The T5i starts promptly upon power up -- while there's a split second delay in the monitor becoming active the focus points in the camera viewfinder seem to go active sooner and I was able to get off a first shot in about .75 seconds. Single shot to shot times are basically as quickly as you can press the shutter button, reacquire focus and shoot again. Autofocus acquisition times were comparable to other cameras in the class in good light and, not unexpectedly, dropped off a little bit in dim light. The built-in flash operates as a focus assist lamp only if it is deployed -- there is no dedicated focus assist lamp per se.
Continuous shooting speed is listed as 5 frames per second and Canon claims the T5i can manage this rate for 30 frames of JPEG fine images using an 8GB UHS-1 memory card. I shot the camera using a 32 GB Lexar 600x SDHC memory card and the camera produced 16 images at the 5 frame per second rate before settling down to about a 3 frame per second rate that it appeared content to maintain indefinitely. Canon also claims 6 RAW images or 3 RAW/JPEG Fine combinations can be captured at full speed and our review unit met both of these figures. I reset the camera to default settings and tried everything I could think of but just couldn't get the T5i to produce the 30 shot burst at full speed touted by Canon.
What I did manage to do at one point was get a combination of settings into the camera that caused it to take three shots at what seemed full speed and then settle down to about 2.5 or 3 frames per second. I tried taking settings out and changing things around but to no avail -- I never did discover what exactly slowed the camera up. Resetting the camera to default settings brought back the speed and I was able to introduce additional settings that I wished to include in the image capture process without impacting the continuous burst speed. If you're the type that likes to fiddle around with camera settings and find you knocked out the camera's continuous shooting performance I'd suggest saving time and go straight to a reset followed by adding in settings that are of importance to you.
Write times for the 16 image burst of JPEG's were quite good, about 3.5 seconds; the 6 RAW images took about 4.5 seconds. The blinking of the access lamp indicates when file writing is in process, but Canon put it in probably the worst possible place at the lower right of the camera back where you shooting hand completely obscures it. The T5i will shoot before the buffer completely clears but the access lamp location means you have to change your shooting grip to see its status.
The T5i seemed to do a pretty good job holding focus on moving subjects during continuous shooting, perhaps in part due to the fact that all nine AF sensors are cross-type which maximize AF efficiency. A longer lens such as the 18-135mm kit lens would have provided a stiffer test on more distant subjects like surfers but in any event I have no complaints with the continuous autofocus performance of the T5i. The autofocus operation menu for the camera is succinct: you have choices of One Shot, AI Focus or AI Servo. One Shot, as the name implies, establishes focus for a single shot. AI Focus starts out as One Shot AF but if the camera senses the subject is moving converts to AI Servo. AI Servo, logically, is for moving subjects.
The T5i built-in flash is listed as having a guide number of 43 feet at 100 ISO; this translates into a flash range of about 12 feet at wide-angle and 7.5 feet at telephoto. These ranges can be increased by setting increased ISO sensitivity. I found recycle times on the flash to be quick, generally well under the 3 second time reported by Canon. The camera displays a "busy" notification together with a thunderbolt in both the viewfinder and monitor while the flash is recycling, and the camera will not fire with the flash deployed during a recycle period.
Battery life for the T5i is listed as 550 shots using the viewfinder and 200 shots using live view.
The EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM zoom lens supplied with the T5i shoots at a 35mm equivalent 29 to 88mm focal range owing to the camera sensor's 1.6x crop factor. Here's a look at both ends of that zoom:
The lens is marked with delineations at the 18, 24, 35 and 55mm focal points and appears to be of largely composite material construction. Neither the camera nor lens is weather sealed. The lens looked fairly uniformly sharp at wide-angle across the entire frame; at telephoto the corners looked to be a little bit soft. There's a bit of barrel distortion at the wide-angle end of the lens that disappears as this lens is zoomed into the 26 to 27mm range, and I noted no other distortions out to the 55mm telephoto end.
There was a fair amount of lateral chromatic aberration (purple fringing) at the wide-angle end of the lens in high contrast boundary areas that in the worst cases, with close scrutiny, were apparent at 100% enlargement. There is a chromatic aberration correction feature in the T5i that may be enabled by the user and this did a very good job of correcting this defect. Folks who shoot this lens frequently at the wide-angle end with would be well served to enable the chromatic aberration correction feature as a default setting. The lens displayed a bit of lateral chromatic aberration at the telephoto end, but the amount was miniscule compared to wide-angle and difficult to detect until enlargements reached 200 or 300%.
The action of the zoom ring was smooth and required about 60 degrees of rotation to zoom from one lens extreme to the other. The focus ring is feather light to the touch. Close focus distance on this lens is a bit less than 10 inches which gives the lens a good close up capability. While not a true macro lens offering a 1:1 reproduction ratio, you can get pretty close to some tiny objects. Here's a look at a Navajo turquoise bracelet and industrious bee loading up on pollen in a cactus flower:
Video quality was quite good in the T5i -- and the STM lens was as good as advertised in not introducing autofocus noises into video soundtracks. The camera's microphones can be susceptible to wind noise but there is a wind cut feature that may be enabled by the user.
