Canon T6s Conclusion

EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM: 250mm, f/5.6, 1/400s, ISO 3200
This image has been retouched slightly.
Click for original image converted from RAW using Adobe Camera Raw with default settings. (RAW)

Offering a more enthusiast-inspired design, particularly with the top-deck info screen and the Control Dial interface typically seen on higher-end EOS cameras, the new Canon T6s sits in a new, more advanced entry-level spot in Canon's DSLR lineup, and is the most enthusiast-oriented Rebel model to date.  Under the hood, the T6s shares many features and specs with its slightly less expensive sibling, the Canon T6i.

Higher resolution brings T6s closer to competitors

The main big-ticket item for the Canon T6s (and T6i, for that matter) is the brand new, higher resolution 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor. The highest resolution sensor ever offered in a Rebel-series camera, the Canon T6s provides a sizable upgrade compared to the 18MP chip in the T5i and previous Rebel models. As we mentioned in our T6i conclusion, the move into 24MP territory puts the Canon T6s more in-line with competing cameras from both Nikon and Sony.  Like the T6i, the new Canon T6s produces very detailed images, however, based on both our real-world and laboratory testing, images straight from the camera appear slightly soft. That said, opting to shoot in RAW mode and applying some sharpening in post helps to bring out more fine detail.

Good high-ISO performance plus improved dynamic range

As for other image quality characteristics, the Canon T6s does very well. We found its high ISO performance to be very good for an APS-C-class camera, and particularly a camera with such a high megapixel count. Like we saw with the T6i, the camera's color reproduction is accurate, and dynamic range has been improved compared to its predecessor, though it still lags behind some of its competitors in this regard.

HDR Backlight Scene Mode
EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM: 70mm, f/4.5, 1/320s, ISO 160

Excellent, versatile 19-point AF system

The traditional phase-detect autofocus system in the T6s gets a big upgrade to the same 19-point all-cross-type AF system from the Canon 70D. In our testing, single-shot AF was fantastic, with center-point AF shutter lag hitting numbers at near pro-DSLR speeds. For both single-shot and continuous AF shooting through the viewfinder, the 19-point AF system proved very capable and accurate in both well-lit scenarios as well as low-light conditions for the most part.

Slow burst, shallow RAW buffer disappoints

On other performance fronts, however, things are bit less favorable. Though its approximately 5 frames-per-second burst shooting rate is on-par with other entry-level DSLRs, the burst speed is certainly not class-leading. Even compared to some current mirrorless cameras, with some sporting burst rates of 8fps or more, the 5fps rate of the T6s feels underwhelming. Compounding this is rather lackluster buffer depths. While it handles JPEGs quite well, shooting RAW or RAW+JPEG fills the buffer very quickly after only 6 frames. With slow burst speed and limited buffer capacity, the Canon T6s feels rather limited in its capabilities for shooting fast action-based subjects such as sports or certain wildlife -- especially if you opt for RAW mode.

Good video quality, but missing 1080/60p

In terms of video performance, the Canon T6s is, of course, quite capable, though it doesn't have many of the flashy, popular video features that many of its competitors are beginning to offer, such as 1080/60p frame rate or 4K Ultra-HD resolution. Those aspects aside, the video quality itself is good and the touchscreen interface and articulating LCD is very handy and works well. And while the T6s lacks 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.

Scene Intelligent Auto, flash fired
EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM: 19mm, f/6.3, 1/200s, ISO 100

This image has been retouched slightly. Click for original image.

How the T6s stands apart from the T6i

By and large, the Canon T6s and T6i are very similar: similar image quality, similar performance and altogether similar hardware under the hood. With the price difference of $100, is there a significant reason to "upgrade" to the Canon T6s over the T6i? For one, the T6s does provide a more advanced-feeling control layout, with a secondary control dial on the rear for easier, more tactile settings adjustments without having to resort to menu-diving or button+dial combos. The top-deck info display is also a nod to Canon's higher-end DSLRs, and a feature not found on the T6i. Like its bigger brothers, the status display lets you see exposure setting and other modes at a quick top-down glance. To us, both of these physical feature differences feel like a nice and welcomed advantage for the T6s.

Furthermore, Live View focusing in the T6s gets a small yet noticeable functionality upgrade over the T6i: Servo AF. The Canon T6s provides a much more robust Live View shooting experience by adding Servo AF functionality, which allows the camera to constantly adjust focus between frames during continuous shooting mode. Combined with Hybrid CMOS AF III, which uses on-chip phase-detect sensors, the Canon T6s is much better suited for photographing moving subjects while using Live View.

Canon T6s: an entry-level DSLR with non-entry-level features

The increase in resolution helps bring the Rebel series up to the level of many rival cameras, some of which have, for the past model year or so, pushed the resolution past the 20MP+ mark. Despite cramming 24.2 megapixels onto an APS-C sensor, the Canon T6s produces excellent images, with tons of detail especially at lower ISOs and with nice, accurate colors. The higher ISO performance is also very good despite the higher resolution. Combined with a versatile and capable autofocus system, plus improved Live View focusing features, as well as more enthusiast-like controls, the Canon T6s takes the Rebel series up a notch. Its easy and straightforward functionality is great for an entry-level DSLR shooter, but it also brings over more advanced features and performance from higher-end cameras to satisfy the more experienced photographer as well. All told, the Canon T6s gets the nod as a Dave's Pick in our book.

 

Pros & Cons

  • Highest resolution Canon APS-C camera yet
  • Improved dynamic range compared to earlier Rebels (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
  • Servo AF for stills in Live View
  • 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 95%, with offset (this will likely change with sample variation)
  • Auto and Incandescent white balance settings too warm in tungsten lighting
  • 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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