Canon T6 Conclusion

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Like the Rebel T5 before it, not to mention its nearest rivals from Nikon and Pentax, the Canon T6 is a DSLR camera which has clearly been aimed at the entry-level photographer. But unlike those cameras, both of which were quite significant upgrades, the T6 is nearly identical to its predecessor. It brings improvements to the table in only two main areas: Easier sharing with smartphones and tablets thanks to built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, and a crisper, higher-resolution LCD monitor. (Sure, there are some other tweaks here and there, but they're very minor.)

If you're looking for a DSLR camera which shoots better photos than your smartphone or small-sensor compact camera can offer, and you're on a very tight budget, well... you're not likely to find a more affordable DSLR than the Canon T6. At least, not without taking a trip down memory lane to buy an older model. And that older camera likely won't play nicely with your smartphone, making it harder than it needs to be to put your photos online for friends and family to see, so it's probably smarter to stick with current offerings.

400mm-equivalent, 1/320 sec. @ f/6.3, ISO 200

Good image quality, if not quite on par with its nearest rivals

Among the features which the Canon T6 retains from its predecessor, the most noteworthy is its imaging pipeline. This has been lifted intact for the new model, with the Rebel T6 using the same image sensor and processor pairing, so there are few surprises here.

The Canon T6 can provide pretty good image quality for an entry level, especially in terms of color. (In fact, many amateurs will want to dial up the saturation just a little, as out of the box the T6's color is more accurate and muted than the punchy, bold colors consumers typically favor. That's an easy change to make, though.

110mm-equivalent, 1/100 sec. @ f/4.5, ISO 250

However, while its image quality is good -- and certainly far better than what you'll manage from a smartphone or small-sensor camera -- the Canon T6's resolution is a little lower than typical these days. even at the entry level. At the same time, its noise levels are higher, and its dynamic range more limited.

With that said, sensitivities as high as ISO 3200 or 6400-equivalents are still pretty usable by the likely standards of an amateur shooter, and even ISO 12,800 would be workable in a pinch, perhaps, if you had no alternative. By and large, I think the T6 will satisfy most entry-level owners in this area, even if its now rather long-in-the-tooth pipeline isn't quite the match of rivals these days.

195mm-equivalent, 1/160 sec. @ f/5.0, ISO 160

It's easy to get images onto your smartphone, wirelessly

The main difference between the Canon T6 and its predecessor is the addition of in-camera wireless networking connectivity. It's also an important point of differentiation from its Nikon and Pentax rivals.

At the entry-level, Nikon's D3300 relies on an external Wi-Fi accessory which is an optional extra, and something of a clumsy solution which disrupts the camera's handling. A followup to that camera has just launched, but it's both pricier than the Canon T6 and has also yet to go through our in-depth review process.

Pentax brand-owner Ricoh, meanwhile, has Wi-Fi in its entry-level model too, but in our review of its Pentax K-S2 DSLR, we found the user interface of its Wi-Fi app really held the camera back. It's far less polished than the Canon T6's Wi-Fi setup, which by comparison is a joy to use.

75mm-equivalent, 1/60 sec. @ f/5.6, ISO 1250

Performance is a mixed bag; this is not a sports shooter by any means

In some respects, the Canon T6 is actually reasonably swift for its class. For example, it starts up quite quickly and has minimal shutter lag if prefocused or focused manually. But if you are wanting to shoot sports or other active subjects like kids and pets, you might do better to look to another camera -- either higher up Canon's EOS Rebel line, or from rivals such as Nikon and Pentax.

The reasons for that are twofold. For one thing, the Canon T6's modest autofocus performance is below average these days, and if your subjects won't stay still the result will likely be more missed or out-of-focus shots than you'd like. And for another, even if you can disable autofocus altogether because your subject isn't moving outside your depth of field, you'll find yourself limited by a burst speed of just three frames per second.

And if you're a raw shooter... well, you can pretty much forget about it. With a raw or raw+JPEG buffer of just four or five frames, you're going to find yourself sitting waiting for the camera at very regular intervals. At least this isn't a concern in JPEG mode, though, even if we weren't able to confirm Canon's claim of unlimited JPEG burst depth. Our hard-to-compress test target saw a JPEG burst depth of around 15 frames, enough for at least several seconds of non-stop shooting.

16mm-equivalent, 1/30 sec. @ f/4.5, ISO 1600

The Canon T6 is clearly designed for overall value, not performance

Of course, it's important to bear in mind Canon's target customer here. If you're a regular IR reader, that's probably not you -- this is a camera aimed at someone wanting a bit more than their smartphone or small-sensor camera can give them, but at the absolute lowest possible price tag. That's something the Rebel T6 achieves rather nicely, even if it lacks the performance and many of the features found on more expensive models.

As of this writing in October 2016, Canon's entry-level DSLR is tied with its Nikon rival at a street price of just US$400 or thereabouts, and that's with a kit lens. The nearest equivalent from Pentax is about 10% more expensive, selling for around $450. And while the Pentax is significantly more feature-rich than either of its rivals, the company's comparitively tiny market share in the USA means the chances of your finding a friend with whom to share lenses and accessories are slim to none. The new Canon T6 owner, by contrast, is much more likely to find a circle of friends with whom to share gear and hone their photographic skills.

