Canon 100D £579

2nd May 2013 | 13:30

Canon 100D

The world's smallest and lightest DSLR

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

What Canon has managed to produce in the EOS 100D is pretty special - a very small body that retains the same DSLR stylings of its larger siblings, and more importantly, produces impressive image quality. That's quite a feat.

Like:

Small body size; Touchscreen; Great image quality;

Dislike:

Overall system still large; Art filters only usable in Live View; Slow Live View focusing;

Introduction

The interchangeable lens camera market has shifted significantly over the past couple of years. Where once the bulky DSLR was the undisputed king, now smaller, compact system cameras are making significant headway into stealing the crown.

Canon finally introduced its own CSC in the shape of the Canon EOS M last year, but now it has also released the Canon EOS 100D - also known as the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 in the US - which is the world's smallest and lightest DSLR.

In fact, it's around 25 per cent smaller than the Canon EOS 650D, and 28 per cent lighter.

Canon EOS 100D review

Unlike the Canon EOS M, it has the same traditional DSLR stylings, but the majority of the interior electronics have been downsized.

The major exception to this is the sensor, which remains APS-C sized and features 18 million pixels - although the module itself has been thinned to fit inside the smaller body. Canon says that this is a new sensor, but it should put in the same kind of performance as the one in the EOS 650D/700D.

The sensor is a hybrid CMOS AF II sensor, the second generation of the type of sensor which was found in the Canon EOS 650D and Canon EOS M. This has phase detection pixels on the sensor to assist with autofocus when shooting video or using Live View. These autofocus points cover approximately 80 per cent of the sensor, which should make for more accurate focusing, right the way across the frame.

Canon EOS 100D review

Canon is aiming the 100D somewhere between the EOS M and the EOS 650D. Its small body size has led to the tagline, "A DSLR you'll never want to leave behind." It also has a lot of fun features, designed to appeal to the beginner user. These include creative functions such as Kids' mode, Candlelight mode and Food mode.

There's also a range of digital filters, the same as those found on the Canon EOS M and Canon EOS 650D. For the first time, however, in a Canon SLR you can now see how these effects will be rendered on the screen (when shooting in Live View) before the shot is taken - this is also possible with the M.

There's also Dual Shot Mode, which records one image with the filter, and one without, should you change your mind at a later date.

Canon EOS 100D review

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Despite being roughly the same size as some of the compact system cameras on the market, the Canon EOS 100D still has room for an optical viewfinder that boasts 0.87x magnification and 95% coverage.

It has a smaller battery than the 650D/750D, which Canon says is capable of around 380 shots - the same as the EOS M. The inbuilt flash has a guide number of 9.4, compared with the 650D's number of 13.

Like both the Canon EOS 650D and Canon EOS M, the Canon EOS 100D has a capacitive touchscreen. It is fixed, unlike the 650D and 700D, which have articulating screens. Other features include 4fps shooting, Full HD movie recording and Intelligent Auto.

Canon EOS 100D review

Although it is a lot smaller than most of Canon's other DSLRs, it still retains the standard Canon EF-S lens mount, making it compatible with the company's huge range of optics. Of course, unlike compact system camera optics, these remain quite large - in other words, don't expect the entire system to be smaller just because the Canon 100D has been shrunk down.

Canon could have chosen to use the EF-M mount, as on the EOS M, but the lens range here is much more limited. Those for looking for something small and compact may want to consider the wide range of compact system cameras currently on the market.

The Canon EOS 100D - aka the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 - is priced at £569.99 / US$649 / AU$849.95 body only, or £699.99 / US$799.99 / AU$999.95 with the new 18-55mm kit lens, which was announced at the same time.

Build quality and handling

As the world's smallest and lightest DSLR, the first thing you notice about the Canon EOS 100D is its size. Compared with other entry level cameras at this price point, it is indeed very small, with a body size roughly the same as something like the Panasonic G5.

