Despite their low price point 'entry-level' cameras are incredibly important for manufacturers. These are the cameras with which the consumer starts their journey with a brand – and many of those consumers will stay with that brand for a very long time.
Because of this, you can get a lot of camera for relatively little money these days. The Canon EOS Rebel T6 (badged as the EOS 1300D outside the US) is Canon's latest entry-level proposition, and it's available at a great price for beginners, students or anyone new to DSLR photography. In fact, it's cheaper than a lot of average compact cameras.
The Rebel T6 doesn't represent a major upgrade from its predecessor however, the EOS Rebel T5 / EOS 1200D – which itself was hardly a huge overhaul of the EOS Rebel T4 / EOS 1100D. It seems Canon has once again played it relatively safe with the spec sheet, which helps to keep the camera affordable for those all-important entry-level customers.
- APS-C CMOS sensor, 18MP
- 3.0-inch screen, 920,000k dots
- 1080p video capture
The sensor is the same as the EOS Rebel T5 / EOS 1200D's at 18 million pixels, while the processor gets a modest upgrade to the DIGIC 4+ (the Rebel T5's had a standard DIGIC 4). However, considering that Canon's latest processor is the DIGIC 7, the 4+ is now looking like pretty old technology.
The EOS Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D uses the EF-S lens mount, which is compatible with all of Canon's EF range of lenses, so there's a wealth of choice out there to suit all budgets.
Several of the other features of the Canon EOS Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D are the same as in the Rebel T5. It has the same modest 9-point autofocusing system, with one central cross-type (more sensitive) point. There's also a 95% coverage optical viewfinder – while it doesn't sound like you're missing much, you can find unwanted elements creeping into the edge of the shot when reviewing images.
Native sensitivity remains at ISO100-6,400, expandable up to 12,800, but given the slightly better processor a modest improvement in low-light performance is promised. That said, the ISO range now looks quite limited compared to much newer rivals.
One feature that has seen an upgrade is the screen. The EOS Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D's LCD display is a 3-inch, 920k-dot unit, whereas the T5 boasted only 460k dots. This upgrade should make viewing images, and using the menus, a more pleasant experience.
The headline new feature for the EOS Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D though is the inclusion of inbuilt Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity. This enables you to control the camera from a connected device, such as a smartphone or tablet, and you can send images from the camera to your devices to share quickly online.
As well as the fully automatic and scene shooting modes you'd expect in a camera aimed at novice photographers, there are also manual and semi-auto aperture priority and shutter priority modes, plus the ability to shoot in raw format.
As with the T5, the Rebel T6 offers Full HD (1920 x 1080) video recording, and you can take manual control of video, with 30, 25 and 24fps frame rates available; not surprisingly for a camera at the price point, there's no 4K shooting.
Battery life remains at a respectable 500 shots, which should see you through a typical day's shooting without the need for a recharge.
An obvious competitor to the EOS Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D is Nikon's 24MP D3300. That camera offers higher resolution and better battery life (700 shots) and its maximum burst rate of 5fps beats the T6's 3fps.
However, the Nikon is that bit more expensive and doesn't have built-in Wi-Fi or NFC, so which camera you prefer will depend on which specs are most important to you.
Considering that the T5 wasn't exactly revolutionary, we'd been hoping for perhaps a little more from Canon specs-wise with the Rebel T6. As it is, the camera keeps many of its predecessor's tried and tested features, but offers nothing particularly new or exciting – although this does mean Canon can offer the EOS Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D at a price that should be attractive to the prospective purchasers it wants to hook.
Build and handling
- Polycarbonate construction
- Design little changed from EOS Rebel T5 / EOS 1200D
- Weighs 485g
The overall design of the EOS Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D is pretty much the same as the outgoing T5. There's a textured coating on the chunky front grip and the rear thumb rest, which helps to create an impression of quality higher than that of a typical entry-level camera, making it feel more like a mid-range Canon such as the Rebel T6i / EOS 750D.
The grip itself is nicely contoured to fit your middle finger when your index finger rests on the shutter release; those with larger hands may find it a little less comfortable to hold, though.
The rear button configuration is easy to understand and get to grips with if this is your first camera, and will be familiar to anyone who's used a Canon DSLR before, making it equally easy to use as a second camera.
A 'Q' or Quick menu button enables you to quickly access and adjust commonly used settings. While there are also dedicated buttons for essential settings such as white balance, autofocus mode, ISO (sensitivity) and exposure compensation, in the case of options such as Image Quality and Picture Style the Quick menu will save you having to delve around in the menus.
