Like the EOS Rebel T-something-i models before it, the Canon EOS Rebel T6i / 750D delivers professional grade image quality in a compact, lightweight, feature-filled, easy-to-use body that carries a very affordable price tag. These are the qualities that have anchored the flagship Canon Rebel model in the top-selling DSLRs category for years and this design approach has been continued with the Rebel T6i. Though the T6i is the upgrade to the prior flagship Rebel model, the T5i, a new flaship Rebel model that slots above the T6i has been simultaneously introduced. Nearly identical to the T6i is the Canon EOS Rebel T6s / 760D. While the T6s has a higher price tag, it has a superset of the features found on the T6i. I'll share my preferences along with the model differences in the Rebel T6s Review.
Note that, with these two cameras being nearly identical, I chose to complete this review using the Rebel T6s model. Essentially, in areas where the two cameras differ in their handling/layout, the T6i is nearly identical to the T5i/T4i design that I am very familar with. The two cameras are similar enough to not warrant complete separate reviews and I felt that it was more important to learn the updated T6s design.
At review time, the Canon EOS Rebel line (***D and ****D) is the most popular DSLR camera line on the market and, at T6i announcement time, 3 Rebel models were included in the top 4 overall bestselling DSLR cameras list. [per Canon USA] As usual with a new Rebel model introduction, the former Rebel models remain in the EOS lineup with the T5i becoming the mid-level model and the best-selling T5 remains the entry level option.
While the new-at-the-time EF-S 18-55mm STM Kit Lens was arguably the biggest upgrade that came with the T5i, the T6i's upgrade package is far more significant.
Let's dive into the Rebel T6i review with a look at the new, 24 megapixel sensor:
|Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||4.3µm||5184 x 3456||18.0||.87x||95%||f/6.8|
|Canon EOS Rebel T6i,T6s / 750,760D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.2||.82x||95%||f/6.0|
|Canon EOS Rebel T5i / 700D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||4.3µm||5184 x 3456||18.0||.85x||95%||f/6.8|
|Canon EOS Rebel T4i / 650D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||4.3µm||5184 x 3456||18.0||.85x||95%||f/6.8|
|Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||4.3µm||5184 x 3456||18.0||.85x||95%||f/6.8|
|Canon EOS Rebel T2i / 550D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||4.3µm||5184 x 3456||18.0||.87x||95%||f/6.8|
|Canon EOS Rebel T1i / 500D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||4.7µm||4752 x 3168||15.1||.87x||95%||f/7.5|
|Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||4.3µm||5184 x 3456||18.0||.80x||95%||f/6.8|
|Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D||1.6x||22.2 x 14.7mm||5.2µm||4272 x 2848||12.0||.80x||95%||f/8.3|
|Canon EOS 70D||1.6x||22.5 x 15.0mm||4.1µm||5472 x 3648||20.2||.95x||98%||f/6.6|
|Canon EOS 60D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||4.3µm||5184 x 3456||18.0||.95x||96%||f/6.9|
|Canon EOS 7D Mark II||1.6x||22.4 x 15.0mm||4.1µm||5472 x 3648||20.2||1.0x||100%||f/6.6|
|Canon EOS 6D||1.0x||35.8 x 23.9mm||6.54µm||5472 x 3648||20.2||.71x||97%||f/10.5|
|Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R||1.0x||36.0 x 24.0mm||4.14µm||8688 x 5792||50.6||.71x||100%||f/6.7|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark III||1.0x||36.0 x 24.0mm||6.25µm||5760 x 3840||22.3||.71x||100%||f/10.1|
When I first learned that the Rebel T6i had received a 24 megapixel sensor, my first thought was that image sharpness and noise levels were going to suffer. Our standard image quality testing using the enhanced ISO 12233 resolution chart quickly put the first concern to rest. As can be seen in the Rebel T6i vs. T5i comparison, the new camera shows no sign of image sharpness degradation and indeed shows a nice resolution gain.
The 7D Mark II and 70D were the previous Canon APS-C resolution record holders. The T6i adds 4 megapixels of resolution to these bodies. Here is the Canon EOS T6i vs. 7D Mark II comparison. Again the T6i is the comparison winner in this regard.
The T6i also surpasses the previous Canon full frame resolution record holder, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III (the 50.6 megapixel Canon EOS 5Ds and 5Ds R were announced at the same time as the T6i and T6s). Here is the Canon EOS T6s vs. 5D Mark III comparison. The full frame sensor is showing some of its inherent advantage in this comparison, but still, the T6i makes a quite impressive showing.
A topic that should be touched on here is diffraction. Because the density of this sensor is so extreme, the image-softening effects of diffraction begin to be noticeable at aperture as wide as f/6.0. The softness increase is gradual and apertures considerably narrower will sometimes be desired, but the photographer needs to understand the cost vs. benefits for doing so. Here is an f/4 vs f/8 example.
Another topic that should be touched on here 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 on the more-dense sensors. Unless ... a faster minimum shutter speed is used for handholding (image stabilization also plays an important role) and for 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 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 T6i bodies.
One more consideration is the quality of the lens placed in front of this camera. Increased resolution will magnify any lens aberrations present. As always, the better the lens, the better the image quality.
Fully eliminating my high density sensor fears were the high ISO noise test results. Because looking at where we have been helps us appreciate or realize where we are, I preloaded that link with a comparison to the Rebel T5i and ISO 1600 selected. Ctrl-click on the link to open the comparison in a new tab.
