Canon Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D

Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 2 out of 5
Yeah, but: 18Mpx, 9-point AF, etc.

Counter Opinion: Someone recently requested that I say something nice about Canon. The diminutive Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D might not seem like a natural choice for that brief, but the fact is that I've had a certain affection for the smallest SLR on the market ever since it came out. No, there's no chance that I'd actually buy one, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate it.

I've never owned a Canon SLR, or any camera with a touch screen, but I had no trouble disabling the SL1's autofocus beep. And despite its diminutive size, the somewhat unconventional grip is surprisingly comfortable and natural for my average-sized hands. This remains an enduring fascination of mine: Canon just knows how to make camera grips, especially recognizing the importance of thumb rests, in a way that Nikon, Fujifilm, Panasonic, and others just don't seem to understand. While I wouldn't endorse the SL1 for everyone, it's certainly not only for the petite among us.

While the Parisian sun certainly hasn't been shining on Canon's sensor scores lately, their lens team have been making up for it. I'd feel compelled to match the SL1 with the new 24/2.8IS and 40/2.8, which mimics my D800 with Sigma 35/1.4A and Nikon 60/2.8G.

Now, the head-to-head DxO perceptual resolution scores for the Nikon-Sigma combination are about double what the Canon kit can manage, but I score that as a win for the smaller camera. Doubling the resolution actually doesn't make as much of a difference as the numbers suggest; it doesn't make a photo twice as compelling, for example, or an artist twice as accomplished. And quite frankly, if camera-geeks are the intended audience for your photos, then you're doing something wrong.

Some might point out the size disparity between my different two-prime camera kits, but here I don't think there's actually much of a difference. Given the massive price difference between the two setups, the extra bulk and weight of carrying around $2800 in small bills should be factored in to keep the comparison fair. By my math that would make for a stack of American dollar bills more than a foot high weighing six pounds, which pales in comparison to the 17 kilograms of dollar coins that I'd have to carry around in Canada. Advantage: Nikon.

Canon is trying to shrink the kind of camera that they want to sell – EF-mount SLRs – until is appeals to people who want a different kind of camera altogether. However, the SL1 is still much bigger than the EOS-M, not to mention other mirrorless cameras, so the size distinction remains a significant differentiator between the styles. Given how much Canon clearly resents mirrorless cameras, I'd say that they haven't achieved their mirrorless-killer goal.

There are absolutely times when I would carry a camera the size of an EOS-M but leave a camera with a prism hump at home. What I can't decide is when in my life I'd be willing to carry a camera the size of an SL1 but not be willing to carry a camera the size of a T5i. The difference between the two tiers of Rebel just doesn't seem to be decisive, but others may disagree.

Moving to the SL1 from the bigger T5i means giving up the flip-out LCD screen and accepting a smaller, and less common, battery. But if those two limitations don't matter, or if its smaller size and different grip style does, then it's worth serious consideration. The SL1 is a decent little machine that deserves to be respected for its own merits, rather than being viewed as a compromised second choice between a 'full sized' Rebel or a smaller mirrorless camera.

Counter Opinions are quick "sales counter" product reviews.
As always, viewer discretion is advised.
Last updated 9 aug 2012


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