Canon EOS Rebel T5i Review: Performance, Image Quality and Conclusion
Performance - How well does it take pictures?
Ultimately, it is the image quality that makes a camera worth buying. For a digital SLR, image quality greatly depends on the lens used. While color, noise, contrast and exposure are properties of the camera, distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberrations are properties of the lens. Sharpness depends on the weakest link. So, the camera cannot capture more details than the lens lets through. Conversely, a lens can transmit even more details than the sensor can capture.
With 18 megapixels on a 1.6X-crop sensor, the T5i has rather small pixels for a DSLR, yet they remain larger than those of most mirrorless cameras. Of course, being state-of-the-art helps it extract an impressive amount of subject details while maintaining image-noise low.
The Canon Rebel T5i shows good image-quality. Image noise is unnoticeable until ISO 1600 where it is barely visible at 100% view. ISO 3200 starts showing a mix of luminance and color noise with only a minor reduction in maximum print-size. Noise-reduction can clean this up at the expense of detail, which gains nothing in terms of print-quality. Better turn it off in-camera.
Noise really kicks in at ISO 6400 but its effect on details is moderate. Still, this DSLR can easily produce a mid-size print, say 12" x 9" at this sensitivity. What is impressive is that dynamic-range and contrast remain excellent even at ISO 6400. At ISO 12800, noise increases again yet not as much as between 3200 and 6400. This time, small details get destroyed though and dynamic-range takes a dip.
The expanded ISO 25600 setting is obviously noisy. Amazingly, it still produces usable small prints and retains relatively good contrast and color. Details in deep shadows are obliterated but remain recognizable in relatively bright areas. All-in-all, an worthy performance for such a small DSLR.
The T5i has a 63-zone Evaluative metering system which uses information from most of the frame. Resulting exposure is average and is tuned to produce relatively bright images. It therefore requires a little more negative exposure-compensation than, say, a 5D Mark III
Canon EOS 5D Mark III but is immensely better than the 7D
Canon EOS 7D. Still, the T5i rarely misses by more than 1 EV either way.
The maximum dynamic-range of the T5i is somewhat lower than other modern APS-C DSLR, falling 3 stops behind the class-leading Nikon D7200
Nikon D7200. It reduces the gap down to 1½ EV at its maximum standard ISO of 12800. Not a poor performance but certainly a weakness of the T5i.
There is a Highlight Tone-Priority option designed to preserve highlight details which makes a difference and reduces the amount of over-exposure. This prevents the use of ISO 100 but is worth it in most situations.
There are six Picture Styles on the T5i. Each one is customizable in terms of Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation and Color Tone. There are 8 Sharpness levels and 9 for other image parameters. While the defaults are overly punchy, tuning Contrast and Saturation down one in Standard style, makes images look more natural. Colors are never perfect but quite reasonable.
Automatic white-balance is average. Under natural light, scenes come out looking neutral. The T5i handles a variety of conditions but tends to leave a noticeable yellow cast under artificial light. This effect is pronounced when light is low. Preset white-balance settings can improve things but do not always manage without some fine-tuning.
Image sharpness is slightly soft at the default setting of 3. Pushing it to 4 improves things slightly. One more step introduces dramatic sharpening artifacts though. Remember that a good lens makes a huge difference. The Canon EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 IS STM
Canon EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens must unfortunately be stopped down 3 stops to produce acceptable images which is very restricting.
As an entry-level DSLR, the performance level of the T5i is understandably limited. After all, this is one of the three main differentiating factor between it and higher-end models. Still, this is a DSLR and it remains faster than most fixed-lens cameras.
Both autofocus systems of the T5i are highly accurate. They also cover a wide section of the camera's field-of-view. While this is welcome when manually selecting the focus-point, it is often problematic with automatic AF-point selection where it often focuses on an unimportant foreground object. This is why advanced DSLRs offer selection by point-groups.
The new Hybrid AF II sensor offers built-in Phase-Detect AF which are there to improve autofocus for video. Unfortunately, this really did not show during tests and the Rebel T5i clearly still uses Contrast-Detect AF to focus. The Phase-Detect points must be there to assist only, yet the provide no measurable advantage. The lens still moves back and forth disturbingly while performing AF.
The Canon Rebel T5i is generally quite responsive. The dial and buttons get an instant response, even when in Live-View. The autofocus system is relatively fast for its class but this depends on the lens used and lighting conditions. In good light, ¼s usually suffices to lock focus. It can take up to ¾s in low-light which is on par with expectations. The Canon EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 IS STM
Canon EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 IS STM supplied as kit lens is quite fast and extremely quiet.
The 5 FPS continuous drive is somewhat slow by modern standard. It may not catch action at its height but is quite usable for candid shots. The performance of the T5i is characterized by the following numbers:
- Power On or Off: Just over 1s without sensor-cleaning, 3s with. Slower than average.
- Time-To-First-Shot: 1½s. Average.
- Autofocus: Between ¼ and ¾ seconds. Average.
- Shutter-lag: Instant with short black-out. Good.
- Video: Instant to start and stop. Excellent.
- Instant Review: 1½s. Slow.
- Enter Playback: ½s. Good.
- Exit Playback: Instant. Excellent.
Being small, the T5i uses a small battery. It delivers 440 shots battery-life according to the CIPA standard. Although better than the SL1, this is still below average for a DSLR yet sufficient to last for a typical day of shooting.
The Canon EOS Rebel T5i is essentially an unsurprising DSLR. It delivers good image-quality and reasonable performance in a typical entry-level body. The design of the T5i clearly follows the Canon mold and will be instantly familiar to Rebel users.
This DSLR produces quality images. Image-noise is well controlled with ISO 100 to 1600 completely usable for large prints. ISO 3200 and 6400 make nice mid-sized prints while higher settings stay usable for small ones. The dynamic-range is below average which makes for more contrasty photographs at the expense of clipping, mostly of highlights.
Colors, white-balance and sharpness are not perfect but generally good. At optimal settings, the Canon T5i can produce nice images with a natural look and reasonable sharpness. Of course, a sufficiently good lens is required for the latter. The T5i is reasonably responsive too, although the Instant Review delay is definitely on the slow side. While it delivers 1 FPS more than the SL1
Canon EOS Rebel SL1, buffering in the T5i is much more limited.
It is a worthy Rebel, yet Canon has a number of competing offerings which make choosing the T5i increasingly difficult. One can consider the smaller and lighter sibling for nearly the same features or upgrade to the new T6s
Canon EOS Rebel T6s or T6i
Canon EOS Rebel T6i which offer 30% more resolution and newer Hybrid CMOS AF III for video autofocus.
Canon Rebel T5i Facts
|18 Megapixels DSLR||ISO 100-12800|
|Canon EF Mount|
Sensor-Size: 22 x 15mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|Automatic Eye-Start sensor||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|Built-in Dust Reduction||Spot-Metering|
|5 FPS Drive, 22 Images||Hot-Shoe|
|1920x1080 @ 30 FPS Video Recording||Stereo audio input|
|3" LCD 1 Megapixels||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|Secure Digital Extended Capacity|
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