Canon Rebel T5 (1200D) Review

Introduction

Initially released in the spring of 2014, Canon’s EOS Rebel T5, also known as the EOS 1200D outside of the United States, is Canon’s most affordable DSLR. And it’s arguably the most affordable option even in today’s current market. Officially, it replaces the Rebel T3, or 1100D, and sits in their entry-level Rebel lineup.

On paper, it looks to be mostly a repacking of much of its predecessor tried and true capabilities. However, it does provide notable additions, some of which aim to take the Rebel series to the next level. And this camera packs even more resolution and a modern feature set into this already popular entry-level lineup.

 

 

And it’s a camera that Canon aims to sway users away from Nikon’s D3200. It’s also a camera they market directly at beginners and enthusiasts looking to improve their image quality and get into the world of DSLRs. However, are these improvements enough to justify an upgrade for current T3 users? In today’s post, we address its strengths and weaknesses and answer whether it’s relevant today.

Canon-T5-specs

What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Canon Rebel T5? 

Pros:

Image Quality

Since its original debut in 2011, the T3’s 12.2MP sensor defined the entry-level Rebel lineup. However, with the release of this camera, Canon has installed an updated 18.0MP APS-C CMOS sensor with an Optical Low Pass Filter, the same sensor as the T3i. This change represents a 32% improvement in resolving power. And they’ve also equipped the camera with the newer DIGIC 4 image processor. Overall, image quality is solid, even despite the camera’s age. Images are relatively sharp, with ample details and consistent exposure. The colors are vibrant, saturated, and deliver that pleasing Canon aesthetic as well.

It provides continuous shooting speeds of 3.0 fps. While this is quite slow to today’s standard, it is fast enough for slow and moderate sports or action. The camera does have, however, an excellent buffer. And it can quickly deliver 69 JPEGs before filling.

Video Quality

Unlike the predecessor, it now features 1080p Full HD video recording up to 30 fps to the MOV format. This addition makes it the first in the Rebel lineup to obtain Full HD video. And overall, the footage remains reasonably detailed with excellent color rendition.

The camera offers a Video Snapshot mode, which allows you to capture still images during video recording.

Like many cameras in this class, video recordings stop at 29 minutes and 59-seconds.

Low Light Performance

Low light performance is good. The camera provides a native ISO range from ISO 100 to 6,400, which is further expandable to ISO 12,800. And users can expect usable results up to ISO 3,200.

Focusing Performance

The camera obtains the 9-point AF system from the predecessor when composing via the viewfinder. However, its center-most point is now also cross-type compatible. While 9 points may not sound like many today, its autofocusing performance remains competent. Sure, it’s not as fast and more recent cameras with Hybrid AF systems, nor does it provide very much coverage. However, across most lighting conditions, whether bright or dimly lit, focusing is reasonably fast, accurate, and consistent.

Display & Viewfinder

It features an updated 3.0-inch rear TFT LCD, a nice change over the predecessor’s 2.7-inch screen. The display is reasonably bright and provides good viewing angles along with 100% coverage.

It features an optical viewfinder with 95% coverage over the imaging area, which is standard for the class.

User Interface

It inherits standard Canon user interfaces and menus, though they are the slightly older versions. Nevertheless, the interface and menus are straightforward, simple, and intuitive enough to master quickly. All of the options are color-coded in tabs, and Canon also streamlines the menu based on the shooting mode selected. If you change to stills, the camera displays photo related settings, making it easier to find specific settings for the shooting mode in use. Overall, the menus are great for beginners.

Changing between modes also presents a brief on-screen description of what’s possible in that mode, helpful for new users.

It features the Creative Auto Mode, which is perfect for new users as well. In this mode, a novice can achieve the desired look by merely swiping sliders to change background blur. And this mode virtually removes the need to understand the camera settings involved.

It obtains the customizable My Menu, where up to six top-their items are programmable, saving time.

It obtains the customizable Quick Menu, giving users quick access to the variety of shooting parameters it offers.

Physical Layout & Ergonomics

From an ergonomics standpoint, the camera provides quite a comfortable hold and ample surface area to grip. The handling is mostly similar to other Canon cameras in this class. However, it is quite comfortable during prolonged use.