While taking on a nice increase in resolution, to T6i appears to pay no noise penalty for doing so. Not only does the T6i match the T5i's pixel-level noise, it slightly exceeds it, showing very slightly less noise over the entire ISO setting range. I'm pleased.
Contrary to what is indicated in the noise comparison tool, the Rebel T6i has ISO 25600 (H) available. I apologize for the ISO 25600 results going missing; however, it is unlikely that you will want to use ISO 25600 where it seems that noise exceeds subject detail in image coverage. Results at ISO 12800 are also very rough and you are going to still know that a high ISO setting was used at ISO 6400. ISO 3200 is the highest setting that I find results acceptable for many uses and at ISO 1600, noise levels are very good even without noise reduction being applied.
Results at ISO 100 are ... beautifully clean.
Additional T6i example sets available in the noise comparison tool include JPG STD NR (JPG Capture, Standard Picture Style, Standard Noise Reduction) and RAW STD NR (RAW Capture, Standard Picture Style, Standard Noise Reduction). These two sets utilize Canon's default USM sharpness settings that are too strong for my taste (though the increased default sharpness will make softer lenses appear sharp). Look for the bright borders to the black lines when comparing the noise-reduced images to the "Standard" results – the color blocks should not have halos around them. On the positive side, this sharpening appears better at higher ISO settings, with image details remaining sharp while noise is significantly removed.
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. There is a time for the use of the Neutral Picture Style in production, but I usually change my RAW images to the Standard PS immediately after importing them and then adjust sharpness to a lower level.
The two sets of with-noise reduction samples utilize Canon's default "Standard" reduction level. The T6i offers three levels of in-camera noise reduction and unlimited levels are available in the various post processing options. The RAW vs. in-camera JPG noise reduction samples are not identical, but I don't see a compelling reason to use in-camera JPG noise reduction over having the ability to adjust noise reduction during post-processing. Noise reduction can noticeably eliminate noise, but the collateral damage is elimination of some subject details along with the noise. Sharpness can also be decreased. Ideal is to dial in the right amount of noise reduction for your particular image. I seldom use noise reduction in the lower ISO range.
Multi-shot Noise Reduction (MSNR) (not shown) is an additional in-camera option available in many of the latest EOS models including the T6i. MSNR merges information from multiple (four) exposures taken in a max-frame-rate burst into a reduced noise image. The concept makes a lot of sense. MSNR provides a remarkable one stop or more of noise reduction, but ... I still have not found a compelling use for this feature.
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 T6i reverts back to Standard NR in Auto/Basic zone modes, during video recording, in Bulb mode and when the camera is powered off. Flash is not supported in MSNR mode. After the 4 shot burst is captured, the camera remains "busy" for a noticeable 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.
EOS T6i ISO settings are available only in full stop settings from 100 through 12800 with extended H (25600) available. Not having 1/3 stop ISO increments is a limitation of the entire Rebel line (at least up until this review date).
What Canon has done with this new 24 megapixel CMOS sensor and its imaging pipeline is really quite impressive. It is not only the highest resolution Canon APS-C sensor, but it is also the best performing overall.
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)||100||200||400||800||1600||3200||6400||12800||25600||51200||102400||204800|
|Canon PowerShot G1 X||(14.3)||19.1||19.6||20.2||20.9||21.7||23.1||24.9||26.2|
|Canon EOS Rebel SL1||(18.0)||23.7||24.2||24.8||25.8||27.1||28.7||30.8||33.4||37.2|
|Canon EOS Rebel T6i / T6s||(24.0)||30.3||31.0||31.9||33.2||35.0||37.1||39.8||42.8||46.0|
|Canon EOS Rebel T4i / T5i||(18.0)||24.1||24.5||25.2||26.1||27.6||29.0||31.1||33.7||37.4|
|Canon EOS Rebel T5||(18.0)||25.4||25.9||26.6||27.5||28.8||30.2||32.5||35.1|
|Canon EOS 70D||(20.2)||25.1||25.7||26.5||27.7||29.3||31.1||33.3||35.9||39.5|
|Canon EOS 7D Mark II||(20.2)||25.5||25.9||26.7||27.7||28.9||30.6||32.7||35.1||37.9||41.0|
|Canon EOS 6D||(20.2)||25.3||25.6||26.0||26.7||27.9||29.2||30.9||33.1||35.3||38.6||42.5|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark III||(22.3)||28.6||29.0||29.5||30.3||31.6||33.1||35.3||37.8||40.6||44.7||49.2|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark II||(21.1)||26.9||27.1||27.7||28.6||29.7||31.3||33.6||36.7||41.2|
The Rebel T6i writes image files to an SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card. SD Speed Class 6 cards (rather slow) are the minimum requirement for video recording and speed up to those supported by the UHS-I standard are supported. As an EOS DSLR generalization: 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. That memory card prices have been diving makes this issue minor in terms of pain. Buy plenty of capacity and multiple cards. Rotate cards to maintain a backup set until your are able to get the images safely into your formal backup strategy (make sure that includes an off-site storage).
Hopefully your computer storage has capacity available, but if not, it is simple to add external storage.
Here is a look at the Rebel T6i's frame rate performance capabilities (manufacturer specifications):
|Model||FPS||Max JPG||Max RAW||Shutter Lag||VF Blackout|
|Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D||4.0||28/1140||7/8||75ms|
|Canon EOS Rebel T6i,T6s / 750D,760D||5.0||180/Full||7/8||75ms|
|Canon EOS Rebel T5i / 700D||5.0||22/30||6/6||75ms|
|Canon EOS Rebel T4i / 650D||5.0||30||6||75ms|
|Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D||3.7||34||6||90ms||130ms|
|Canon EOS Rebel T2i / 550D||3.7||34||6||90ms||130ms|
|Canon EOS Rebel T1i / 500D||3.4||170||9||90ms||130ms|
|Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D||3.0||69||6|
|Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D||3 / 2||830||5||110ms||150ms|
|Canon EOS 70D||7.0||40/65||15/16||65ms||97ms|
|Canon EOS 60D||5.3||58||16||59ms||100ms|
|Canon EOS 7D Mark II||10.0||130||31||55ms||100ms|
|Canon EOS 6D||4.5||73/1250||14/17||<60ms|
|Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R||5.0||31/Full||12/14||TBA||TBA|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark III||6.0||65/16k||13/18||59ms||125ms|
To test the Canon EOS Rebel T6i's rated 5 fps drive mode and 7 (8 with UHS-I) RAW file buffer specs, I configured the camera 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 fast memory card was loaded.
Using a Sony 32GB Class 10 UHS-I (SF32UX) SDHC Card (Max. Read/Write Speed: 94/45 MB/s), the Rebel T6i captured 8 frames in 1.43 seconds for a 4.9 frame per second experienced frame rate that essentially matches the rated drive speed and exactly matches the rated buffer depth. After filling the buffer with 8 frames, a 9th frame is captured .36 seconds later and the T6i then continues to capture images at a 2 fps rate.
If shooting action, the 8-frame buffer is ... very small. Timing the start of a burst just as the subject comes into the ideal framing and/or position becomes more critical when the buffer depth is shallow. Those shooting in JPG format can capture significantly more frames than those shooting in RAW, but ... I always encourage shooting in RAW to get the best image quality, and especially from post processing.
If shooting fast action, the 5 fps rate seems somewhat slow regardless of the file format in use. Listen to that rate yourself using the MP3 files capturing "The Sounds of the Canon EOS Rebel T6i".
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 Rebel T6i is a relatively quiet DSLR. Live view shooting can also be utilized to further minimalize the Rebel T6i's audibility.
The Rebel lineup continues to receive 75ms shutter lag ratings, an improvement over the 95ms rating of earlier models, but still not as responsive as the higher end EOS models. Is the difference noticeable? If you are used to precision shooting with a faster model, yes. Note that the shutter lag is slightly increased to 100ms in Silent Mode and seemingly-long 250ms was the lag time rating I was provided for Silent Mode with-flash images.
I mentioned the drive speed being tested at 1/4000. This shutter speed is extremely fast and can stop most action, but higher end cameras feature a 1/8000 max shutter speed that is sometimes advantageous, especially when using ultra-wide aperture (such as f/1.4) lenses in bright daylight.
Critical to image quality is autofocus (unless, of course, manual focusing is being used). If a photo is not properly focused, the best camera and lens image quality in the world is not going to save that image. A camera's image quality simply doesn't matter if the subject is out of focus.
To that end, the T6i has received the best AF system ever found in a Rebel model. Those of us who remember the Canon EOS 7D, remember much ado being made about its great-performing, advanced 19-point all cross-type AF system. That system eventually made it into the Canon EOS 70D and has now trickled down to the EOS Rebel T6i.
Here are some images and diagrams illustrating the T6i's AF structure (borrowed from the 7D review):
DSLRs utilize the main mirror to reflect the through-the-lens image into the viewfinder. The main mirror is partially transparent, allowing some light to hit a secondary mirror behind it. The secondary mirror reflects light into the AF sensor housed below. The AF sensor, in connection with the fast DIGIC 6 processor, performs phase detection AF with incredible speed. There are far more additional reasons to do so, but the phase detection AF system is reason alone to select a DSLR over another type of camera. And the T6i's phase detection AF system is one of the best available.
Featured in the 7D-inherited AF system are 19 all-cross-type AF points (vs. 9 cross-type AF points in the T5i). Cross-type points are sensitive to lines of contrast in two directions – for potentially significantly better focusing performance. The center AF point remains an extra-sensitive type with an f/2.8 max aperture or wider lens attached. Also inherited from the 7D is the Zone AF feature as demonstrated below.
Like a subset of the all-AF-points-active automatic AF point selection setting, Zone AF divides the 19 AF points into five selectable focusing zones. All focus points in the selected AF Zone will be used to determine the proper focus distance. This allows you to isolate AF sensitivity to a section of the frame to better influence the AF system's subject selection while maintaining ideal composition. All-focus-points-active and single AF point modes remain available as always. The Spot AF mode found in the 7D is not available.
When using auto AF point selection, the camera tries to identify what intended subject(s) is(are). The camera often does a good job at this, but the nearest subject with detail under a focus point is generally the selection. While auto AF point selection is useful in some situations, I usually prefer to use single point AF most of the time. This allows me better control over the point of focus.
When using Zone AF or 19-point automatic selection AF, color tone detection can be enabled, helping AF to focus on and track a subject. With the color tone detection feature enabled, the camera places more priority on color vs. identifying the closest subject.
Among the projects I gave the T6s bodies was some fast action sports photography at a large track meet. As I found before, this autofocus system works very well and I'm pleased to see it now in the Rebel line.
Incredible video quality for a low price has become standard with DSLR cameras, and as expected this new Rebel follows that trend. But, the primitive AF performance in movie mode (if the camera even has AF in video mode – only recent ones do) has been a barrier to enjoyment of this feature for many. The good news is that Canon's Rebel series has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. While not as fast or as smoothly transitioning as the 70D / 7D Mark II's Dual Pixel AF, the T6i's new Hybrid CMOS AF III sensor allows for more than satisfactory Movie AF results that many users will find sufficient for their video needs.
The Rebel T6i's Hybrid CMOS AF III sensor is two generations newer than the Hybrid CMOS AF found in its predecessor, the Rebel T5i. The newer Hybrid CMOS AF III provides an expanded AF coverage that encompasses approximately 80% of the frame. Thankfully, AF MicroAdjustment (a feature not found in the T6i) is irrelevant when using Live View and shooting video in continuous focus mode as the actual imaging sensor is being used for AF. And, AF can function with camera and lens combinations having an f/11 or even narrower aperture (vs. f/5.6 with the T6i's conventional AF). In fact, Canon USA claims that there is no aperture limit regarding AF in Live View, though they admit that using narrow maximum aperture lenses (or narrow maximum aperture lenses coupled with extenders, especially) may cause AF to become very slow to acquire focus, or simply unable to focus on low-contrast subjects or during otherwise challenging AF situations.
Live View AF modes include Face Tracking, FlexizoneAF(Multi), and FlexizoneAF[Single]. FlexiZone-Multi allows one of 9 zones for auto AF to work within – similar to Zone AF mode. FlexiZone-Single allows selection of one AF point – similar to One Shot AF mode.
In still photo mode, Live View has still not surpassed conventional AF in terms of speed, but there is an improvement over the previous Hybrid CMOS AF generation. As expected, the T6i's overall Movie AF Servo performance falls between the Rebel SL1 and the EOS 70D.
Selecting a lens to use for video recording invites a brief discussion. The image quality a lens delivers of course remains important for video needs, but the lens' focus system is also important if using Movie Servo AF. Video AF prefers a smooth-focusing lens to make focus transitions easier to watch – and not jerky. And a fast-focusing Ring USM may not be what you want for this work. Canon is promoting the STM lenses for their not-as-fast-but-smoother focusing traits as well as for their quietness (note that the EF 40mm STM Lens and Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens do not meet that last qualification). A noisy lens focusing motor will audibly show up in sound recorded at the camera. Many of the better Canon lenses will perform very well for your video capture, and if AF results are less than ideal, manual focus is always an option.
However, the best approach for capturing clean audio may be to utilize a portable digital audio recorder (Tascam and Zoom produce excellent models) positioned close to your subject(s) and using the camera's own audio recording to help synchronize the clean audio with your video in post processing.
Here are some of the T6i's video features. Available NTSC and PAL recording sizes and frame rates are:
1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps) (actually 29.97, 25, 23.98 fps)
1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps) (actually 59.94, 50, 29.97, 25 fps)
640 x 480 (30, 25 fps) (actually 29.97, 25 fps)
Once again, with the ability to start new video files during filming, the 4GB /12 min HD Movie clip limit has been surpassed. "Legal reasons" (to fall below the EU's higher tax rate video camera designation) limit the maximum total HD clip length to 29 minutes and 59 seconds (generating three files). A long duration video split into multiple files will likely be a minor inconvenience for anyone with moderate video processing experience. However, the 29 min. 59 sec. total recording time can prove detrimental if care isn't taken to restart recording once the camera has hit its duration limit (i.e., if being used for a wedding and it runs longer than expected).
The .MP4 file format is used with MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 and selectable IPB (Bi-directional compression) in two compression formats, standard (as featured in previous video-enabled Canon DSLRs) and light. The light method of compression "... is recorded at a low bit rate for playback on various devices, resulting in a smaller file size than with [Standard]. Therefore, you can shoot longer than with [Standard]." [Canon]
Video exposure control is via Program AE or fully Manual exposure. ISO 100 through 12800 are available (though extended ISO range must be enabled for ISO 12800 use) as well as ±3 stops of exposure compensation in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments.
Linear PCM audio recording options are the internal microphone capturing stereo sound or the 3.5mm stereo input jack. Manual audio level control is available (64 steps) as is a wind filter/attenuator. The T6i does not have a headphone jack.
Both chromatic aberration, distortion and peripheral illumination and correction are available in the T6i's video mode. Clean HDMI out is provided, a first for the Rebel line.
New to the T6i (and T6s) is that the Miniature Effect Creative Filter can be used during movie capture. And just as in still capture, the area of sharp focus is user selectable. Also new to the T6i/T6s is the ability to create Video Snapshot Albums. A Video Snapshot Album consists of a series of movies (2, 4 or 8 seconds long, called Video Snapshots) which can be combined to show highlights of an event. Background music can even be applied to a Video Snapshot Album upon playback, and the music is completely up to you. You can load any music file (as long as it is encoded in a widely accepted file standard) for playback during Video Snapshot Album viewing, though Canon warns, "Music recorded on the memory card must be used for private enjoyment. Do not violate the rights of the copyright holder." [Canon]
The bottom line is that EOS T6i can help you produce professional looking videos at a very attractive price point.
