Canon T5i Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Less expensive than the camera it replaces
  • 18-55mm STM lens is very quiet, and above average image quality for a kit lens
  • Solid body with no panel flex or creak
  • Good ergonomics, as we've come to expect from the Rebel line
  • Touch screen is great for settings changes and selecting a focus subject
  • LCD monitor is bright and resistant to fingerprint smudges
  • Tilt/swivel for monitor is great for shooting from unusual angles
  • Image quality very similar to T4i, as expected -- which is to say excellent
  • Very good color with excellent hue accuracy
  • Good cycle times
  • Decent burst speeds (~4.8fps), but see Con about shallow buffers
  • Now lets you preview pre-capture Creative Filter effects
  • Built-in chromatic aberration and vignetting correction
  • Handheld Night Scene, Multi-shot NR and HDR multi-shot modes work well
  • Only one control dial
  • LCD monitor is a bit glossy for our liking
  • Dynamic range not as good as competing models, though HTP helps
  • Auto and Incandescent white balance very warm in tungsten lighting
  • Higher than average distortion from the 18-55mm STM lens
  • Moderately high to high levels of chromatic aberration from 18-55mm lens at wide angle, though camera can correct for it
  • Shallow buffers with raw files
  • Hybrid CMOS AF is slower than rivals, hunts like regular contrast detect AF, and sometimes indicates lock when nowhere near focused
  • Below average battery life
  • Flash did not perform to spec
  • No dedicated AF illuminator (must use flash)
  • Handheld Night Scene and HDR modes induce a crop
  • Forgets exposure bracketing setting every time you power the camera off

The Canon Rebel T5i was always going to be a controversial camera. With so little changed, you can understand why photographers would react with some confusion. Seen in light of the handgrip issues Canon faced with its earlier T4i -- which the company was quick to fix, we might add -- the followup makes sense as a relatively straightforward rebranding, however. That Canon also took the opportunity to swap the 18-55mm kit lens for a newer STM variant is good news.

Being in essence a rebadged Canon T4i, released at a slightly lower list price less than a year after the model it replaces, it's not surprising that our thoughts on the Canon T5i are quite similar to its predecessor. We found much to like, and a few things to quibble with.

For the latter, perhaps our main concern was with its Hybrid CMOS AF, which simply doesn't live up to its billing. It's not much better than the contrast-detection system it replaced, but it's no worse either. The shame, though, is that rivals have been able to do significantly better with their live view / movie autofocusing, whether they're hybrid or based only on contrast detection.

But that's of little importance unless you're the kind of photographer who does most of your shooting at arm's length, or for whom video is key. (And if so, then this clearly isn't the camera for you -- you'd do better to look at a mirrorless model.) For the rest of us, the live view / movie autofocus really isn't a huge concern.

Image quality and how it shoots through the viewfinder is much more important, and here the Canon T5i turns in a pretty decent result. Sure, it doesn't match up with the best in terms of dynamic range, noise levels, or burst shooting depth, but for a consumer camera it's not bad. In other respects it's very much on its game, with pleasing color, lots of detail, and fairly swift performance. The new 18-55mm STM lens is above average, for a kit lens. (And if you want extra range, the 18-135mm kit lens is a good choice, too.)

And all this comes to you for around US$100 less than the list price of its predecessor at launch, moving the Canon T5i just a little closer to the entry level in the process. Is it essentially just a Canon T4i by another name? Yes, but that's no bad thing. The T4i took home a Dave's Pick on merit, and the Canon T5i is just as deserving. Ignore the naysayers: There's a lot to like about the Canon T5i, and if you're in the market for an affordable SLR, it's definitely worthy of a place on your shortlist.

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Canon's T5i was one of three winners in our Best DSLR for $1,000 article. Check out our Best DSLR for $1,000 article to see what other DSLR cameras got our nod!


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