Canon T6i Tech Info
Canon T6i Technical Info
by Mike Tomkins
At the heart of the Rebel T6i is a newly-developed, 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor. Developed in-house by Canon, it's the company's highest resolution APS-C imager to date, and offers a total of around one-third more pixels than the 18-megapixel image sensor in the earlier Canon T5i. The image sensor is overlaid with a low-pass filter that subtly blurs the finest details to help fight moiré and false-color effects, a sensible choice in a camera aimed at consumers.
To help handle the higher pixel count, the Canon T6i also sports a new DIGIC 6 image processor in place of the DIGIC 5 chip used in the T5i. It's the first time that we've seen DIGIC 6 used in a Rebel-series camera.
Together, the pairing of sensor and processor allow a standard sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 12,800 equivalents which is expandable to 25,600 equivalent, despite a reduction in pixel pitch from the T5i's 4.3µm photodiodes to 3.7µm in the Rebel T6i.
Burst performance is also unchanged at up to five frames per second (in our lab tests, we managed about 4.8 fps), although just retaining the same speed means that the T6i is processing fully one-third more data in the same time period. Canon claims buffer depth is up to 940 frames when shooting large/fine JPEGs, but drops to 7 frames when shooting RAW files, or 6 RAW+Large/Fine JPEGs. Our lab results generally agree, though we captured one frame less in RAW mode before the camera slowed.
As in the T5i before it, the Canon T6i offers up a Canon EF / EF-S compatible lens mount that can use either full-frame or sub-frame optics. One noteworthy change, though: in-camera lens distortion correction is now available, both for still images and video capture.
The Canon T6i has received a pretty comprehensive upgrade in the autofocus department, whether you're shooting thru the viewfinder or using live view.
Perhaps the most significant change for day-to-day use is a 19-point, all cross-type autofocus sensor that's inherited from the EOS 70D. It sits in place of the earlier 9-point, all cross-type phase-detection autofocus sensor of the T5i, more than doubling the total number of points.
And interestingly, it works in concert with the Canon T6i's new color metering sensor to locate skin tones, taking these into account when determining subject location, too. (In the past, the Canon T5i would simply have chosen the nearest subject for focus, even if it was an inanimate object.)
Switch to live view mode, and you gain access to the new Hybrid CMOS AF III autofocus system, which couples an unspecified number of dedicated, on-sensor phase-detection autofocus pixels with contrast-detection. Canon isn't saying how many more PDAF pixels this new chip boasts compared to that of the T5i, but it does promise both better tracking and faster performance from the new system -- and that gels with what we've seen in sample videos provided by the company.
As in Hybrid CMOS AF II, all pixels used for autofocus do not contribute to image capture, and their contents are thus interpolated from surrounding pixels when you press the shutter button. That's the key difference from the Dual Pixel CMOS AF tech used in some of Canon's higher-end models, which allows the focus pixels to also contribute to the final image capture.
Canon tells us that the performance of Hybrid CMOS AF III approaches that of Dual Pixel CMOS AF. Unlike the Rebel T6s, though, the T6i still won't allow autofocus adjustment between frames in image bursts shot with focus in live view mode. With that slight catch aside, you should find it quicker to focus and get the shot in live view mode than ever before.
Another upgrade which we alluded to in the previous section is to be found in the Canon T6i's metering sensor. Previously, the T5i used just a coarse 63-zone sensor to determine exposures, but now it uses a 7,560 pixel RGB+IR metering sensor that's sensitive to red, green, blue and infrared light. The result, as well as allowing the camera to determine the location of skin tones as mentioned previously, is that the Canon T6i should better be able to handle exposure metering of difficult subjects.
Like most consumer DSLRs, the Canon T6i features a pentamirror optical viewfinder, as opposed to a brighter, heavier and more expensive pentaprism. Coverage is approximately 95% (we measured closer to 94%) which is again typical for consumer DSLRs, and magnification is about 0.82x, a bit lower than the T5i's 0.85x. Eyepoint is approximately 19mm (at -1m-1 from the eyepiece lens center) and there's a dioptric adjustment with a range of -3.0 to +1.0m-1.
Canon refers to it as an Intelligent Viewfinder -- essentially, there's an LCD overlay on the finder that allows a generous range of information to be provided to you without the need to switch to the main LCD monitor.
Unlike the viewfinder in the simultaneously-launched T6s, that in the Rebel T6i lacks a proximity sensor adjacent to the viewfinder eyepiece. That difference means you'll need to manually toggle the display mode to disable the LCD, if you want to prevent glare and improve battery life when shooting through the finder.
On the rear of the Canon T6i is a side-mounted, tilt/swivel LCD monitor similar to that of the earlier Rebel T5i. As in that camera, it's based around a 3.0-inch LCD panel with a total dot count of around 1.04 million dots, and is overlaid with a touchscreen that allows it to be used as an input device. And thanks to the articulation mechanism, which allows viewing from a wide range of angles, it's both selfie-friendly (assuming you're using an appropriate lens, of course), and can be closed inwards for a modicum of protection against smudges or minor bumps and scrapes.
The Canon T6i lacks the secondary, monochrome LCD panel of the T6s, which sits on the top deck and provides a quick at-a-glance indication of basic camera settings.