The EOS Rebel T6i receives a new 7,560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor with the area divided into 63 segments (9×7). Metering modes available are Evaluative, Center-weighted evaluative, Partial and Spot metering.
An incredible T6i feature first seen on the EOS 7D Mark II is light flicker detection and shutter timing to avoid the dim part of the cycle.
If you have ever photographed under flickering lights, such as the sodium vapor lamps especially common at sporting venues, you know what a problem that type of lighting can cause. One image is bright and the next is significantly underexposed with a completely different color cast. The bigger problem occurs when using fast/short action-stopping shutter speeds under these lights.
I'll borrow the light flicker detection and avoidance example from the Canon EOS 7D Mark II review:
In the top half of the following example are 8 consecutive frames captured in 10 fps burst with a 1/1000 second shutter speed. The subject is a white wall and the lights are fluorescent tubes (I had to go all the way to my basement to find these two sets of four 4' fluorescent tube lights). All images were identically custom white balanced from the center of an optimally-timed image. What you see is the frame capture frequency synching with the light flicker's frequency to cause a different result in almost every frame.
The killer problem for post processing is that the entire frame is not evenly affected. Correcting this issue is a post processing nightmare. The cause of this problem is that, at fast/short shutter speeds, the flicker happens while the shutter curtain is not fully open.
Because the shutter opens and closes only in the up and down directions (with camera horizontally oriented), the area affected runs through the frame in the long direction regardless of the camera's orientation during capture. When the flicker-effected area is fully contained within the frame, the amount of area affected is narrower at faster shutter speeds and wider with longer shutter speeds.
At significantly longer shutter speeds, the effect from the flickering lights is better averaged in the exposures. At 1/25 second, a reference image I captured during the same test looks very nice.
In this light flicker test, I shot at 1/500, 1/1000 (as shown) and 1/2000 seconds. The 1/500 second test showed approximately 2/3 of the frame severely affected at most, but the 10 frames captured around the most-effected frame had various amounts of one frame edge strongly affected. As you would expect, the 1/2000 second test showed an even narrower band of the flicker's effect running through the image (a smaller slit of fast-moving shutter opening being used), but ... I'm guessing that there are not many venues with flickering-type lighting strong enough to allow use of this shutter speed at a reasonable ISO setting. The 1/500 and 1/1000 settings are more real world settings.
The bottom set of results show off the awesome Anti-flicker mode (note that the T6i frame rate is 1/2 that of the tested 7D II). The only difference in the capture of the second set of images was that Anti-flicker mode was enabled. These were a random selection of 8 consecutive frames, but the results from all Anti-flicker mode enabled frames were identical regardless of shutter speed tested. I'm not going to say that these results are perfectly-evenly lit, but ... they are dramatically better than the normal captures and you will not see the less-than-perfectly-even lighting in most real world photos without a solid, light-colored background running through the frame.
When enabled (the default is disabled), Flicker Mode adjusts the shutter release timing very slightly so that the dim cycle of the lighting is avoided. In single shot mode, the shutter release lag time is matched to the light flicker cycle's maximum output. In continuous shooting mode, the shutter lag and the frame rate are both altered for peak light output capture. In my tests above, the frame rate was reduced by 1-2 fps and shutter lag can be affected, making the camera feel slightly less responsive.
When light flicker is detected but flicker mode is not enabled, a flashing Flicker! warning shows in the viewfinder. The FLICKER warning shows solid when a flicker is detected and the camera’s setting is enabled. Flicker detection has been working very well for me. From my own basement to an indoor sports venue to a trade show floor, I've seen the flashing "Flicker!" warning and enabling the Anti-Flicker mode has resulted in optimal image capture.
Since the viewfinder's metering system is required for flicker detection, this feature is not available in Live View mode (due to the mirror being locked up). The mirror lockup feature is also disabled when Anti-flicker mode is enabled. The owner's manual indicates that Flicker mode is not going to work perfectly in all environments.
In the test I shared above, flicker avoidance was perfect 100% of the time. I shot a soccer match at an indoor sporting venue with a complicated economy lighting system. In that shoot, the Anti-flicker mode was successful about 98% of the time in the about-350 images I captured. The post processing work required for this shoot was exponentially lighter than any of my many prior shoots at this venue. Sean's experience shooting an NCAA Division 1 football game under the lights was very good, but perhaps not as good as my 98% experience.
Canon's Anti-flicker mode is a game changer – it is going to save the day for some events. This feature alone is going to be worth the price of the camera for some photographers. That this feature is found in the Rebel lineup is especially impressive.
While I see many people buying a Rebel model as their first DSLR and using the LCD for composing their images, an optical DSLR viewfinder is a great feature and I encourage using it. The Rebel models get a smaller pentamirror (vs. pentaprism) viewfinder than some of the more advanced APS-C EOS models and an approximately 95% view is shown at .82x magnification. The 95% spec means that some additional subject outside of the viewfinder may end up in pics. Though small, this viewfinder works well and there are benefits to the smallness including smaller size and smaller price tag.
The Rebel T6i is the first Rebel model to receive an Intelligent Viewfinder which uses a liquid crystal overlay to provide various displays of focusing points and zones, spot metering circle, on-demand grid lines, and more. These intelligent viewfinders (I've now used many of them and have them in all if my daily use DSLRs) are really nice. Rebel model focusing screens were not user replaceable and that meant, until now, that a grid screen was not even available.
Shown above is the owner's manual representation of the T6i viewfinder. Yes, it looks like there is a LOT going on in there, but, as the manual page illuminates, only the relevant information is shown at any one time.
The eyecup is removable and the dioptric adjustment knob allows the image in the viewfinder to be focused to the user's eye.
To owners of the Rebel T5i, T4i and even previous Rebel models, the T6i is going to feel familiar in your hand. The flagship Canon Rebel model has remained largely unchanged through many iterations from a layout standpoint and that is a good aspect of the T6i. Let's take a look at Rebel T6i starting on the back side.
To compare the Rebel T6i with many more Canon EOS camera models, use the site's camera body comparison tool.
The menu and info buttons are once again located in the Canon standard location for this model line and above – the top left. This position means the buttons are easy to find with the left thumb and hitting an incorrect button when looking for these is seldom an issue.
Moving to the right is the already-discussed viewfinder. Next to the right is the Live View mode and video recording start/stop button. Continuing to the right is the exposure lock and the rightmost button initiates AF point selection. While some of Canon's higher end DSLRs no longer use the two top right buttons for zooming into and back out of an image preview, the Rebels still do and this is still my preferred way to handle that function.
The LCD is a Touch screen vari-angle 7.7cm (3.0") 3:2 Clear View II TFT with approximately 1,040,000 dots and features anti-smudge coating and a solid state structure design for clarity, durability and an approximately 170° viewing angle. Brightness is adjustable to one of seven levels. This LCD is found in many of Canon's current EOS models (including in the Rebel T5i) and ... it is an asset to this camera. Having the LCD able to articulate into a wide range of angles is also an asset, making the camera easily usable in a variety of positions, including on the ground and high overhead.
Canon does not currently include vari-angle on higher end models, but I often wish they had this feature. One reason for the more pro-ready DSLRs having a fixed LCD is for ruggedness. Somewhat ironic is that, when closed in reverse position, the LCD itself is very well protected by this design.
Canon's menu system is clearly presented and easy to use, but the LCD's touch capability gives it another easy-to-use navigation option. Use touch to pinch zoom and flip between images during playback, to select AF point during Live View and more.
Aside from image and video playback, display Options include camera settings (see page 28 in owner's manual) and the Quick Control Screen, accessed via the "Q" button found below the Aperture/Exposure Compensation button to the right of the LCD. Easy to find at the bottom right of the LCD are the playback and erase buttons, logically placed next to each other. Most of the balance of button-accessible camera functions are found in the cross keys and the set button centered between them.
Higher end EOS cameras, including the next-up Rebel T6s model, have rear control dials, making them easier and faster to use. Still, the cross keys work fine and are arguably easier for some functions.
The memory card door and the write activity light round out the Rebel T6i back view.
Moving to another side of the camera with a lot going on, we find top of the Rebel T6i having some updates.
The camera product images comparison tool allows comparison of many additional Canon EOS models.
Starting on the left, the wireless light first catches my eye, illuminating the new feature. Moving to the top right, we find the addition of two buttons below the shutter release and top dial, within easy reach of the index finger. The left-most button allows AF Area selection and the right-most turns the rear LCD display off or on.
The three-position power switch remains with video recording being the third option. While video recording does not seem power-related, the location of this function is convenient.
Aside from the standard flash hot shoe, the mode dial is the other prominent top-of-the-camera feature. Changing the mode dial design seems to be a prerequisite for any new Rebel model. With the T5i, the larger and raised icons on the mode dial were touted as (one of the few) improvements over the previous model. Those are now gone and high visibility seems to be the theme. These changes are only cosmetic to me, and more important are the features on that dial.
The Rebel series cameras are often considered to be entry level (tons of my family and friends have them), but ... they have most/all of the modes featured on professional cameras including fully manual mode and the Rebels have many automatic modes that those cameras lack.
Complete beginners can open the box, charge and install the battery, insert a memory card and turn the dial to the green square+ fully automatic Scene Intelligent Auto mode to have the camera ready to go, taking care of everything for point and shoot simplicity. This mode is simple from the user perspective, but far from simple as it uses powerful artificial intelligence algorithms to deliver excellent results in a wide range of situations. "... Scene Intelligent Auto mode analyzes the image, accounting for faces, colors, brightness, moving objects, contrast, even whether the camera is handheld or on a tripod, and then chooses the exposure and enhancements that bring out the best in any scene or situation." [Canon] This mode also takes advantage of the new light flicker avoidance capability when such is detected.
The following Canon graphic provides a glimpse into the Scene Intelligent Auto mode as implemented on the 7D Mark II.
This camera is really smart, but ... it doesn't know everything. Even beginners can improve their images by selecting one of the other fully automatic modes, designed to influence the camera's settings for the icon-represented purpose including sports and portraits. As their skills improve, T6i owners can progress into modes designed to give them more control. If your lighting is not changing, give manual mode a try. It is not as hard to use as you might think.
