DigitalCameraReview.com
We Go Hands-On With the World's Smallest DSLR: Canon EOS Rebel SL1
by Laura Hicks -  3/21/2013

 

Canon's newest addition to their DSLR lineup has a lot to brag about. The SL1 is being marketed as the world's smallest and lightest DSLR (the SL in the camera's name stands for super lightweight). The camera weighs a mere 14.36 ounces. And, if you measure the body height sans the viewfinder, it is just slightly bigger than the Canon EOS M. The SL1 touts a brand new hybrid 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS AFII sensor. This sensor has been designed for improved autofocusing. It also has a Digic 5 image processor.

Below are a few images that showcase the size difference of the SL1 in comparison to the T5i.

Targeted to new DSLR users, the SL1 is designed to be as easy to use as a point and shoot camera, but with the expanded functionality of a DSLR. The SL1 is capable of shooting Full HD 1080p video. Audio is recorded through a mono audio mic, but users also have access to a mic terminal located on the left side of the camera. The SL1 has a 3-inch fixed LCD touch screen. A mode dial is located on the top left side of the camera. This allows users to easily change shooting modes without having to access them through the menu. That being said, though, one of the key features of the SL1 is the intuitive, easy-to-use menu.

The camera sells as a body only unit for $650 or with the new 18-55mm IS STM lens for $800.

The brand new 18-55mm IS STM lens has an aperture of 1/3.5-5.6. It has a super quite motor with smooth, continuous autofocus. This lens is perfect for those wanting to incorporate shooting video with their SL1 due to the stepping motor technology which eliminates focusing sounds. Sold individually, this lens retails for $250.

On a recent trip to NYC, I was able to spend some hands-on time with the Canon SL1. The camera, is indeed, extremely lightweight. It will easily fit into a small hand. Those with large hands might want to find a camera with more bulk. I can see how it could become quite uncomfortable to use for extended amounts of time as the pinky finger and ring finger might wrap around the bottom of the camera instead of the grip. The camera's grip, however is a pretty good depth for a camera of this size. It is not too big or too small for the average person.

The SL1 features a live view shooting mode. In live view, the camera offers 31 points of autofocus. The camera's autofocus is very responsive in both regular and live view. One other thing to note about live view shooting is that the shutter triggers at only a half release instead of whole release. This was a bit foreign to me because I am very used to focusing at half release and triggering the shutter at full release. My guess is that new users will get used to this functionality quickly and not see any issues with it. In traditional shooting mode the shutter triggers normally when fully depressed. Speaking of the shutter release, the SL1 has that same famous "Canon click" as the other EOS cameras.           

The touch screen is not something I would use for actual shooting of an image, but I do love the review option it has that allows for "swiping" images left or right. This motion is very intuitive as most of us use this on a daily basis with our cell phone.

The SL1 has been paired with the 18-55mm IS STM lens as a kit, but I think it would be best paired with the 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens. This lens currently retails for $150 through B&H (until March 30th). For the exact same price as the kit, you could buy the SL1 body and the 40mm lens. The 40mm lens offers a much better aperture than the 18-55mm, although it does lack zoom capabilities if that's important to you. In addition, the 40mm lens makes the SL1 a much more compact system than the current kit lens. I have added some images to demonstrate why I think is an awesome set up for this camera.

 I shot with both the 18-55mm and the 40mm lenses. With both lenses, the camera's autofocus was fast and responsive. It handled well in various lighting conditions. Although I was not able to take any of the images with me, they seemed to have very good quality even when enlarged in-camera.

The SL1 comes equipped with a viewfinder and a pop-up flash. The viewfinder is exactly what we have come to expect for DSLR cameras. I was impressed with the pop-up flash. It seemed to respond well during testing. It did not blow out close subjects and was able to fill the room with light when shooting at wider angles.

The SL1 is definitely not the fastest DSLR camera on the market, but has a respectable continuous shutter speed of 4 frames per second.

I think this will be a good seller for Canon. But, I think it would be an even better camera system if Canon would incorporate smaller, more compact lenses as part of the kit. It would keep this small camera even more portable than it already is.

The Canon SL1 (with and without the kit lens) will be available in April.