Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D Review

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D

Take the excellent, higher-end Canon EOS 80D and pack many of its core features into a smaller EOS Rebel-sized body, and you essentially have an EOS Rebel T7i / 800D. These inherited features include the excellent 24.2 mp imaging sensor, the impressive Dual Pixel AF system, the 80D-introduced 45-point all cross-type conventional AF system, and many more. Add a considerable number of enhancements, including a faster frame rate, 4k video, and a higher density metering sensor, and we get the next flagship Rebel, the Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D.

Like the EOS Rebel T-something-i models before it, the T8i was launched as the newest and highest-performing Rebel camera within the Canon lineup. The Canon EOS T8i 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 many years, and the T8i takes this camera model's capabilities to a new level. Despite being an extremely competent camera, the simplicity built into the T8i (and other Rebel series camera models) make it an ideal choice for beginners and advanced photographers alike.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D Body

Here is a look at some of the key and/or new features found in this camera:

Summary of Canon EOS Rebel T8i Features

  • 24.2 megapixel Canon APS-C CMOS imaging sensor with compact CRAW file format available
  • 4K UHD video with clean 4K HDMI output
  • 45-point all cross-type AF system with an impressive working range of EV -4—18 EV capable of autofocusing f/8 max aperture lens combinations
  • Fast DIGIC 8 image processor
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities
  • Extensive ISO range of 100-25600 (expandable to 51200)
  • 7 fps continuous shooting (7.5 fps in Live View)
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF in Live View for smooth, fast, and accurate autofocus with video and stills
  • Eye detection AF in Live View
  • Servo AF in Live View for continuous tracking of moving subjects for stills
  • 220,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor, 216 segments (18 × 12)
  • Spot metering using approx. 2.0 % of viewfinder
  • Vari-angle Touch Screen 3.0" (7.5cm), 1,040k dot, Clear View LCD II monitor, enables self-recording
  • Latest version of Canon EOS scene analysis system
  • Light flicker detection and Anti-flicker shutter timing
  • Movie Electronic Image Stabilization
  • Vertical video
  • Intelligent viewfinder with liquid crystal overlay
  • Rear control dial
  • AF-ON button
  • "Smooth Skin" and "Group Photo" shooting modes
  • Battery life of approx. 800 shots
  • Small in size, light in weight (lightest Rebel T*i body ever), big on features, low in price
  • Creative filters mode on the dial and available for both still images and video

Sensor and Image Quality

In this model upgrade, the imaging sensor was not targeted. The Canon-manufactured CMOS imaging sensors in the T8i, T7i, and other APS-C 24 MP models are all very good, leaving this feature a non-priority for this release. Following is a chart that shows several sensor specifications for the bulk of Canon's recent DSLR offerings.

ModelFOVCFSensorPixel SizePixels/MegapixelsViewfinderDLA*
Canon EOS 90D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.20µm6960 x 464032.5 .95x100%f/5.2
Canon EOS 80D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.2 .95x100%f/6.0
Canon EOS 77D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.2 .82x95%f/6.0
Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.1 .82x95%f/6.0
Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.2 .82x95%f/6.0
Canon EOS Rebel T6i / 750D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.2 .82x95%f/6.0
Canon EOS Rebel T5i / 700D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.30µm5184 x 345618.0 .85x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T4i / 650D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.30µm5184 x 345618.0 .85x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.30µm5184 x 345618.0 .85x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T2i / 550D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.30µm5184 x 345618.0 .87x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T1i / 500D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.7µm4752 x 316815.1 .87x95%f/7.5
Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.1 .87x95%f/6.0
Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.1 .80x95%f/6.0
Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.30µm5184 x 345618.0 .80x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS RP1.0x35.9 x 24.0mm5.75µm6240 x 416026.2 .70x100%f/9.3
Canon EOS M6 Mark II1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.20µm6960 x 464032.5 opt100%f/5.2
* Learn more about DLA (Diffraction Limited Aperture)
View the full Canon EOS Rebel T8i specifications to compare additional cameras.

The Rebel T8i, like all digital Rebel models before it, features an APS-C (1.6x) sized sensor. 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. 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 far surpasses that from a smartphone, especially in low light.

You will notice that many of the current model APS-C DSLRs share similar sensor specs, perhaps most notably the 24 megapixel resolution figure. Until recently, 24 megapixels was Canon's APS-C standard. Canon introduced a new 32.5 MP imaging sensor in the 90D and M6 Mark II, and usual is for the flagship Rebel model to gain the same sensor. Still, 24 MP of resolution is very high, and Canon has proven that they can deliver excellent 24 MP image quality.

