Canon T6i Conclusion

EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM: 250mm, f/7.1, 1/320s, ISO 640

Released alongside the Canon T6s, the T6i sports a wholly similar design to the earlier Canon T5i, its direct predecessor. The T6s, on the other hand, offers a handful of more enthusiast-oriented features, such as a top-plate LCD screen and rear-panel Control Dial interface. For more entry-level or beginning DSLR photographers, the Canon T6i is more familiar territory, though it still comes with significant under-the-hood upgrades and improvements over the T5i.

New sensor packs in pixels but soft images straight from camera

The headline upgraded feature is the all-new 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, which is a significant resolution bump over the 18-megapixel T5i and also the highest-resolution APS-C DSLR that Canon offers (alongside the T6s). It also brings the Rebel models more in line with competing models from Nikon and Sony. The new sensor packs in a lot of resolution and results in very good image quality. Based on our tests and our real-world Field Test, the T6i's higher resolution sensor captures highly detailed images, though images straight from the camera can appear slightly soft. Shooting in RAW and applying some sharpening in post helps bring out much more fine detail.

Solid high-ISO performance & better dynamic range

In other image quality characteristics, the T6i is a strong performer. High ISO performance is very good for an APS-C camera, especially one with such a high megapixel count. Colors are realistic and accurate, and dynamic range is improved over the earlier T5i, though it still lags behind some of its competitors in this regard.

EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM: 37mm, f/8, 10s, ISO 800
This image has been retouched slightly. Click for original image.

Video is good, but missing 60fps

If you're interested in video, the T6i is certainly capable, too, but it unfortunately lacks the increasingly popular 1080/60p frame rate, but otherwise the video quality is good and the touchscreen interface is very handy to adjust the focus point during video. And while the T6i does not have the Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology of the higher-end 70D and 7D Mark II models, its updated Hybrid CMOS AF III system and full-time autofocus during videos was quick and accurate.

Fantastic single-shot AF performance

On the performance side of things, the Canon T6i is overall fairly decent for a consumer-class DSLR. Single-shot AF performance is outstanding and very fast for this class of camera -- center-point AF shutter lag clocked-in at nearly pro-DSLR speeds. The T6i also offers a significant upgrade in autofocus specs, as it borrows the capable 19-point all-cross-type system from the higher-end EOS 70D, which does well in both single-shot and continuous AF modes. And we found it was able to focus accurately in very low light, too.

Live View autofocus has also been improved, though it lacks the Servo AF capability of its higher-end T6s sibling, putting the T6i at a disadvantage for capturing stills of moving subjects in Live View mode. For other, more stationary subjects, the Hybrid AF system of phase-detect and contrast-detect is quick and accurate. Furthermore, live exposure simulation as well as the articulating, responsive touchscreen LCD make for an all-around pleasant experience using Live View for most subject matter.

Speedy AF hampered by burst speed & RAW buffer

While AF performance is excellent and perhaps better than most DSLRs in its class, the Canon T6i's burst speed doesn't follow suit, though its ~5 frames-per-second performance is competitive with entry-level DSLR rivals. That said, when compared to competing mirrorless cameras that are capable of 8 frames-per-second or faster, the T6i's burst mode can feel downright slow nowadays. Buffer depth when shooting JPEGs is very good, but as is typical for the class, the buffer is quite shallow when shooting RAW files at only 6 frames, diminishing the camera's usefulness for shooting subjects such as action, sports or fast-moving wildlife for those that want to shoot in RAW mode.

Solid upgrade to the T5i for nice all-around entry-level DSLR

All told, though, the Canon T6i is a solid, advanced entry-level camera (a nice bump-up feature- and performance-wise from the more basic Canon T5), and one that's capable of good, general-use photography in a variety of situations. Ergonomically, it's nearly identical to its predecessor, which isn't a bad thing. If you're familiar with the Canon Rebel lineup, you'll be right at home, and if not, the controls are straightforward and the camera is lightweight and comfortable.

Overall, the Canon T6i is not a ground-breaking camera, but it does offers useful upgrades over its predecessor, especially in terms of image resolution and autofocus, as well as built-in Wi-Fi with NFC. It blends new features with tried-and-true Canon DSLR characteristics resulting in a very nice, well-rounded entry-level DSLR and therefore earns a spot as a Dave's Pick.

 

Pros & Cons

  • Highest resolution Canon APS-C camera yet
  • Improved dynamic range over its predecessor (but still not as good as some competing models)
  • Very good high ISO performance for a 24-megapixel APS-C model
  • OLPF means fewer aliasing artifacts, but images are a bit soft (could be a Pro or Con depending on perspective)
  • Excellent color and hue accuracy with manual white balance
  • Very fast autofocus with optical viewfinder 
  • Fast single-shot cycle times
  • Competitive though unexceptional burst speed for its class
  • Autofocuses well in low light
  • Built-in flash can act as master to off-camera slave flash units
  • Built-in Wi-Fi & NFC
  • Lightweight build with solid construction & comfortable ergonomics
  • Responsive and handy tilt/swivel touchscreen LCD
  • Good video quality with full-time AF
  • Supports wired and wireless remotes
  • Below average battery life
  • Shallow buffer when shooting RAW
  • OVF coverage only 94%, with offset (this will likely change with sample variation)
  • Auto and Incandescent white balance settings too warm in tungsten lighting
  • No Servo AF for stills in Live View
  • No 60p option for video
  • HDMI output only functions when Wi-Fi/NFC is disabled
  • No clean HDMI output
  • No headphone jack


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