Despite their low price point, entry-level cameras are vital to the success of camera manufacturers. These are the cameras that consumers start their journeys with and enter their careers as photographers or videographers. And because of this, it’s easy to find excellent cameras for relatively little money in today’s market. The Canon Rebel T6, also known as the EOS 1300D, aims to remain a relevant option for new photographers. Initially released spring 2016, it’s an entry-level camera and the official successor to the previously released Canon Rebel T5.
Considering so much time has passed since its original debut, it’s now available at an excellent price well suited for beginners or anyone new to digital SLR photography. On paper, it features mostly identical specifications to its predecessor. And it serves as more of an incremental upgrade than a complete overhaul.
Nevertheless, Canon designed this camera specifically for those wanting to develop their photography and users upgrading from compact cameras or smartphones looking for better image quality. Canon aims this a stiff competitor to Nikon D5300, a similarly priced and equally capable camera. Today, we address the strengths, weaknesses, and discuss whether or not this should be a consideration in your search for your new camera.
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- What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Canon T6/1300D?
- Image Quality
- Video Quality
- Low Light Performance
- Focusing Performance
- Battery Performance
- Display & Viewfinder
- User Interface
- Physical Layout & Ergonomics
- Niche Features/Extras
- Image Performance
- Video Capabilities
- Autofocus Performance
- Is this a good beginner camera?
- Is the Canon T6/1300D a good camera for you?
What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Canon T6/1300D?
It features the same 18MP CMOS sensor as the predecessor. However, it now offers a modest update to the image process in the form of a DIGIC 4+ processor. While this is only an incremental update, Canon claims a 60% improvement in processing power over the previous DIGIC 4. Overall, the image quality delivered here is good, though not excellent. Photos are well-exposed with pleasing color rendition, but the camera lacks fine details, more to come in the cons section below.
The camera delivers a continuous burst rate of 3 fps, which isn’t fast by any means. However, the updated processor provides quite a strong buffer, allowing the camera to deliver virtually unlimited JPEG shooting.
Like the predecessor, this camera also features 1080p Full HD recording up to 30 fps and offers full manual control.
Low Light Performance
It features the same native ISO range as the predecessor. In this case, ISO 100 to 6,400, further expandable to ISO 12,800. However, the improved processor allows the camera to deliver a modest improvement in low-light performance over the predecessor. Users can expect usable images up to ISO 1,600. But do know, if shooting in the JPEG format, the camera’s noise reduction will soften images, reducing fine detail. As such, the RAW format is best, as it avoids any loss in fine details when shooting at higher ISO’s.
It features the same modest 9-point TTL phase-detection system as the predecessor. And the center-most point is also cross-type compatible, making it the best performing point of the system. In bright light, the focusing speed is quick and relatively responsive, though not the fastest to today’s standards.
It uses the LP-E10 battery, which Canon rates for a 600 shots per charge lifespan. With this battery life, you can achieve a full day’s shooting without the need for charging.
Display & Viewfinder
Outside of the improved processor, another area of vast improvement over the predecessor is the rear screen. While it still offers a similarly sized 3.0-inch TFT LCD, it now has double the resolution at 920K dots. Overall, this particular upgrade makes reviewing images and using the menus a more pleasant experience. While it’s far from the quality of more expensive cameras, it delivers reasonably good detail and viewing angles.
It has an optical viewfinder with a reasonably large magnification of 0.8x and 95% coverage of the image area.
As well as the standard set of automatic and scene selection modes expected, it also features a full range of semi-automatic modes and full manual as well. While standard, these options help users progress from fully automatic, to the preset ranges and fully manual quite naturally without any extraneous additions. The camera also provides 11 custom functions with 33 settable settings as well as the customizable My Menu. This menu allows users to make a custom list of their favorite menu settings all on a single list, saving time. Overall, the user interface and menus on this camera are excellent and adequately suited for beginning photographers. Canon’s organized them well, making them quite easily mastered.
Physical Layout & Ergonomics
What’s immediately apparent at first glance is the compact and small size of this camera compared to traditional DSLRs. It weighs in at only 440g, body only. And, not surprisingly, that kind of weight makes it among the smallest and lightest Canon SLRs released to date. Overall, its compact body delivers excellent portability and makes for a convenient travel companion.
The headline feature for this camera is the inclusion of built-in Wi-Fi and NFC. These features allow the camera to now wirelessly connect to a smartphone device. Once connected, users can transfer images for immediate sharing online and remotely control the camera, though slightly limited in functionality.
It has a built-in flash.
The camera only offers a continuous burst rate of 3 fps, which is quite slow. Not only that, when shooting in the RAW format, it only supplies 6 shots before hitting the buffer and slowing dramatically. With such a small buffer and slow shooting speed, it doesn’t make for a capable platform for sports or action photography. Thus, if you plan on shooting action, look elsewhere as this camera is not the best option.
While the sensor is still capable, it’s quite old. This camera features a similar sensor to that of the original 7D camera initially released in 2009. And, unfortunately, it clearly shows its age when shooting at higher ISO and in dynamic range. Both of which are relatively lackluster to today’s standards. Overall, the pixel-level detail here lags behind the competition, and images also reveal banding in the shadows during image recovery.
Not surprisingly, this camera doesn’t offer 4K UHD recording, though forgivable considering its price point.
However, the quality in 1080p leaves much to be desired. Sure, the colors look great, but the camera lacks fine details, making the footage appear relatively soft, and it also experiences moiré in certain scenes.
It lacks any slow-motion video recording in the form of 60p or 120p frame rates, so the camera has no way of providing slow-motion footage.
While the 9-point AF system is sufficient for most shooting situations, it doesn’t deliver much flexibility due to the clustering of the points in a diamond configuration in the center of the frame. In short, this means that users will, instead, have to rely on viewfinder techniques like focus recomposition for proper framing. And it also means that this camera is not well suited for tracking complex action that occurs on the outskirts of the frame.
The autofocusing performance in the viewfinder slows dramatically, taking on average 1-2 seconds to focus when shooting in dimly-lit conditions. This type of performance falls well below the performance expected, even for entry-level SLRs.
It doesn’t feature Canon’s renowned Dual Pixel CMOS AF for smooth and confident subject tracking. This feature is available on only newer cameras in this lineup.
The Live View focusing performance is quite slow, taking on average 1-2 seconds to acquire focus even in bright light and upwards of 5 seconds in dim light.
The camera lacks continuous autofocus. Thus, when shooting video, you will have to re-acquire focus by half depressing the shutter or lock the focus before recording. There’s no way to change this automatically while shooting video. And since it lacks a front-facing screen, there’s no way to quickly check to focus accuracy when in front of the camera. Thus, manual focusing is the only real option when shooting video on this camera.
The optical viewfinder only features a 95% coverage over the image area. While this is the standard expected for entry-level DSLRs, it does mean that there’s a likelihood of unwanted elements appearing in the edges of the frame when reviewing images. Take caution when precisely framing shots, as you cannot see 100% what the sensor will capture.
Sadly, it lacks an articulating screen. This feature is only available on the higher-end T6i and T6S cameras. Thus, you will have to take photos at awkward angles even when you can’t see the screen, as this display offers no versatility or accommodation.
The rear screen also lacks touch capability, a shame considering it’s ideally suited for beginning photographers to have a more intuitive navigation experience. Thankfully, the user menus are well designed and easy to navigate with the d-pad alone.
The physical buttons on the camera are quite flat, making them challenging to find by touch alone.
Like other entry-level Canon cameras, it too cannot change ISO in 1/3 stop increments. Instead, you will have to change it in whole stop increments, so 100 to 200 to 400, which doesn’t give the precise control over exposure as other cameras in this class.
It lacks a microphone input. And, sadly, the internal microphone is only mono, which doesn’t deliver the best quality. If audio quality is vital to you, consider the Canon T6i or T6S cameras instead. Alternatively, research external records such as the Zoom H1.
Like other cameras in this class, it does not feature a headphone input.
It lacks built-in HDR.
It lacks a built-in Panorama mode.
It lacks a built-in time-lapse mode. Instead, you will have to use an external intervalometer for this functionality.
It does not support silent shooting.
It doesn’t support USB charging.
The camera does not have a self-cleaning sensor unit installed, which means you have to clean the sensor manually.
Is this a good beginner camera?
Yes. However, know that it’s only an incremental update over its predecessor and isn’t a significant overhaul in existing performance. Considering the predecessor wasn’t exactly revolutionary either, we expected a bit more, perhaps in the form of better specifications. But, as it is, the camera maintains many of its predecessor’s tried and true successful elements. And Canon has played it relatively safe with the specifications on this camera. Nevertheless, it remains capable and makes some much-needed improvements in the predecessor’s weaknesses, while still remaining affordable. And it makes an excellent choice for the beginner looking to take their photographer up a step from a smartphone or compact.
Is the Canon T6/1300D a good camera for you?
It makes an excellent choice for someone looking to shoot primarily photos, not videos. While capable as a video camera, it doesn’t provide enough video-centric features to make it a worthwhile purchase if video is a crucial component of your workflow.
If you’re looking for a compact camera for vlogging, while it’s capable, it’s not necessarily a good option here either. It’s main drawbacks come in the form of lacking continuous autofocus, lacking headphone input, and fixed rear screen. These are tough pills to swallow, consider saving for the Canon SL2 or T6i cameras instead. That is, unless you’re willing to learn and utilize manual focus and external recording. If so, then, it’s a worthy option if this is all you can afford right now.
In the end, while a little outdated compared to today’s market, the Canon 1300D remains an excellent choice for a budget-friendly first camera. It delivers the core capabilities needed to learn and master the basics. And when you feel ready to upgrade, there’s plenty of other more advanced cameras in Canon’s lineup. While it’s not the greatest camera available at this price, it does provide better image quality than smartphones in a light and easy to use package. In all, this entry-level camera comes with a very reasonable price tag. And is one that will surely please JPEG shooters or first-time DSLR users looking to learn the basics.
The Canon T6 is only an incremental update over its predecessor and isn’t a significant overhaul in existing performance. And it maintains many of its predecessor’s tried and true successful elements. Nevertheless, it remains a capable and affordable option for the beginning photographer, though a bit outdated compared to today’s competition.