Canon SL1 review: Find out why the world’s smallest DSLR is much more than just a mini Rebel T5i


posted Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 4:27 PM EST

In many ways, the Canon SL1 DSLR provides the best of both worlds, pairing the compact, lightweight body of a mirrorless camera and the performance and image quality of a DSLR. You could almost call it a miniaturized version of Canon's Rebel T4i and T5i DSLRs. And that's a good thing: Both standard-size interchangeable lens cameras are solid, full-featured consumer models. Its somewhat amazing that Canon can pack so much DSLR into such a small body.

However, the SL1 does have one important advantage over its bigger siblings -- its new Hybrid CMOS II AF system for shooting in Live View and Movie modes. The previous version of the technology proved to be fairly sluggish in the T4i, but we were relatively impressed with the improved AF speed of the Rebel SL1. What's more, the Hybrid CMOS II AF of the SL1 uses a whopping 80% of both the width and height of the LCD monitor, offering a lot more framing and shooting flexibility than the T4i/T5i.

The image quality of the Canon SL1 is almost identical to that of the T4i/T5i. If you look at the comparison crops against the T5i (the replacement for the T4i that was introduced at the same time as the SL1), it's downright uncanny. Photos taken with the SL1 at low ISOs in particular are excellent, but there is a noticeable drop-off as sensitivity rises above ISO 1600 -- the Canon Rebels could still stand some IQ and processing improvements to make high-ISO results more competitive. The SL1 also doesn't exhibit the dynamic range we've seen recently from other consumer DSLRs in its class.

Though it's by far the smallest and lightest DSLR we've ever reviewed, it's still bulkier than most mirrorless compact system cameras. That's certainly not a deal-breaker, unless you're a photographer looking for the ultimate in interchangeable lens camera portability.

So is the Canon SL1 just a cute, tiny Rebel? Or is there more to it than meets the eye?

Read our in-depth Canon SL1 review to find out! See how it stacks up in our lab tests, as well as how it handles real-world shooting.