Canon EOS 700D/Rebel T5i In-Depth Review
The Canon EOS 700D is powered by the same Digic 5 processor found in recent compact cameras like the Canon G1 X, offering extended JPEG processing capabilities such as correction for lens CA and vignetting.
The 700D is quick to respond to user input, whether that's via external buttons and dials or the touchscreen. Image browsing and magnification in playback mode is very swift as well. The camera can power on and capture a still image in just under 0.4 second when set to manual focus. In short, you're unlikely to find yourself waiting on the camera, outside of using very processor intensive operations like the new HDR Backlight Control and Handheld Night Scene shooting modes or long exposure noise reduction.
Continuous Shooting and Buffering
The EOS 700D boasts a maximum frame rate of 5 fps, an increase over the EOS 600D, which topped out at 3.6 fps. As you'd expect, this maximum frame rate is consistent among the camera's file format and image quality options. As you can see in the chart below, the performance distinctions revolve around the camera's buffer capacity. Shooting in RAW+JPEG mode for example, provides you with very few shots at 5 fps before the camera drops to a pokey 1 fps shooting rate.
When shooting fast action sequences, operating the camera in JPEG mode not only gives you the greatest number of single burst captures at the maximum frame rate, but while the camera is writing data to the card you can resume shooting at or near the maximum frame rate for several additional exposures. Regardless of which image quality option you've selected, you can access to the menu system while data is being written to the card. Changes to the mode dial (as well as switching to video mode) during this time are not registered until the buffer is cleared, but this relatively brief 4 second delay that you encounter in the Raw-enabled modes is largely inconsequential when performing those kind of actions.
In continuous shooting mode, the 700D maintains its maximum frame rate until it reaches its buffer capacity and must off-load image data to the SD card. When this happens, the camera shoots at successively slower frame rates for several images until settling in at the 'buffer full rates' shown in the table below.
|Frame rate||5.0 fps||5.0 fps||5.0 fps|
|Number of frames||12||6||3|
|Buffer full rate||2.5 fps||1.4 fps||1 fps|
|Write complete||n/a||4 sec||4 sec|
With a shooting rate that places it among the better performers in its class, the 700D becomes a much more viable option than previous Rebel models for those looking to capture recreational sports and action shots in JPEG-only mode.
All timings performed using a 64GB SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I SDHC card (90MB/s).
Canon's SLRs have long enjoyed a strong reputation for fast phase-detection autofocus in through-the-viewfinder shooting. And that tradition carries on in the EOS 650D. With a 9 point cross-type AF array borrowed from the EOS 60D, focus is reassuringly brisk in a wide range of lighting conditions. Focus hunting can occur but only when photographing extremely low contrast subjects. And in very dim light we found ourselves wishing for a dedicated AF illuminator, found on entry-level peers like the Nikon D3200, for example. With the 700D you must pop up the flash for focus assistance. Overall though, there is little fault to be found with the 700D's phase-detection AF.
The adoption of live view and video modes as standard camera features has, however, highlighted the poor autofocus performance of DSLRs (compared to the best mirrorless models) when using contrast-detection AF in live view. The 700D's 'Hybrid CMOS AF' system makes use of both phase-detection and contrast-detect methods to acquire focus in live view mode.
The 700D's 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 while in live view. It also means that, if you're focusing near the center of the image (see the diagram below), 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 the 'Quick AF' option is used while in live view mode.
In live view mode the phase-detection system is used for identifying where the subject currently is, with contrast detection then kicking-in to fine-tune focus. While this does not completely eliminate 'focus wobble' as the camera confirms focus, in theory it should considerably reduce focus hunting - at least for subjects located near the center of the scene - thanks to the combination of the two AF technologies. This hybrid AF technology is available with all EF-compatible lenses. Yet it should be noted that it is only with Canon's STM lenses like the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM and EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM kit zooms (designed for more efficient contrast-detect AF performance) that you'll be able to take full advantage of the hybrid AF system.
The question of course is, 'Does it work?'. The good news is that we have seen a noticeable improvement in live view AF performance. Using an STM lens with focus initially set to infinity and then using AF to acquire focus on a foreground high-contrast subject, the 700D, like the EOS 650D locks focus in almost half the time of the EOS 600D.
And since, as we noted, it is with Canon's STM lenses that you reap the greatest benefit, the ability to buy the 700D with an STM version of the EF-S 18-55mm kit zoom pays benefits in terms of both faster focusing speed and quiet operation over the optic bundled with the EOS 650D.
We're disappointed to say, however, that even with an STM lens mounted, AF performance in live view mode still lags significantly behind the AF performance of the better mirrorless cameras on the market. Canon's approach is a (welcome) step forward, but the fact remains that even with this hybrid AF system, the 700D takes far longer to acquire focus in live view mode (and thus video mode) compared to through-the-viewfinder-shooting which uses conventional phase-detection AF.
Autofocus accuracy and tracking
The traditional phase-detection AF on the EOS 700D is very fast and impressively accurate. Even in low light conditions, the camera successfully locks focus on all but the lowest contrast of subjects.
The EOS 700D can shoot at 5fps and as we'd expect, Canon's phase detection AF is quite good at tracking focus on subjects moving at a continuous rate. In our real world usage of the camera with the new 18-135 STM lens we photographed runners and cyclists moving towards the camera at relatively fast clips. In shooting consecutive bursts we were able to achieve acceptably sharp results in almost half the total number of exposures, even in challenging backlit lighting conditions. This type of performance is well suited for soccer moms and others who shoot recreational sports.
The EOS 700D uses the same LP-E8 lithium-ion battery found in both the EOS 650D and 600D models. It's got a capacity of 1120 mAh which, according to Canon, is good for approximately 440 shots (CIPA standard) or approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes of movie shooting time. Of course battery life is largely dependent on shooting conditions and operational habits; live view versus viewfinder use, for example. Yet our day to day shooting experience with the camera falls roughly in line with Canon's specifications.
While sub-500 image capacity is certainly at the low end of what you'd expect from an entry-level DSLR, it can get you through a full day of shooting. During our shooting excursions we usually found it necessary to recharge the battery each night to ensure adequate capacity for the following day. Packing a spare battery, however, would be wise for multi-day shooting occasions. Another, more expensive and significantly bulkier solution is the optional BG-E8 battery grip, which can house two battery packs simultaneously, as well as allow for use of AA batteries.