There are a couple of new creative options on the Canon T6i that are noteworthy. For sports shooters and others who find themselves shooting under difficult sodium, mercury-vapor and even dimmed LED lighting, there's a new flicker detection function as previously seen in the 7D Mark II.
What this does, in a nutshell, is to monitor ambient light levels to determine when these light sources -- which continually flicker -- are at their peak brightness. When you press the shutter button, the actual shutter release time is adjusted just fractionally to ensure you don't get an underexposed shot.
There's also a silent shooting mode that helps when beeps and clicks are a no-no -- weddings, for example -- or when shooting skittish subjects that would react to mirror and shutter noise. But unlike the Rebel T6s, the Canon T6i lacks a level sensor to detect and indicate the degree of side-to-side roll. If you want to ensure level horizons, an external bubble level or similar will be needed.
As in the Canon T5i, the Rebel T6i provides the ability to record high-definition movies at up to Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) resolution with a rate of up to 30 frames per second. 25p and 24p rates are also available at Full HD, while HD (1280 x 720) is offered at 60p/50p, and VGA (640 x 480) at 30p/25p. Recording time per clip is limited to 29m:59s. The maximum movie file size is 4GB, but the T6i will automatically create subsequent files without interruption up to the aforementioned time limit.
There's one noteworthy upgrade in the movie department, though: You can now shoot movies with a miniature effect. What this does is to blur the top and bottom of the image frame, yielding a final result that's similar to what you'd get from a tilt/shift lens, although the degree of blur isn't actually based on the subject distance as it would be with the real lens.
Note that the Canon T6i lacks the HDR movie and movie-mode digital zoom functions of the flagship Rebel T6s.
The Canon T6i's built-in flash has a Guide Number of 12m or 39.4 feet (ISO 100). That's down slightly from the T5i's 13m / 42.7 ft. GN. Coverage is rated at 17mm, and recycle time is rated at 3 seconds. Maximum flash sync remains at 1/200 second, +/-2 EV flash exposure compensation is available, and Flash Exposure Lock (FE) is supported. Flash exposure modes include E-TTL Auto and Manual, and second curtain sync as well as red-eye reduction options are offered. Like the T5i, the Canon T6i's built-in flash can act a master to off-camera slave flashes, supporting multiple channels and groups. The built-in flash also doubles as an AF assist lamp, for conditions that are too dark to autofocus in without additional light.
Images and movies are stored on Secure Digital cards, courtesy of a single SD card slot that is compatible with SDHC, SDXC and UHS-I cards. The Canon T6i also supports Eye-Fi cards, although given the in-camera Wi-Fi connectivity, there would seem to be little reason to use one.
Still images can be stored in 14-bit .CR2 RAW or compressed JPEG formats, or both simultaneously. Movies are stored in MP4 format, using an MPEG-4 AV/H.264 codec for video, and AAC stereo for audio.
Power comes courtesy of a proprietary LP-E17 lithium-ion battery pack, which is a different model than the T5i's LP-E8 battery. Battery life is still rated at 440 shots on a charge when using the optical viewfinder, and 180 shots in live view mode according to CIPA testing standards, which is unchanged from the T5i. A dedicated LC-E17 battery charger is included in the bundle and in-camera charging via USB is not supported.
An optional BG-E18 battery grip is available, allowing you to double battery life by installing two LP-E17 batteries, however it does not support AA batteries. An ACK-E18 AC adapter kit which includes the DR-E18 DC coupler is also available should you want to power the T6i from an AC power source.
Wired connectivity in the Canon T6i includes a combined USB/AV port for USB 2.0 High Speed data transfer and analog audio/video output, and a Type-C Mini HDMI high-definition video output under one port flap.
Although the T6i was originally slated to support clean HDMI output when first announced, that feature has pretty much been dropped. The only way to get clean HDMI output with no overlays is to use manual focus mode (to disable the AF area box), don't adjust any settings, don't record internally (or you'll get a red recording dot displayed), and hope that a low battery or card space warning doesn't pop up. You'll also need to disable Wi-Fi/NFC to enable the HDMI port.
A second flap covers a wired remote jack compatible with Canon's RS-60E3 remote switch, and a 3.5mm stereo microphone jack, but there's no headphone jack.
Of course the Rebel T6i includes a dedicated hot shoe for external flash units and other shoe-mount accessories. The T6i is also compatible with Canon's infrared RC-6 remote control, as well as the GP-E2 GPS receiver.
Wi-Fi / NFC
And finally, we come to the Canon T6i's new wireless connectivity options. Unlike its predecessor, which relied on third-party Wi-Fi capable SD cards if you wanted a way to get photos onto your smartphone or tablet, the Rebel T6i now has in-camera Wi-Fi. And not just that, it comes accompanied by active NFC, or near-field communications support, a first for an EOS DSLR.
Unlike passive NFC, which uses no battery power and is simple to implement, but relatively limited in its utility, active NFC allows the camera to change what information is provided to your NFC-capable smartphone, tablet or other device when its NFC radio is brought near that in the camera.
Active NFC support will prove particularly handy if you own Canon's Connect Station CS100, an affordable photo and video storage device that also serves as a hub for sharing, viewing and managing your media library. Instead of needing to fiddle with menus and settings, a quick bump of the Canon T6i's NFC antenna located on the bottom of the camera against that on the Connect Station will transfer content from camera to storage device automatically.