I bought my first digital camera when the Canon Digital Rebel first came out in September, 2003. I had been using film cameras up to then but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that times were changing when Canon first introduced the Rebel, the first full-sized digital Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera for consumers. Professional digital cameras had been around for a few years, but an ordinary consumer would need a new mortgage to pay for one.
Since then, I’ve tested dozens of cameras from many different manufacturers, but I still have my original 5 megapixel (MP) Digital Rebel and I still use it a lot.
The original Rebel was 149mm W x 99mm H x 72.4mm D and weighed 560 grams without a lens; the Rebel T4i, by comparison, weighs 520 grams (body only) and measures 133mm W x 99.8mm H x 78.8mm D. Although physically it hasn’t changed a lot in size from the original, the 40 grams less weight and 16mm less width make the new T4i seem much smaller.
The big difference is that the Rebel T4i is loaded with features – far too many to list here, but suffice to say that any consumer would find more than enough to keep them happy with this camera. This is Canon’s top of the line in terms of consumer cameras – the next step up is to the professional level and that’s a whole different ballgame.
The Rebel T4i retails for about $640 for the body only, and $730 with a 18-55mm IS II lens, so it’s nicely priced for consumers who are serious about taking pictures but aren’t professionals.
The 18 megapixel CMOS makes for great photos in all kinds of lighting, and the ability to shoot five frames per second continuously will let users capture all the action if they’re shooting sports.
The 3” LCD touchscreen is what really makes this camera fun to use. I found myself using it to take photos more often than not – the viewfinder is pretty small, and the touchscreen was so much fun to use it became the preferred method quite quickly. Housed on an articulating arm, users can rotate it to view it from above or behind, and you can rotate it right around to face frontward so you can compose a self- portrait. By selecting the “Q” button, the touchscreen functionality is turned on; so you can adjust such things as aperture settings, shutter speeds and even exposure compensation. In playback mode you can have some of the same functionality as today’s smartphones offer – such as swiping through images pinching to zoom – that sort of thing. My guess is that because of smartphones, camera makers have had to incorporate these features into their LCDs because consumers are just so used to using them – in any event, the user is the winner with these functions.
All the shooting settings on the T4i are conveniently on the Mode Dial, from scene modes, which can automatically configure the camera for various types of shots, or let users select full manual control. The High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode takes three photos at different settings and automatically combines them into one photo, and the new Handheld Night Scene takes four low light shots and combines them into one. Makes for some pretty interesting shots. Both of these modes require a steady hand though, and users need to wait a few seconds after the shots have been taken for the shot to process.
There are filters that users can apply after a shot has been taken to make for some fun images, although they can’t be applied while actually taking a shot.
The T4i, along with being a good still camera, takes high definition (1080p) video and the autofocus is fast enough to keep a person or an object in focus as they move across the screen. It’s easy to use, simply select the movie mode and the camera automatically starts Live View mode, which lets users see the action on the LCD and start or stop recording with a touch. The newer cameras let users take a still photo while in movie mode, although there’s a slight pause in the movie while this takes place – but the quality of the still image is great.
Consumers who want a full feature set and complete manual control might find the T4i a little underwhelming, but the vast majority of camera users will love it. It’s decently sized, has the ability to simply take a great still shot or movie quickly and without a lot of fuss. That’s what most consumers want I think – I know that’s what I want in a camera.
PROS: Lots of features; great touchscreen experience; fast autofocus; decent price.
CONS: To make the most out of video you need one of the STM lenses; small viewfinder.
TO SUM IT UP: The EOS Rebel T4i is fast, easy to use, has a great touchscreen experience and, importantly, has a decent price point. I really enjoyed my time with the test model and wouldn’t think twice about getting this camera to replace my venerable old Digital Rebel.