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Reviews, Tech Talk

Canon EOS 100D (Rebel SL1): Review


Canon EOS 100D Sample Image

Well, this week I was able to get a rather interesting piece of gear to play with, and of course, I shall be thoroughly testing it out throughout the course of this rather extensive review that I’m sharing with you today, while having a lot of fun at the same time. And if you’ve been following my Facebook page, you’ll know which piece of gear I’m talking about. A hint? It’s the world’s smallest APS-C DSLR camera (as of June 2013, at least). Yeah, that’s right: The Canon EOS 100D! Or the Rebel SL1. Interesting, interesting

Yeah, so not long ago, Canon announced the EOS 100D (that’s what I’ll be calling it) along with the newer ‘regular-sized’ EOS 700D, and, more interestingly, a brand-new EF-S kit lens, the 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM, which is bundled with both the 100D and the 700D today. This new lens looks pretty nice – reviewed in full right here on pixelogist – and seems to be a definite improvement over the old EF-S 18-55mm, but anyway, this review is focused on the 100D so let’s get back to that!

The Canon 100D is said to be the world’s smallest (APS-C) DSLR, and it definitely feels that way when you hold it in your hand. I always felt that it’s Canon’s new attempt at getting into the mirrorless market, and I still do – and while not being as small as the most compact mirrorless bodies available today, it’s really quite small, and could quite easily replace a mirrorless camera in some photographers kits

Canon EOS 100D

Canon EOS 100D

Being this small, it’s not lacking in any real features. Of course. No camera maker would be able to get away with a tiny little camera that isn’t feature-packed. In fact, the more I read about the 700D and the 100D, the more I realize that they’re almost identical in terms of specs, except for a few extremely minor differences that aren’t even worth mentioning. So I guess the difference is, do you WANT such a compact DSLR? Or would you rather have something more grip-able? Because they both have pretty much the same thing going on inside: An 18 mega pixel CMOS sensor (APS-C, yes) with the new Digic 5 processor, a 9-point AF system, a high-res 3” touchscreen, and a great optical viewfinder with 95% coverage. Yeah, so as you can see, the 100D is NOT lacking any major feature – and in fact, it’s pretty much capable of doing everything the 700D can. The only difference is the body size. And $100 in price. It’s your choice from here, really. The bigger body or the smaller (cheaper) one? The insides are just about the same. I’d definitely go for the 100D – the body size is something I find very special…and unique

Anyway, let me start with the review now. As usual, my review starts from the moment I opened the box, so let’s take it from there

Getting one? Please get your EOS 100D from B&H Photo or right here on Amazon and help pixelogist along the way!

Specifications You Would Want To Know

  • Body: Compact DSLR
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF/EF-S
  • Image Stabilization: Lens-based Image Stabilization
  • Kit Lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM
  • Resolution: 18.0 mega pixels
  • Sensor Size: APS-C (22.3 x 14.9mm)
  • Sensor Type: CMOS
  • Shutter Speed: Max 1/4000 sec, Min 30 sec
  • ISO Range: 100-12800 (expandable to 25600)
  • White Balance: 6 presets, Custom, WB Correction, WB Bracketing
  • Video: 1080p @ 30fps, 720p @ 60fps (and lower resolutions/frame rates)
  • Video Format: MPEG-4/H.264
  • Metering Modes: Evaluative, Center-weighted, Partial, Spot
  • Exposure Modes: P, A, S, M, Auto, Creative Auto, Scene, other scene modes
  • Built-in Flash: Yes, pop-up
  • Flash Range: 9.4m
  • Flash Modes: Auto, Forced, Red-eye, Off
  • Hot-shoe: Yes
  • Autofocus: Phase detect (Hybrid phase/contrast detect for Live View AF)
  • AF Modes: One Shot AF, Predictive AI Servo AF, AI Focus AF, Movie Servo AF
  • AF Points: 9 (single center cross-type point)
  • Manual Focus: Yes
  • Screen: 3.0” LCD (1,040,000 dots)
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Articulated: No
  • Viewfinder: Optical, 95% coverage, 0.87x magnification
  • Max Drive Speed: 4fps (2.5fps silent continuous shooting)
  • File Formats: JPEG, RAW
  • Connections: USB 2.0, HDMI Mini
  • Memory Card Type: SD/SDHC/SDXC
  • Dimensions: 117 x 91 x 69mm
  • Weight: 407g (with battery/memory card)

First Thoughts

Yeah, that’s a pretty impressive list of features. If not impressive, then at least as expected. There’s nothing to complain about at ALL. And in this sort of body, I’d call it impressive

Alright, time for the first thoughts. This is where I actually unboxed it, saw it, felt it, opened the back, popped in the battery/memory card, turned it on, and used it for the first time. Sorry if that sounded weird. Anyway…

Taking it out of the box, I really did not expected it to be this small. Maybe I should’ve. But it’s very, very compact. I mean, it’s bigger than the NEX 3N or the EOS M, sure. But it’s a DSLR! I was expecting something like a ‘small’ 650D, you know. Not this. This looks like they took a 650D and shrunk it – it looks like a mini DSLR of sorts. Almost cute. This is seriously compact – and seriously light – and it will seriously make a mark on the mirrorless market. No doubt about it. And I love that. It looks really nice, and the size is wonderfully small