We were not able to get the Rebel T8i into the resolution lab, but the results would be as the T7i illustrated in the Rebel T7i vs. Rebel T6i comparison. Build 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 with some older camera models represented by the Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM Lens.

With APS-C 24.1 mp imaging sensors having a 3.7µm pixel pitch, diffraction begins impacting sharpness with apertures narrower than f/6.0. Here is the T7i test showing results at f/8 beginning to show very modest softening, and at f/11, the difference becomes quite noticeable. This copmarison is not saying that you should always use wider apertures such as f/5.6, but you should be aware of the penalty to be paid for using narrow apertures. Be discerning with your exposure choices. Use the tool to learn how diffraction affects sharpness to prepare for knowledgeable decision making in the field.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i ISO Noise Comparison

The Kodak Color Control Patches shown in the standard ISO noise test results are generated from RAW images with (key point) no noise reduction (unless specifically indicated by the result set). These evenly-colored patches make sensor noise very obvious when it exists, and these samples represent a worst-case scenario — many real-world subjects are more detailed and better hide the noise.

As the ISO setting increases, noise becomes more apparent. The big question is, how apparent is the difference between camera models? Use our noise comparison tool linked to above to make direct comparisons. If you can't see the difference, you will not likely discern it in your images.

The T8i's ISO 100 results are very clean – this is normal for Canon EOS cameras. Noise levels steadily increase as the ISO setting increases until I get quite uncomfortable with noise levels at around ISO 6400. ISO 6400-captured images are noisy, though they can be usable. I consider 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 perspective 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 often appear slightly dull. 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 the Standard Style default.

In addition to the standard T8i 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, makes 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. I suggest starting with the off setting if shooting at ISO 100 or 200 and the low setting with higher ISO settings. Or, better yet, shoot in RAW format, and adjust to taste later.

Like many other recent EOS models, the T8i 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 two stops) (80D example), 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 to Standard NR in Auto/Basic zone modes, during video recording, and in Bulb mode. Flash is not supported in MSNR mode.

After a multi-shot burst capture, the camera remains "busy" for a period 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 more likely to use a low ISO setting with a longer exposure when shooting a stationary subject from a tripod.

T8i ISO settings are available in full or 1/3-stop increments from 100 through 25600 with extended H (51200) available.

While the flagship Rebel T8i is not targeted for professional use, the image quality this camera offers far surpasses the minimum quality needed for professional use.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D Front

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 camera.

Model / File Size in MB @ ISO:(MP)100200400800160032006400128002560051200102400204800409600
Canon EOS 90D(32.538.639.940.842.544.546.749.151.654.257.4   
Canon EOS 80D(24.2)31.231.932.734.035.937.940.643.747.5    
Canon EOS 77D(24.0)30.631.232.133.334.937.039.642.447.051.1   
Canon EOS Rebel T8i(24.1)29.330.131.232.534.136.037.839.541.844.0   
Canon EOS Rebel T7i(24.2)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 SL3(24.1)29.630.531.632.934.436.238.240.042.745.3   
RAW file sizes increase with 1. Resolution 2. Bit Depth (more is better/larger) 3. Detail (noise adds detail, so high ISO file sizes increase) 4. Lack of compression. Memory and disk are cheap – buy more.

The Canon EOS Rebel T8i writes image files to a SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I memory card. Memory cards have become very inexpensive, and large file size is not a problem. 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).

If your computer hard drive is lacking in capacity, simply add external storage.

Frame Rate, Buffer Depth, Shutter

Seldom is faster not better than slower in terms of a camera's high-speed frame rate. Formerly, synonymous with the Rebel line was a painfully-slow frame rate with the Rebel T1i mustering up a mere 3.4 fps. That rate has been increasing over the years with the Rebel T4i clocking a reasonable 5.0 fps, up from the T3i's still slow 3.7 fps. The T7i took us up to a respectable 6.0 fps, and a very nice T8i feature upgrade is its 7.0 fps frame rate.

ModelFPSMax JPGMax RAWShutter LagVF Blackout
Canon EOS 90D10.0/11.057/5824/2559ms96ms
Canon EOS 80D7.077/11020/2560msn/a
Canon EOS 77D6.0190/Full21/2770ms 
Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D7.0/7.5170/Full40  
Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D6.0190/Full21/2770ms 
Canon EOS Rebel T6i / 750D5.0180/Full7/8  
Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D5.0Full1075ms; 
Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D3.011106120ms170ms
Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D3.011106120ms170ms
View the full Canon EOS Rebel T8i specifications to compare additional cameras.

No Rebel model before the T8i has reached the 7.0 frame per second rate (equalling the 80D), and in Live View shooting mode, 7.5 frames per second are captured.

The number of frames able to be captured in a single burst spec tends to have low precision with a variety of factors coming into play. One factor is the memory card write speeds (read speeds do not matter when capturing images).

To test the Canon EOS Rebel T8i's drive rate and buffer capabilities, the camera was configured to manual mode (no AE time lag) using 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 subject was darkness (insuring a black image with the smallest file size), and a freshly-formatted ProGrade Digital 200 MB/s V60 SDXC Memory Card was loaded. I held down the shutter release, and the camera continued to shoot the rated 7 fps for a very long time. Just as I gave up hope of reaching a buffer-full condition, the camera paused momentarily. Captured in a single burst were 139 images, a very impressive number.

This buffer capacities should be considered best-possible for the referenced card, and your in-the-field results will likely vary, but with a fast memory card installed, this camera continuously captures RAW images for a very long time.

Shutter lag is another Rebel spec that used to be lacking, but continuous improvements in this regard have been arriving in the Rebel line. That is lacking relative to the other EOS DSLRs – Rebel shutter lag has been lightning-fast relative to many different camera types. I have not been provided a shutter lag spec for the T8i, but it is likely the same as the T7i. That 70ms number is a good one. A short shutter lag ensures that the image is captured at the precise point in time you choose, such as when a baby's eyes light up and look at the camera with a big smile. The viewfinder blackout times have not been made available for Rebel models for several model iterations, so that cell in the chart may permanently remain empty. The blackout was short enough to be a non-issue for me.

The T8i's fastest shutter speed is again 1/4000 second (fast, but generally the slowest max speed available), and the max flash synch (X-synch) shutter speed is 1/200. The longest shutter speed continues to be 30 seconds (I would like to see this number extended to 4 seconds).

Canon EOS Rebel T8i Camera Sound

A positive aspect of the Rebel camera models has been and continues to be quiet operation. The following are links to MP3 files capturing the sounds of the Canon EOS Rebel T8i.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i One Shot Mode
Canon EOS Rebel T8i Burst Mode
Burst Comparison: Rebel T8i (trimmed), T7i (full)

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. Live view shooting can be used to minimalize the Rebel T8i's audibility.

Autofocus

The always important concept is that the photo must be properly focused for the full quality of the camera and lens combination to be realized. To that end, Canon introduced a completely new AF system with the 80D. That system migrated to the EOS 77D and the EOS Rebel T7i, and now the T8i inherits this system. Featuring 45 AF points, this AF system covers a large area of the frame (62% horizontally and 48% vertically in the center), including coverage for the commonly-used rule of thirds locations. Here is Canon's diagram of this system's AF points:

Canon EOS Rebel T7i AF Point Layout

All 45 AF points are horizontal and vertical cross-type focusing (sensitive to lines of contrast in both directions) with lenses having an f/5.6 or wider max aperture. The center AF point acts as a dual cross-type sensitive point when a lens with an f/2.8 or wider aperture is used, becoming sensitive to horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines of contrast for higher focusing precision.

While this description provides the AF support for most lenses, reality is a bit more complicated, with some lenses receiving reduced support (check the owner's manual).

Especially valuable to wildlife photographers, an extender can be mounted behind a lens, creating an f/8 max aperture, and AF is retained. Depending on the combination, the vertically centered 27 AF points or the center AF point-only is activated. The owner's manual specifies the support for various combinations.

When shooting a still subject, it is easy to focus using only a small number of focus points. Even just one focus point is adequate in many situations when DOF (Depth of Field) is deep enough to compensate for slight discrepancies during recomposing. Simply focus on the subject by half-pressing the shutter release, recompose, and fully press the shutter release.

However, the story is different when the subject is in motion, and AI Servo subject tracking requires a focus point continuously placed on the subject. In this case, there is a great compositional advantage to having more focus points available (both for automatic tracking and for manual selection), and the high percentage of the frame covered by AF points is an additional advantage in this situation.

APS-C sensor format cameras such as this one often have a frame coverage advantage over their full-frame counterparts. The AF point quantity advantage has typically been held by the highest model line cameras. While this AF system does not reach the 7D Mark II's AF point count, the T8i and other models sharing this AF sensor have a significant AF point count increase over the T6i, going from 19 to 45, and the wide AF point array permits ideal focus point placement on most subjects.

Note that AF Case Scenarios (incorporating AF tracking sensitivity, acceleration/deceleration tracking, and AF point auto switching) and other similar AF adjustment parameters (such as AI Servo 1st/2nd Image Priority) found in higher-end EOS models are not present in this camera. Canon likely concluded that Case Scenarios were too advanced for the entry-level photographers this model design is targeting.

The Canon EOS Rebel T8i's AF Area options are Single-point AF (select one AF point), Zone AF (select one of 9 AF area focusing zones comprised of 9 AF points – one of three on the left, 3 in the center or 3 on the right side), Large Zone AF (select one of 3 large AF area focusing zones – 15 AF points on left, center or right) and Auto AF point selection (all 45 AF points active – closest subject receives priority). These options are illustrated below.

Canon EOS Rebel T7i AF Point Options

A major advantage the T7i has over its predecessor is its AF working range, extending down to EV -3 (really dark) vs. -.5 for the Rebel T6s. The T8i takes low light AF to another level, supporting an impressive -4 - 18 EV working range. AF lock times can increase significantly in low light, but this low light AF performance improvement will catch the attention of photographers wanting to shoot in dark venues.

Autofocus MicroAdjustment (AFMA) is another DSLR feature omitted from this camera. When discussing this omission in the T7i, Canon indicated that AFMA was excluded because the camera is targeted toward entry-level users, users who typically wouldn't utilize this feature or would not be interested in the complications it can bring.

One of the most difficult camera features to test is autofocus performance. With an infinite number of possible focus circumstances and numerous camera AF options available, it is not reasonable to expect to perform an exhaustive set of tests.

However, One Shot AF is the easiest, both on the camera and the tester. The subject is still, and the photographer can carefully control where the focus point is placed. The T8i performs extremely well in this mode, including under a wide variety of situations. It very quickly and reliably focused on the intended subject.

On the other hand, predicting the point of perfect focus on a fast-moving subject at the precise moment the shutter opens in AI Servo AF mode is a big challenge for AF technology. AI Servo AF accuracy testing is the most-difficult of camera tests to perform. I have found this AF system to perform acceptably in this regard, especially for its price point.

That discussion was about the extremely fast conventional AF system. In addition, this camera features Canon's very impressive Dual Pixel CMOS AF. Groundbreaking with the introduction of the EOS 70D was Canon's innovative Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, allowing sensor-based phase-detection AF. Each pixel on an imaging sensor in a DPAF implementation is dual purposed with phase-detection AF being the secondary purpose.

Canon's current Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology is excellent, acquiring focus lock or tracking very fast and focusing very accurately.

Live View and Movie focusing modes making use of the Dual Pixel CMOS AF include what has become the Canon standard: Face Detection with Tracking, Zone, and Live 1-point AF with Spot AF now included. All work very well, and the face detection technology has been especially impressive. Even more impressive is the new Eye-detection AF. When photographing people at a relatively close distance, keeping a subject's eye in focus is crucial, and now the camera takes care of that. Did the camera select the wrong eye (it selects the closest)? Press the rear control dial to the left or right, and the camera moves focus tracking to the next eye detected.

The ability to adjust AF speed and tracking sensitivity is not provided in this implementation.

Sensor-based AF includes benefits over conventional phase-detection AF. With up to 3,975 individually selectable focus points consuming 88% x 100% (h x v) of the frame, this camera has most AF point needs covered. 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, again, using 80% of the frame.

Movies

Expected is for a modern DSLR to have impressive video capabilities, and the T8i's headlining video upgrade is 4k UHD capabilities. The 4k difference is clear.

The Rebel T8i records video in .MP4 format (IPB Standard or Light available at Full HD) using the MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 codec. Audio is AAC.

Available movie sizes include:

3840 x 2160 (29.97, 25, 23.98 fps) inter-frame
1920 x 1080 (59.94, 50 fps) inter-frame
1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25, 23.98 fps) inter-frame
1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25) lite inter-frame
1280 x 720 (59.94, 50 fps) inter-frame

The detail at 4k is excellent, very noticeably better than at Full HD, though rolling shutter jello effects are somewhat strong. Note that Dual Pixel CMOS AF is not supported in 4k modes (movie and time-lapse).

The movie max duration continues to be 29 min 59 sec.

Creative Filters Movie Mode is enabled via the camera's mode dial. Time-lapse movies can be created. Wind Filter and Attenuator options can be set in the sound recording menu. A movie self-timer is available, as is movie digital image stabilization.

The T8i makes creating impressive video quality easy.

Exposure/Metering System

The Rebel T8i gets a new 220,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor that enables skin tone and color detection that works in conjunction with AF for enhanced tracking sensitivity. Metering is divided into 216 segments (18 × 12) with Evaluative metering (linked to all AF points), Partial metering (approx. 6.5 % of viewfinder), Spot metering (approx. 2.0 % of viewfinder), and Center-weighted average metering available.

Live View metering modes are Evaluative (384 zones), Partial (5.8% of viewfinder area at center), Spot (2.9% of viewfinder area at center), and Center-weighted. The Live View meter range is EV 0-20.

Exposure (and auto white balance) systems have been continuously refined over the years, and the Rebel T8i performs very well in this regard.

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. The T8i feature's Canon's awesome Anti-flicker mode, enabling the camera to avoid this problem often.

When enabled (the default is disabled), Anti-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.

When light flicker is detected outside of the Basic modes, and Anti-flicker mode is not enabled, a flashing flicker warning optionally shows in the viewfinder (enabled by default). The flicker warning shows solid when a flicker is detected, and the camera’s setting is enabled.

Viewfinder

While I see many people using their DSLR's LCD for composing their images, an optical DSLR viewfinder is a great feature that I encourage using, especially when not using a tripod as the additional contact point increases camera stability. The EOS 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 unseen additional scene outside of the viewfinder may end up in pics. Though small and not the brightest option, the T8i viewfinder works fine, and there are benefits to the smallness, including the smaller size and the smaller price tag.

The Rebel T8i again receives an Intelligent Viewfinder that uses a liquid crystal overlay to provide various displays of focusing points and zones, spot metering circle, on-demand grid lines, and more.

An extremely valuable T8i feature shown in the viewfinder is an electronic level indication. While I find this indication to be beneficial, I find this particular indicator somewhat difficult to read quickly.

The T8i's eyecup is removable, and the dioptric adjustment knob allows the image in the viewfinder to be focused to the user's eye.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D LCD Open

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 a solid-state structure design for clarity, durability, and a 170° viewing angle. Not featured are anti-smudge and anti-reflection coatings.

The Rebel T8i's capacitive touchscreen allows for Touch Focus during both Live View still photography and when recording video. Just tap your finger on the LCD where you want the camera to focus, and the camera adheres to your command – smoothly. Touch Focus is straightforward and very effective.

The brightness-adjustable LCD shows 100% of the image just captured or about to be captured. The LCD being able to articulate into a wide range of angles is a significant asset, making the camera easily usable in a variety of positions, including on the ground and high overhead. Extended and forward-facing, this LCD makes selfies and vlogging easy.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D LCD Open Front

Canon does not currently include the vari-angle feature on higher-end models, but I often wish they had it. One reason for the more pro-ready DSLRs having a fixed LCD is for ruggedness. Somewhat ironic is that, when closed in the reversed position, the LCD itself is especially well protected by this design.

Canon's menu system is always 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 an AF point during Live View, and more.

Tour of the Canon EOS Rebel T8i

To owners of the Rebel T7i and many previous Rebel models, the T8i is going to feel very familiar in your hand with a very short learning curve required to use. The flagship Canon Rebel model has remained mostly unchanged through many iterations from a layout standpoint, and that is a good aspect of the T8i. This camera's user interface is very refined, and beginners will find it easy to learn. Let's take a look at the Rebel T8i starting on the back side.

To compare the Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D with many other camera models, use the site's camera product image comparison tool. Opening that link in a separate tab or window will be helpful for following along with the product tour.

Note that the Rebel T8i has fewer Custom Control options compared to higher-end models, with only 5 (up from 4) buttons available for customization.

Let's take a look at the Rebel T8i starting on the back side.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D Back

Back of the Camera

Let's jump directly to one of my favorite Rebel T8i improvements. I've often commented on how much I like the small EOS M-series rear control dial and that I wished it were included on the smaller DSLR models. Canon granted me that wish with the T8i. The nicely raised, very easy to use small rear control dial retains cross key functionality while adding the dial feature that is very handy for a variety of functions.

The set key remains centered in the rear dial, but it is slightly raised and has a grippier surface texture. There is just enough play in the set button to hint at use as a joystick controller, though it is not such.

Remember the Wi-Fi button that arrived on the back of the T7i just above the cross keys? That button is gone along with the Av button. With a rear dial more adeptly handling the Av button's tasks, the Av button is no longer needed.

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 that these two buttons are easy to find with the left thumb, and hitting the incorrect button is unusual. Some slight body surface contouring changes can be seen here.

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 reveals another change. This Rebel has an AF-ON button. This button is the additional Custom Control now available for re-programming in the menu with AF (default), AEL/FEL, AF-OFF, AE lock, FEL, and OFF being the options.

Moved to the right and stacked above the AE lock button is the AF point selection button. These two buttons are rather close, and my thumb sometimes finds the AE lock button instead of the AF point selection button at times. Using the AF point selection button on the top of the camera resolves this problem.

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.

Aside from image and video playback, display Options include camera settings and the Quick Control Screen, accessed via the "Q" button found just above the rear dial. Easy to locate in their usual location 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 easily accessed by pressing on a side of the rear control dial. Icons printed on the dial indicate the functions provided.

The memory card door and the write activity light round out the T8i back view.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D Top

Top of the Camera

There is little change to talk about on top of the T8i. The top dial texture changed slightly (I didn't notice until I compared the pictures), the contouring around the top dial has changed somewhat (making the top dial stand above the nearby features), and the mode dial lost many settings. Don't worry, the mode dial did not have enough space for all of the modes Canon wanted to include, so you can find a dozen of them in the SCN (Special Scene) mode. After turning the dial to SCN, press the Q button to select the desired mode. A description for each mode is presented during selection.

Buttons for a trio of function are located behind the top dial, within easy reach of the index finger. The left-most button allows AF Area selection, the ISO setting button is in the middle, and the right-most button turns the rear LCD display off or on. Prior to the T6i, flagship Rebel models had only the ISO button on the top.

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. Until I acclimated with this layout on a previous model, I frequently pushed the power switch too far, enabling video mode when stills mode was desired. That user problem has mostly gone away.

The Rebel series cameras are often considered entry-level models (I have many family members and friends using them), but ... these cameras have most/all of the modes featured on professional cameras, including fully manual mode, and the Rebels have many automatic modes that those higher-priced cameras lack.

Complete beginners can open the box, charge and install the battery, insert a memory card, and turn the dial to the green A+ fully-automatic Scene Intelligent Auto mode to have a camera ready to go, taking care of everything for point and shoot simplicity. This mode is simple from the user perspective. Still, it is far from simple from a technological standpoint 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 light flicker avoidance capability when such is detected.

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 skills improve, T8i 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 difficult to use as you might think.

Missing on this camera are the more-advanced C ("Custom") modes that allow a specific set of camera settings to be saved and quickly recalled.

Canon has been making the Rebel series cameras increasingly attractive to beginning photographers. While the traditional menu system remains optionally available, recently introduced mode and feature guides are available to help beginning users interface with the camera and its settings, educating the photographer, and improving the quality of images they capture at the same time.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D Left Side

Side of the Camera

Moving to the left side of the camera finds a design very similar to the T7i and other recent T*i Rebel models. Ports included on the left side of the camera are, from top right, clockwise: A/V digital out, HDMI, microphone, and remote release (E3 style, not N3).

The USB port is a "Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0; Micro-B connection type)." [Canon] USB 2.0 may have been high speed when it first arrived, but it is slow-speed today.

The port covers are textured to match the camera's grip surface. Buttons seen on the front of the camera are the lens release and DOF preview buttons. The flash release button has been omitted, and raising the flash is now a manual task.

The right side of the camera (the grip side) basically has only the non-spring-loaded memory card door and a port for an optional AC adapter.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D Right Side

Size of the Camera

A distinction of the Rebel cameras has been their small size and light weight. These are cameras that can be taken everywhere with you without becoming a burden. While the Rebel cameras' size and weight specs had been trending slightly upward over the years, the T7i reversed this trend and the T8i continues this revesal — becoming the lightest EOS T*i camera ever.

Here is a size and weight comparison chart showing the T8i, T7i and many Rebel T*i models along with some additional current and recent models.

ModelBody DimensionsCIPA Weight
Canon EOS 90D5.5 x 4.1 x 3.0"(140.7 x 104.8 x 76.8mm)24.7 oz (701g)
Canon EOS 80D5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1"(139.0 x 105.2 x 78.5mm)25.8 oz (730g)
Canon EOS 77D5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0"(131.0 × 99.9 × 76.2mm)19.0 oz (540g)
Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0(131.0 x 102.6 x 76.2mm)18.2 oz (515g)
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 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 T4i / 650D5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1"(133.1 x 99.8 x 78.8mm)20.3 oz (575g)
Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1"(133.1 x 99.5 x 79.7mm)20.1 oz (570g)
Canon EOS Rebel T2i / 550D5.1 x 3.8 x 2.4"(128.8 x 97.5 x 61.9mm)18.7 oz (530g)
Canon EOS Rebel T1i / 500D5.1 x 3.8 x 2.4"(128.8 x 97.5 x 61.9mm)18.6 oz (527g)
Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D5.1 x 4.0 x 3.1"(129.0 x 101.3 x 77.6mm)16.8 oz (475g)
Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D5.1 x 4.0 x 3.1"(129.0 x 101.3 x 77.6mm)17.1 oz (485g)
View the full Canon EOS Rebel T8i specifications to compare additional cameras.

Though small, the T8i is large enough to handle well. The T7i was given a noticeably deeper grip than its predecessors, making it significantly easier to hold, and the T8i retains that positive feature.

When making a camera smaller, it seems that the handgrip is the first real estate sacrificed to meet the goal. However, for anyone holding a camera even a modest amount of time, that usability sacrifice is a big one. The T8i's grip is deep enough that I can comfortably grasp the camera (with a modest-sized lens) with only three fingers, allowing my right thumb to access buttons and dials without fearing a lost grip on the camera. This camera design provides adequate control over the larger professional-grade lenses, and a super telephoto lens is not too large to comfortably mount on this camera.

Build Quality and Durability

While the T8i is the flagship Canon EOS Rebel model, it is a relatively inexpensive DSLR. Still, the T8i's build quality is not reflected by its price. Though the light weight can be deceptive, this is a very nicely built camera with a high quality feel to it – similar to that of the T7i.

Canon provides great ergonomics essentially void of sharp corners and edges on all of its EOS models. Especially with its large grip, the T8i feels very comfortable in my hand.

Canon has not published shutter durability ratings for the Rebel cameras for many iterations now. I have heard very few reports of any EOS Rebels requiring shutter replacements, and safe to say is that most are never worn out. As I've said before, my daughter used a Rebel T3i for many years, taking it everywhere, capturing a huge number of frames. Though the camera was looking very rough when I traded it, it was still functioning perfectly.

Canon does not claim a level of weather sealing for this model, and precautions should be taken if dust and wet conditions are possible.

Additional Features

Like many of Canon's recently released EOS models, the T8i has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (NFC and GPS have been omitted). These technologies provide easy transfer of images and movies to compatible devices.

Smartphones and tablets connect using Canon's free Camera Connect app. In addition to transferring movies and still images, this app provides some remote camera control features and provides a live view display of the scene. I still need to check out the latest version of Camera Connect, but it previously left a lot of potential untapped, with the feature set being somewhat basic.

Utilizing this camera's Bluetooth capability is the Canon BR-E1 Bluetooth Remote. Want to be part of your family picture? Or just don't want to deal with a remote release cord when using a tripod? You may want this accessory. 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 (very limited at review time).

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D Flash Up

Flash

As with all other Rebel models before it, the T8i has a built-in pop-up flash. This relatively low-powered flash is especially well suited for fill light at relatively close distances. 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.

The T8i is fully compatible with Canon's incredible remote flash system. Like most of Canon's other recent DSLR cameras featuring a built-in flash, the T8i includes an Integrated Speedlite Transmitter for optical (not RF) wireless control of multiple off-camera EOS Speedlites with Normal Firing, EasyWireless, and CustomWireless options available.

Canon EOS Rebel T6i Wireless Flash Operation Diagram

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 best part is the image quality that off-camera flash delivers.

Battery

The Rebel T8i utilizes the same Li-ion battery pack found in the Rebel T7i and T6i, the LP-E17 Battery. Surprising was that, in the T7i, this little battery's life rating was increased significantly to approx. 600 shots (at 73°F/23°C, AE 50%, FE 50%) from the Rebel T6i's 440 shot specification. Even more surprising is that the T8i extends this little battery's life rating significantly again to approx. 800 shots (at 73°F/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 four levels.

The LP-E17 is charged via the included Canon LC-E17. This 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

Standard has been for Canon to provide a battery grip for all of their flagship Rebel models (and all models above these). The Rebel T7i broke that tradition, and the T8i continues to do so.

Accessories

I say it in each Canon EOS DSLR review, but the statement remains timeless. When you buy a Canon DSLR, you are purchasing 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 crucial piece of kit. Know upfront that, especially with a high-resolution imaging sensor in the camera, the image quality will be only as good as the lens in front of the camera permits. Quality lenses rule.

The Canon EOS Rebel T8i is available as a body-only kit (no lens included) or in a kit with Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Lens. Another good standard zoom lens option for this camera is the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens.

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 zoom lens is usually the first lens needed in a kit. Then add, minimally, a telephoto zoom lens and a wide-angle zoom lens to increase your kit's versatility.

Price

Everyone loves the low price of the Canon EOS Rebel series models. And, the very solid feature set provided by these cameras for that low price is what has driven this series to the top of the DSLR sales list for many years. The features to price ratio of these models, and especially this one, makes for a proposition that is hard to pass up.

Wrap Up

Keeping a review of the incredibly-feature-laden Rebel T8i concise but complete is a difficult balance to find, and this review is not a complete description of every Rebel T8i feature available. Canon has published an intimidatingly-huge, but well-designed 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. Read the manual, use the camera, repeat.

Owning a Canon product gives you access to Canon support, and the support 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 (I definitely them sometimes). Canon repair service, though I seldom need it, is fast and reliable.

The Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D DSLR camera used for this review was online retail acquired.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D

Alternatives

Is the Rebel T8i the right camera for you? For someone considering the Rebel T8i purchase, the predecessor Rebel T7i / 800D is a very relevant comparison, especially those upgrading from this model. Check out the detailed specifications comparison: Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D compared to the Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D. At first glance, I found the changes in the Rebel T8i uninspiring, but after digging in, realized that the overall improvements in the new flagship Rebel model make it a solid upgrade:

  • 4K video with clean 4K HDMI output
  • 7 fps continuous shooting (7.5 fs in Live View) vs. 6 fps
  • Eye detection AF in Live View
  • DIGIC 8 vs. DIGIC 7
  • CRAW vs. M-RAW, S-RAW
  • AF working range of EV -4—18 EV vs. EV -3—18
  • 220,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor vs. 7,560-pixel RGB+IR, 216 segments (18 × 12) vs. 63 (9 × 7)
  • Spot metering uses approx. 2.0 % of viewfinder vs. 3.5%
  • Built-in flash GN of 12 (lower) vs. 13.1 recycling in approx. 5 sec. vs. 3
  • Many mode dial options moved the Special Scene (SCN) mode with new "Smooth Skin" and "Group Photo" shooting modes
  • Rear control dial vs. control (arrow) keys
  • AF-ON button, loses the WiFi and Av buttons
  • NFC is gone
  • Supports vertical video
  • Battery life of approx. 800 vs. 600 (at 23°C, AE 50%, FE 50%)
  • CIPA weight of 18.2 vs. 18.8 oz (515 vs. 532g)

Check out the visual comparison between these two cameras.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D Snake Sample Picture

Summary

I had a few errands to run, and my wife opted to ride along. Photo ops were unforeseen, but the Rebel T8i in a toploader case was a convenient addition to the back seat.

My wife requested to see if a specific wildflower was blooming along a mountain road convenient to our other destinations. On the way up the mountain, we encountered a sizable black rat snake. I stopped to move it off the road and to get a closer look at the interesting reptile. The ungrateful snake bit my shoe and then gave me this mouth-open pose, while the Rebel T8i scored an entertaining shot.

While my wife searched for the wildflower, I became distracted with the mountain laurel in full bloom. I was again grateful to have the T8i along and photographed until I thought my time was up, with determination to return, perhaps with a higher-end camera. Other plans and a couple of severe thunderstorms have hampered the return plans as of review time, there is a good chance that a return trip will not happen during this bloom season, and the storms may have damaged the blooms. Again, I'm glad the T8i was along.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D Mountain Laurel Sample Picture

The Rebel camera models target beginners and people with a mild-to-moderate interest in pursuing photographic passions but want excellent image quality. While the T8i is suitable even for some professional uses, including as a backup to a higher-end model, this Rebel camera model is expected to capture a tremendous number of memories. Memories with family and friends, memories of travel and vacations, memories of life events, and a long list beyond these.

Just like its predecessors, the Canon EOS Rebel T8i delivers great professional-grade image quality in a compact, lightweight, feature-filled, very-easy-to-use body that carries a very affordable price tag. Look for it on the best sellers list.

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My Recommended Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D 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 purchases. Get your Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D now from:

B&H Photo
Adorama
Amazon.com
Canon USA (new)
Check used inventory at MPB
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Rent the Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D
Do you need/want the Canon EOS Rebel T8i / 850D for only a short period of time? Or, would you feel more comfortable buying after having a hands-on trial period? Consider renting. Renting is fast and easy. The rental companies I recommend below are excellent to work with. Schedule your rental now:
LensRentals.com
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