That said, despite its small size, the button layout of the Canon EOS 100D is very good, not feeling cramped or awkward. It has a good chunky grip, making it feel secure in the hand, even when shooting one-handed. The majority of the buttons can be accessed with the thumb, and if you've ever used a Canon DSLR before, you'll be immediately at home here.

Canon EOS 100D review

A mode dial on top of the camera can be used to quickly flick between the different settings, including fully automatic, fully manual and semi-automatic (such as aperture priority and shutter priority) modes.

Here you'll also find Creative Auto, which is intended as a guide for beginner photographers, providing a way to achieve effects such as background blur, without using photographic language.

Canon EOS 100D review

Movie mode, which used to be incorporated onto the mode dial of older Canon DSLRs, is now accessed via the on/off switch. Push the switch further past the "on" point to put it straight into recording mode. This is a lot quicker than having to push the mode dial all the way around, and makes capturing off-the-cuff movies a lot easier.

As you might expect, there are fewer buttons on the back of the 100D to directly access certain settings. However, there is a button to access a Quick Menu, which enables you to scroll through the most commonly used settings, such as white balance and metering. You can use a combination of the arrow keys and the scroll dial on the front of the camera to make changes or, if you prefer, a combination of the touchscreen and the scroll dial.

Canon EOS 100D review

The Canon EOS 650D was the world's first DSLR to feature a touchscreen. It's a feature that's becoming more and more commonplace on cameras, and is particularly useful for very quickly changing the settings.

But it perhaps really comes into its own when reviewing images, enabling you to swipe through shots and pinch to zoom to quickly check accurate focus. When shooting in Live View you can also use the touchscreen to change the focus point or activate the shutter release - something which is particularly useful when creating movies, or using the camera from a more awkward position, or on a tripod.

Canon EOS 100D review

One of the great things about the Canon EOS 100D's design is that if you don't like touchscreens, you don't have to use it. It's a good enhancer to the usability of the camera, rather than a necessity. Everything that can be done via the touchscreen is also possible using physical buttons.

There's a direct access button at the top-right of the back of the camera to change the autofocus point when not in Live View mode. After you've pressed this, you can use the arrow keys to move around the frame to the point you want to use.

Canon EOS 100D review

You can use the touchscreen to change the autofocus point after pressing the AF button if you prefer, but since you can't see the scene in front of you it's not particularly helpful. The Panasonic G5 and Panasonic G6's very useful TouchPad AF system, whereby you can use the screen to set the autofocus point even while looking through the viewfinder, is much more useful.

Canon has incorporated a number of digital filters on the EOS 100D, but accessing them is a little idiosyncratic. When shooting in the majority of shooting modes, such as aperture priority, you can only use them when using Live View, being accessible from the Quick Menu. You're also unable to shoot with them when raw format is enabled, so you'll need to switch that off first. Filters are more quickly accessible from the Creative Auto mode, but then you lose control over other elements, such as shutter speed.

Canon EOS 100D review

A number of Picture Styles are included as presets, such as Landscape and Monochrome. These can be accessed via the quick menu, and unlike digital filters they can be shot both in raw format and when using a standard shooting mode. Canon has helpfully included space for up to three of your own custom preset modes, which is useful if you want to create your own style, such as high contrast black and white.

Anyone who has used a Canon camera will be at home with the main menu system, which is sensibly organised into shooting options, playback options and general settings. At the very end of the Menu folders is the 'My Menu' shortcut, which enables you to assign any features you find you're regularly using, to save scrolling through several pages of menus every time.

Performance

From its announcement, we were pretty excited about the Canon EOS 100D. What the Canon engineers have managed to achieve in shrinking down the key components of the DSLR is pretty remarkable, especially with a sensor that is claimed to be similar in performance than the Canon EOS 650D.

Happily, we have not been disappointed by the image performance of the Canon EOS 100D. That 18 million pixel sensor is capable of resolving lots of detail, with minimal evidence of image smoothing at lower sensitivities.

Colours from the Canon EOS 100D are also excellent, being nice and vibrant without going over the top. Having the ability to experiment with Picture Styles also gives you the opportunity to boost elements such as saturation if you think the scene requires it.