90mm-equivalent, 1/2,000 sec. @ f/4.0, ISO 3200

And so we come to the bit you've all been waiting for: Our final verdict. Does the addition of Wi-Fi and a better LCD monitor sustain this now rather long-in-the-tooth design through another generation of entry-level DSLRs? Well, there are two things we think are key to consider here: What price you can get it for, and what your friends are shooting with.

Price-wise, the Canon T6 is already about the most affordable option on the market, at least unless you look to an older model that's likely been discontinued by its manufacturer already. And with Canon already having earned back much of the development costs on the earlier Rebel T5, we don't doubt it will be able to match any pricing moves that Nikon or Pentax are likely to make. That box, then, definitely gets a check.

A worthwhile buy if your friends are Canon shooters, and you're on a tight budget

But the other one is a question only you can answer for yourself. As an entry-level shooter, learning is key here: If you want to ignite a passion for photography, it helps to have friends you can share from and learn alongside. Chances are that most of your DSLR-owning friends will be shooting with either Canon or Nikon cameras, and if you stick with the same brand that they're using, you'll be able to swap gear and tips with them.

50mm-equivalent, 1/50 sec. @ f/4.5, ISO 5000

That's probably more important than having the absolute best, most feature-rich and capable camera that money can buy. If your friends mostly shoot Nikon or Pentax, you'd probably do better to opt for a camera from those brands, and you'll find that you get even more camera for your money than you do with the Canon Rebel T6.

But if your friends are mostly shooting with Canon cameras and you can't afford to stretch to a more highly-specified camera in Canon's line, the Rebel T6 will give you quite a bit of camera for the money. Not as much as you might get from Nikon or Pentax, sure, but certainly enough -- and as you and your friends broaden your photographic knowledge you'll be able to keep shooting with the Canon lenses and accessories you buy for your T6 when, a couple of years down the road, you decide it's time to upgrade to a more capable camera.

30mm-equivalent, 1/30 sec. @ f/5.6, ISO 640
(Note: This image shot through glass window)

Not quite a Dave's Pick, but a reasonably solid entry-level buy nonetheless

It might not, perhaps, be worthy of a Dave's Pick this time round, as the market has certainly moved along some since the T5 earned itself that award a couple of years back. If you're not a big sports fan, though, the Canon T6 will help you to shoot far better images than you'll ever get from your smartphone, and it'll do so without provoking a single bead of sweat on your bank manager's brow.

 

Pros & Cons

Image Quality

  • Good image quality for an entry-level DSLR, very similar to the T5
  • Good color with excellent hue accuracy
  • Highlight Tone Priority and Auto Lighting Optimizer features help with high contrast subjects
  • 18-megapixel sensor and JPEG engine is getting a little long-in-the-tooth
  • Dynamic range and high ISO performance aren't as good as most competing models
  • Warm Auto and Incandescent white balance indoors

Performance

  • Fast startup
  • Fast single-shot cycle times
  • Deeper JPEG buffer than predecessor
  • Minimal shutter lag when prefocused or manually focused

  • Slow burst mode
  • Extremely shallow buffers when shooting raw or raw+JPEG (no improvement over T5)
  • Mediocre autofocus speed

Video

  • Full HD movies
  • No continuous AF in movie mode
  • Only auto or fully manual exposure; there are no priority modes for movie capture
  • Mono sound, and no external mic jack
  • No high frame-rate video at Full HD resolution

User Experience

  • A good bit of value for very little money
  • Pretty good ergonomics for an entry-level model
  • Feature Guide and Creative Auto mode help less experienced photographers
  • Higher resolution (920k-dot) LCD monitor than T5
  • LCD backlight is fairly bright, making it easier to view outdoors
  • Built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking
  • Simple pairing via NFC for Android users
  • Reasonably swift transfer of images even at full resolution, and very fast transfer if automatically resized before sending
  • Fairly good range for Wi-Fi remote control, perhaps as much as 30-40 feet in line of sight
  • Quite robust Wi-Fi remote control capability allows the user to change many variables remotely
  • Wi-Fi remote control allows near-full screen live view, and respects the user's chosen orientation, unlike some rivals
  • Vast selection of compatible lenses and accessories
  • Lots of room to grow within Canon's ecosystem without having to ditch all your gear, if you later become more serious about your photography


  • Hand grip is just a tad shallow for those of us with larger hands
  • Flash button is poorly marked and tricky to identify in low light, precisely when you'll most need it
  • Pentamirror viewfinder isn't as bright, clear or accurate as a pentaprism viewfinder, but only Pentax offers this feature at the entry-level
  • Can struggle to focus in very low light without AF assist
  • Lacks touch-screen control
  • No anti-glare coating on the LCD monitor makes it rather prone to reflections
  • No monitor articulation makes it hard to shoot selfies
  • Wi-Fi remote live view feed has relatively low resolution, making it pixelated on tablets
  • Changing the camera's mode causes the Wi-Fi connection to be dropped, causing you to have to reconnect
  • No in-camera HDR or capture-mode creative effects
  • No dedicated AF illuminator (uses flash)
  • Mediocre battery life with no improvement over the T5
  • No ultrasonic sensor cleaning
  • Bulb exposure is limited to just 30 seconds

Optics

  • Kit lens has decent performance in most respects
  • Kit lens is prone to chromatic aberration even towards the center of the image, especially at wide-angle

Flash

  • Flash pops up automatically when it's needed, which is helpful for beginners
  • Hot shoe is included for greater versatility with external strobes
  • Built-in flash is a bit weak and has narrow, uneven coverage

 



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