Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D Review

When you need (want) the smallest camera possible, a camera ready to go everywhere with you, but do not want to give up DSLR features, the SL2 (AKA EOS Kiss X8 in Japan and EOS 200D in Europe/Asia/Oceania) immediately jumps to the forefront of your options list. While this camera is really small, it does not give up the DSLR features you have come to love including a through-the-lens (TTL) optical viewfinder, fast phase detection AF, a responsive shutter release, a grip that places you in control, great image quality delivered by the latest-available Canon APS-C CMOS imaging sensor and compatibility with an extensive range of accessories. While Canon shrunk the DSLR, this design is such that it remains (surprisingly) very usable and the SL2 is even further improved in this regard.

The Rebel SL2 enters the world as the smallest DSLR camera ever, with one exception. That exception is this camera's predecessor, the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D, the longest-running Rebel model to date. While the SL2 gained very slightly in size, the feature causing that increase is worth the additional dimensions.

I knew the weight and dimensions of the SL1 long before it arrived, but I was unprepared for just how small and light that original model really was. And for how cute it was. My wife promptly named the SL1 "Mine" – as in – it would be "hers". I liked that camera a lot, especially for the price and I frequently have recommended it to friends. The SL2 gives up nothing to the SL1 and brings many upgrades with it.

Here are some of the highlights of the Canon EOS Rebel SL2.

Summary of Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Features

  • 24.2 MP CMOS imaging sensor featuring Dual Pixel CMOS AF
  • 9-point AF system (inherited from Rebel SL1)
  • ISO 25600 (expandable to 51200)
  • DIGIC 7
  • Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD (1.04 million dots)
  • 5 fps
  • Full HD 1080p 60p movies with 5 axis electronic image stabilization
  • WiFi, NFC & Bluetooth
  • New Selfie Mode
  • Continuous shooting after 10 sec. self-timer (2 to 10 shots)
  • Guided User Interface available
  • Deeper grip design for better control
  • Extremely compact design with enhanced, higher-grade feel
  • Only 453g

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Front

Sensor and Image Quality

The SL2 receives the same excellent imaging sensor shared by many of Canon's current EOS cameras. I'll address that statement in more detail, but first, here is a table showing the sensor and some additional specifications for some of Canon's current and recent EOS camera models.

ModelFOVCFSensorPixel SizePixels/MegapixelsViewfinderDLA*
Canon EOS M51.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.7µm6000 x 400024.2 100%f/6.0
Canon EOS M61.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.7µm6000 x 400024.2 opt100%f/6.0
Canon EOS M101.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 n/an/af/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.7µm6000 x 400024.2 .87x95%f/5.9
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .87x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.7µm6000 x 400024.2 .82x95%f/5.9
Canon EOS Rebel T6i / 750D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.7µm6000 x 400024.2 .82x95%f/5.9
Canon EOS Rebel T5i / 700D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .85x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .80x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS 77D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.7µm6000 x 400024.2 .82x95%f/5.9
Canon EOS 80D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.7µm6000 x 400024.2 .95x100%f/5.9
Canon EOS 6D Mark II1.0x35.9 x 24.0mm5.7µm6240 x 416026.2 .71x98%9.2
View the full Canon EOS Rebel SL2 specifications to compare additional cameras.

Like all of the digital Rebel models before it, including the SL1, the SL2 features an APS-C (1.6x) sized sensor. This means that all of Canon's EF-S, EF, TS-E and MP-E series lenses are compatible, though the outer portion of the image circle projected by full frame compatible lenses (EF, TS-E and MP-E) is not utilized. This also means that a selected lens' focal length will frame a scene similar to that of a 1.6x longer focal length mounted on a full frame sensor camera (including when using APS-C-only lenses such as the EF-S series).

Sensor Size Comparison

Worth mentioning is that the APS-C sensor format, though much smaller than the full frame sensor format, is huge relative to the imaging sensors found in mobile phones and point-and-shoot-type cameras. Similarly, the image quality coming from a DSLR camera is extremely advantaged compared to a smartphone, especially when used in low light.

You will notice that many of the current Canon APS-C cameras share identical sensor specs, most notably the megapixel resolution figure. The SL1 shared the 18 MP spec with the Rebel T5i and Rebel T6, the then-current-best APS-C sensor. Standard issue for APS-C models at review-time is 24.2 megapixels and that is what is delivered in the Rebel SL2. This resolution is very high (higher than many of Canon's full frame models to date) and Canon has proven that they can deliver excellent 24.2 MP image quality. However, there is more than one variation of a 24.2 MP imaging sensor found in these cameras.

For example, the EOS Rebel T6i and the T6s share the 24.2 megapixel count, but these older Rebels do not feature Dual Pixel CMOS AF as found in the SL2, a very obvious difference. The Canon EOS SL2 inherits the excellent imaging sensor found in the EOS 80D, one that is also shared by the EOS Rebel T7i, EOS 77D, EOS M5 and EOS M6.

With the same imaging sensor and DIGIC 7 processor as the recently-released Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D, I expected a cut and paste of the image quality description from that model. Here is what I learned.

As seen in the Rebel SL2 vs. Rebel SL1 comparison, the change in resolution from 18 MP to 24 MP is quite noticeable and the resolution increase alone can be an upgrade factor for SL1 owners. Build your own comparisons using the just-provided link. Results for many other EOS DSLRs are available in the image quality comparison tool using the referenced Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM Lens and some older camera models are represented by the Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM Lens. F/5.6 is a good comparison aperture setting.

With APS-C 24.2 MP imaging sensors having a 3.7µm pixel pitch, diffraction begins impacting sharpness when apertures narrower than f/5.9 are used. Results at f/8 begin to show very modest softening and at f/11, you are going to see the difference in your images. This is not to say that you should not use f/11, but you should be aware of the penalty being paid for using apertures narrower than this and be discerning with your exposure choices. Use the tool to learn how diffraction affects sharpness and you will be prepared to make knowledgeable decisions in the field.

Another consideration for the use of cameras with pixel-dense sensors is the shutter speed required to stop camera or subject motion. Because the pixel density in camera sensors has been increasing over the years, blur and a loss of pixel-level sharpness are increasingly likely due to camera and subject motion causing subject details to cross over pixels at a faster rate. That is, unless a faster minimum shutter speed is used for handholding (image stabilization also plays an important role) and/or photographing fast-moving subjects.

The old 1/(focal length * 1.6) rule to determine one's shortest shutter speed for handholding an APS-C camera (without the aid of image stabilization) may not be adequate for everyone. While this formula uses the easy-to-use 1.6 factor that matches the APS-C sensor angle of view difference, the field of view crop factor has nothing to do with the formula values needed. The pixel density of the imaging sensor is the real reason the faster speed has been needed. You may prefer to use the 1/(focal length * 2) as a better base estimate for handholding the SL2 and the other 24 MP APS-C models.

Another consideration for getting the most from a high resolution camera is the quality of the lens placed in front of it, as increased resolution will magnify any lens aberrations present. As always, the better the lens, the better the image quality.

Increase resolution without any other technological improvements and noise increase is to be expected. Fortunately, gains continue to be made in this regard and the SL2-sensor-sharing T7i turned in very good results. Again, I expected the SL2 to duplicate this performance.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 ISO Noise Comparison

The Kodak Color Control Patches shown in the standard ISO noise test results are generated from RAW images with (this is a key) no noise reduction (unless specifically indicated by the result set). These evenly-colored patches are brutal on sensor noise, making it readily apparent when it exists. Keep in mind that many real world subjects are more detailed and better hide noise – these samples represent a worst-case scenario.

Ctrl-click on the previous link to open the SL2 vs. SL1 comparison in a new tab. We saw the Rebel T6i taking on a nice increase in resolution in its sensor upgrade from the Rebel T5i while paying no noise penalty for doing so. The T7i at least matched the T6i's pixel-level noise and even appeared to slightly exceed it at very high ISO settings. The SL2, despite its resolution increase, shows very noticeably lower noise levels than its predecessor.

Unsurprising to me is that the SL2 has about the same amount of noise as the T7i. Ditto in the 80D noise comparison.

Regardless of its overall size, the SL2 delivers APS-C EOS class leading image quality in regards to noise levels, matching the performance of the 80D, T7i and other image sensor-sharing models. The differences between the current generation of EOS cameras and some older models make the upgrade a very attractive proposition. Comparisons against full frame models show the advantage of a larger sensor.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 No Lens

As the ISO setting increases, noise becomes more apparent. This is and always has been the rule. The big question is, how apparent is the difference between camera models? If you can't see the difference in the color block results, you will not likely discern it in your images either.

The SL2's ISO 100 results are very clean – this is the norm for Canon EOS cameras. Noise levels steadily increase as higher ISO settings are used until I get uncomfortable with noise levels at around ISO 6400. ISO 6400-captured images are noisy, but they can be usable. I consider APS-C ISO 12800 a last resort and a significant percentage of the details get lost in the low signal-to-noise ratio at ISO 25600. The ISO 51200 option is there, but its greatest value is from a marketing or bragging rights standpoint because results at this setting look terrible.

The RAW-captured standard results discussed above utilize Canon's DPP (Digital Photo Professional) Standard Picture Style with a sharpness setting of 1 (very low) and no noise reduction – a very real-world example for me. I use the Neutral Picture Style in-camera with RAW capture because it applies a lower contrast tone curve to images, providing a better picture of the camera's available dynamic range on the histogram shown on the LCD. Neutral Picture Style results appear somewhat dull and while there is a time to use the Neutral Picture Style in production, I usually change my RAW images to the Standard Picture Style immediately after importing them and then adjust sharpness to a lower-than-default level.

In addition to the standard SL2 test results, you will find a set of images showing the DPP auto-applied noise reduction settings. Noise reduction processing, available in various strengths in-camera or during post processing, can make a big difference in noticeable noise levels. The downside is that noise reduction is destructive to image details, so the optimal balance must be found and I suggest that you start with the off setting if shooting at ISO 100 or 200 and the low setting for the higher ISO settings. Or, better yet, shoot in RAW format and adjust to taste later.

Like many other recent EOS models, the SL2 features MSNR (Multi Shot Noise Reduction). MSNR merges information from multiple exposures captured in an automatic max-frame-rate burst into a single reduced noise JPG (only) image. While MSNR shows great improvement (roughly 2 stops – 80D example shown), it has limited usefulness in real world shooting.