Canon EOS 100D review

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Automatic white balance does a good job in the majority of conditions, but it does tend to favour slightly warmer tones when faced with artificial lighting. Switching to a more appropriate white balance setting is quick enough, though, if you're not satisfied with its performance.

The 100D's evaluative metering, as general-purpose metering is known on Canon DSLRs, is a reasonable performer, helping the camera to produce balanced exposures in the majority of conditions. However, if a scene has high contrast the camera struggles and it will under- or over-expose the depending upon the brightness of the subject under the active AF point. In some ways it acts more like centreweighted, or even spot metering because the exposure is significantly skewed towards getting the subject under the AF point just right.

Noise performance is very good, with lots of crisp detail even at mid-range sensitivities such as ISO 400. From around ISO 1600, the amount of luminance and colour noise does increase, but it's not particularly noticeable at printing and normal web sizes. Even images shot at ISO 3200 are useable in small sizes, though if you zoom in 100%, noise is apparent, along with a loss in detail.

Canon EOS 100D review

Shooting in raw format gives you the opportunity to control the amount of noise reduction applied to your images, and is recommended if you're shooting something with lots of fine detail. Generally, however, the Canon 100D's JPEGs show a good balance of low noise while retaining a decent level of detail.

Autofocus performance while shooting through the viewfinder is excellent, locking onto subjects quickly and easily. Only the central AF point is a cross-type, so this is more sensitive - you might want to keep the focus point to this central point and focus and recompose if you're attempting to capture rapidly unfolding action.

Unfortunately, autofocus speed drops dramatically when using Live View, despite the hybrid autofocusing system. You could be waiting for a few seconds for the camera to finish hunting around for focus, and it's certainly no match for the likes of the Olympus PEN E-PL5 or Panasonic G5, with their near instant autofocusing capabilities.

Canon EOS 100D review

Therefore we only really recommend using Live View for still - or near still - subjects, and if you've got plenty of time to get the shot. It's useful for macro or tripod work, though.

Those who are put off by the electronic viewfinders on many compact system cameras will enjoy using the OVF provided on the Canon EOS 100D. Although quite small, it still gives a clear and bright view. It's worth bearing in mind that it doesn't give a 100% field of view, unlike the majority of electronic viewfinders, which is something to consider when composing an image.

Although it's not an articulating device, the Canon 100D's 3-inch screen does give a reasonable angle of view if you need to shoot from slightly awkward angles. It does suffer slightly from glare and reflections in bright sunlight, but in the majority of cases it's easy to use.

Canon EOS 100D review

The touchscreen is very responsive, and is a nice bonus to those who like using them, but isn't required by people who don't.

It's nice to see Canon considering its audience by including filter effects on the 100D, and a few here are good fun to play with - it's certainly worth having an experiment if you like that kind of thing. We particularly liked grainy black and white and toy camera effect.

Although you can't shoot in raw format, using the Dual Shot mode helps to eliminate the problem of being stuck with a filter you no longer like down the line.

Image quality and resolution

As part of our image quality testing for the Canon EOS 100D, we've shot our resolution chart with our standard Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens mounted.

If you view our crops of the resolution chart's central section at 100% (or Actual Pixels) you will see that, for example, at ISO 100 the Canon EOS 100D is capable of resolving up to around 24 (line widths per picture height x100) in its highest quality JPEG files.

For a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them, check out our full explanation of our camera testing resolution charts.

Examining images of the chart taken at each sensitivity setting reveals the following resolution scores in line widths per picture height x100:

JPEG

Canon EOS 100D review

Full ISO 100 image, see the cropped (100%) versions below.