Acquiring focus initially can sometimes take 2 or 3 seconds, and on a number of occasions a bit more, but once established the T5i automatic AF adjusts to changes in focus distance fairly rapidly (and certainly quietly). Initial focus is established by a half push of the shutter button while video capture requires pushing the live view/movie shooting button to initiate or cease video capture. Completing a full push of the shutter button after establishing focus in video mode results in a single still image being taken. The live view movie shooting button is nicely placed for easy activation by the thumb of the shooting hand and the camera begins and ends video image capture promptly upon input with this button.
The default focus method for video capture is face+tracking, but there are also flexi zone -- multi and flexi zone -- single options available. Face+tracking detects and focuses on human faces; flexi zone-multi automatically selects up to 31AF points covering a wide area to be used for focus and flexi zone-single uses a single AF point to acquire focus. In practice, I found the default and flexi zone-multiple methods took the longest time to acquire focus, while flexi zone-single was consistently a bit quicker. If I were shooting video regularly with the T5i flexi zone single would be my AF method of choice for video capture, if for no other reason than to get the process underway quicker.
Default images out of the T5i are captured in the camera's "auto" picture style, which to my eye includes colors that are too deeply saturated and vivid compared to real life. Another drawback of auto is that the images appear a bit soft for my liking but nothing can be done about that in the camera. If you shoot the T5i with the color palette set to auto your only recourse for sharpening is through post processing as there is no additional sharpening available in-camera. As a practical matter, all the basic zone shooting modes use the "auto" picture style while the creative zone semiautomatic modes allow the user to choose from other picture style options such as standard, portrait, landscape, neutral, faithful, or monochrome. To my eye, neutral and faithful offer the most accurate approximation of the actual scene. Here's a look at the complete picture style lineup:
An additional advantage of shooting in the creative zone modes is that with the exception of auto the other six picture style color options allow the user to modify sharpness, contrast, saturation and color tone within each specific color. By maximizing sharpness, shooting in the creative zone modes and opting for a picture style other than auto I was able to generate JPEGs out of the T5i that required no additional post processing.
However, one long-standing gripe of mine with Canon DSLRs continues--the T5i outputs images at 72 dots per inch, which results in an image size of 72 x 48 inches. You'll have to resize T5i output for the best quality prints and examining a 72 inch print at 100% enlargement (which is the size needed to best appreciate effects to the image from sharpening or other processing) is an onerous task -- and in all likelihood you'll be downsizing the 72 inch original to a more manageable size for email transmission as well. To my mind, 300 dpi output is the best of both worlds -- ready to print as is with downsizing to 72 dpi required for the most efficient emails. By way of example, all the product shots of the T5i were taken with my Nikon D3s and went straight to the review out of the camera -- every T5i image was resized to 300 dpi.
Auto white balance was used for virtually every image produced by the T5i for this review, the exception being the jewelry photos which were shot using a studio incandescent light system with the T5i set to the tungsten white balance preset. Auto white balance did a good job with a variety of lighting including daylight, open shade, flash and incandescent. The T5i also provides daylight, shade, cloudy, white fluorescent and flash presets along with a custom white balance option.
Evaluative metering is the default metering mode in the T5i, a general-purpose metering mode suited for most subjects and scenes and was used for all the T5i images in this review. The camera also offers partial metering, spot metering and center weighted metering options. In high contrast scenes the T5i had a tendency to clip highlights, a not uncommon occurrence with this form of metering. However, having recently reviewed both the Pentax K-30 and Nikon D5200 my impression was the T5i clips highlights to a higher degree than either of the other two cameras. Both the Nikon the Pentax are direct competitors with the T5i in the market niche and at least with regard to this one performance parameter appear to do a bit better job than the Canon. By no means should this be interpreted or construed to suggest that the Canon still image quality lags behind the two competitors -- if you can't make nice images with the any of these three cameras the fault doesn't lie with the camera.
The native ISO range for the T5i is 100 to 12800 ISO, but that can be expanded 1 EV for both still and movie capture (to 25600 and 12800 ISO, respectively). 100 and 200 ISO are indistinguishable from one another; I shot most of this review at 200 ISO to gain additional shutter speed. 400 ISO shows just a hint of graininess beginning and this effect continues at 800 ISO which, while still benign is noticeably more grainy than 400. 1600 continues the onset of graininess over and above 800, although color fidelity is remaining quite true. 3200 demonstrates increased graininess with retention of color fidelity and up to this point there has been no significant change between any two ISO settings, just a steady increase in noise. 6400 ISO appears to be the tipping point for this sensor/processor combination -- the increase in noise is the most dramatic of any step so far and is beginning to include some slight color blotches. 12800 has increased grain over 6400, most notable in the black portions of the image but color fidelity is still holding up fairly well. 25600 is clearly the sensitivity of last resort, when nothing else will allow capture of the image.
ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 400 ISO 800
ISO 1600 ISO 3200
ISO 6400 ISO 12800
Overall, I'd be comfortable printing large images up to and including 1600 ISO and perhaps even 3200 in a pinch although I'd much prefer it for smaller images. 6400 and 12800 are best left for small images and particularly e-mail transmissions if necessary.
Additional Sample Images
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