Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (EOS 100D)
|Kit Lens:||3.00x zoom
|Viewfinder:||Optical / LCD|
|Dimensions:||4.6 x 3.6 x 2.7 in.
(117 x 91 x 69 mm)
|Weight:||14.4 oz (407 g)
Canon Rebel SL1 Hands-On Preview
by Dan Havlik
When I got a hands-on sneak peek of the new 18-megapixel Canon EOS Rebel SL1 digital SLR last month, I was told that the "SL" in the model name stood for "super lightweight." And that it is. The new Lilliputian Rebel SL1 feels as light as most compact system cameras -- and nearly as small -- especially with a Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens attached to the front of it. Clearly, the burgeoning, mirrorless CSC market is what Canon is aiming to take on with the fully mirrored SL1.
While Canon has its own CSC, the EOS M, that mirrorless model's HD video skills have been touted more by Canon than its still photography chops. With the Rebel SL1, Canon is trying to offer the best of both worlds: a compact camera that's small and light enough to take with you anywhere, combined with the fast picture-taking skills and high image quality of a DSLR.
While I can't vouch for the image quality yet -- since I only got to shoot with a prototype Rebel SL1 and could not inspect the images -- it is certainly a fast and highly portable picture taking machine that could change the entry-level DSLR landscape.
Design and build. While the Canon Rebel SL1 is a very small and light camera, its design and build mimic Canon's other DSLRs and, consequently, it's comfortable and ergonomic to use, even for someone with larger hands, such as yours truly. Dimensions of the SL1 are 4.6” (w) x 3.57” (h) x 2.74” (d) or 116.8 x 90.7 x 69.4mm, and it weighs only 14.36 ounces (407g), with the battery and SD memory card installed. Body only weight is 13.06 ounces or 370g.
The Rebel SL1 is approximately 25% smaller and 28% lighter than the simultaneously announced Canon Rebel T5i and the T4i before it. Canon is touting the SL1 as "the world's smallest and lightest DSLR camera."
Despite the Rebel SL1's small size, the textured handgrip fits snugly in your hand and the surprisingly large shutter button beckons you to press it. Canon's kept the same 3-inch, LCD touchscreen monitor as one on the T5i/T4i, offering 720 x 480 pixel resolution (1,040,000 dots). It's fixed to the rear of the camera, however, and doesn't offer any vari-angle or side-swiveling capabilities.
Sensor and performance. Like the just announced T5i and the T4i before, the Rebel SL1 uses an 18-megapixel, APS-C CMOS sensor with a DIGIC 5 image processor. The SL1's ISO range is also 100-12,800 (expandable to 25,600 in H mode) and we expect it to have similar low-light capabilities, which, on the T4i, were quite good.
The Rebel SL1 also uses a DIGIC 5 image processor, but can shoot just 4 frames per second in continuous shooting mode, compared to 5 fps on the T5i/T4i. That 4fps burst mode, however should be fast enough to capture candid moments and some amateur sports. In terms of overall operational speed, the SL1 felt comparable to the T5i/T4i and has a fairly decent 9-point autofocus system, but with just the center point being a cross-type point. (All nine AF points on the T5i/T4i are cross-type points.)
Expanded AF area. Speaking of the the SL1's autofocus capabilities, though it's smaller than the T5i/T4i, its Hybrid CMOS AF II system features an AF area that uses approximately 80% of the width and height of the Live View display. That's a huge difference compared to the AF area of the T5i/T4i which takes up just 38% of the width and 26% of the height of the Live View display.
Creative features. The Rebel SL1 is aimed at novice and beginning photographers so it comes loaded with plenty of preset, creative functions. In particular, the camera boasts a Scene Intelligent Auto Mode, which detects faces, colors, brightness, movement and a whole bunch of other factors, and automatically picks an appropriate exposure mode.
Other creative tools include a new Effect Shot mode, which automatically produces two different photos, one with a creative filter and the other without. The Rebel SL1's seven creative filters include creative include ArtBold, Water Painting, Grainy Black and White, Soft Focus, Toy Camera, Fish-Eye and Miniature. As with the T5i, creative filters and the background-blur simulation effect, can be shown in real time on the rear LCD during Live View shooting. Other new special scene modes include Kids, Food and Candlelight, providing novice photographers and even more advanced users with a wide variety of preset camera effects that help do the work for you.
New kit lens. The Rebel SL1 will sell as a kit with Canon's new EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, which is designed to focus quickly and quietly. In our time with a prototype lens, it did just that.
The new kit lens is optimized for Canon's new Hybrid CMOS AF II system on the SL1 and, together, the combination was effective -- particularly for shooting video -- tamping down any buzz from the focusing motor so you can capture HD clips with only the sounds of a scene being recorded. The 18-55mm STM lens also offers four stops of image stabilization. (Note: the lens will be available separately for an estimated retail price of US$250.)
Overall first impression. By creating such a small and light yet highly usable DSLR with the EOS Rebel SL1, Canon has immediately changed the DSLR landscape. For those out there who might have been intrigued by small, mirrorless CSCs, the Canon Rebel SL1 offers a seemingly strong alternative, but with the speed and promising image quality of a DSLR. As it stands, the Rebel SL1 comes in just one color scheme: basic black. For a mirrored camera that offers such a small size and light frame, we could easily see the SL1 attracting customers who might like their cameras in white, red or even pink. For now, though, this classic looking, miniaturized DSLR from Canon suits us just fine, and we can't wait until we can get it into the IR lab for testing.
Pricing and Availability. The Canon Rebel SL1 starts shipping April 2013 in the U.S. at an estimated retail price of US$650 for body only, or US$800 kitted with the new EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens. It's not being sold bundled with the svelte, EF 40mm f/2.8 STM "pancake" lens (US$150), but Canon would be wise to also offer this highly portable configuration as a kit.
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