Notice the SCN mode? The is the Special Scene Mode. Basically, Canon ran out of space on the dial for all of the modes they wanted to provide and 6 more shooting modes are available within SCN: Kids, Food, Candlelight, Night Portrait, Handheld Night Scene and HDR Backlight Control.
Of minor improvement is that the built-in stereo mics have moved from near the hot shoe to the front of the camera with greater separation.
Moving to the left side of the camera finds a design very similar to this camera's predecessor and the recent Rebel T*i models.
Ports included on the left side of the camera are, from top left, counterclockwise: remote release (E3 style, not N3), microphone, HDMI and A/V digital out. Buttons seen toward the front of the camera are, from top down, the flash button, the lens release and the DOF preview button.
While the Rebel cameras have been growing very slowly over the years, the growth was minimal and they remain compact cameras. Here is a chart illustrating this:
|Model||Body Dimensions||CIPA Weight|
|Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D||4.6 x 3.6 x 2.7"||(116.8 x 90.7 x 69.4mm)||14.4 oz (407g)|
|Canon EOS Rebel T6i,T6s / 750D,760D||5.2 x 4.0 x 3.1"||(131.9 x 100.9 x 77.8mm)||19.8 oz (560g)|
|Canon EOS Rebel T5i / 700D||5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1"||(133.1 x 99.8 x 78.8mm)||20.5 oz (580g)|
|Canon EOS Rebel T4i / 650D||5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1"||(133.1 x 99.8 x 78.8mm)||20.3 oz (575g)|
|Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D||5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1"||(133.1 x 99.5 x 79.7mm)||20.1 oz (570g)|
|Canon EOS Rebel T2i / 550D||5.1 x 3.8 x 2.4"||(128.8 x 97.5 x 61.9mm)||18.7 oz (530g)|
|Canon EOS Rebel T1i / 500D||5.1 x 3.8 x 2.4"||(128.8 x 97.5 x 61.9mm)||18.6 oz (527g)|
|Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D||5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1"||(129.6 x 99.7 x 77.9 mm)||16.9 oz (480g)|
|Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D||5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1"||(129.9 x 99.7 x 77.9mm)||17.5 oz (495g)|
|Canon EOS 70D||5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1"||(139.0 x 104.3 x 78.5mm)||26.7 oz (755g)|
|Canon EOS 60D||5.7 x 4.2 x 3.1"||(144.5 x 105.8 x 78.6mm)||26.6 oz (755g)|
|Canon EOS 7D Mark II||5.9 x 4.4 x 3.1"||(148.6 x 112.4 x 78.2mm)||32.1 oz (910g)|
|Canon EOS 6D||5.7 x 4.4 x 2.8"||(144.5 x 110.5 x 71.2mm)||26.6 oz (755g)|
|Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R||6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0"||(152 x 116.4 x 76.4mm)||32.8 oz (930g)|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark III||6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0"||(152 x 116.4 x 76.4mm)||33.5 oz (950g)|
The Rebel models are on the low end of Canon's DSLR price range, but ... even the low end of this line has a quality build and feel. The Rebel T6i feels very comfortable in my hand and is large enough to provide adequate control over even the larger professional-grade lenses.
Canon has not published durability ratings for the Rebel cameras for many iterations now. While we can safely assume that these cameras are not up to the 400,000 shutter actuations the EOS 1D X is rated for, it can also be assumed that the Rebel T6i is up to a significant number of clicks. My daughter used a Rebel T3i for many years, taking it everywhere, capturing a huge number of frames and though the camera was looking very rough, it was still functioning 100% when I traded it in recently. I have heard very few reports of any EOS Rebels requiring shutter replacements.
That the T6i is the first ever Rebel model to have built-in wireless capabilities is a big deal for many. Though I was not able to spend much time exploring this feature in the Rebel T6i, I've used it in other models. Here is the high level of what you need to know:
"Brand-new to the EOS Rebel line, the cameras feature built-in wireless capabilities, which allow users to wirelessly transfer images and videos with ease to compatible smartphones and tablets through Canon’s newly updated and free Camera Connect app. Images and videos can also be shared wirelessly to a wide range of popular social networking sites through Canon iMAGE GATEWAY. 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 new Canon Connect Station CS100 photo and video storage and sharing device. The built-in Wi-Fi functionality also allows users to wirelessly print their images to any compatible printer, like the PIXMA MG7520 or PIXMA iP8720." [Canon]
Note that this camera does not feature a built-in GPS, but this functionality is easy to add via a Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver.
As usual for EOS cameras, the T6i has a self-cleaning sensor. As I have a great dislike for dirty sensors and dislike cleaning sensors even more, I'm always anxious to see how clean the sensor stays. Some of the latest models (including the 5Ds, 5Ds R, 5D III and 7D II) perform extremely impressively. Others, primarily the 1D X, perform ... not so well in this regard. I'm happy to report that the T6i sensors have stayed very clean for me, but ... one of the two cameras I had came with a dirty sensor that I was not able to get completely clean even with a wet cleaning technique. It needed a trip to Canon Service to get the last little spot removed (or exchanged).
As with all other Rebel models before it, the T6i has a built-in pop-up flash. As with all of Canon's other recent DSLR cameras with a built-in flash, 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 Rebel T6i is fully compatible with Canon's incredible RF remote flash system including the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Flash Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash and Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter.
