Canon EOS Rebel T5i
Price: $699 body only
Key specs: 18.0Mp APS-C format CMOS sensor, 1080p video, 9 AF points (all cross-type), max shooting rate 5fps, 3-inch 1,040,000-dot touch-sensitive LCD
A little larger than the Rebel SL1 and nearly 50% heavier, the Rebel T5i adds extra thrills and sits at the top of Canon's beginners' range of D-SLRs. Like the SL1, it has nine autofocus points for phase-detection AF in regular stills shooting mode. However, this time, all nine points are cross-type, rather than just the central point.
This makes for improved autofocus performance with greater accuracy when using any of the peripheral points, as well as in multi-point autofocus mode. Both cameras have high-sensitivity central AF points that can take advantage of lenses with an f/2.8 or wider aperture.
A larger capacity battery boosts life to 440 shots compared with the SL1's 380 shots, and the T5i also boasts a faster maximum burst rate of 5fps instead of 4fps. Both of these factors make the T5i a little better for action sports photography. Another bonus is that, while both cameras feature a high-resolution 1040k, 3-inch touchscreen LCD, the one in the T5i is a "vari-angle" screen with full articulation.
It's brilliant for live view and video shooting, enabling you to clearly see what you're shooting from very low positions without having to get down on your knees. It's equally great for when you need extra height, shooting with the camera held above your head, or for literally shooting around corners and even for putting yourself in the frame for self-portraits.
The same features that make the Rebel SL1 so ideal as a beginners' camera are retained in the T5i. These include an on-screen feature guide, Scene Intelligent Auto and a plethora of scene modes, as well as a Basic + mode for adjusting "ambience" settings like vivid, soft, warm and cool. There's also the same sensitivity range on tap, reaching as high as ISO 25600 in expanded mode. When using flash, the T5i adds the luxury of using the pop-up flash as a wireless master module, for triggering compatible flashguns when used remotely, off-camera.
Compact build, fully articulated touchscreen LCD, wireless flash control.
As with other beginners' class cameras, it lacks a secondary info LCD on the top plate.
Canon EOS 70D
Price: $1,199 body only
Key specs: 20.2Mp APS-C format CMOS sensor, 1080p video, 19 AF points (all cross-type), max shooting rate 7fps, 3.2-inch 1,040,000-dot touch-sensitive LCD
A worthy successor to the 60D, the 70D brings a genuinely exciting innovation to D-SLR photography, in the form of a brand new 20.2MP "Dual Pixel" image sensor which contains two photo diodes for each pixel. This enables much faster phase-detection autofocus performance in live view and video shooting modes, compared with the Rebel SL1 and Rebel T5i. Like the T5i, there's a fully articulated touchscreen LCD but pressing any desired point in live view shooting results in much quicker focusing. Regular autofocus modes also benefit from a 19-point rather than 9-point AF module, and all the points are cross-type.
As an "enthusiast" level camera, luxuries include a secondary info LCD on the top plate, along with useful direct access buttons for controlling shooting parameters on the fly. Further viewing attractions include a bright, clear and "intelligent" pentaprism viewfinder that has customizable camera leveling display options. As with the SL1 and T5i, automatic in-camera corrections are available for chromatic aberrations and vignetting, when using most own-brand Canon lenses.
Picture sharing and remote camera control benefit from built in Wi-Fi. The 70D is no slouch either, with a speedy 7fps maximum burst rate that almost matches the 7D's 8fps. It's all wrapped up in a lightweight polycarbonate shell that makes it only a little bigger and heavier than the T5i. Even so, the slight increase in size and weight make handling feel more assured, especially when coupling the camera to big, heavy lenses.
Despite being aimed squarely at enthusiasts, the 70D still features Scene Intelligent Auto, Creative Auto and a variety of scene modes. As such, it's just as easy for beginners to get to grips with as the SL1 and T5i. However, the 70D also adds a full raft of features to suit advanced photographers, like the ability to fine-tune autofocus for individual lenses. It's also nice to have the choice of direct buttons for controlling shooting options, instead of relying too heavily on the touchscreen Quick menu.
Dual Pixel image sensor, "intelligent" viewfinder, articulated touchscreen, secondary info screen.
Lacks the slightly more rugged magnesium alloy body style of the 7D.