Even though the EOS Rebel SL1 (also called the Rebel D100 in some parts of the world) is a small DSLR camera, Canon included a large (APS-C sized) image sensor measuring 22.3 by 14.9 mm. This CMOS sensor has a 3:2 aspect ratio and carries 18.0 megapixels of resolution. Canon included a self-cleaning sensor unit, and by default the sensor cleaning occurs each time the unit is powered down.
Also visible here is the Canon EF lens mount, through which you can connect any EF or EF-S interchangeable lenses. The SL1 model I tested included an 18-55mm IS STM kit lens, as shown below.
The SL1 and kit lens can make use of either manual focus or autofocus, which is a through the lens focus system with 9 AF points that you can select manually or automatically. This autofocus system is similar to what's found with the Rebel T3. The autofocus system's points occupy about 80% of the LCD in Live View, which gives the Rebel SL1 better AF results toward the edges of the scene in Live View than past Rebel cameras.
The autofocus options in Viewfinder mode include One-Shot AF, Predictive AI Servo AF, and AI Focus AF, and the system works extremely quickly and accurately.
In Live View mode, your autofocus options include Face Detection with Tracking, Flexizone-Multi AF, Flexizone-Single AF, and Quick Mode. Continuous AF can be used with the first three autofocus options, but not with Quick Mode, where instead the mirror flips down for an instant, allowing the camera to use the Viewfinder's autofocus system.
The focus assist lamp included with the Rebel SL1 has an effective range of up to 13.1 feet.
The 18-55mm kit lens has its manual focus ring at the top end of the lens as shown in this photo (above the Canon label). The large ring in the middle of the lens is the focal ring, allowing you to adjust the focal length of the zoom lens. This kit lens has a minimal focusing distance of 0.82 feet.
The SL1's lens mount has both a red dot and a white square to help you properly line up the lenses with the mount before attaching them (red = EF lens, white = EF-S lens). The lens release is the "D" shaped button to the right of the lens mount.
The EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM kit lens includes both a focus mode switch and an image stabilizer switch. When the lens is attached to the Rebel SL1, these switches will be on the left side of the camera as you're holding it.
The focus mode switch toggles between AF (autofocus) and MF (manual focus). Within autofocus mode, you then can select from the autofocus options listed above.
The image stabilizer (IS) switch determines whether the lens' optical IS is On or Off.
In the upper right area of this image, you'll see the flash button, which opens the SL1's popup flash unit when the camera is powered on.
You also can see a small round button in the lower right corner of this image, just below the lens release button. This small button is the depth of field button, which causes the lens to stop down to the current aperture setting.
The SL1's popup flash unit surrounds the hot shoe on the top of the camera and opens with the button on the left side of the camera, which is visible in the bottom right corner of this image.
Flash exposure compensation of between -2 and +2 is available, and the flash metering options with the Rebel SL1 are E-TTL II Autoflash and FE Lock.
The effective flash range for the popup flash depends on the ISO setting in use. But for an ISO 400 setting, the flash range is about 3.3 to 17.7 feet at wide angle with the kit lens and 3.3 to 11.2 feet at full telephoto.
You also could add an external flash unit to the Rebel SL1 through the hot shoe.
Canon included a high-quality touchscreen LCD with the EOS Rebel SL1, making it easy to control the camera in a variety of ways, including activating the shutter or choosing an autofocus point. It would have been nice if Canon had redesigned or created menus that could take advantage of the touchscreen capabilities more easily. You may find it easier to work through the on-screen menus using the four-way button rather than the touchscreen because of the menu design and because some of the on-screen menu buttons are too small.
The LCD screen has an aspect ratio of 3:2 and measures 3.0 inches diagonally with an impressive resolution of 1.04 million pixels. You can pick from seven brightness levels.
Most of the EOS SL1's controls are on the right side of the DSLR camera's top panel, and these controls look very similar to past Rebel cameras, including the T4i. You can see the hot shoe, which is centered over the lens, on the left of this image.
The shutter button is the black button on the far end of the right-hand grip. It's a good size to use comfortably, and the small indention around the button works well for resting your right finger before recording a photo.
Just behind the shutter button is the ISO button, through which you can open an on-screen menu to set the ISO. To the right is the main command dial, which controls exposure settings in Av/Tv/Manual modes and allows you to scroll through menu items or stored images more quickly than using the four-way switch.
The power switch is to the right of the mode dial, and you also use this switch to access the SL1's movie recording mode.
The mode dial offers a dozen options for shooting modes, and it's a great tool for gaining quick access to the camera's various settings. The currently active setting is indicated by the small white dot to the left of the mode dial. The mode dial options (starting at the bottom and going clockwise) are:
- A+ (in green) - Scene Intelligent Auto
- P - Program AE, exposure set automatically, other settings are manual
- Tv - Shutter Priority AE, set shutter speed manually, other settings automatic based off shutter speed
- Av - Aperture Priority AE, set aperture manually, other settings automatic based off aperture
- M - Manual, all settings can be performed manually
- SCN - Scene modes (Kids, Food, Candlelight, Night Portrait, Handheld Night Scene, HDR Backlight Control)
- Runner icon - Sports mode
- Flower icon - Close-up/macro mode
- Mountain icon - Landscape mode
- Face icon - Portait mode
- CA - Creative Auto
- Crossed-out Lightning icon - Flash Off mode
On the upper part of the Canon SL1's back panel are a few other buttons, but the most obvious feature here is the optical viewfinder, which provides an approximately 95% view of the scene. The viewfinder displays a bit of information about the settings, including the autofocus, exposure, and flash settings. There's plenty of padding around the viewfinder for comfortable use. This eyecup pad can be removed and replaced with an eyepiece cover when shooting in Bulb mode or with a remote control switch.
Just above the viewfinder is a sensor that interprets when the SL1 has been lifted to your eye to allow you to use the viewfinder, causing the camera to turn off the LCD screen. When you remove the camera from near your eye, the LCD should turn on again. You can control the viewfinder sensor's actions through the EOS SL1's on-screen menus.
To the right of the viewfinder is a button that allow you to switch between Live View through the LCD and the Viewfinder mode by turning off the LCD manually. This button also allows you to start and stop movie recording, as indicated by the red dot near the button.
Along the right side of the viewfinder is the dioptric adjustment knob, which is just visible in this image. You can sharpen the scene in the viewfinder using this dial. Next is the Live View mode switch, which puts the camera into Live View mode. Here you use the LCD to frame your photos, much like you would with a point-n-shoot camera.
To the left of the viewfinder are the Menu and Info buttons. Use the Menu button to open the camera's on-screen menu options. Use the Info button to change what data is displayed on the LCD screen when you're in the various shooting modes or in Playback mode.
The control buttons along the right side of the back panel of the EOS Rebel SL1 are a great size to use comfortably. Along the upper right is the AF Point Selection button and the AE/FE Lock button (marked with a six-point star). When you're in Playback mode, these buttons control the magnify and thumbnail index functions of the camera, as indicated by the blue labels below the buttons.
The Aperture and EV button is just above the four-way button, and this button allows you to adjust these camera settings. Hold down this button and spin the command dial to set the aperture or exposure compensation, depending on which shooting mode you're using. The rubberized coating in the area between the upper two buttons and the Av/EV button provides a steady grip area for your right thumb.
Inside the four-way button is the Q/Set button. The Q/Set button opens a Quick Control menu on the LCD, giving you easy access to the majority of the SL1's shooting settings. This is a great feature. You can use the Q/Set button to make selections in the on-screen menus, too. The four-way button around the Q/Set button allows you to scroll through menus or stored images, but it doesn't open secondary popup menus, as occurred with the Rebel T4i. The four-way button doesn't have a spin ring, but you can use the command dial to quickly scroll through items.
Along the bottom of the back panel are the Playback and Delete buttons. The Playback button opens Playback mode, from which you can delete images using the Delete button.
Along the left-hand side of the camera (as you're holding the SL1), Canon included a compartment that houses the Rebel SL1's various ports.
The upper port serves as an External Microphone port for recording high-quality audio with your video; and optional mic is required. Just below it is a Remote Control Port, through which you can add a wired remote switch, which is sold separately from the SL1.
The USB port is marked as the A/V Out port, while the HDMI port is at the bottom of the compartment.Along the bottom panel of the EOS Rebel SL1, you'll find the battery and memory card slots, which are protected by a sturdy hinged door that locks in place. This design is a bit different than most past Rebel cameras, where the memory card slot was behind a compartment on the right-hand side of the camera (when holding the camera). The SL1 can make use of any SD type of memory card, including SDHC or SDXC.
The battery compartment on this camera looks very similar to a recent Rebel camera, the T4i, minus the addition of the memory card slot alongside the SL1 battery slot, of course. The rechargeable battery pack included with the Rebel SL1 isn't quite as thick as what you'll find with most DSLR cameras, which helps to keep the SL1 smaller than those other DSLR models. The estimated battery life for this camera depends greatly on how you're using the camera, ranging from an estimated 480 photos when using the Viewfinder mode exclusively to an estimated 160 photos when using the LCD and Live View mode most of the time.
My tests found that the SL1's typical performance was around 200 to 250 photos per battery charge, which is quite a bit below other DSLR cameras, but is an understandable performance level considering the SL1 uses a thinner battery.
Canon included a separate battery charger with the SL1, which is a handy feature in case you want to purchase a second battery to use with this camera, allowing you to charge one battery while shooting photos with the second one; which I would strongly recommend. You also can purchase an AC adapter kit separately to operate the SL1 through AC power.