The Canon SL1 is the smallest and lightest DSLR that we’ve ever reviewed, delivering DSLR performance and image quality in a body that’s almost as small as today’s mirrorless camera for beginner models. Its features and image quality rival those of its bigger siblings, the Canon Rebel T6i and Canon T5i. But it’s not only a miniaturized version of those DSLRs; it’s actually better in some ways, most notably its autofocus swiftness and video skills.
Update: Check Out Canon EOS Rebel SL3 Review
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Price
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We were told the “SL” in the 18-megapixel Canon SL1 consumer DSLR stood for “super lightweight.” And that it certainly is. The new Lilliputian EOS Rebel SL1 feels as light as many mirrorless cameras — and nearly as small — especially with a Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens attached to the front of it. Canon touts the camera as “the world’s smallest and lightest DSLR.”
Clearly, the burgeoning mirrorless camera market is what Canon is aiming to take on with the fully mirrored SL1. While Canon already has its own compact camera, the EOS M, this mirrorless model doesn’t stack up against many DSLRs with regards to still photography skills. With the Rebel SL1, Canon has attempted to offer the best of both worlds: a compact camera that’s small and light plenty of to take with you anywhere, combined with the performance and high picture quality of a DSLR.
Design and build.
Though the Canon SL1 is a very small and light camera, its design and build mimic Canon’s other DSLRs. Consequently, it’s comfortable and ergonomic to use, actually for photographers with larger hands. The Rebel SL1 is approximately 25% smaller and 28% lighter than the Canon Rebel T5i — which was introduced at the same time — and the T4i before it, with the SL1 measuring 4.6 (w) x 3.6 (h) x 2.7 (d) inches (117 x 91 x 69 mm) and weighing just under 14.4 ounces (407g), with the battery and SD memory card installed (but not the kit lens).
Despite the Rebel SL1’s small size, the textured handgrip matches snugly in your hand and the surprisingly large shutter button beckons you to press it. Canon’s kept the same 3-inches LCD touchscreen monitor as one on the T5i/T4i, offering 720 x 480-pixel resolution (1,040,000 dots). It’s fixed to the rear of the camera, however, and doesn’t offer any vari-angle or side-swivelling capabilities.
Sensor and performance.
Like the Canon T5i (and the T4i before it), the Rebel SL1 employs an 18-megapixel, APS-C CMOS sensor. The SL1’s ISO range is certainly 100 to 12,800 (expandable to 25,600 in H mode) and it features low-light capabilities that rival the Canon T4i’s, which were quite good.
The Canon SL1 uses a DIGIC 5 image processor but can shoot just four frames per second in continuous shooting mode, compared to five fps on the T5i/T4i. That four fps burst setting, however, is fairly typical for entry-level DSLRs. It’s definitely fast more than enough to capture candid moments and also some amateur sports. In conditions of overall operational quickness, the SL1 is normally peppy and takes advantage of a fairly decent 9-point autofocus program, but with simply the centre point being a cross-type stage. (All nine AF points on the T5i/T4i are cross-type points.)
The Canon SL1 is aimed at novice and beginning photographers, so it comes loaded with plenty of preset creative functions. In particular, the camera boasts a Scene Intelligent Auto Mode, which detects faces, shades, brightness, movement and a whole bunch of other factors, and automatically picks an appropriate exposure mode.
Other creative tools include an Effect Shot mode, which automatically produces two different photos, one with a creative filter and the various other without. The Rebel SL1’s seven innovative filters include Art Bold, Water Painting, Grainy Black and White, Soft Focus, Toy Camera, Fish-Attention and Miniature. As with the T5i, creative filters and the background-blur simulation effect can be shown in real-time on the trunk LCD during Live Watch shooting. Other new particular scene modes include Kids, Food and Candlelight, providing beginners and even more advanced users with a wide variety of camera effects that not only help do the work for you but add drama without post-processing.
Check Out: Best Lenses for Canon Rebel SL1
By creating such a small and light — yet highly usable — camera with the EOS Rebel SL1, Canon has added an interesting wrinkle to the DSLR landscape. For photographers who might have been intrigued by little, mirrorless CSCs, the Canon SL1 offers a strong alternative. As it stands, the Rebel SL1 comes in just one colour scheme: basic black. It currently retails at US$750 kitted with the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, while the body-only version costs US$650. At simply a $100 superior, the kit lens is a tremendous value (it’s sold separately for US$250). The svelte, EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens, which retails for US$150, would be a solid addition to an SL1 system — especially since it enhances the camera’s compactness.