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 100, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 200, score: 22 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 400, score: 22 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 800, score: 20 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 1600, score: 20 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 3200, score: 20 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 6400, score: 18 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 12800, score: 16 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Raw

Canon 100D review

ISO 100, score: 26 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon 100D review

ISO 200, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon 100D review

ISO 400, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon 100D review

ISO 800, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon 100D review

ISO 1600, score: 22 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon 100D review

ISO 3200, score: 22 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon 100D review

ISO 6400, score: 22 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon 100D review

ISO 12800, score: 20 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Noise and dynamic range

We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using DXO Analyzer software to generate the data to produce the graphs below.

A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) indicates a cleaner and better quality image.

For more more details on how to interpret our test data, check out our full explanation of our noise and dynamic range tests.

Here we compare the Canon EOS 100D with the Panasonic G5, Canon EOS 650D, Sony Alpha a58 andNikon D3200.

JPEG signal to noise ratio

Canon EOS 100D review

This chart shows that the Canon EOS 100D's JPEG files have a similar signal to noise ratio to those from the Panasonic G5 and Canon EOS 650D, while producing slightly greater ratios than the Nikon D3200 at every sensitivity, and slightly weaker ratios than the Sony Alpha a58 at ISO 400 and above.

This means that we can expect the 100D to produce cleaner JPEG images than the Nikon D3200, but noisier images than the Sony Alpha 58 at higher sensitivity values.

Raw signal to noise ratio

Canon EOS 100D review

The signal to noise ratios of the TIFF images (after conversion from raw) from the Canon EOS 100D are stronger than those from the Sony Alpha a58 at every sensitivity setting, and stronger than the Panasonic G5 and Nikon D3200 at ISO 400 and above. The Canon EOS 100D's TIFF images show weaker signal to noise ratios than those from the Canon EOS 650D after ISO 100.

This means that, with the exception of the Canon 650D's images, the 100D produces cleaner raw images (after conversion to TIFF) than the competing cameras.

JPEG dynamic range

Canon EOS 100D review

The Canon EOS 100D's JPEGs show more dynamic range than those from the Panasonic G5 at every sensitivity setting. They show weaker dynamic range than those from the Sony Alpha a58 and Nikon D3200 at ISO 100-800, after which point the results are very similar. The Canon EOS 100D's JPEGs produce very similar dynamic range to the Canon EOS 650D.

A high dynamic range means a camera can capture a wide range of tones from deep shadows to bright highlights in a single shot.

Raw dynamic range

Canon EOS 100D review

Here we can see that TIFF images (after conversion from raw) from the Canon EOS 100D again show greater dynamic range than TIFFs from the Panasonic G5 at every sensitivity. The 100D's TIFFs show similar dynamic range to the Canon EOS 650D's at ISO 100, but the 100D's have greater range at ISO 400-1600, and at ISO 6400-12800. The Canon EOS 100D's TIFFs show weaker dynamic range than the Sony Alpha a58's at lower sensitivities, but at ISO 800, 1600 and 12800 the Canon 100D comes out on top. The Nikon D3200's TIFFs beat the Canon 100D's for dynamic range at every sensitivity except ISO 800 and 6400.

Sample images

Canon EOS 100D review

Click here to see the full resolution image

The new 18-55mm STM kit lens is a very capable performer, and a good lens to get started with. Here we can see plenty of detail has been resolved, while there's also a nice drop off in focus. Evaluative metering has performed well despite it being a reasonably high contrast scene.

Canon EOS 100D review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Lots of fine detail is picked out by the Canon 100D's 18 million pixel APS-C sized sensor, with very little evidence of image smoothing. Take a look at the image at 100% to really evaluate its performance.

Canon EOS 100D review

Click here to see the full resolution image

In this scene, spot metering was required to get the most balanced exposure.

Canon EOS 100D review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Images straight from the camera display bright and punchy colours that aren't overly vibrant. If you want to ramp up the saturation further, you could create your own custom Picture Style.

Canon EOS 100D review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Shooting in Landscape picture style helps to emphasise the greens and blues in a scene. This was taken with the kit lens, which has a versatile focal range for a number of different shooting conditions.

Canon EOS 100D review

Click here to see the full resolution image

At its widest point, the standard kit lens has a focal length of 18mm, or around 28mm in 35mm terms.

