Canon EOS Rebel SL1 review

So what's the world's smallest and lightest DSLR like?

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What Canon has managed to produce in the EOS Rebel SL1 is pretty special - a very small body that retains the same DSLR stylings of its larger siblings, and more importantly, produces impressive image quality. That's quite a feat.

However, the problem remains that although the camera itself is small, the overall system is not. By the time you attach the 18-55mm kit lens, it's not too much smaller than other cheaper cameras in Canon's range. Furthermore, if you're intending to use several lenses, you will still need a pretty large kit bag to pack it all in.

It's worth looking at the 40mm pancake lens as an accompaniment to the Canon EOS Rebel SL1, since its incredibly small size makes it a reasonable combo for street shooting - albeit with a longer (equivalent) focal length than we'd usually recommend for such work.

It's also arguable that the intended consumer of this camera won't stray too much further than the light kit lens, which does keep the weight down significantly.

Speaking of the kit lens, the new 18-55mm STM lens is a very good performer. If you don't already have any lenses, it's well worth buying the standard kit box, rather than the body-only option. It's a great lens to get you started with until such time that you decide you want to expand your collection.

Images from the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 are impressive, with lots of detail and bright, punchy colors. Although it doesn't help with size reduction, compatibility with Canon's incredibly extensive lens range does make this a more flexible overall system than the compact system camera it's trying to take on.

We liked

Despite the reduction in size, the layout and usability of the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 is still very good, with buttons arranged so that they're easy to reach and the touchscreen complementary to operability, rather than a necessity.

That touchscreen really comes in handy when zooming into images during playback and accessing different functions on the quick menu.

We disliked

Perhaps our biggest bug with this camera is the hyperbole which is associated with being the world's smallest and lightest DSLR. Does that really mean anything when lenses are still big and heavy?

Aside from that, there are a few other niggles, such as only being able to use digital filters in Live View, or indeed the sluggish performance of AF in Live View.

Final verdict

It's hard to know what to say about the Canon EOS Rebel SL1. Canon has once again produced an incredibly capable DSLR, which produces excellent images.

The miniaturization element is fun, and a nifty feat of engineering, but there's still no way that a camera and system such as this can compete with the likes of the Micro Four Thirds system in terms of weight and size.

That said, if you're already a Canon owner looking for something small to add to your collection, this could be a good second shooter - though you might just balk at its current asking price of $799.99 with the kit lens.

If you're looking for something which is truly portable, but still retains DSLR-type stylings and operability, take a look at the Panasonic G5 or the newer Panasonic G6.

Amy Davies

Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar.