PROS / Reduced size and weight make this camera portable.
CONS / It has poor battery life at just 340 shots per charge.
VERDICT / Canon's Rebel SL1 prioritizes size and weight above all else, so it's missing features, but it's one of the most portable entry-level DSLRs available.
In order to compete with new compact cameras, Canon built the Rebel SL1 with an emphasis on reduced size and weight. While it is notably more compact than other beginner DSLRs, it makes some sacrifices in order to achieve its minimal dimensions.
While the SL1 can still produce good-looking photographs, its image quality is mediocre for its class. The best entry-level DSLRs capture lots of information, including subtle changes in color without losing details to the highlights and shadows. The SL1 lags only slightly behind in this respect. It struggles with low-light situations. Its images show more grain at high ISOs than competitors.
Its video feature-set is also fairly average. It can capture videos at a variety of resolutions and frame rates, the highest quality being the typical 1080p at 30 frames per second.
Its most impressive video-capturing ability comes not from the camera, but from its kit lens. Unlike Nikon, Pentax or Sony kits lenses, the Canon focuses quickly and silently in video mode. This ensures that your video remains sharp, without ruining your audio with autofocus sounds emanating from your lens.
The physical design of the camera is where it stands out most. When you lift the camera, you notice right away that it's much lighter than most DSLRs. It's also notably smaller. Although it sheds some features to remain so compact, it's surprisingly comfortable. Its grip and thumb rest provide just enough of a handle to make the SL1 feel secure in the hand.
It features a 3-inch touchscreen LCD display that you can use for everything from browsing menus and flicking through photos to fine-tuning exposure settings. Using the camera's live-view mode, you can adjust your settings on the screen while seeing the results of your changes in real time.
Another area that the SL1 makes compromises is in its battery life. Of the entry-level DSLR cameras that we reviewed, the SL1 had the smallest battery life at just 340 shots per charge.
Support for the Rebel SL1 is much the same as any other entry-level Canon. It comes with a one-year warranty and the company website provides manuals, FAQs and troubleshooting. You can also contact Canon via phone or email.
The Canon Rebel SL1 is average in most regards. It doesn't provide the best image quality or the most extensive list of features. Instead, it provides convenience. It may be missing features, but with its minimal size and weight, the Rebel SL1 is one of the most portable DSLRs available.