Could this be the best DSLR camera? If you’re old enough to remember the Canon Rebel camera commercials starring tennis player Andre Agassi, you know that this long-running line of interchangeable lens cameras has been around for more than two decades, getting its start as a 35mm film camera. But as my Canon Rebel T6i DSLR review shows, the newest Rebel camera ensures that this well known entry-level line of DSLR cameras remains strong going forward.
Canon has aimed the Rebel T6i squarely at those looking for a first DSLR camera, as has been the case with Rebels for 20-plus years. But Canon provided the Rebel line with several much needed upgrades with its introduction of the T6i, giving it the best performance levels and the best image quality of any EOS Rebel camera.
Summary: Entry-level DSLR that provides improved image sensor, image processor, and autofocus system versus older Rebels
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Budget priced DSLR camera provides above average image quality
Price: $749 on Amazon
Available: January 2015
What We Liked
- Strong image quality for sub-$1,000 DSLR
- Camera will fit your hand well and doesn’t carry excessive weight
- Display screen articulates and has touch capabilities
- Q shortcut menu screen works great with the camera’s touchscreen
What We Didn’t
- Button function changes from viewfinder mode to Live View mode, which can be confusing
- Battery life is below average versus other DSLRs
- Camera’s Wi-Fi features are clumsy and drain the battery quickly
Canon Rebel T6i Key Specs
|Image Sensor Type||APS-C sensor|
|Auto Focus Points||19|
|Avg Battery Life||440 Photos|
|Size||3.98 x 3.07 x 5.2 inches|
|Price||$749 (with lens)|
Design and Build
The right-hand grip found on the Canon Rebel T6i is a great size, making it easy to hold and use this camera. This also is one of the lighter DSLR cameras on the market, making it comfortable to use for long periods of time. The camera body is primarily made of plastic, which means the Rebel T6i doesn’t have quite the strong build quality of some more expensive DSLR units, but it still feels like a reasonably well-built unit.
Canon did a nice job with the button placement on this model, putting most of them within easy reach, so they can be used naturally. However, the way the T6i’s buttons work can lead to some confusion while you’re learning to use this camera. When shooting in viewfinder mode, some of the buttons have one function. But when you switch to Live View mode, where you’re using the display screen to frame the scene, some of the buttons change to a different function. Some of the camera’s menus change too when you switch shooting modes, which is frustrating.
I did like the fact that Canon created a Q menu screen with the Rebel T6i, which provides a series of shortcut icons on the screen to commonly used camera functions. Make sure you find the Q button and make a habit of using it to improve the speed and efficiency with which you can interact with the camera.
Canon gave this model a great display screen that measures 3-inches diagonally with more than 1 million pixels. The LCD is a touchscreen unit, which further simplifies using the Q menu screen. It’s also an articulated screen, meaning you can twist and swivel the screen away from the camera body, making it easier to shoot odd-angle photographs.
The new image processor included with the Rebel T6i — the DIGIC 6 — allows this model to work fast in a variety of shooting situations, although as with most DSLRs, the Canon T6i performs much faster in viewfinder mode than Live View mode.
The new autofocus system in this camera is a 19-point system, which is an upgrade from its predecessor.
Although Canon provided built-in Wi-Fi capabilities with the Rebel T6i, using the Wi-Fi is far more complicated than it needs to be. (To that point, the Canon T6i box includes a 150-plus-page printed user guide that’s just for using the Wi-Fi!) And with a model that already has below average battery performance, making use of the Wi-Fi will wipe out the battery far too quickly, so the Wi-Fi option really isn’t practical to use unless you’ve purchased a second battery.
One of the best upgrades to the Canon EOS Rebel T6i is in its image sensor. While Canon maintained the APS-C sized image sensor that its predecessor — the Rebel T5i — used, the T6i has 33% more resolution at 24.2 megapixels. The APS-C sized image sensor certainly isn’t as large as some you’ll find in more advanced DSLR cameras, but it is still significantly larger at 22.3 x 14.9 mm (0.88 x 0.59 inches) versus the best point and shoot cameras or smartphone cameras.
The extra megapixels in the Canon T6i definitely are noticeable, as this model’s image quality is better than you’ll find versus any older Canon Rebel cameras. With the improved image sensor, the T6i’s movie quality is strong too, but you’re limited to HD video quality, as a 4K resolution option is not included.
Considering this is an entry-level DSLR camera, Canon has good low light performance in terms of image quality, even if you have to use mid-range ISO settings. The Rebel T6i offers three levels of noise reduction features, which also helps with low light image quality. It would have been nice if Canon had provided the ability to adjust the T6i’s ISO settings by one-third of a stop, which is common in today’s DSLR cameras. Instead, you’re limited to changing the ISO by a full stop.
You’ll have the option of shooting in JPEG or RAW image formats with the Rebel T6i. Canon gave this camera quite a few special effect shooting options, which will help those migrating from a point and shoot camera to the Rebel T6i feel more comfortable and have more fun when using this more complex camera, which is also a great option for traveling with a camera.
If you have owned Canon EOS Rebel DSLR cameras in the past, you know that these are solid models that provide good image quality and good performance levels. Not great, but good enough for many non-professional photographers. With the EOS Rebel T6i, though, Canon pushed the Rebel family a step forward. This model has an improved image sensor, an improved image processor, and an improved autofocus system, all of which give the T6i a noticeable step up in performance from older Rebels. It probably isn’t precise enough to meet the needs of advanced DSLR photographers, but the T6i carries a great price as an entry-level DSLR camera. This upgraded unit definitely sits at the top of the Rebel line of best DSLRs.
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