Our First Take
Canon's DSLR lineup is, quite simply, an institution. The company has the top-selling interchangeable-lens camera series, with more than 90 million EF-mount lenses and over 70 million EOS camera bodies in the world today. That's nothing to sneeze at.
For millions of shoppers around the world, Canon is a trusted brand with well-priced equipment that is easy to use. And it's not hard to argue that much of the company's success lies in its resistance to change. Canon sticks with what works and continues to reap the rewards. The EOS Rebel T5 (MSRP $549.99, international aliases Kiss X70 and 1200D) is a perfect example of how adhering to a tried-and-true formula won't necessarily win plaudits, but it will likely pay huge dividends for Canon.
Design & Usability
A slightly bigger entry-level Rebel.
Replacing the now-ancient T3 in Canon's lineup, the T5 slots in beneath the T3i as the least expensive current model available.
Compared to the T3, the T5 is a little bit bigger, with a beefed-up grip. Said grip has a new, more pronounced texture that helps give the camera just enough purchase. You don't feel like you're going to drop it accidentally.
The T5 is just a pinch lighter than the outgoing T3, and its plasticky body does it few favors. That said, its light weight will make it a cinch to tote around with you on trips.
Bringing the low-end slot more in line with the tiny SL1, the T5 has a rethought control layout. We liked this button placement on the SL1 just fine, so we won't complain about seeing it replicated on a larger body.
Just the bare essentials.
This entry-level Canon has a decent feature set for the low-end slot in the EOS family. While it would have been nice to see something like an articulated LCD, WiFi, or a touchscreen included with the T5, the upgrades it received aren't insubstantial.
The biggest change is a new, 18-megapixel APS-C sensor. While the new sensor is in no way revolutionary, consider that the T3 continued to pack a 12.2-megapixel CMOS sensor that seemed as out of place in 2014 as Marty McFly was in 1955. This 2011-vintage sensor in the T5 seems positively modern by comparison. Unfortunately, it's still coupled to an older processor—this time sporting a DIGIC IV.
Our only immediate concern was with the size of the OVF. Looking through the T5 felt claustrophobic, with a tiny image inside a big black border. While our hands-on experience seemed to match the magnification numbers stated on this camera's spec sheet, we felt that the optical viewfinder was definitely lacking something compared to the SL1.
If all this isn't disappointing enough, take one look at the crusty 18-55mm IS II kit lens Canon is shipping with the T5. Where's the newer, faster 18-55mm STM version the company introduced with the SL1? While both cameras have similar video capabilities, the SL1 will have a definite edge there thanks to the STM lens's quieter autofocus.
And in case you were hoping for 1080/60p video, you're going to be disappointed. The T5's top recording mode is limited to 1080/30p. Of course, the pitiful T3 couldn't even shoot at 1080/30p (maxing out at 720/30p), so we still count this as a major improvement.
Don't kid yourself—this new Rebel will play perfectly to the Costco crowd.
Even though competing mirrorless options and niche-brand DSLRs have the T5 beat on features and price, Canon still has some huge strategic advantages in today's camera market. The biggest? Sheer scale. They have the relationships, the manufacturing facilities, the shelf space in stores, and the name recognition to boot.
We could talk all day about the excellent, sometimes less expensive alternatives on the market like the Olympus PEN E-PM2, or the Sony NEX-3N, or the Pentax K-50. The competition's products are more compelling than ever, but until Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, and Ricoh really up their retail and marketing game, the T5 will likely outsell them all.
Don't misinterpret our pragmatism as cynicism, however. The Rebel T5 is a desperately-needed update to the T3, a camera that was stale even when it was oven-fresh in 2011. Tried-and-true suits Canon, and this is exhibit A.