Canon EOS Rebel T6s Review
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 24 megapixels on a 1.6X-crop sensor, the T6s has the smallest pixels among DSLRs, similar to those on most mirrorless cameras. All else being equal, smaller pixels equal higher noise and lower dynamic-range. Image quality from the Canon EOS Rebel T6s is reasonable with virtually no noise until ISO 400. A tiny amount of noise appears at ISO 800 where it is barely visible at 100% view.
ISO 1600 is noticeably noisy with luminance noise starting to take away the finest details. Dynamic-range and colors hold steady though which makes image quite usable at ISO 1600 for moderately large prints. Chroma-noise emerges at ISO 3200, which is earlier than recent DSLRs and mirrorless cameras alike. Obviously, this comes with reduced dynamic-range and contrast, although details are reasonably well maintained.
Noise reaches new heights at ISO 6400 with detrimental effect on much details. Given 24 MP of resolutions, this is still usable for smallish prints, maybe even a 12" x 8" of a bright subject. ISO 12800 is even more noisy and produces images only suitable for the smallest prints or web use. No point trying ISO 25600, it is beyond usable. A Custom Setting removes it completely from the ISO selection screen to avoid using it.
This DSLR features a 7560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor which divides most of the frame into 63-zones. The multi-segment metering system of the T6s is exceptionally good. It produces conservative exposures which avoid burning highlights. Low-contrast scenes come out slightly dark which occasionally requires positive exposure-compensation. It rarely over-exposes and never by much, making automatic and semi-automatic exposure-modes highly reliable.
Dynamic-range of the T6s has surprisingly improved compared to previous generations of Rebels which stood at 18 megapixels. This is still lower than other modern APS-C DSLR, falling 2½ stops behind the class-leading Nikon D7200
Nikon D7200. This gap gets reduced down to one stop when sensitivity increases beyond ISO 800. There is a Highlight Tone-Priority option designed to preserve highlight details which makes a nice difference. This prevents the use of ISO 100 but is worth it in most situations.
There are six Picture Styles on the T6s. Each one is customizable in terms of Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation and Color Tone. There are 8 Sharpness levels and 9 for other image parameters. The most realistic colors are produced in Faithful mode yet seem slightly anemic. Boosting both Contrast and Saturation to +1 makes the output look natural and lively.
Automatic white-balance is reasonable. Under natural light, scenes come out looking neutral. The T6s handles a variety of conditions but tends to leave a noticeable orange cast under artificial light. This effect is more pronounced when light is low. Preset white-balance settings improve things but not always completely without some fine-tuning.
Optimal image sharpness is produced with Sharpness set to 2. A setting of 3 shows just a slight amount of over-sharpening. Above that, double-edges appear around details which makes things look like cut-outs. Remember that a good lens makes a huge difference and the Canon EF-S 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 IS STM
Canon EF-S 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, which often comes with the T6s as a kit, is not one of them. With a 24 megapixels sensor, it is extremely soft wide-open and not usable unless closed down at least 2 stops.
As the Canon EOS Rebel T6s enters an intermediate position between other Rebels and higher-end DSLRs, it needs to differentiate itself sufficiently from both sides. This is why its top frame-rate is 5 FPS which is comparable to current entry-level DSLRs. While the internal buffer offers a shallow depth of 8 RAW files, the processor and memory bus offer a high throughput and can record up to 940 JPEG images in a single burst.
The T6s is generally quite responsive. All dial and buttons get an instant response, even in Live-View. The autofocus system is impressively fast. In good light, ¼s usually suffices to lock focus. When light is low, it can take a little longer but rarely more than ½s. This is measurably better than most entry-level DSLRs. The new 19-point AF system is quite sensitive but resulted in an unusually high percentage of focus-missed in low-light during the review. It might depend on the lens though.
The performance of the T6s is characterized by the following numbers:
- Power On or Off: Almost instant without sensor-cleaning, up to 2½s with. Good.
- Time-To-First-Shot: 1s. Very good.
- Autofocus: Between ¼ and ½ seconds. Fast.
- Shutter-lag: Instant with short black-out. Good.
- Video: Instant to start and stop. Excellent.
- Instant Review: 1½s. Slow.
- Enter Playback: ½s. Average.
- Exit Playback: Instant. Excellent.
The proprietary Lithium-Ion battery of the T6s delivers 440 shots battery-life according to the CIPA standard. This is below average for a DSLR yet sufficient to last a typical day of shooting.
The above measurements are quite respectable for any digital camera. Most crucially, the T6s rarely holds the photographer back. Neither does it slow down videographers which will appreciate its dedicated Video mode with Exposure-Priority Live-View.
Canon simultaneously launched a new imaging pipeline and series of Rebels with the T6s. Its 24 megapixels APS-C sensor with Hybrid AF III and Digic 6 processor pushes resolution up 33% from previous Canon 1.6X-crop DSLRs while sustaining a maximum 5 FPS continuous drive. It improves the AF system with 19 all-cross-type points and wide coverage on-sensor Phase-Detection. The newly designed intermediate-level body of the T6s features dual control-dials and a top status LCD panel.
The newly-develop ped CMOS sensor improves dynamic-range compared to previous generations while noise levels have actually increased, something which few families of DSLRs have managed to avoid. Colors and white-balance remain quite reasonable. The most significant improvement and where the T6s really shines is its refined 63-segment metering system which is highly reliable. Exposures are conservative and require considerably less compensation than is typical.
The design of the Canon EOS Rebel T6s delivers improved efficiency and ergonomics. Dual control-dials plus a plenty of direct controls make using this digital camera a breeze. Except for a few controls at the back, the T6s can easily be used with winter gloves on too. The weakness here is a tiny and cropped viewfinder which only shows 95% coverage at 0.82X magnification. The rear LCD though is large and very sharp. Its Live-View mode is outstanding and certainly one of the best on the market.
The Canon T6s always remains highly responsive. Its new Hybrid AF III system is really quick and provides a good degree of flexibility, although it may miss more than usual. Video performance is particularly impressive with a dedicated mode which makes the camera instantly ready to record and preview video correctly.
The Canon EOS Rebel T6s successfully provides efficient controls in a relatively lightweight and compact body while delivering good image quality and performance. By doing so, it adds a model to the Canon lineup of DSLRs which has almost no direct competitors.
Canon Rebel T6s Highlights
Sensor-Size: 22 x 15mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|24 Megapixels DSLR||ISO 100-25600|
|Canon EF Mount|
|Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|1 Axis Digital Level||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|Built-in Dust Reduction||Spot-Metering|
|5 FPS Drive, 940 Images||Hot-Shoe|
|1920x1080 @ FPS Video Recording||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|3" LCD 1 Megapixels||Secure Digital Extended Capacity|
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