Canon EOS 100D review

Click here to see the full resolution image

This rises to 55mm at the telephoto end, which is around 88mm in 35mm terms.

Canon EOS 100D review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Shot at ISO 3200, this image displays a fair amount of noise, but detail has been retained fairly well and it's more than usable at smaller printing and web sizes.

Canon EOS 100D review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Creating your own customised Picture Styles is easy and handy if you often like to shoot in one particular way. This is a version of Monochrome that has had the contrast setting pushed to the maximum for a bold effect.

Canon EOS 100D review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Sepia is another mode that can be created via the Picture Styles, under monochrome 'toning'.

Canon EOS 100D review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Other colour tones are available in monochrome, including blue, which gives a cyanotype effect.

Canon EOS 100D review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Under artificial lighting, the Canon 100D's automatic white balance setting has a tendency to err towards warm tones.

Canon EOS 100D review

Click here to see the full resolution image

A number of digital filters are available, and are worth experimenting with. This is the Toy Camera mode on the Cool setting.

Canon EOS 100D review

Click here to see the full resolution image

This is another digital filter, the grainy black and white setting.

Sensitivity and noise images

JPEG

Canon EOS 100D review

Full ISO 100 image, see the cropped (100%) versions below.

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 100 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 200 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 400 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 800 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 1600 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 3200 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 6400 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 12800 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Raw

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 100 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 200 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 400 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 800 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 1600 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 3200 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 6400 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Canon EOS 100D review

ISO 12800 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Verdict

What Canon has managed to produce in the EOS 100D is pretty special - a very small body that retains the same DSLR stylings of its larger siblings, and, more importantly, produces impressive image quality. That's quite a feat.

However, the problem remains that although the camera itself is small, the overall system is not. By the time you attach the 18-55mm kit lens, it's not too much smaller than other, cheaper, cameras in Canon's range. Furthermore, if you're intending to use several lenses, you will still need a pretty large kit bag to pack it all in.

It's worth looking at the 40mm pancake lens as an accompaniment to the Canon 100D, since its incredibly small size makes it a reasonable combo for street shooting - albeit with a longer (equivalent) focal length than we'd usually recommend for such work.

It's also arguable that the intended consumer of this camera won't stray too much further than the light kit lens, which does keep the weight down significantly.

Speaking of the kit lens, the new 18-55mm STM lens is a very good performer. If you don't already have any lenses, it's well worth buying the standard kit box, rather than the body-only option. It's a great lens to get you started with until such time that you decide you want to expand your collection.

Images from the Canon EOS 100D are impressive, with lots of detail and bright, punchy colours. Although it doesn't help with size reduction, compatibility with Canon's incredibly extensive lens range does make this a more flexible overall system than the compact system camera it's trying to take on.

We liked

Despite the reduction in size, the layout and usability of the Canon EOS 100D is still very good, with buttons arranged so that they're easy to reach and the touchscreen complementary to operability, rather than a necessity.

That touchscreen really comes in handy when zooming into images during playback and accessing different functions on the quick menu.

We disliked

Perhaps our biggest bugbear with this camera is the hyperbole which is associated with being the world's smallest and lightest DSLR. Does that really mean anything when lenses are still big and heavy?

Aside from that, there are a few other niggles, such as only being able to use digital filters in Live View, or indeed the sluggish performance of AF in Live View.

Final verdict

It's hard to know what to say about the Canon 100D. Canon has once again produced an incredibly capable DSLR, which produces excellent images.

The miniaturisation element is fun, and a nifty feat of engineering, but there's still no way that a camera and system such as this can compete with the likes of the Micro Four Thirds system in terms of weight and size.

That said, if you're already a Canon owner looking for something small to add to your collection, this could be a good second shooter - though you might just baulk at its current asking price of £699.99 / US$799.99 / AU$999.95 with the kit lens.

If you're looking for something which is truly portable, but still retains DSLR-type stylings and operability, take a look at the Panasonic G5 or the newer Panasonic G6.

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