Canon EOS 100D Kit

Build quality? It feels a bit cheap. The body is completely plastic, and naturally feels a bit plasticky, but not how my old 500D or the newer 600/650D feels though – a bit more plasticky than that. I’m not sure how or why, but it does. Maybe the Made in Taiwan bit has something to do with that? Anyway, it’s not all that bad. The mode dial does feel a bit cheap – and the battery/memory compartment door is rather loose and feels like it might pop out – but other than that it feels reasonably solid. It’s not a reason not to buy this camera. Just don’t expect the high build quality you’d get from a mid-to-high-end mirrorless model that might cost you around the same as this kit

The lens feels pretty good. I’d say it definitely feels better than the older EF-S standard zoom – and has better quality zoom and focus rings. The zoom ring is fairly smooth, and thankfully has no wobbliness to it. The focus ring is electronic – meaning that it isn’t a direct manual focus ring but instead is a control that tells the lens how much to adjust focus based on your input – and is smooth, although a tad too loose for my liking. The lens feels like there’s something moving inside when you move the lens in your hand – much like the older EF-S model – but overall, I like the first impression I get from this kit lens. It feels quite nice indeed. Again, don’t expect too much from this – it’s not quite as nice as the EF-M standard zoom or some other standard zooms from other mirrorless systems out there, but it’s decent enough, and will get the job done

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM

It’s a bit of a large lens, though – larger than the old EF-S kit lens – meaning that although you’re saving a lot of space in the body, you’re losing out in the lens area. However, this is the case with many mirrorless systems too – and the overall 100D + 18-55mm is still very compact. And if you want to go smaller, you can check out the 40mm f2.8 STM prime from Canon, which is really slim, and keeps the system extremely compact

Next up, the viewfinder, and this is excellent. As expected from a Canon DSLR – nothing more, nothing less. The 95% coverage is very nice – and after a little diopter adjustment, I was shooting in great comfort

Popping on the lens and all that and turning on the camera, I felt it was a bit slow to turn on. And no, it wasn’t just the set-up time – after using it a bit, turning it off and back on, I noticed it takes a short while to power on. Not SLOW, but not as fast as I would’ve liked

The touchscreen interface is great. The screen is extremely responsive, and of a very high resolution, so everything looks and feels great. And the control system just feels so intuitive – especially for a Canon user but not only – that you’re ready to shoot in no time, really. It’s a very nice control interface and I can’t say I find anything lacking (yet). A great combination of hardware buttons and touchscreen

Taking my first shot, I was very impressed – mainly with the lens. The STM (stepper motor) mechanism in the new EF-S lens makes it work much like the EF-M kit lens: silent, fast AF with no rotating front! That’s awesome stuff. It’s absolutely silent – I didn’t hear anything – and it focuses very fast. It just feels so responsive when you get such fast (and silent) autofocus from any camera, know what I mean? It’s a very nice feeling to get when testing a new piece of gear. Nice. It definitely focuses faster than the older EF-S – and it’s very accurate. More on AF performance later on, but I’m already really, really liking this new piece of EF-S glass

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the macro capabilities of this lens, it’s identical to the older EF-S: 25cm MFD throughout the zoom range. Not bad at all. At 55mm, you can get some pretty decent close-ups

NOTE: I just discovered that this lens offers Full-Time Manual (FTM) – meaning you can manually adjust focus even while using autofocus. That’s a pretty high-end feature!

Image quality, on first glance, looks very good. The great screen makes it look even better, I guess, but even when reviewing these quick test shots on my computer, the JPEGs look great. That’s a nice way to start. More on this later on, of course!

Overall operation and shot-to-shot speed was fine – the Digic 5 processor does the job great, but more on performance later – and in general, this camera was a pleasure to use. After the first 30min of shooting, I have hardly any complaints at all

And that’s about it for now. I usually have a lot of little issues and niggles and bothers that I noticed about a new camera, and I write about all that here, but that’s not the case with the 100D at all. It just works like I expect it to, and as you can see, most (or all) of what I write here is positive. In summary, it can do what the bigger, pricier 700D can do, in a smaller, cheaper body. And it does it very well indeed

Controls & Handling

Alright, here’s where I usually talk about the handling of the camera, and of course the control interface and all that. However, I just have a few comments to make on the build quality of the kit, and I think here’s a good place as any to get that out of the way!

I know I mentioned this in the previous section, but the build quality does feel a bit cheap. It feels very light too, although that’s probably part of what this camera is all about, but it does help maintain the cheap feel. It’s the only complaint I have so far, and even then, it’s not a serious one. The entire body feels plasticky, and not the best type of plasticky either, if you know what I mean. It feels ok in your hand, but it doesn’t feel like it can take a lot of use. I’m sure it can but the feel doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, somehow. The mode dial is a bit cheap too, and while it doesn’t feel like it’ll come off, it doesn’t feel too solid, nor does it snap satisfying into each position. Worse than this is the battery/memory compartment door, which is hinged very loosely. Having to take the SD card out many times during my tests, I was often worried that it’d just come off. I’m not sure how long this door will last before you need to send it to the Canon Service Center, honestly. And well, that’s about it for build quality. Not really that bad, but could’ve been better. And the battery door definitely should’ve been better