The downsides to Multi-Shot Noise Reduction include: MSNR is currently available only with JPG output (I would like to see this feature added to Canon's Digital Photo Pro software for RAW capture processing – perhaps as another HDR preset). Multi-Shot Noise Reduction is not so useful with moving subjects (or with a moving camera). Long exposure NR, Dust Delete Data, Multiple Exposure and HDR Mode must be set to off to enable MSNR. The camera reverts back to Standard NR in Auto/Basic zone modes, during video recording and in Bulb mode. Flash is not supported in MSNR mode.

After the multi-shot burst is captured, the camera remains "busy" for a period of time while processing the merged image. So, while this feature is a nice idea, its limitations make it less useful in real-world applications. I am far more likely to use a low ISO setting with a longer exposure when shooting a stationary subject from a tripod.

The SL2's ISO settings are available in full stop increments from 100 through 25600 with extended H (51200) available. Having only full stop ISO settings available is a notable disadvantage of the Rebel series and 77D models compared to higher end options including the 80D with 1/3 stop ISO increments available. A shutter speed and/or aperture setting change is required for less-than-full-stop exposure adjustments.

Basically, even though the SL2 resides near the bottom of the price list, it delivers noise performance equal to those near the top. The SL2 is not targeted for professional use, though the image quality this camera offers should far surpass the minimum quality needed for professional use.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Front Angle

File Size and Media

The following table shows comparative RAW file sizes for a photo of a standard in-studio setup with a moderately-high amount of detail taken with the referenced Canon EOS DSLR body.

Model / File Size in MB @ ISO:(MP)100200400800160032006400128002560051200102400204800409600
Canon EOS Rebel SL2(24.2)30.631.332.233.433.435.037.039.542.447.050.9  
Canon EOS Rebel SL1(18.0)23.724.224.825.827.128.730.833.437.2    
Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D(24.0)30.631.232.133.334.937.039.642.447.051.1   
Canon EOS Rebel T6i / T6s(24.0)30.331.031.933.235.037.139.842.846.0    
Canon EOS Rebel T4i / T5i(18.0)24.124.525.226.127.629.031.133.737.4    
Canon EOS Rebel T6(18.0)24.725.125.826.727.929.331.433.9     
Canon EOS 77D(24.0)30.631.232.133.334.937.039.642.447.051.1   
Canon EOS 80D(24.2)31.231.932.734.035.937.940.643.747.5    
Canon EOS 7D Mark II(20.2)25.525.926.727.728.930.632.735.137.941.0   
Canon RAW file sizes increase with: 1. Resolution 2. Bit Depth (14-bit is better/larger) 3. Detail (noise adds detail, so high ISO file sizes increase). Memory and disk are cheap - buy more.

The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 writes image files to an SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I) memory card. For an ISO 100 image, you can roughly figure 1.3MB in RAW file size per megapixel of resolution. Increase the resolution and ... the files get larger and your memory cards hold less. Same with increasing the ISO. Buy plenty of capacity and multiple cards. Rotate cards to maintain a backup set until, minimally, you are able to get the images safely into your formal backup strategy (that includes off-site storage).

Hopefully your computer storage has capacity available, but if not, it is simple to add external storage.

Frame Rate, Buffer Depth, Shutter Sound

The Canon EOS SL2 gets a maximum frame rate of 5 fps. While that number is not going to have sports and action photographers clamoring to get their hands on this camera model, 5 fps is a respectable figure and the 1 fps upgrade over the SL1 is also respectable. My current daily-use cameras (EOS 5Ds R) are 5 fps and these cameras are adequate until the action gets fast.

ModelFPSMax JPGMax RAWShutter LagVF Blackout
Canon EOS M57/926n/a  
Canon EOS M67/9  n/a 
Canon EOS M104.610007  
Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D5.0Full6  
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D4.028/11407/875ms 
Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D6.0190/Full21/2770ms 
Canon EOS Rebel T6i / 750D5.0180/Full7/8  
Canon EOS Rebel T5i / 700D5.022/306/675ms 
Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D3.011106120ms170ms
Canon EOS 77D6.0190/Full21/2770ms 
Canon EOS 80D7.077/11020/2560msn/a
Canon EOS 7D Mark II10.01303155ms100ms
Canon EOS 6D Mark II6.520018/21  
View the full Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D specifications to compare additional cameras.

The frame rate increased and those using the JPG format can shoot at that rate until their memory card is full. However, those using RAW format (highly recommended) are going to find their SL2 buffer filling far too quickly in many instances, with only a just-over-1 second time period available. This is another spec the Rebel T7i remains advantaged by.

To test the Canon EOS Rebel SL2's high speed drive mode and RAW file buffer specs, the camera was configured to use ISO 100, a 1/4000 shutter speed (no waiting for the shutter operation), a wide open aperture (no time lost due to aperture blades closing) and manual focus (no focus lock delay). The lens cap remained on (insuring a black file and the smallest file size) and a freshly-formatted Lexar 128GB Professional 1000x UHS-II SDXC U3 Memory Card was loaded.

The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 consistently captured 6 RAW frames in .99 seconds to precisely match both the rated drive speed and the rated buffer depth. Once the buffer filled, an additional frame was captured at nearly the same rate, only .27 seconds later, and every .53 seconds thereafter. This performance should be considered best-possible for the referenced card and your in-the-field results will likely vary.

I have not seen Canon-published shutter lag specs for this camera, but it is quite responsive and able to capture well-timed frames.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Sound

Following are links to MP3 files to the sounds of the Canon EOS Rebel SL2.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 One Shot Mode
Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Burst Mode
Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Silent Mode
Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Silent Burst Mode
Burst Comparison: Rebel T7i/77D, Rebel SL2 and Rebel SL1

Camera sounds are recorded using a Tascam DR-07mkII Portable Digital Audio Recorder with record levels set to 50% at -12db gain and positioned 1" behind the rear LCD (the SL1 sound was recorded with an older recording setup). Live view shooting can also be used to further minimalize the Canon EOS Rebel SL2's audibility.

This is a relatively quiet-operating DSLR, especially with Silent single and continuous modes available.

An interesting new drive mode received by the SL2 is "Continuous shooting after 10 sec. self-timer". Configure the SL2 to take 2 to 10 shots in this mode, release the shutter and the camera will proceed to take that selected number of images after waiting 10 seconds. This is a nice option for placing yourself in a scene with multiple images available to choose from.

The SL2's max shutter speed remains Rebel-like 1/4000. While this speed is fast enough for most uses, those using extreme-wide apertures (such as f/1.4) under direct sunlight may find themselves wanting the 1/8000 option. A neutral density filter is often the answer for this situation.

Also Rebel-like is the 1/200 max flash synch speed. High speed sync is required for shorter exposures.

Autofocus

Surprising to me is that Canon opted to stay the course with the SL1's AF system being once again featured in the SL2. Why did Canon choose to re-use the SL1’s AF system in the SL2 instead of the more-advanced 45-pt system currently being put into many other models? No official Canon Inc. answer was available for this question; it is presumed that the decision was made to match the price point of this camera to its intended user as well as slotting it between the T6 and T7i. Still, the AF system alone can be a primary reason to upgrade to a DSLR camera from a point-and-shoot model or a smartphone, and the conventional phase detection AF system has not been sacrificed to gain the small size of this model.

The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D's AF system consists of 9 total AF points, featuring 8 points in a diamond pattern plus a center point. The f/5.6 max-aperture-compatible center AF point is a cross-type (sensitive to lines of contrast in two directions) with extra sensitivity enabled with an f/2.8 or wider lens in use.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 AF Point Comparison

SL2 | T7i | 77D | 80D | 7D II

Allow some room for slight error when comparing the above AF point spreads, but the viewfinder representations are at least close and are helpful in understanding the differences between the cameras. Obvious is that the full frame models give up some percentage of the viewfinder coverage to the smaller format options and the SL2 lacks the AF point density of its larger siblings. Not made obvious is that the full frame viewfinders are much larger than the APS-C models.

The SL2's center AF point working range extends down to -0.5 EV with the outer AF points rated to 0.5 EV.

Canon's excellent Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology continues to be featured in new models and with DPAF, the SL2 gains great advantage over its predecessor. The SL2's DPAF performs very similarly to the conventional AF system in terms of speed – it is very fast.

Live View and Movie focusing modes making use of the Dual Pixel CMOS AF include: Face Detection with Tracking, Smooth zone, and Live 1-point AF. All have proven work very well and the face detection technology is especially impressive. Note that the ability to adjust AF speed and tracking sensitivity is not provided in this implementation. This camera also supports AI Servo tracking AF and 3.5 fps burst mode during Live View in Smooth Zone and Single AF selection.

As with the 80D and Rebel T7i, the SL2's capacitive touchscreen allows for Touch Focus during both Live View still photography and before/during video recording. Just tap your finger on the LCD where you want the camera to focus and it happens – smoothly. Touch Focus is very simple and effective. Dual Pixel AF continuous focus during movie recording alone makes the SL2 upgrade worthwhile.

Sensor-based AF includes benefits over conventional phase-detection AF. The AF coverage area encompasses a full 80% of the frame (measured horizontally and vertically) with no limit on a "number" of focus points to select from or include in auto AF. No AF Microadjustment calibration is needed because the actual imaging sensor is being used for AF (vs. the focusing screen). And, AF can function with camera and lens combinations having an f/11 or wider aperture (vs. f/5.6 with the EOS SL2's conventional AF).

Canon EOS DSLRs all perform very well in one shot AF mode and the SL2 likewise delivers very good AF speed and consistency. While it focuses very consistently (most important), the review camera I have been using unfortunately focuses slightly in front of its subjects and, with the AF Microadjustment feature not included in this model, this SL2 needs a visit to Canon Service (or exchanged). I seldom encounter AF calibration problems with EOS cameras at a global level, but am confident that a simple adjustment is all that is needed to complete the package for the camera I am using.

AI Servo AF, with the camera is tracking a moving subject with the precise focusing distance at shutter release being predicted, is far more-challenging. When possible, I recommend using the center AF point with that point performing acceptably well. Expect peripheral AF points to perform at a lesser level.

Video

DSLR video has matured a lot and, especially with Dual Pixel CMOS AF in use, very high grade video quality is now the baseline of what you can expect from an EOS DSLR.

The SL2 records video in .MP4 format (IPB/IPB light) using the MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 codec. Time-lapse movies are recorded in .MOV format (ALL-I). Audio is recorded in AAC (.MP4) via dual front microphones (producing stereo sound) or the 3.5mm stereo input jack; no audio is recorded during Time-lapse Movie capture. Sound recording levels can be set to Auto, Manual or Disabled entirely. Wind Filter and Attenuator options can be set in the sound recording menu.

Available frame rates and compression include:

MOV (only used for time-lapse movies):
1920 x 1080 (Full HD): 30 fps (29.97 fps) / 25 fps
ALL-I compression only

MP4:
1920 x 1080 (Full HD): 60 fps (59.94 fps) / 50 fps / 30 fps (29.97 fps) / 25 fps / 24 fps (23.98 fps)
1280 x 720 (HD): 60 fps (59.94 fps) / 50 fps / 30 fps (29.97 fps) / 25 fps
User selectable IPB (Standard) or IPB (Light) compression

Several features have been added to Canon's latest SL-series model for the benefit of filmmakers, including the previously mentioned Dual Pixel CMOS sensor allowing for excellent subject tracking, a touch-screen vari-angle LCD, HDR and Time-lapse Movies.

Movie Servo AF performance utilizing the SL2's DPAF sensor is a significant reason to upgrade from this camera's predecessor. In addition to its subject tracking capability, the SL2's vari-angle LCD and its Touch Focus capability makes capturing high quality videos easier than ever.

In HDR Movie Mode, the camera will attempt to reduce highlight clipping with the result of increasing dynamic range when filming in high-contrast environments. To enable HDR Movie Mode, the camera must be set to a SCN Mode with recording set to 1080p, 30 or 25fps.

Creative Filters Mode options include one of five filter types: Memory, Dream, Old Movies, Dramatic B&W and Miniature Effect. Note that, when using the Miniature Effect filter, sound will not be recorded and Movie Servo AF will not be available.

Time-lapse movies can be created in nearly any mode (all except the Creative Filters Mode), and is enabled via the camera's menu system as are the time-lapse variables, shooting interval and number of shots. The shooting interval time can be set anywhere from 1-second to 99 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds while number of shots can be set from 2 to 3600. Time-lapse movies are recorded at 1080p, 30 or 25fps. During Time-lapse Movie capture, the camera's battery-saving Auto Off feature is disabled as is any lens Image Stabilization (if applicable).

The Video Snapshot feature, where short 2, 4 or 8 second videos [called video snapshots] can be organized into an album and played back with optional music, is also in this DSLR's bag of tricks.

The SL2 is not compatible with Canon's infrared remotes, but video and time-lapse recording can be started/stopped using the highly recommended Canon BR-E1 Bluetooth Remote accessory with the SL2's Remote Control Shooting menu option enabled. Unfortunately, as of publication time, the EOS Applications (iOS & Android) do not support remote video capture.

Overall, the SL2 gained a lot of upgrades that should make it attractive to filmmakers, either as a primary video camera or – more likely – a backup video camera. It is likely that a great number of photographers who purchase the SL2 will become interested in DSLR filmmaking as a result of testing the camera's easy-to-use video features.

Exposure/Metering System

The SL2 receives a 63-zone metering system. Metering modes include: Evaluative (linked to all AF points), Partial (center, approx. 9.0% of viewfinder), Spot (center, approx. 4.0% of viewfinder) and Center-weighted average. The metering range is EV 1–20.

Regretfully, Canon's amazing light flicker detection feature has been omitted from this model.

Live View metering modes include Evaluative (315-zone), Partial (6% of viewfinder area at center), Spot (2.6% of viewfinder area at center) and Center-weighted. The Live View meter range is EV 0-20.

Viewfinder

The SL2's viewfinder provides an approx. 95% view of the scene, meaning that some additional scene beyond what is seen in the viewfinder will be present in images. This is generally not a problem, but sometimes an unintended subject shows up in the border of the frame.

This is a pentamirror (lessor to a pentaprism) viewfinder as commonly featured in Rebel models and the viewfinder magnification spec is approx. 0.87x. The size of the viewfinder is comfortably large and quite useful.

This SL2 does not get Canon's intelligent viewfinder (featuring an LCD overlay) implementation, but an adequate amount of information is made available. Another missing feature (that I miss) is the electronic level, absent from both the viewfinder and the rear LCD.

Tour of the Canon EOS Rebel SL2

Canon has designed and produced a very large number of DSLR cameras and the maturity of EOS designs is clear. Those who have never used an EOS camera before will appreciate this maturity and maturity means that many camera models share design similarities, because what is good for one is often good for at least most. The shared design reduces (or eliminates) the learning curve required to switch between EOS camera models.

Back of the Camera

Looking at the back comparison between the SL2 and SL1, there is primarily one difference and that difference is a big one. The SL2 has a vari-angle LCD.

Camera Back View Comparison

SL2 | SL1 | T7i | 77D | 80D | 7D II | 6D II | T6 | M5

To compare the Rebel SL2 with many more Canon EOS camera models, use the site's camera body comparison tool.

The highly-useful vari-angle LCD has been finding a home on more and more EOS models and I very much welcome its arrival to the SL lineup. This is a 3.0" (77mm) LCD with approximately 1,040,000 dots and it features and a solid state structure design for clarity, durability and an approximately 170° viewing angle. Anti-smudge and anti-reflection coatings are not applied to this LCD, meaning that it is not quite as easy to clean and that reflections can sometimes affect viewing.

This LCD is found in many of Canon's current EOS models (including in the 80D, 77D, Rebel T7i, Rebel T6i and Rebel T5i). Having the LCD able to articulate into a wide range of angles is a big asset, making the camera easily usable in a variety of positions, including directed straight up from on the ground or held high overhead taking a selfie. Extended and forward-facing, this LCD makes self-recording easy.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 LCD Open

As touch control becomes more common in DSLRs, this feature also becomes more familiar and therefore, more useful. What am I using the LCD's touch capability for? Touching to select the focus point location in Live View or video recording is one of my favorite uses. Pinch-to-zoom when reviewing images and dragging to pan around a zoomed image. Jumping from one menu tab or option to a distant menu tab or option by touching that tab or option. Quick camera setting changes such as ISO – no need to click many times to go from a low ISO to a high ISO value – just touch the value. Practically all setting changes can be made using touch.

Showing great maturity and making use of the LCD are Canon's very easy to use and logically laid out menu systems. Aiding in ease of use are optional shooting screen, menu, mode and feature guides that, when enabled, show information about camera settings and options as they are being changed.

The Menu and Info button once again take up their Canon-standard positions on the top-left, readily found by the left thumb. The Live View/Video recording Start/Stop button is in its also-current-standard position (to the right of the viewfinder). Exposure lock and AF point selection buttons are located farther to the top right in stacked orientation. No AF-ON button is provided for back-button AF capability.

The additional real estate consumed by the vari-angle LCD forces some buttons to be moved just slightly in position but they of course retain the same functions. Notice the round dial-like ring (it's not a dial) around the set button? This ring implements the cross key functionality as seen on most of the Rebel models. Simply press the 4-way controller up, down or to either side to adjust settings and make selections. While this dial acts the same as the cross keys found on lower-end T6, I prefer the SL2's one-piece ring implementation much better. My thumb is nicely cradled within this ring, making it easier to use.

The SL2 saves space by incorporating the "Q" (Quick settings) button with the set button in the center of the ring. I like this arrangement as my thumb is already in position to use the cross keys to navigate the quick settings display. The set button can be programmed for one of 7 functions including depth of field preview.

All of the other rear buttons remain available and in their usual Rebel positions save the focus point select (+) and exposure lock (-) buttons that have been stacked. Stacked works great for me. The ubiquitous playback button and delete buttons are located below the round controller.

The entire camera back is nicely laid out and all of the buttons are very usable.

Top of the Camera

A number of changes have taken place on the top of the SL2.

Camera Top View Comparison

SL2 | SL1 | T7i | 77D | 80D | 7D II | 6D II | T6 | M5

The camera body top view comparison tool allows comparison of many additional Canon EOS models.

Starting on the left side, we find the first change – the addition of a wireless button, a feature currently gaining presence in various EOS models.

The next obvious change is the recession of the mode dial. While I was sure that this change provided better protection to the dial and that it appeared very aesthetically pleasing, it also appeared to be harder to access. I withheld further opinion until I had this camera in hand and am now happy to report that the dial is simple to use and the new design, omitting the common lock button and relying on the recession to prevent accidental changes, works very well.

A key to controlling the camera is the mode dial and the SL2 features fewer modes than the SL1. However, the SL2 provides an increased number of options via the multi-scene SCN mode.

Don't want to put any thought into your camera setup? The SL2 has you covered with the "A+" mode, referencing "Auto" combined with DIGIC 7 processor-powered artificial intelligence. While it could be referred to as the "Mindless" mode, that doesn't seem to give it the credit it deserves. There are times when even a seasoned photographer needs to pick up the camera and have it take a picture fast, without hesitating to check settings. This one does that.

SCN (Special Scene) mode is once again featured, allowing the photographer to give the camera a stronger hint to what is being photographed. Turn the mode dial to SCN, press "Q" and choose between Portrait, Group Photo, Landscape, Sports, Kids, Panning, Close-up, Food, Candlelight, Night Portrait, Handheld Night Scene and HDR Backlight Control. The camera will automatically choose the settings it thinks are ideal for your situation. How often will some of these be used? I'm guessing that the Candlelight option will not be called upon regularly by most. As I mentioned in the 80D review, pulling a camera out during a romantic candlelight dinner *may* sour the mood. There is no harm in having all of the modes available and they likely add nothing to the cost of the camera.

Creative Filters mode provides special effects including: Grainy B/W, Soft Focus, Fish-eye effect, Water painting effect, Toy camera effect, Miniature effect, HDR art standard, HDR art vivid, HDR art bold, and HDR art embossed.

Those with some basic photography knowledge can use the CA (Creative Auto) mode to make camera settings adjustments using easily-understandable words instead of numbers. The full set of creative mode options (P, Av, Tv, M and B) are provided for photographers to take as much control over their exposure settings as desired.

The SL2 adopts a new power button design, but continues to incorporate the seemingly-unrelated movie mode switch. Powering on the camera using the new switch is very easy and inadvertently turning it too far has not been an issue as the switch lever becomes less-protruding behind the thumb rest. For the same reason, it is not as easy to power off the camera while it is being held. Placed on a counter or other surface creating the from-the-top access, this switch becomes very easy.

A new display button now resides next to the ISO button and the orientation of these buttons along with the shutter release and top dial (sporting a new texture) has been modified, taking advantage of the deeper hand grip (a very nice feature improvement). The rear display is not proximity-detecting and requires a shutter release half-press or the display button to turn off.

Side of the Camera

With less real estate available on them, the sides of the camera are seldom exciting, but useful features are found here nonetheless.

Camera Side View Comparison

SL2 | SL1 | T7i | 77D | 70D | 7D II | 6D II | M5

The left side of the camera provides ports for a remote release (E3 type) and microphone input (3.5mm stereo mini jack). The right side of the camera provides ports for HDMI and USB (2.0) connections.

The SD memory card slot is located in the battery compartment under the camera. While this location works, I prefer the common side location for convenience. Expect non-model-specific camera plates to block the access door, requiring plate removal to pull the memory card or battery.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Side

Size of the Camera

The size chart is where the Rebel SL2 shows its advantage over the other DSLR models. None are smaller or lighter than the SL lineup.

ModelBody DimensionsCIPA Weight
Canon EOS M54.6 x 3.5 x 2.4"(115.6 x 89.2 x 60.6mm)15.1 oz (427g)
Canon EOS M64.4 x 2.7 x 1.8"(112.0 x 68.0 x 44.5mm)13.8 oz (390g)
Canon EOS M104.3 x 2.6 x 1.4"(108.0 x 66.6 x 35mm)10.6 oz (301g)
Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D4.8 x 3.6 x 2.7"(122.4 x 92.6 x 69.8 mm)16.0 oz (453g)
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D4.6 x 3.6 x 2.7"(116.8 x 90.7 x 69.4mm)14.4 oz (407g)
Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0"(131.0 × 99.9 × 76.2mm)18.8 oz (532g)
Canon EOS Rebel T6s / 760D5.2 x 4.0 x 3.1"(131.9 x 100.9 x 77.8mm)19.8 oz (560g)
Canon EOS Rebel T6i,T6s / 750D,760D5.2 x 4.0 x 3.1"(131.9 x 100.9 x 77.8mm)19.8 oz (560g)
Canon EOS Rebel T5i / 700D5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1"(133.1 x 99.8 x 78.8mm)20.5 oz (580g)
Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D5.1 x 4.0 x 3.1"(129.0 x 101.3 x 77.6mm)17.1 oz (485g)
Canon EOS 77D5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0"(131.0 × 99.9 × 76.2mm)19.0 oz (540g)
Canon EOS 80D5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1"(139.0 x 105.2 x 78.5mm)25.8 oz (730g)
Canon EOS 7D Mark II5.9 x 4.4 x 3.1"(148.6 x 112.4 x 78.2mm)32.1 oz (910g)
Canon EOS 6D Mark II5.7 x 4.4 x 2.9"(144.0 x 110.5 x 74.8mm)27.0 oz (765g)
View the full Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D specifications to compare additional cameras.

Mirrorless models, eliminating the mirror box and phase detection AF system, are the smaller and lighter options.

Keep in mind are that the SL2 keeps its tiny dimensions even with the vari-angle LCD and the increased grip depth. These attributes contribute to the small weight gain this model accepts. Of course, I consider both of those feature changes as quite positive despite the dimension adjustments they brought.

The grip is just large enough to be comfortable with the pinky curled under the camera and no fingers pressing into the lens when solidly grasping the camera.

Build Quality and Durability

It is not the most-robust camera in Canon's lineup and light weight tends not to produce a rock-solid feel. But, especially for the price, the SL2 has a very nice quality construction and the rubberized grip surface helps to avoid the plastic feel. Dials and buttons provide positive feedback when pressed and turned.

While nearly all consumer electronics made today feature some level of moisture control, the SL2 is not specified as having weather sealing. Care should be taken to avoid moisture and dust – use a cover during those encounters.

Additional Features

The Rebel SL2 has built-in Wi-Fi and NFC capability, providing easy transfer of images and movies to compatible mobile devices using Canon's free Camera Connect app (iOS | Android). With lots of potential awaiting development, this app provides some remote control of the camera's settings and shutter when shooting still images. Using Dual Pixel AF, the focus point can be positioned remotely via live view on the device and captured images can be viewed/downloaded remotely. Wireless remote printing to a compatible printer is also supported via WiFi.

The camera’s built-in NFC (Near Field Communication) allows quick and simple pairing to a compatible Android device, or devices that support NFC like the Canon Connect Station CS100 photo/video storage and sharing device.

The Rebel SL2 has a self-cleaning sensor unit that, like most of the other recent similar systems, worked fine for me – I have no issues to report with sensor dust.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Pop-Up Flash

Flash

As with all of Canon's other recent DSLR cameras, flash settings can be controlled from the menu which includes an extensive range of controls for built in, hot-shoe-mounted and remote flashes. Simply double-press the camera's flash button (or single press the flash button with an external Speedlite mounted) for instant access to the Flash Function Setting Screen. The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 is also fully compatible with Canon's incredible RF remote flash system including the Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT Flash and Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter.

Note that the SL2's built-in flash does not function as an Integrated Speedlite Transmitter for optical (not RF) wireless control of multiple off-camera EOS Speedlites. Many higher-end models offer this nice feature and this feature can be a differentiator for those wanting this function.

Battery

The Rebel SL2 utilizes the same Li-ion battery pack found in the Rebel T7i and some other recent camera models, the LP-E17 Battery. This is a larger capacity battery than found in the SL1 for more shots per charge.

This little battery's life rating is a healthy approx. 650 shots (at 73°F/23°C, AE 50%, FE 50%), a very significant increase over the SL1's 380 shot spec. As always, battery life can vary greatly depending on how the camera is being used with flash, Live View, video recording, temperature and other factors coming into play. That the battery level indicator provides 4 steps of range is nice, but that the battery is not keyed to prevent improper insertion (it goes in 4 different ways) is annoying.

The LP-E17 is charged with the included Canon LC-E17. This is a great compact charger that plugs directly into the wall. Optional is powering the camera directly from the wall using the AC Adapter AC-E6N or from the car using the DC Coupler DR-E18.

Dedicated Accessories

This model is light on dedicated accessories, lacking even an optional battery grip. Between the SL2's built-in features and the huge range of compatible non-dedicated accessories, few options are truly lacking otherwise.

Accessories

I always say it, but the statement is timeless. When you buy a Canon DSLR, you are buying into an incredible family of lenses, flashes and other accessories. The camera body (or multiple bodies as is more frequently the case today) is the base your system is built on and a lens is the next essential piece of kit. The SL2 is compatible with Canon EF, EF-S, TS-E and MP-E lenses (EF-M models are not compatible).

The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 is available in a body-only kit (no lens) or in a kit with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Lens. While this lens is a nice match for the SL2 in size and weight and it has reasonable image quality for its very low price, better grade lenses are available.

The lens used on any DSLR can make a big difference in image quality and the lens recommendations page has the most up-to-date list of the best lens options. A general purpose lens is usually the first needed in a kit. Then add, minimally, a telephoto zoom lens and a wide angle zoom lens to make your kit especially versatile.

Utilizing this camera's new Bluetooth capability is the Canon BR-E1 Bluetooth Remote. Want to be part of your own family picture? Or just don't want to deal with a remote release cord when using a tripod? This is an accessory you may want. In addition to being able to provide non-line-of-sight remote release functionality, this little device is also able to independently control AF and focal length zooming on compatible cameras and lenses (limited at this time).

The SL2 is not compatible with Canon's N3 wired remotes, but can use the basic Remote Switch RS-60E3.

Browse the reviews section of the site to find many more compatible accessories including flash systems, tripods & heads, cases and much more.

Price

A very attractive feature of this camera is the low price. The only current-model Canon DSLR priced lower is the Rebel T6. For the additional features not found in that model, the Rebel SL2 is a very good value and a consideration for even those with a stronger budget.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Swallowtail Butterfly Sample Picture

The above image was captured by the SL2 using the announced-at-the-same-time Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM Lens (another bargain) at f/2.8. This combo is a joy to work with and subjects abound for it.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Mushroom Sample Picture

Wrap Up

There are so many features available in this camera that it is unrealistic to fit them all into a concise review. Canon has published a huge owner's manual (a link to the manual is provided at the beginning of this review) that highlights all of the features found on this camera and explains their use. The manual will tell you all about a large number of features including Auto Lighting Optimizer, Chromatic Aberration Correction, Peripheral Illumination Correction, remote control via a USB-connected computer, flash setup and control, High ISO Noise Reduction, Long Exposure Noise Reduction, Highlight Tone Priority ... and many, many other topics. Read the manual, go use your camera, repeat.

Owning a Canon product gives you access to Canon support and the support I have been provided by Canon's USA division is excellent. When I call for support, I get an intelligent person who sincerely wants to help me with whatever my question or problem is (I challenge them sometimes). Canon repair service, though I seldom need it, is very fast and reliable.

The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 to be used for this review was ordered online/retail.

Alternatives

Is the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 the right camera for you? As always, the answer is "Yes" for some and "No" for others. Comparisons are helpful for making that determination. For someone considering the EOS Rebel SL2 purchase, the other current EOS models that should be considered include the EOS Rebel T6 and the EOS Rebel T7i.

We include links to a couple of detailed comparisons at the end of this review, but the Canon EOS Canon EOS Rebel SL2 vs. Rebel T6 comparison and Canon EOS Canon EOS Rebel SL2 vs. Rebel T7i comparison show the cameras' specifications side-by-side.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Top

Summary

I know, you've been wanting to ask the question since hearing the model name of this camera. What does the "SL" in the SL2 model name mean? Canon's official answer is: "It doesn't have a meaning". I hate to leave you disappointed, so ... consider SL to mean "Small" and "Light" as those are hallmarks of this camera.

The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D is a small and light camera that is easy to take with you everywhere. If you always have a camera available, you are going to get images that were not otherwise possible. And getting an image in the first place is always an advantage.

Still, this camera does not make you give up the features and image quality you love. You get a comfortable-to-use grip that is adequately-sized to provide solid control of the camera. You get a TTL optical viewfinder and fast phase-detection AF along with the excellent Dual Pixel AF system that performs extremely well including during video capture.

In addition, you get compatibility with the entire Canon EOS system of accessories. Highly attractive is the big APS-C sensor, shared with many other current EOS models, bringing the similarly-excellent image quality to the little SL2. Icing on the cake is the affordability of this model. Beginners looking for their first DSLR, parents wanting a camera that can go with them, any photographer on a tight budget, advanced photographers who need a small/light backup camera, professionals needing a camera that may be sacrificed during a shoot and a host of others will put an SL2 in their kits.

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My Recommended Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D Retailers

Where you buy your gear matters. You expect to get what you ordered and you want to pay a low price for it. The retailers I recommend below are the ones I trust for my own purchases. Get your Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D now from:

B&H Photo
Adorama
Amazon.com
Beach Camera or BuyDig.com
the Canon Store (new)
eBay (Choose trustworthy sellers only)
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