The camera also obtains the predecessor’s proven design. And the build quality also remains the same and is average for the class. Nevertheless, it feels well assembled and sturdy. And at 480g body alone, it’s one of Canon’s lightest SLRs, outside of the SL1.

From a layout standpoint, the button layout used is classic Canon design. Both the camera’s button placement and positioning are excellent. And all of the buttons are pre-labeled, making it easy for beginners to jump between various settings.

Niche Features/Extras 

It has a built-in pop-up flash.

Cons:

Image Performance

Compared to more recent cameras, the camera’s tonal range is quite narrow. A smaller tonal range means you’ll quickly lose details in blacks and highlights, even at lower ISOs. Overall, the camera doesn’t offer much in the way when it comes to recovering details from its RAW images. So the exposure has to be reasonably close to avoid any unwanted loss in detail.

Video Capabilities

Due to age, the camera lacks 4K video and any high frame rates at 1080p, be it 60 fps or 120 fps.

But, astonishingly, the camera doesn’t support manual control of Aperture or Shutter Speed during filming, quite disappointing. And video recordings are strictly automatic.

The camera also automatically segments video recordings into 4 GB sections, which will require post-process merging.

Autofocus Performance

The camera uses an older Live View autofocusing system that is quite slow, clunky, and unusable during dim light. Overall, if you want to shoot video in particular with this camera, manually focusing is best. Engaging Live View slows focusing speeds, even in bright light, to 3-4 seconds. And overall, it’s not the greatest experience.

Battery Performance

Battery life is average for this class, and is slightly worse than the predecessor, strangely enough. Canon rates its LP-E10 battery at only 500 shots per charge.

Display

The optical viewfinder is slightly dim, which creates an unnecessary amount of eye strain during use.

Due to age, the rear LCD lacks touch capabilities and is also fixed, without articulation. However, it also lacks Canon’s more recent Clear View coating, which prevents glare and reflection. And since it lacks the layer, it’s not easy to see during backlit conditions. Also, at 460K dots, the resolution is quite low compared to more recent displays. And its lack of resolution makes gauging proper focus difficult as well.

It lacks a top status LCD screen.

Ergonomics

Canon housed both the battery and SD card in the same compartment underneath the camera. This location means changing either is quite a tedious process when using a tripod.

Lacking Features

It lacks a microphone input.

It lacks a headphone input.

Due to age, the camera lacks any wireless connectivity. If you desire this functionality, considering getting an Eye-Fi capable SD card.

Is this a good beginner camera?

Yes.

Canon aims this camera directly at beginners, and it’s perfect for this demographic. Despite its age, it still features all of the core capabilities and features that beginners need. And it’s a well-built and incredibly affordable SLR. And for the price, if you’re willing to accept its limitations, it’s quite a solid starting point.

What are the best lenses & bundles for the Canon Rebel T5?

Eye-Fi Card:

Eye-Fi Explore

General Photography: 

EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM
EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM

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
EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 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:

LP-E10 Battery

SD Cards:

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

Tripod:

Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminum 5-Section Tripod    

Is this a good camera for you?

Possibly.

Compared to the predecessor, it provides notable improvements in video capabilities along with an updated sensor. And these improvements alone justify an upgrade. If you have the Rebel T3 or older, consider moving up.

For those looking to shoot action and sport, this isn’t the right camera, however. With a burst rate of only 3 fps, it’s just not fast enough to capture critical moments.

For aspiring videographers, this isn’t the right camera either. It lacks headphone and microphone inputs, along with an articulating display and reliable autofocus. Thus, it’s not a strong enough platform to recommend for videographers.

In the end, Canon’s EOS Rebel T5 provides a notable improvement to an already proven platform. But, it is missing a few key features from the Rebel T3i. However, if you’re in the market for the most affordable entry-level DSLR around, this is the best choice. So long as you’re mostly shooting stills. For its current price, it provides exceptional value for money, considering the image quality it offers. And it’s a straightforward and simple camera that’s competent for beginners looking to learn the basics. And despite its age, it’s very much a relevant contender today.

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

The Canon T5 provides notable improvements in its sensor and video capabilities over its predecessor. And it builds on an already proven platform. While it’s very much outdated compared to today’s feature set, it does still provide excellent value for money. And it is a good option for beginning photographers looking for a budget-friendly starting point.