Ok, a quick comment on the touchscreen before I get to the rest of the controls and handling: it’s very good. It’s responsive – on par with the one I loved on the EOS M – and was very easy to use. The resolution helps a lot too, making everything look sharp and easy to see. Swiping through images, smartphone-style, worked great, although pinch-zooming was slightly less responsive – I preferred to use the buttons to zoom – but yeah, the touch interface is something that people really want these days, and for this camera’s market, it’s ideal. Even I find myself liking it (I usually hate touch interface cameras) so that’s something to think about

And NOW to the handling, finally – and while I always maintain that bigger cameras usually handle better (maybe as I have large hands) I found this little camera to handle very well. The grip feels good, the buttons feel well spaced out and well placed, and it just feels good. As always, test one in a store to see if it handles comfortably in YOUR hands, but yeah, it handles surprisingly well for me, what with being the world’s smallest DSLR and all that

And then to the controls. Let’s start with the top, where, being a DSLR, there are more than what you’d find on the usual mirrorless or compact. On top you have a regular mode dial with a three-position power switch around it that goes between OFF/ON/Movie mode; you have an ISO button; you have a control dial; and of course, there’s the shutter button. All of that, similar to the rest of the Rebel (or the XX0D) series, is on the right side of the top panel. The middle section has the hot-shoe and flash, while the left side of the panel is void of controls of any kind, as it holds the microphone and speaker of the 100D

Canon EOS 100D Top Panel

Canon EOS 100D Top Panel

On the back you find everything else. On the left of the viewfinder, there are two buttons: the Menu and Info buttons. Immediately on the right side of the viewfinder is the Live View button, which becomes the movie record button once you’re in Movie mode, selected from the power switch. On the right side of the LCD you will find the rest of the controls: AF point selector/zoom in, AE Lock/zoom out, Exposure Compensation, Playback, Delete, and a four-way directional controller with a Q menu/Select button in the middle. And of course, the largest and most complex control found on the camera: the touchscreen!

Canon EOS 100D Back Panel

Canon EOS 100D Back Panel

The front has the lens release button and, sort of on the side of the front, if you know what I mean, is the depth of field preview button and the flash release button

Canon EOS 100D Front

Canon EOS 100D Front

A cool thing about the touch interface is that you don’t have to use it if you don’t like to. You can do many things (or everything, really) just by using the Q menu and the four-way and the control dial. It’d just be slower – but it’s possible. You can even disable the touchscreen completely if you want to, although why you’d buy this touchscreen-based camera only to disable it, I have no idea – but you can. To give you an example of how it’d work, let’s say you want to adjust white balance. Alright. With the touchscreen, you press the Q menu button, tap the WB icon on the screen, tap the WB preset you want, and shoot. Without the touchscreen, you press the Q menu button, scroll around to the WB icon with the four-way, select your preset with the control dial or four-way, press the Q menu button to select and you shoot. It’s easy. Just slower. But it’s nice to see that they really do cater for everyone in this interface. I like that

Overall, even though a lot of buttons have disappeared due to the lack of space AND due to the touchscreen, the control interface of the 100D is very good. Canon users especially will feel right at home. The Q menu button plus the four-way directional controller and the great touchscreen mean that getting to any setting is just a press and a tap away. I was used to the interface after a couple of minutes – sure, it helps that I use Canons very often, but I’m sure anyone would get used to this system very easily

Performance

As usual, when I talk about performance in this section, it’s all about speed, and not performance in terms of image quality. That comes later. And in terms of speed, I found the 100D to be excellent. Very speedy indeed

Power-on time was the only thing I felt that was slightly sluggish – but maybe that was just me. It’s definitely faster than a compact or mirrorless system, and takes probably a second (way less than two, for sure) to start, but compared with other DSLRs (DSLRs are supposed to start up very quickly) it felt a bit slow. Not a real complaint, just making a note of it

NOTE: Turning the camera off takes a while too – around three seconds – if you turn on the automatic sensor cleaning feature

Autofocusing is snappy. It performs as is expected from a DSLR, and doesn’t disappoint at all. The 100D features a 9-point AF system with one of them (the central one) a dual cross-type AF point, and along with the EF-S STM lens, focusing is silent, accurate, and fast. Compared to the other Rebel (XX0D) cameras or similar from competitors, the AF system is almost identical, and speeds are around the same, but the STM lens makes things quiet – with a non-rotating front – which is just that much better and adds to the professional feel of this system

And wait, I’m not done with autofocusing yet. Let’s now talk about Live View AF, shall we? Yes. In older DSLRs, focusing in Live View meant you had to switch to contrast detect AF, which is always slower; or you could use the on-chip phase detect system, which requires the mirror to flip, blacking out your Live View till focus is locked, which isn’t really Live View, right? Yeah. The new Hybrid CMOS AF II is Canon’s answer, a fast hybrid of phase and contrast detect that ensures fast, accurate (and yes, silent) AF with uninterrupted Live View! I really liked that

Continuous shooting tops out at 4fps, which is quite acceptable for a DSLR of this category. It’s not super fast, and if you’re used to mirrorless shooters or high-end compacts that go up to 10fps, you will be disappointed, but remember that this is a DSLR – with its mirror mechanism and all that, it’s just that much harder to shoot that fast on a DSLR – so 4fps is quite acceptable like I said. If you’re shooting sports or that sort of action photography, look elsewhere, but for most other uses, 4fps is fine. It can buffer 7 RAW files or 28 JPEGs

Shot-to-shot speed is pretty good too, thanks to the Digic 5 processor, which also keeps everything of the system smooth and responsive. So yeah, overall, the 100D performs great. No complaints here. If you’re a burst shooter, this just isn’t the camera for you. But for everyone else, you will not find an issue in performance


Features

Size & Weight: Yeah, I felt that this should be mentioned first. The world’s smallest and lightest APS-C DSLR camera. Nothing more to be said here – except that it actually feels like the smallest and lightest DSLR in the world

18.0MP CMOS & Digic 5 Processor: This is very high-end stuff, isn’t it? The 18MP CMOS, which I believe debuted on the awesome 7D, is what’s found on all of Canon’s crop-sensor DSLRs – until the newly announced 70D – and that’s what is found on the 100D too. Along with the very powerful Digic 5 processor. No skimping on the goods here. Excellent

Touchscreen/Touch AF/Touch shutter release: Yeah, the touchscreen is very responsive, and helps make a simple interface that’s extremely intuitive and a pleasure to use. Pinch-zooming, like I mentioned earlier, isn’t fantastic, and whenever I needed to zoom in to check focus and sharpness I used the buttons, but it’s generally fantastic. Touching the point you want to focus on is something that people are used to now, from smartphones, and it works quite nicely on this camera: you just touch the spot you want to focus on, and it actually activates tracking AF, which then tracks the subject that you tapped on, and focuses on that when you half-press the shutter button. The touch-shutter-release isn’t my kind of thing, so I deactivated it, but it’s there if you want it

Silent Shutter: Ok, so the 100D’s shutter isn’t really noisier than a regular DSLR’s shutter, but it’s not really that quiet either – but this mode, while not really silent, noticeably softens the shutter sound. I’m not sure how, but it does. It could be useful, especially if you’re shooting street life, so remember to turn it on when you hit the streets. You could leave it on all the time, actually, unless you want maximum burst speed – the max burst speed drops from 4fps to 2.5 fps in silent mode is 2.5fps

Lens Aberration Correction: I’ll go more into detail on the aberrations of the new EF-S kit lens later on, and even more in the full review on the lens, but for now, let me tell you about this little feature. What this does is it automatically corrects vignetting and chromatic aberrations in-camera for any lens that it recognizes. It obviously recognizes its kit lens, and I have to say it works well. There are no severe chromatic aberrations that I noticed (absolutely nothing unless you crop to 100-200%), but there’s some noticeable vignetting wide open – so turning this on and keeping it on is not a bad idea. It definitely helps

Creative Filters: A feature for the ‘newbie’ that this little DSLR aims at, the Creative Filter area (and some of the auto modes) is something that greatly frustrated me. It was just extremely hard to figure out how to get to use these filters without poring over the manual. And that’s ridiculous. Maybe I missed something, but it seems to me that this is how you get to the Creative Filters: First, you need to get to Creative Auto mode (no other mode will do). Next, scroll through the menu and turn on Extra Effect Shot. This mode takes a shot and gives you two versions – one with effect, one original without the effect. Then you need to select your filter – by entering the menu again, tapping some other little icon, and then scrolling through a whole selection of picture styles and filters and something else which are all bunched together. And the filters themselves were so disorganized – for example, the variations of the Toy Camera filter (blue/yellow tint) were each placed as a separate filter, and not next to each other. Scrolling from Blue Toy Cam to Yellow Toy Cam requires scrolling through several other filters and styles. Ridiculous – and horribly annoying

Oh, and finding out what icon to tap to get to this part was extremely annoying too. Some icons that look like they are tap-able are not; and the ones that you can tap don’t seem to do what you expect. It was worst when trying to figure out the filter part, but I found this unintuitive experience to plague all the auto modes. The easy bit was apparently only for the more advanced manual modes. Oh, and the filters are terrible. The toy camera is ghastly, the fisheye looks like distortion gone completely wrong, although the miniature mode was decent

And the fact that you need to use the Extra Effect Shot was even more frustrating. It’s a good idea to take two versions of the shot in this case, but it takes quite a while to process and write – and delays you quite a bit. It should be an option – but you should be able to shoot without this mode too. Sorry for going on a bit too much about something that a lot of you might never use, but I was really frustrated by this bit!

Some of the rather ordinary sample images of the ordinary filters:

In-camera HDR: Another rather useless mode. It takes three shots, much like how I’d manually do an HDR, but the result just didn’t look great. I didn’t test it out that much, as I’d rather do my own HDRs by bracketing exposures and doing a more custom job with Photomatix later on – but yeah, from my few (not-so-great) tests with the built-in mode, I cannot say I was impressed. Have a look – the HDR just looks an overexposed version of the regular shot:

Regular shot vs. in-camera HDR

Regular shot vs. in-camera HDR

In-camera JPEG Resizing/Cropping: I rarely have the need to resize or crop in-camera, but if you do, this works beautifully. It takes a moment to figure out the controls and find out what does what, but after that it’s very simple

