, it still says there is a noticeable performance difference between live view AF and using the conventional autofocus sensor. This is underlined by the camera continuing to offer the 'Quick AF' mode in live view, which quickly flips the mirror down so the stand-along phase-detection sensor can be used.
Given the speed improvements we've seen in mirrorless cameras using similar lens and focus technologies (which are often faster than DSLRs using their fastest focus modes), it's disappointing that Canon isn't able to offer similar performance.
If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).
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