Canon EOS Rebel T8i (EOS 850D) Review

Introduction

The EOS Rebel T8i, as it’s known in North America or the 850D in Europe, is their most advanced Rebel yet. Released in the spring of 2020, it’s their flagship mid-range DSLR camera. And it comes to market three years following the release of the earlier T7i. As the flagship of the Rebel series, it sits just below the EOS 90D and alongside the mirrorless M6 Mark II. And it’s a camera that Canon aims at the enthusiast looking to upgrade from an entry-level DSLR or point-and-shoot camera.

But spring this year was quite a mess. And this camera’s release was slightly lost in translation amongst the hype surrounding the EOS R5 and R6. And considering it seems Canon’s pushing to go mirrorless, is there still a home for mid-range DSLR? And at 2/3’s the price of the 90D, is it worth overlooking and saving to get the higher-end camera instead? Today, we will address its strengths, weaknesses and answer if it’s a worthwhile consideration.

 

 

What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Canon EOS Rebel T8i? 

Pros:

Image Quality

It obtains a 24.1MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor with an Aliasing Filter and DIGIC 8 processor; this is the same setup as the SL3. While it didn’t receive the higher-end 32MP sensor debut last year on the EOS M6 Mark II or the 90D, this particular configuration remains a known strength for Canon. And the updated DIGIC 8 processor does offer better processing than its predecessors DIGIC 7. But, even so, the change is minimal. And the camera’s 14-bit RAW images still produce a good amount of dynamic range and ample detail, closely matching the 80D. And its photos produce Canon’s acclaimed color science, which remains natural and pleasing to the eye.

The updated processor has increased the camera’s continuous shooting speeds, however. And it now offers 7.5 FPS (in Live View), up from 6 FPS. And the buffer has also improved, now providing 35 RAW + JPEG images before slowing, a 67% improvement over the T7i, which only offers 21 shots by contrast.

Canon-EOS-Rebel-T8i-specs

 

Video Quality

It offers mostly identical capabilities as the SL3, but these represent a substantial improvement over the T7i. In this case, it now shoots 4K UHD 24 FPS video, in addition to 1080p Full HD 60 FPS video. And it does so to the MP4 format with H.264 and IPB (standard) compression. The camera also records videos using 8-bit 4:2:0 color with data rates of 120 Mbps for 4K and 60 Mbps for 1080p.

Like the SL3, however, shooting in 4K does have some severe limitations. And we’ll cover those in-depth in the con’s section.

But, in performance, this camera matches the SL3, which closely mimics the 80D. And the footage is quite sharp, with reasonable dynamic range and realistic color rendering.

Like most cameras in this class, video recordings limit at the industry standard 29 minutes and 59 seconds.

It obtains the HDR Movie mode from the T7i, allowing you to record HDR 1080p 30 FPS videos.

It now offers 4K UHD Time-Lapse Movies, which records a 30 FPS video using All-I compression. It’s a great option if you want to have the camera render the lapse, saving time doing so in post-processing.

It now has the Video Snapshots Mode, which records a series of short 1080p 30 FPS videos, where the camera combines them to create a snapshot album. It’s a good option to showcase highlights of your event or trip, particularly on social media.

It offers a Digital Zoom function, which allows you to perform up to a 10x digital zoom when recording 1080p 30 FPS videos.

The camera offers a clean 4K HDMI output, making it a suitable choice for live streaming.

Low Light Performance

It has a native ISO range from ISO 100 to 25,600, further expandable to 51,200. This is the same range as the T7i. And low light performance remains about the same as well. Users can still expect usable images up to ISO 6,400 or 12,800 with minor processing, which is excellent for this class.

Focusing Performance

It obtains the same 45-point all cross-type AF system when composing through the viewfinder as the T7i. And the central-most point is also a Dual Cross-Type point, with support to -3 EV or f/2.8. This is also a very similar setup as the EOS 90D. However, it now receives Canon’s latest 220K Pixel AE Sensor and EOS Intelligent Tracking and Recognition system (iTR). These combine to deliver Face Detection during viewfinder shooting. And they also improved Eye Detection performance during Live View. Additionally, the camera receives Canon’s legendary Dual Pixel CMOS AF with Eye Detection, covering the majority of the frame.

Overall, focusing on this camera is excellent and easily matches the 90D. The camera’s extraordinarily quick to focus, be it through the viewfinder or Live View. And it’s exceptionally tenacious when it detects a face, making it well suited for capturing portraits.

The camera also offers focus magnification and focus peaking if you prefer manually focusing.

Battery Performance

It uses the same LP-E17 battery as the T7i. However, with the updated DIGIC 8 processor comes enormous improvements in battery life. And Canon now rates the camera to deliver 800 shots per charge or 2.5 hours of video recording. And this is a 33% improvement, making battery life excellent for a consumer DSLR.

Display & Viewfinder

It features an optical viewfinder with a 0.82x magnification and 95% frame coverage. And the viewfinder also displays various on-screen information, including AF points, spot metering, a level, grids, and flicker detection. Overall, the viewfinder is bright, reasonably large, and perfect for a mid-range DSLR.

It also features a 3.0-inch vari-angle TFT touchscreen LCD with a resolution of 1.04M dots and Canon’s Clear View II coating. This screen is identical to the SL3, but it’s excellent. The screen is sharp, detailed, and bright. And the vari-angle articulation, as always, is the ideal option as it offers the best versatility. Since the screen is also a touchscreen, it obtains Canon’s full suite of touch functionality. These include touch focus, touch shutter, touch tracking, pinch to zoom, swiping in playback, and full menu navigation.

User Interface

It obtains a similar interface and menu structure as the T7i, where the menu tabs vary depending on the shooting mode. Canon also includes the Guided Interface, which simplifies the user interface and displays on-screen descriptions and shooting tips. By default, the camera is set to this interface. And it’s an excellent option that’s well suited for beginners. Otherwise, the standard menus follow typical Canon flair. And they remain equally intuitive and easily mastered. They’re also well optimized for touch navigation, which works well. And overall, this camera is supremely easy to use.

The camera also offers 14 custom functions that you can map to any of five physical buttons.

It also offers the customizable My Menu so that you can save six top-tier menu options and five menu tabs. And this menu becomes the default once configured.

The camera also offers the Feature Guide, which presents a brief description of functions and items. And it’s a helpful option for beginners that’s enabled by default.

Physical Layout & Ergonomics

Physically, this camera is almost identical to its predecessor in size and dimensions. There’s only a slight reduction of 14g, and now the camera weighs 471g body only. However, Canon has opted for several physical refinements. In this case, they’ve added a dedicated AF-On button, which helps for back-button focusing. But, they’ve removed the dedicated Wi-Fi and Exposure Compensation buttons, cleaning up the rear panel. Instead, these are replaced with a new Quick Control Dial and contoured back thumb rest. It’s an interesting change, but one that streamlines the layout and adds needed functionality.

But, otherwise, the cameras are identical. And it still sports comfortable and familiar DSLR styling and ergonomics. In many ways, it matches the 90D in this regard but uses a lower build quality. Nevertheless, the camera isn’t overly bulky or cumbersome. And the general build quality is in alignment with the standards for the mid-range DSLR segment..

Niche Features/Extras

It has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, so you can wirelessly transfer images, embed GPS coordinates, or remotely control the camera. And like the SL3, the wireless implementation remains excellent, and the Camera Connect app is easy to use.

It has a built-in flash, though Canon’s made it manual instead of automatic in this case.

It has a microphone input, and you can adjust the levels, enable a wind filter, or add an attenuator.

It has built-in HDR, which combines three shots in-camera.

It has a HDMI Mini Type-C port, which is more reliable than the smaller micro Type-D ports.

It offers Movie Digital IS, which uses electronic stabilization to reduce camera shake while recording. It’s a useful option when you’re recording videos without optical stabilization, but it does crop into the frame.

It obtains Canon’s Creative Assist Mode, which allows you to apply effects to images. You can adjust saturation, tone, background blur, brightness, contrast, and more.

It obtains the Smooth Skin effect to smooth blemishes and skin tones.

It offers Anti-Flicker Shooting, which helps combat exposure or white balance changes when shooting under flickering light sources.

It offers extensive in-camera RAW processing options, including brightness, white balance, picture style, color space, and more.

It offers several lens correction options, including Peripheral illumination, Distortion, Optimizer, Chromatic aberration, and Diffraction correction.

You can rate images in-camera.

Cons:

Video Capabilities

4K video on this camera has the same severe limitations as the SL3, which can easily be a deal-breaker. First off, switching to 4K from 1080p results in a 1.6x crop into the frame. Which, like the SL3, effectively results in a 2.6x total crop factor, significantly altering the focal length and the field of view. So, you’ll have to change lenses when filming in 4K to maintain the same perspective.

Switching to 4K also substantially increases the presence of rolling shutter, which distorts otherwise straight objects.

But, more frustratingly, switching to 4K loses Canon’s Dual Pixel AF.  And, like the SL3, the camera defaults to a contrast-detect AF system, which isn’t nearly as confident. It takes much longer to acquire focus and hunts sporadically, which is distracting during playback.

Overall, while 4K is a headlining feature like it was on the SL3, it’s not entirely usable. It suffers from far too many notable downgrades to make it truly functional. And it’s a shame consider the 4K quality, in itself, is quite good. It’s only real use case is static scenes or manually focusing. Otherwise, it’s best avoided.

