Canon T7i Conclusion

by Jaron Schneider | 05/09/2018

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM at 18mm (29mm eq.), f/8.0, 3.2s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for original image.

Though not a huge technological jump from its predecessor nor its competitors, the Rebel T7i continues Canon's tradition of producing reliable, easy-to-use, consumer-friendly and affordable DSLRs for the masses. It's a solid camera that doesn't do anything special, but it doesn't have to. However, it is basically the same camera as the Canon 77D, save for some body, control and feature deletions. For consumers who do their research, this can lead to some confusion as to what makes the 77D or the T7i the right choice for them.

And unfortunately, that's not an easy question to answer.

Canon would argue that the T7i is for the more basic consumer, while the 77D is for a more "advanced" amateur photographer. It's an odd distinction for two reasons. One, there are only the slightest of differences between those two groups of photographers. Two, the differences between these two cameras have nothing to do with technical performance or image quality, but rather the exterior design of the two bodies and a few firmware features. Performance, actual photographic image capturing performance, is more critical, and both cameras perform extremely similarly in this regard. Yet, the additions the 77D brings to the experience, such as a top-facing status LCD, dedicated AF-ON button and a second control dial, don't really muddle or confuse the camera experience, which would be one reason to simplify the camera body on the T7i. No, instead, the additions actually make the camera easier to use.

Given that today the price difference between the T7i and the 77D is negligible (in fact, as of this writing the 77D body is selling for $50 less than the T7i), it doesn't even seem like Canon deems the additions to the 77D as much of an upgrade. It also puts the T7i in an awkward position: for roughly the same amount of money, why would you choose the inferior T7i?

That said, looking specifically at the T7i and evaluating it on its own, the camera does a lot right and is perfectly serviceable as the entry-level DSLR that Canon has positioned it.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM at 18mm (29mm eq.), f/8.0, 2.5s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for original image.

Image Quality

The T7i's 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor bucks some expected Canon-centric trends in a good way. Firstly, while dynamic range has generally not been a strong point for Canon sensors, the T7i actually does pretty well compared to the T6i. In our field testing, we found that RAW files have good flexibility when recovering both highlight and shadow detail, a huge plus. Additionally, the camera does well even in low-light conditions. Though the max ISO of 51,200 is pretty much useless (as is the case with many cameras), for most situations, the T7i will perform quite well. Even ISO 12,800, two tops from the highest, looks quite good.

That said, it's not perfect. First, despite the dynamic range and high ISO improvements over the T6i, these qualities still lag behind some competing models from other manufacturers somewhat. We also found that while the sensor produces images with good detail, you can see that even at low ISOs there is some detrimental noise reduction being applied to JPEGs. This phenomenon only increases with higher ISOs. Additionally, there is a lot of contrast applied to JPEGs with the in-camera default settings, and it can be so excessive that it crushes shadow details.

Performance

As far as features and performance, Canon's autofocus is a standout success with the T7i. The 45-point, all-cross-type autofocus system employed in the T7i is a first for a Rebel series camera, and the result is a camera that feels quick, snappy and accurate. Additionally, Canon put their lauded Dual Pixel CMOS AF system into the T7i as well, which means that in Live View mode, you get one of the best overall autofocus systems currently available. So whether you like to look through the optical viewfinder or use the rear LCD, the T7i does not let you down. In this respect, the T7i absolutely feels like an upgrade over the T6i.

Speaking of upgrades over predecessor, the T7i's DIGIC 7 processor and memory allows it to gain an extra frame per second over the T6i and quadruples its buffer depth to 24 RAW frames. Additionally, the buffer is only three seconds slower to clear despite capturing four times as many images as the T6i. It's faster to start up to first shot and focus speeds are very fast, rivaling that of higher-end DSLRs. In short, that processor, the first Rebel to feature that generation, makes a big, positive difference in how the camera feels and performs.

Add in several nice-to-have features like Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth, and you have yourself a camera that works well on location for instant-sharing of images as well as one that does nicely when you're at a computer manipulating RAW files.

Though it doesn't feature 4K video, a common theme with most Canon cameras, it does a decent job with video all the same. It can capture as high as Full HD at up to 60 frames per second, while offering a few other options in both 1080p and 720p. And, as mentioned, the inclusion of Dual Pixel CMOS AF makes video AF wonderfully fast. The T7i is not a serious video camera by any means, but it does an alright job, especially for an entry-level DSLR.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM at 135mm (216mm eq.), f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO 250.
This image has been modified. Click for original image.

Summary

As confusing as the T7i's market positioning is, if we pretend the 77D doesn't exist, it's a really nice camera for those just getting started in image-making. As mentioned though, it's problematic that the camera shares so much in common with an objectively better camera that is similarly priced. Everything that we like about the T7i is in the 77D, but also accompanied by a better housing, more tactile options and a few extra firmware features. So while the T7i would normally be worthy of praise for the number of improvements it made over the T6i, it's constantly weighed down by these caveats. Thus if you're considering the T7i, it behooves you to checkout the 77D, especially since it's currently selling for less than the T7i. That said, on its own, the Canon T7i is a reliable, no-fuss, entry-level DSLR and certainly joins the ranks among our Dave's Picks.

 

Pros & Cons

  • Improved dynamic range over its predecessor
  • Slightly improved high ISO performance
  • Supports Fine Detail Picture Style for better JPEG sharpening than default settings
  • "White Priority" Auto White Balance options helps avoid overly warm colors in incandescent lighting
  • Quick power-up
  • Swift cycle times
  • Fast AF speeds
  • Low shutter lag
  • Good 6 fps burst speed for its class
  • Decent RAW buffer depths, much improved over its predecessor
  • 45 cross-type AF points
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF provides excellent live view/movie autofocus
  • Full HD video up to 60p
  • Tilt-swivel touchscreen LCD
  • In-camera time-lapse movies
  • In-camera HDR modes
  • Pop-up flash can act as remote flash commander
  • Built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth
  • Comfortable ergonomics
  • User-friendly design
  • Dynamic range and high ISO performance still not as good as competitors
  • Default JPEGs a bit soft
  • Small and inaccurate pentamirror viewfinder
  • Mediocre battery life for a DSLR (but still much improved over T6i)
  • Auto ISO only offers max setting
  • No 4K video
  • No headphone jack
  • No intervalometer for stills
  • Body-only price is similar to 77D which offers more features


 



Enter this month to win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate