Canon Rebel SL1 Review

Canon Rebel SL1-5

Canon Rebel SL1 and iPhone 5

The Canon Rebel SL1 (aka 100D) is a solid little camera that launched alongside the Rebel T5i. Despite its size, the Rebel SL1 does quite a bit to overshadow its physically larger and more expensive sibling.

The Rebel SL1 features the same 18MP sensor we’ve grown accustomed to in recent Canon DSLRs. By all standards, it is a good sensor capable of providing solid image quality, and it holds up just fine in this compact Rebel.

With the Rebel SL1, Canon appears to be reaching toward consumers interested in the more compact mirrorless cameras. It gets close in size and weight with the SL1. Of course, the SL1 is paired with the 18-55mm IS lens as its standard kit lens; however, the perfect lens for this camera is the new EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens.

The size of the 40mm pancake makes the Rebel SL1 just as portable as just about any mirrorless camera kit. During my time with the SL1, the 40mm lived on the front of the camera.

Canon Rebel SL1-4

Canon Rebel SL1 (left) and Canon Rebel T5i (right)

Despite its small stature, Canon managed to put a full size 3″ screen on the back of the camera – the same as the Rebel T5i; however, the SL1’s display does not swivel like the T5i. The fixed LCD happens to keep the size down though.

Autofocus is fast and accurate with nine AF points available for use. In everyday use, there’s no real difference between the SL1 and the new T5i even though the SL1 only has a single cross-type sensor at the center AF point (all nine in the T5i are cross-type).

Canon Rebel SL1 Top

There are several modes and effects geared toward the entry-level shooter that will automate the shot mode selections or allow effects to be applied to images in camera. The creative filters are Art Bold, Water Painting, Grainy Black and White, Soft Focus, Toy Camera, Fish-Eye and Miniature.

More advanced users will appreciate that Canon has still left key controls easily accessible via external buttons and dials, or through the quick menu by pressing the Q button in the middle of the 4-way controller on the back of the camera.

Additionally, Canon has absolutely nailed the touchscreen input, which can be used for focus point selection in live view mode or for selecting options in various menu dialogs. The SL1 uses the same capacitive touchscreen tech that I first saw in the Canon PowerShot N, and is also included in the Rebel T5i.

Canon Rebel SL1 Flash

Canon also saw fit to include a mic input on the Rebel SL1, which allows you to plug in shotgun mics like the Rode VideoMic Pro. Just like other low-end Canon DSLRs though, there is not headphone output to allow you to monitor the audio levels. Recording good audio on the SL1 is certainly possible by monitoring levels; however, it is far from ideal. Budget HDSLR shooters can get plenty of high quality shooting from the SL1.

Image quality is no concern for the Rebel SL1. Whether you are a complete beginner looking for your first DSLR, or you are an experienced pro looking for a camera to carry on casual outings, the SL1 does not disappoint.

Here is a quick look at how the Canon Rebel SL1 handles noise throughout the ISO range. These shots were captured in raw format and then converted to JPEG. The chart compares 100% crops of the images across the ISO range and the original files are available for download below for additional personal inspection (not for republication).

Canon SL1 ISO Chart

Additionally, I have included a few casual  photos captured with the Rebel SL1 in raw format and processed to my personal liking in Lightroom.

Canon Rebel SL1 Sample Image-2

Canon Rebel SL1 Sample Image – EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens – ISO 100 at f/2.8 and 1/500s

Canon Rebel SL1 Sample Image-3

Canon Rebel SL1 Sample Image – EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens – ISO 100 at f/2.8 and 1/60s

Canon Rebel SL1 Sample Image-4

Canon Rebel SL1 Sample Image – EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens – ISO 160 at f/2.8 and 1/60s

Canon Rebel SL1 Sample Image-5

Canon Rebel SL1 Sample Image – EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens – ISO 640 at f/2.8 and 1/80s

Canon Rebel SL1 Sample Image-6

Canon Rebel SL1 Sample Image – EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens – ISO 100 at f/2.8 and 1/1000s

Canon Rebel SL1 Sample Image-7

Canon Rebel SL1 Sample Image – EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens – ISO 100 at f/2.8 and 1/200s (Additional processing in Topaz Clarity)

Canon Rebel SL1 Sample Image

Canon Rebel SL1 Sample Image – EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens – ISO 800 at f/2.8 and 1/100s

As with other recent Canon DSLRs featuring the standard 18MP sensor, the Canon Rebel SL1 is a solid performer with the ability to produce usable images in most lighting situations. Obviously, if you take advantage of fast prime lenses, you’ll get more bang for your buck. However, even if you stray into the ISO 1600+ territory, the images are more than usable for most casual shooters.


The Canon SL1 is a hit. I had a blast using this camera – it was the most fun I have had with a DSLR since the 5D Mark II came out nearly 5 years ago. Spec-wise, there’s nothing that special about the camera; however, when you put Canon’s little 40mm pancake lens on the SL1, it becomes an absolute blast to carry around.

In a cycle of mediocrity from Canon’s Rebel line, it’s so nice to see something fresh from the camera giant. Highly recommended.

The Canon Rebel SL1 is available from Photography Bay’s trusted retail partner, B&H Photo, at the following links:

By making your photography purchases at B&H Photo through these links, you are helping Photography Bay to continue bring quality camera tests, news and reviews. Thanks for your continued support.