The camera also lacks 120 FPS recording in 1080p, and it doesn’t offer advanced video features like log profiles, 10-bit, zebras, or waveforms.

Display

Connecting a microphone to the camera limits the screens articulation.

It lacks the status LCD of higher-end models.

Ergonomics

The rear scroll wheel is easy to overshoot, causing you to press the back buttons accidentally. It’ll take some familiarization to avoid this.

Lacking Features

The camera lacks built-in GPS; for this, you’ll have to purchase an optional GPS receiver.

It only uses a USB 2.0 port, not USB-C. Thankfully it’s the more common Micro size, not the Mini, which is great. But, this does mean file transfer speeds are on the slow side.

The camera lacks USB charging. If you want to power the camera during use, you’ll have to get the DC coupler instead.

It lacks in-body image stabilization, so you’ll have to use optically stabilized lenses.

It doesn’t offer high-end features like dual card slots or weather sealing.

Is this a good beginner camera?

Yes.

And it’s arguably one of Canon’s best DSLRs for beginners. While it retains many of its predecessor strengths, the updates create quite a capable DSLR for the price. And considering it offers the fully automatic and the Guide and Feature Modes, it’s an excellent learning platform. So, if it fits your budget, then this is a strong starting camera.

What are the best lenses & bundles for the Canon EOS Rebel T8i?

General Photography: 

EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

Macro Photography:

EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM

Landscape & Astrophotography Photography:

EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM

Portrait Photography:

EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM

Sports & Wildlife Photography:

EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM

Product & Still Life Photography:

EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Extra Batteries:

Canon LP-E17

SD Cards:

SanDisk Extreme PRO 32GB
SanDisk Extreme PRO 64GB 
SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB

Tripods & Gimbals:

Manfrotto Befree Advanced Travel Tripod
E-Image 2 Stage Aluminum Video Tripod
Zhiyun Weebill S Compact Gimbal Stabilizer

Microphones & External Recorders:

Rode Wireless Go
Rode VideoMicPro
Zoom H1n Portable Recorder

Is this a good camera for you?

Yes, with caveats.

With its 7.5 FPS continuous shooting speeds and deep buffer, it’s a reasonably capable option for sports and wildlife. And outside of the 90D and M6 Mark II, this is the next best option in this general price range.

Current T7i owners shouldn’t upgrade. The only notable changes are EOS iTR, faster burst shooting, a deeper buffer, and the rear scroll wheel. Otherwise, little has changed in the grand scheme. And these alone are not substantial improvements for an upgrade.

However, new users looking at the Rebel lineup should consider this camera instead of the T7i. This is a supremely capable first time DSLR. And it offers excellent image quality, superior autofocus, a long battery life, and comfortable handling. As a package, it’s quite the proposition.

But, advanced photographers should consider the EOS 90D instead. At 2/3 the price, the overall difference between the cameras is marginal. And for the extra spent, you get a substantial upgrade in image quality, better video capabilities, superior controls, weather sealing, and much more. It’s quite a bargain.

For videographers, better options exist at this price. Consider saving for Canon’s EOS 90D. There you’ll get the headphone output, uncropped 4K, and full AF support. The lack of Dual Pixel AF here continues to limit the practicality of several of Canon’s cameras now. And it’s not ideal. The 4K on this camera is simply impractical at this price point unless you knowingly work around them. But why bother? Instead, this camera is best reserved for those wanting to shoot 1080p strictly. Granted, Canon has better 1080p cameras for less money.

In the end, Canon Rebel T8i represents an interesting middle ground in the current customer DSLR market. It’s not unwieldy and expensive, but it also offers a solid selection of advanced features, comfortable handling, and an excellent shooting experience. You get a fully articulating screen, decisive autofocus, 7 FPS burst, and more. And given its features, it’s not a basic camera beginners will quickly outgrow.

As a package, it makes an excellent photography-centric camera. And if you don’t need 4K or the more advanced video features from the 90D, it’s reasonably capable here as well. It’s also a strong alternative to the M6 Mark II if you prefer DSLR handling. And it’s one to consider if you want a well-rounded mid-range DSLR without breaking the bank.

Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Focusing Performance
  • Low Light Performance
  • Dynamic Range
  • Battery Performance
  • Display & Viewfinder
  • User Interface
  • Physical Layout & Ergonomics
4

Summary

Canon’s T8i represents an interesting middle ground in today’s market. It obtains many advanced features from the M6 II and 90D but remains relatively affordable and approachable. While it may not be the best video-centric camera around at this price, it’s a solid photography first camera and one of Canon’s best to date.