Full HD Video With Movie Servo AF: Alright, so I never properly test video – pixelogist is all about the photograph, remember? – but from whatever I shot, the video looks good. Manual controls, Servo AF, and Full HD at 30 frames per second – nice

High ISO Multi-shot NR: There are four settings for High ISO NR (much like on most or all Canon DSLRs): None, Low, Standard, High – and there’s also the Multi-Shot NR. The difference between the first four are not too significant, but the multi-shot mode works great, and greatly reduces noise while maintaining pretty good levels of detail. Obviously it won’t help with moving subjects, but for still objects, it’ll be very useful. Have a look at the samples crops below – first one is with standard High ISO NR, second is with “High” High ISO NR, and the last was shot using the Multi-Shot NR mode:

High ISO NR: Standard, High, Multi-Shot NR

High ISO NR: Standard, High, Multi-Shot NR

Other features include the regular Auto Lighting Optimizer – which brings out shadow detail from scenes with high dynamic range – and “Background Simulation”, among a few others that I may have missed. The ALO works fine, as on most other Canon DSLRs – I didn’t include any sample images here, but take my word for it: it definitely brings out detail in the shadow areas, although noise levels slightly increase in these areas too, and the highlights can look slightly blown out. It does the job, let me put it like that. “Background Simulation” is just a way of making it easy for you to get a shallow depth of field and blur the background – nothing more. Works alright

And that’s about it for the special features of the Canon 100D. Quite a list, no? Oh, and if you are still wondering…yes, it accepts all of Canon’s extensive selection of EF and EF-S lenses. It’s a Canon DSLR!

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM

And as usual, a quick look at the kit lens that this camera comes with, for those of you who don’t really want to read my full review of the EF-S 18-55mm IS STM

Summing it up, I really liked this lens. It’s larger than the old EF-S 18-55mm, which was almost surprising, as it was announced along with the 100D, which is all about being compact, but I guess the new tech inside it just couldn’t be kept smaller. The build quality is decent – it’s better than its predecessor, and although it’s nothing fantastic (unfortunately not as good as the lovely EF-M standard zoom) and all plastic, it’s quite alright anyway. It feels like there’s something wobbling inside when you move the lens, which isn’t the best feeling in the world, but yeah – not bad at all. I really would’ve liked a metal mount, though

Canon EF-S 18-550mm f3.5-5.6 STM Lens

Canon EF-S 18-550mm f3.5-5.6 STM Lens

The zoom ring is fairly smooth without any wobble. The focus ring is smooth too, and broader (and more useable) than the older EF-S zoom, but like I mentioned earlier, it’s a bit too loose. It’s also an electronic focus ring, so you don’t directly control focus but instead you control a motor that controls focus. It’s rather common these days, and it works alright, so yeah…no big deal. I was able to focus manually without too much difficulty – although I don’t use MF too often

The focusing is internal, which is something I really love about this system. Nothing moves as you focus – I think I’ve mentioned this many times already, though – and yes, it’s silent. On top of that, this lens offers Full-Time Manual (FTM) meaning you can manually adjust focus even while using autofocus. These are features that used to be associated with high-end glass, but now it seems to be getting more and more common, and I really like that

It has an MFD of 25cm (same as its predecessor) and makes for decent close-ups. It weighs in at 205g, adding up with the 100D for a combined weight of 612g. Not bad

So yeah, for its price (you can get just the lens for around $200-250) it’s really quite good. The build is decent, the stepper-motor (STM) is fantastic, and it works very nicely together with the 100D. Of course, this is an EF-S lens, so it only works with crop-sensor Canon DSLRs, like the 100D; but if you own something like a Rebel, this is a great budget option for those of you wanting a better-than-average standard zoom. For its image quality performance, read up on the full review (coming soon!) and of course, the next section of this review

TIP: If you find this lens too big and feel it ruins the compactness of the Canon 100D, the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM prime lens might be the better option for you. Its focal length is a bit long (an equivalent of around 60mm on a full-frame) and is not for everybody, but who knows, you might really enjoy it. And as I always say, using a prime makes you a better photographer! What I love about this 40mm STM is its size – it’s basically a pancake lens

Image Quality

Alright, I’m going to stop with the usual “It’s crunch time!” or “It’s time for the big one!” or whatever – I always seem to start this section like that – as everyone already knows that this is the most important part of this review anyway, so let me just get to it without the usual fanfare. Or did I already do that? Anyway…

The quality of photographs produced by the Canon 100D and the EF-S STM lens is very good indeed. I feel like I say that a lot – probably because I’ve been lucky with the gear I’ve been reviewing lately – but there’s no harm in saying this if it’s true, right? The 100D’s images look sharp, clean, and quite ‘happy’, if you know what I mean. The colors just have that bit of emotion in them that I really like, while remaining natural, without being neutral. However, in some scenes, I found that the colors didn’t quite ‘pop’ like they do in the images produced by other cameras I’ve reviewed lately, and lacked a bit of punch that I would’ve liked. I guess that’s just a quality of this camera/lens and the style of images the system produces, or maybe it’s just me – it’s a very personal thing, you know – but either way, it can easily be fixed in  Photoshop afterwards if you happen feel the same way. But yeah – the images are sharp, natural, clean – and happy. Indeed

Images taken at low ISO sensitivities were obviously very clean, but high ISO noise performance is very good too. I’ve come to expect this from newer sensors, but it’s always pleasant to see almost completely clean images shot at ISO 3200. Shots at 6400 are very useable too, and I probably wouldn’t hesitate to shoot at even this high sensitivity – especially if it’s a still subject and I had the multi-shot NR option. However, looking at the crops of the high ISO shots I took, there’s a noticeable loss of detail in some cases – probably a bit more than I would’ve liked – so be careful when you shoot above ISO 1600 as you might be losing out on sharpness. If I were using this camera long-term, I’d probably shoot RAW and do my own noise reduction. ISO 12800 and above will produce very noisy images, obviously, so use these settings for emergencies only, but being able to shoot pretty good images at ISO 6400 is great

Auto White Balance did the job in almost all the situations I threw at it. As usual, it came out short when I shot my living room at night – always the toughest test for any camera I’ve used – but a quick custom WB and things looked beautiful again

Lens aberrations are not really an issue. Of course, there’s some distortion at the extreme wide and telephoto ends of the zoom range, typical of any standard zoom lens, and of course there’s some vignetting throughout the range when shooting wide open (although stopping down a bit really helps clear that up), and there’s some noticeable chromatic aberrations in extreme conditions too (only when you pixel-peep at 100-200% though – check out the sharpness crops in the gallery below); but like I said, nothing severe, and nothing that cannot be easily fixed in Photoshop. And as the Lens Aberration Correction feature automatically fixes your JPEGs for chromatic aberration and vignetting – and does a pretty fine job of it – this really shouldn’t be an issue for you. I hardly noticed much flare either, except in one night shot. More on all this in the full review of the lens, of course – but for now, scroll back up to the Lens Aberration Correction bit I wrote under Features, and check out the couple of sample images there

Lens sharpness – I’ll go through this more in the lens review, but for now let me tell you that I was pretty happy with how sharp this lens is. It’s reasonably sharp all around, and is very acceptable for a lens of its category. It’s softer wide open, and it is softer in the corners, but this is expected – stop down a bit (around f5.6 to f8) and things sharpen up quite nicely, even reasonably so in the corners

The circular seven-blade aperture of this lens contributes to some pretty smooth bokeh. It’s not fantastic, of course – it’s a $200 kit lens, after all – but for what it costs, I think its bokeh is well above average. I thought it looked very pleasant indeed

A quick word about the flash now – I have to say it’s a typical pop-up flash. Harsh and unnatural – as expected. It’s not the fault of the flash, really – it’s just how a direct pop-up flash looks in general. I wish they started implementing the awesome flexible flash heads that Fujifilm and Sony now add to their mirrorless cameras – which make for some wonderful bounce flash effects. I mean, how hard is it to add a hinge to the pop-up flash? It’d dramatically improve things

I’ve taken to talking about metering in this section too, as there’s nowhere else where I think it fits, and it’s good news here too. I rarely (or never) had to go out of evaluative metering, and never had to go to manual mode, for even the more extreme scenes I was shooting. The evaluative mode just got it right time after time. Excellent

Anyway, time for some sample images now – first of all, image quality crops! Fun

Image Quality: Sharpness, Detail, Noise

All crops are approximately 100% crops – all ISO crops are taken from the center of the frame and were shot at around f5.6. All night shots or high ISO shots were taken with Long Exposure NR set to OFF, and High ISO NR set to Standard, unless noted. Also, Lens Aberration Correction was not used 

Image Quality: RAW vs. JPEG

All of the crops below are approximately 100% crops, and apart from the sharpness tests, are taken from the center of the frame and shot at around f5.6. In each comparison, the first image is RAW, the second JPEG. Again, remember that Lens Aberration Correct was not used 

Yeah, and that’s about all I can think of to describe, and to show, the image quality that the Canon 100D and its kit lens is capable of. In a word, the images look great. Yes, I felt they lacked a bit of punch in some cases (but not in all) as I mentioned earlier, compared to some other systems I’ve used recently, but this isn’t really a drawback at all. I guess that what I’m noticing here is just a different style of image. Technically, the pictures look very good – sharp, clean (even at ISO 3200 or 6400, which is impressive) – and they’re also colorful in their own way, and without any serious lens aberrations. If you want more punch, add it in Photoshop. Or try out the Vivid picture style. Or shoot RAW. The 100D’s CMOS combines very well with the nice EF-S STM standard zoom to produce image quality that is right up there with the competition. I was happy with it. Check out the full sample image gallery before to see some more realistic sample shots

Canon EOS 100D: Product Image Gallery

The last four shots are comparisons between the 100D and my old Canon 500D (which is roughly the same size as all new Rebel models such as the 650D/700D etc.). The last of these is a comparison between the old EF-S 18-55mm IS II and the new EF-S 18-55mm IS STM. The camera body comparisons have the 100D on the left and the 500D on the right – in the lens comparison, the older EF-S is on the left, followed by the new STM version on the right. Pardon the poor image quality on these four – but I’m sure you get the idea of the size, right?

Canon EOS 100D: Sample Image Gallery

As I discovered the Lens Aberration Correction after taking many test shots, and then forgot to use it a while later, I decided to complete all test shots with this feature disabled – just take note of that! Also, all shots were taken using the Standard Picture Style (not Vivid or Landscape etc.) except where noted

 

What I like/didn’t like

Positives:

  • Super-compact form factor – world’s smallest APS-C DSLR body
  • Very good image quality – thanks to both the body and lens
  • Images are clean up to ISO 3200 – even ISO 6400 looks pretty clean and more than useable
  • Very good Multi-Shot NR mode
  • Pleasant bokeh and hardly any noticeable lens aberration
  • Lens Aberration Correction can corrects any noticeable lens aberrations in-camera
  • Great handling for such a compact body
  • I’m going to mention the new kit lens as a big pro – I really liked it
  • Fast, silent, accurate AF – thanks again to both body and lens
  • Hybrid CMOS AF II – fast accurate Live View AF
  • Excellent touchscreen, and a very good control interface
  • Full HD Video with Movie Servo AF – and full manual control
  • In-camera JPEG Cropping/Resizing – very easy to use
  • Superb battery life
  • With its excellent spec sheet, it’s a great and unique device, featuring all this in a super-small body
  • At $749 for the kit, it is very good value

Negatives:

  • Not the best build quality (both body and lens)
  • Battery/memory compartment door was especially bad – felt like it’d snap off
  • Images lack a bit of ‘punch’ in some instances – although this is a very personal thing
  • High ISO NR tends to be a bit aggressive, causing noticeable loss of detail
  • Pinch-to-zoom is a bit less responsive than the generally super-responsive LCD
  • Lens is a bit large and ruins the compact experience a bit – maybe go for the 40mm f2.8 STM prime?
  • Terribly implemented Creative Filters – extremely confusing to access and select
  • Editing the options in Auto/scene modes was confusing and unintuitive too
  • Creative Filters look ugly and unattractive – I’d never use them
  • Slightly sluggish power-on time (I’m searching for negatives here)
  • Burst shooting rate a bit slow (yeah, I’m really searching)

Conclusion

Yeah, a lot more pros than cons – and a lot of the pros are true pros while some of the cons I have mentioned are included just so that this review wouldn’t seem one-sided

But in general, I loved using this camera. The interface is great, the body and lens handle comfortably, focusing is fast and silent, and the images look really nice. And many of the special features are actually useable. What more could you ask for from a DSLR kit that costs $750?

Seriously, there’s no single negative point (even from my extended list above) that would turn off a potential buyer. The less-than-impressive build quality? What do you expect from a $649 body and a $249 lens? Pinch-to-zoom not responsive? Use the buttons! Terrible Creative Filters? Use Instagram on your phone! Images lacking punch? Well, that’s not a very light negative, but even this isn’t THAT big a deal. It’s just that the look of some of the 100D’s pictures is a bit different to the images produced by, say, the NEX 3N that I reviewed recently. It’s not that the image quality is poor at ALL – goodness no, they generally look great – it’s just that in some instances they looked a bit flatter and just different. Like I said, it’s a very personal thing (maybe you’d love the look of the images to begin with) and if at all, you’d need to bump up contrast/saturation on Photoshop to suit your tastes – that’s it

So yeah, no major negatives for me. No potential deal-breakers. That’s something I rarely say after a full review. For what this tiny DSLR is, it’s fantastic – and does exactly what it claims it can. Not a lot more, but definitely not less


I admit, it’s a DSLR for beginners. I can’t see anyone who’s been using a Rebel for a few years wanting to get this. It’s ideal for a new photographer looking for their first DSLR. However, it will also be a great secondary camera, don’t you think? If you’ve got the money, it’s always a good idea to go on shoots with a back-up camera – and if you’re a Canon shooter, having this little body as a back-up is a great option. And if, on some occasions, you simply want to go shooting with something really compact, leaving behind the bulk of your gear at home, pop in one of your smaller EF/EF-S lenses and you’re good to go

I loved this camera, and I definitely recommend it, if you feel this is the right camera for you. I say this because I never could know what you need a camera for – so it always depends on that. But if you need a simple but reasonably powerful camera, a rather compact one at that, one that produces really nice images, of course I recommend the EOS 100D!

Buy your Canon EOS 100D from B&H Photo or right here on Amazon!

Alright, I’m done for this review. I hope you enjoyed it. Did I go too long again? Anyway, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. And please consider using my links to buy this camera if you’re convinced. Until next time

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By Heshan Jayakody
All content in this post is my own
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Discussion

25 Responses to “Canon EOS 100D (Rebel SL1): Review”

  1. That definitely looks rather compact, the pictures in hand really show me how small it is. I did a quick comparison where you were holding the tiny little NEX 3N in that review, and yes its bigger of course, but for a DSLR, it’s really compact. The images look great. I’m not sure I get what you mean about the pictures lacking a bit of punch or pop – I really like their look, to be very honest.

    Thanks for another super review :)))

    Posted by Ryan | July 7, 2013, 17:02
    • Yeah it is. Really small. I’ll try to get some comparison pictures of the 100D compared to another Rebel. And good to hear you like the images. I found that it’s a bit lacking in some instances (definitely not all, just a few) but even then it’s not really a fault of the camera. I’m not sure if I’m making sense, hah!

      Cheers

      Posted by pixelogist | July 8, 2013, 07:37
  2. Great review :) I’m really liking the look of the lens too. I might just buy it and stick it on my 650D and try to sell off my other EF-S kit lens. Probably wont get much for it! But I feel the silent AF and better build is worth it. It’s damn cheap too, $250

    Posted by Chris | July 7, 2013, 18:20
    • That’s a pretty good idea, actually. If you like your current body, stick with it. But if you’re using the old EF-S kit lens, an upgrade to the silent EF-S STM standard zoom, for just $250, is a great idea!

      Posted by pixelogist | July 8, 2013, 07:25
  3. Thanks for the image crops, as well as the real sample pictures. Sometimes the crops tell only half the story. The sharpness is pretty good when you look at these crops, but may be considered average compared to sharper glass, but the complete image quality that you see when viewing the sample pictures at regular size is much more pleasing and looks really nice. It looks a very capable little system, doesnt it?

    Posted by Bob | July 7, 2013, 19:49
    • You’re welcome, Bob :) I always think regular-size sample pictures are more useful than a series of crops. In my early reviews I skipped all the test crops completely, but many people kept commenting they wanted to see these, so I started to include ‘em anyway

      It’s a very capable system, absolutely

      Posted by pixelogist | July 8, 2013, 07:17
  4. You seem to be happy with the interface and handling. I wasn’t so sure when I first saw the pics but maybe its better than it looks in real life. I hate touchscreen cameras and I usually like bigger ones – but being compact has its advantages. I’m curious, maybe I’ll go find one in a store whenever I can!

    Posted by Mr B | July 9, 2013, 21:59
    • Yeah, I’m not a fan of touchscreen cameras either, but I loved the screen on the EOS M and I really like the 100D’s interface too. It just works really well, and considering there’s no space for a lot of dedicated buttons, I feel it would’ve been a very poor interface if not for the touchscreen. So I’m glad it’s there, and I’m even gladder that it’s a good one!

      Size depends a lot on you, so yeah – go try one out in the store – but for me, it felt surprisingly comfortable

      Posted by pixelogist | July 10, 2013, 06:47
  5. Hi you mentioned DSLR kit that costs “$750″, and also “a $649 body and a $249 lens”, may I know where do you get these quotes from?

    I’m looking at which place to buy the camera and really appreciate if you’ve got any recommendations. Thanks! :-)

    Posted by fAnTazi88 | July 11, 2013, 10:12
    • Hi. All my prices are taken from my affiliate camera stores (B&H Photo and Amazon). They usually have the best deals going. If you’re buying online, I’d very much appreciate it if you would use the links I’ve included in my review. It’d really help keep these reviews coming. Cheers!

      Posted by pixelogist | July 11, 2013, 10:22
  6. great review..just got myself one..i love it! the lens IS better than my canon 450Ds lens and it just takes better pictures and feels better. i love the touchscreen too. super camera

    Posted by Ben | July 17, 2013, 16:11
    • It’s good to hear you’re happy with your 100D, Ben :) It’s a great little camera – and I’m sure you’re feeling the differences between the lenses of your old system and this new one!

      Posted by pixelogist | July 18, 2013, 07:16
  7. I’m liking the look of the 100D over the 700D. Like you say, it packs most of what the 700D can in this tiny lil body and that’s awesome. Cheaper too, right? I think it’d be great for my son’s first DSLR and/or a backup for my 7D

    Posted by Nick | July 17, 2013, 19:22
    • Yeah, I feel the 100D is a unique product, and stands out far more than the 700D does. It does everything the 700D can while being significantly smaller. Of course, not everybody wants ‘compact’ when buying a DSLR. Some want the larger grip and better handling that comes with bigger cameras, and here the 700D would serve better. but the 100D certainly is a very interesting option. Yes, it’s cheaper too

      Posted by pixelogist | July 18, 2013, 07:27
  8. love the detailed review here!! thanks for the effort. wonderful to read this first-hand experience. unfortunately, from what i see, the camera isn’t really for me. but i can appreciate the uniqueness you talk about, kudos to canon for that. but i’d prefer more ‘grippage’ and whatever you call that – the 700D, or maybe even the 70D, is more for me

    Posted by Will | July 30, 2013, 07:51
    • Cheers! :) Absolutely, this camera is not for everybody. If you want compact, this is a great option – if not, it’s a very bad one! Haha

      Posted by pixelogist | July 30, 2013, 10:08
    • Well, as someone with VERY big hands, I can say this camera is not really a problem for people with big hands.

      Between the body and the lens, there is always somewhere to put your fingers.

      Posted by Daniel | April 21, 2014, 17:59
  9. Love this camera! The design is just brilliant. Can’t believe they shrunk it so much. Well done Canon, you definitely redeemed yourself after the disaster that was the EOS M!

    Posted by Jul | July 30, 2013, 09:39
  10. Great review. Quite convinced me to get one of these. It’s my first DSLR and I wasn’t sure, but I feel this is a great choice, isn’t it? Thanks

    Posted by BK | September 8, 2013, 07:00
    • It’s definitely a good choice for your first DSLR. THe interface is great, it’s compact, it takes wonderful pics – good choice, I hope you go for it!

      Posted by pixelogist | September 8, 2013, 16:00
  11. one of the best entry/mid-range DSLRs out there. superb lens, outstanding (tiny!) body, and really good price. super review, btw

    Posted by Graham Leery | November 7, 2013, 21:35

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