A scrolling dial on top of the camera, just behind the shutter button, is ideally placed for making quick changes to aperture or shutter speed, depending on the shooting mode you’re in. If you’re in manual mode you can use the dial to change both – you’ll need to hold down the exposure compensation button at the same time to change the aperture.
There’s no touchscreen on the EOS Rebel T6, which means that all adjustments to settings need to be made via the physical controls, although there are enough direct access buttons for this not to be a chore.
There’s a button just to the right of the thumb rest for setting the autofocus point. There are just the nine points to choose from, all of which are grouped fairly centrally, so you’ll often have to focus and recompose for subjects that are towards the edge of the frame.
The main dial on the top of the camera enables you to switch between shooting modes, including video mode – there’s no dedicated video button, and selecting video via the dial makes snatching footage on the hoof a little harder than it would be with a separate button.
Next to the viewfinder is the live view button – pressing this enables you to compose shots on the LCD. Autofocus speeds are noticeably slower when using live view, but it’s useful for shooting still life and macro subjects, where the emphasis is on precise focusing rather than speed – you can magnify the view by 5x or 10x for maximum accuracy.
There’s also a dedicated button for selecting the drive mode. Sadly the upgrade to the DIGIC 4+ processor hasn’t seen a bump in the maximum frame rate – it’s still just 3fp, although this isn’t a camera designed with high-speed action or sports shooting in mind. The buffer capacity has been increased though, and the 1300D can shoot 1100 JPEGs, or a much more modest six raw files, before slowing down.
Canon has stuck with the same viewfinder it used on the T5. Although many will argue that optical viewfinders are preferable to electronic viewfinders, one like this, which offers only a 95 percent field of view, leaves you to prone to unwanted objects creeping into the edges of the frame – something that wouldn’t happen with a 100 percent-coverage electronic viewfinder.
The fact that it’s optical rather than electronic also means you can’t see the effects of settings changes in the viewfinder as you make them – something which would be particularly handy for those just starting to get to grips with how a DSLR works.
In terms of in-camera filter effects, there isn’t a huge selection to choose from, which may be a little disappointing to keen Instagrammers who are new to DSLRs. You can, however, select from a range of Picture Styles, which include the usual options such as Landscape and Portrait, and a nice Monochrome effect.
As long as you’re shooting in raw format, when you apply a Picture Style you’ll have a clean version of the image to work with later on if you need it, alongside the processed one. You can also apply filters after you’ve taken a shot, via the playback menu; the camera will save a new JPEG alongside your original.
While Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity aren’t unusual in today’s cameras, their appearance in the Rebel T6 is probably the most significant upgrade over the T5.
- 9-point AF, 1 cross-type AF point
- AF-assist illuminator
- Possible to track moving subjects
Autofocus speeds are generally pretty quick in good light, slowing down a little in darker conditions. The EOS Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D was reviewed with Canon's EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens and we encountered no problems with the AF, although other lenses may perform differently.
Switching to the AI Servo AF mode enables you to track moving subjects. The Rebel T6 was able to keep up with relatively slow-moving subjects, such as a person walking across a scene, relatively easily, but struggled a little with faster subjects.
That said, this cameras doesn't claim to be a camera for sports and action enthusiasts – you'll want to look further up the Canon range for that, but for general shooting, it'll get the job done.
- 3fps burst shooting
- iFCL metering system
- 500 shot battery life
Like the T5, the Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D uses Canon’s iFCL metering system. On the whole this does a good job of producing accurate exposures, although, as priority is given to the active AF point, if whatever you’re focusing on is particularly bright or dark this can skew the overall exposure reading; on several occasions I found I needed to dial in a little exposure compensation to get the desired results.
The Rebel T6’s auto white balance system copes well with a variety of lighting conditions. Under artificial lights, tones look a touch warmer than is accurate; the results aren’t unpleasant, but for maximum accuracy it can be beneficial to switch to a more appropriate setting, such as Fluorescent.
In overcast conditions, the automatic option works well – the Cloudy setting produces images that are a little too warm for my liking.
It seems that the step up to the DIGIC 4+ processor has boosted operation speeds a touch compared to the T5. This means images are marginally quicker to appear in playback mode, although there can still be a noticeable lag if you take several photos in quick succession.
At 500 shots, the quoted battery life is a little less than that of the rival Nikon D3300, but it’s more than most compact system cameras can offer. Our testing shows that 500 shots is about accurate, and I was able to shoot for several hours without much of a dip in the displayed battery life.
- ISO100-6,400, expandable to 100-12,800
- Built-in low-pass filter
- 7 Picture Styles
The Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D uses the same sensor as the T5, but with the very slightly better DIGIC 4+ processor rather than the DIGIC 4. So it’s no surprise that our testing indicates that the Rebel T6 performs very similarly to the T5.
Image quality is very good, and while those who are new to DSLR shooting should be impressed by what the Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D is capable of.
JPEG images display a good level of warmth and saturation direct from the camera, in keeping with what we’ve become used to seeing from cameras across Canon’s range, while Picture Styles are a good way to tweak the tones depending on the subject – you may find, for example, that portraits will benefit from the more muted tones of that preset.
Raw images are a little more subdued than JPEGs, with a bit less contrast, giving you plenty of scope to process files according to your own tastes – you can use either Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software, which is bundled with the Rebel T6, or a third-party application such as Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom.
Canon’s 18 million pixel sensor has proven to be a capable performer when it comes to detail resolution, in the T5 and elsewhere, and the overall impression of detail in JPEG images is very good from ISO100 through to ISO3,200, with quality only falling away a little when you get to ISO6,400 (see image below).
The expansion setting of ISO12,800 is best avoided unless absolutely necessary, as images take on a painterly appearance, with detail smoothing visible even at normal printing sizes.
When processing raw images, it’s possible to bring back some of the detail that has been lost at the expense of introducing a little noise. If you’re photographing a high-detail subject though, you may prefer the noise to the loss of detail, so it’s good to have the choice.
Noise isn’t particularly apparent in JPEGs shot at ISO1,600, but if you compare a JPEG with the corresponding raw file it’s clear how much noise reduction the camera is applying; and while the results are mostly natural and pleasing, if you’re photographing a particularly detailed subject the processing may be a little over the top for your liking.
Detail resolution is good, if not quite as good as from the Nikon D3300 when images are examined closely; however this will only be an issue if you’re printing at very large sizes, or if you regularly photograph very detailed subjects, neither of which is likely to be a priority for most beginners.
Image quality from the EOS Rebel T6/ EOS 1300D is good, although as it's roughly on par with the now three-year-old T5 it's nothing particularly revolutionary, while compared to 24MP rivals, it lags behind. But if you're stepping up from a compact camera or mobile phone photography you'll be very pleased with what this camera can do.
The addition of Wi-Fi is welcome, but if you're looking for something that's in any way revolutionary you'll be disappointed.
The viewfinder is bright and clear, but having only a 95 percent field of view can lead to issues when composing images; this limitation isn't unusual for entry-level DSLRs, but it's something you need to think about when you take a shot.
Like the T5 / 1200D before it, the biggest problem with the Canon EOS Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D is that it's a little bit underwhelming. In order to continue to offer a great-value product Canon hasn't added much in the way new technology to this camera, instead relying on an old sensor and an old processor.
It would have been nice to have seen a touchscreen introduced for the EOS Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D, especially given that many of the intended users will be used to smartphones and tablets, and are likely to miss the ability to touch a screen to change settings, set the focus point and so on.
The Canon EOS Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D is a great camera for beginners, offering good image quality in a very reasonably priced and easy-to-use package. It's a solid option for those looking for their first DSLR but who don't want to lay out too much money, and it will introduce you to both Canon's EOS ecosystem and to DSLR photography in general, with the hundreds of lenses and accessories these offer.
Perhaps the biggest rival to the Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D is Nikon’s D3300. Our favourite entry-level DSLR despite the arrival of the D3400, it ticks pretty much every box for the new user. Easy to use, good image quality, decent performance and now at a great price.
Read the full review: Nikon D3300
Canon Rebel T7i / EOS 800D
A little further up the Canon DSLR range is Canon's latest entry-level DSLR, the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D. Packing in a new 24.2MP sensor, it delivers stunning image quality with impressively low noise levels at high ISO sensitivities. There's also much-improved autofocus and exposure metering systems over the Rebel T6, while there's more comprehensive controls and a vari-angle touchscreen.
Sony Alpha A5000
A slightly different alternative to the other two is Sony's 20.1MP Alpha A5000 mirrorless camera. Offering great handling and excellent image quality, it's much more compact than the EOS Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D. That does mean there's no viewfinder, instead relying on the rear display for composition.
Read the full review: Sony Alpha A5000