Like the 70D and most of Canon's other recent DSLR cameras featuring a built-in flash, the Rebel T6i includes an Integrated Speedlite Transmitter for optical (not RF) wireless control of multiple off-camera EOS Speedlites. A 600EX-RT, 430EX III-RT, ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter or similar accessory master flash is not needed to optically control as many remote flashes as desired.
Using one of 4 available channels, take complete control of up to 3 groups of flashes (A,B and C) with ratios of up to 8:1 including ±3 stops FEC (Flash Exposure Compensation). Having a built-in Speedlight Transmitter is a big deal. It not only saves a significant cost associated with the other Speedlight Transmitter options, but it reduces the size and weight of the camera when using remote flashes.
The Integrated Speedlite Transmitter feature alone, if needed, will save you the purchase of a device with a significant cost - and the convenience factor of having this feature built-in is huge. But, the best part is the image quality that off camera flash delivers.
The Rebel T6i utilizes a new Li-ion battery pack, the Battery LP-E17. The little battery's life rating is identical to the LP-E8 in the Rebel T5i: Approx. 440 (at 23°C, AE 50%, FE 50%). 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. The battery level indicator provides 4 steps of range.
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 Kit ACK-E18.
Standard has been for Canon to provide a battery grip for all of their flagship Rebel models (and all models above these). The T6i gets the Canon BG-E18 Battery Grip. First, why Canon doesn't align the name of the battery grip with the name of the battery it uses, I don't know. Needless confusion is my take. Regardless, I really like this grip and used it most of the two months I was using the T6s variant of this camera.
The downside to using the battery grip is the additional size and weight, but with the grip being easily removable, you can choose the best option for your current circumstances. The battery grip allows two batteries to be used, effectively doubling the battery life in terms of shots per charge. More important (for me at least) is that the battery grip also provides a vertical/portrait orientation grip, making such shooting much more comfortable. Battery grips are great accessories.
I say it in each Canon EOS DSLR review, but the statement remains 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.
Know up front that, especially with a high resolution sensor in the camera, image quality will be only as good as the lens in front of the camera permits. Quality lenses rule.
The Canon EOS Rebel T6i is available as a body-only kit (kit of accessories sans lens), in a kit with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens or in a kit with the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens. For the cost, these lenses are a decent value and the 18-135 is the better choice from both a quality and focal length range perspective.
The Canon EOS Rebel T6i is compatible with the small, inexpensive Canon wireless remotes including the Canon RC-6 Wireless 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 the accessory you want. The Rebel T6i is not compatible with Canon's N3 wired remotes, but can use the basic Remote Switch RS-60E3.
As mentioned, the low price is one of the biggest attractions to the T6i. The features per dollar of this model makes it hard to pass up for many.
Keeping a review of the incredibly-feature-laden Rebel T6i concise but complete is a difficult balance to find and this review is not a complete description of every Rebel T6i feature available. Canon will publish an intimidatingly-huge owner's manual (a link to the manual is provided with this review) that highlights all of the features found on this camera and explains their use. The manual will tell you all about a huge array of features including Highlight Tone Priority, Auto Lighting Optimizer (4 settings), Long exposure noise reduction, Peripheral illumination correction, lens correction (peripheral illumination, chromatic aberration and distortion), Shoot by lighting or scene type), Auto Exposure Bracketing, Picture Styles, Creative filters, flash setup and control, Long Exposure Noise Reduction ... and many, many other topics. Read the manual, go use the 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 (sorry, I have no experience with the other Canon divisions). When I call for support, I get an intelligent person who sincerely wants to help me with whatever my question or problem is (let's just say I challenge them sometimes). Canon repair service, though I seldom need it, is fast and reliable.
A pair of online/retail-acquired Rebel T6s cameras (again, identical to the T6i except for a few key features) were used for this review.
Is the EOS Rebel T6i the right camera for you? The answer to this question is going to be yes for a considerable volume of people. For someone considering the EOS Rebel T6i purchase, the other current EOS models that should be considered include the EOS Rebel T6s and the EOS 70D.
As mentioned at the top of this review, the differences between the T6i and the T6s will be discussed in the Canon EOS Rebel T6s review. My preference is for the T6s over the T6i, though it costs more.
The Canon EOS 70D is a model line above the Rebel line and has advantages, though the Rebel also has some advantages of its own. Here are some of the Rebel T6i vs. 70D differentiators:
Check out the Canon EOS Rebel T6i vs. 70D specification comparison to fully compare these cameras. This decision could easily go either way, but I lean toward the 70D overall.
Is the T6i worth the upgrade from its predecessor, the EOS Rebel T5i? Another question that could easily be asked is, should the predecessor be purchased instead of the T6i? Let's look at some of the differences:
Check out the Canon EOS Rebel T6i vs. T5i specification comparison to fully compare these cameras. While the T5i was only a minor upgrade from the T4i, the T6i is substantially improved over the T5i and it is easily my favorite in this matchup. Though the T5i is a very competent camera, if you can afford the difference in price, go for the T6i.
When Canon introduces a new flagship Rebel camera model, it is always the best ever. That has never been a question. But, the amount of "better" definitely varies with each new model. It was a challenge to recommend the T5i over the T4i when a difference in price was substantial.
Fortunately, the T6i has a lot of "better" in it and it becomes a great choice from among the Rebel line and among DSLR cameras in general. This is a great travel camera that is at least equally at home capturing memories with family and friends.
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