Before discussing the features and controls of the Canon Rebel T5i, if you've read our Rebel T4i review and looked at the photos of that older DSLR camera, you may feel as if you're having a sense of déjà vu looking at these images. You aren't seeing things. The features and controls on the T4i and T5i are almost identical. So you may be wondering why Canon released the T5i at all.
While the manufacturer hasn't given any specific reasons for releasing a new model with very similar features to its predecessor, speculation is that Canon chose to release the T5i to put to rest the handgrip problems that occurred with the T4i, resulting in a product recall. The rubberized portion of the Rebel T4i's handgrip sometimes turned white and occasionally caused skin irritation.
Canon replaced the handgrips for free on affected Rebel T4is and released new versions that fixed the problem. However, it's possible that having the T4i linked to a product recall caused Canon to chose to just move to a whole new model number with the T5i, even if the two cameras have a lot of the same features.
As I discuss the features and controls of the Rebel T5i, I'll point out where differences between the two cameras exist.
The Rebel T5i includes an APS-C image sensor measuring 22.3 by 14.9 mm. It's a 3:2 aspect ratio CMOS image sensor with 18.0-megapixels of resolution. Through the on-screen menus for the T5i (also called the 700D in some parts of the world), Canon gives you the option of having the sensor cleaned automatically each time you turn off the camera.
You can use Canon EF or EF-S lenses with this camera, and the EF mount is shown here. You'll use the red dot and white square printed on the lens mount to line up the lenses before attaching them.
The lens release on the T5i camera body is the "D" shaped button to the right of the lens mount.
Canon included the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM kit lens with the Rebel T5i. This lens is able to quietly autofocus, which provides better audio recording results. The 18-55mm kit lens can use either manual focus or autofocus, and offers Canon's proven optical image stabilization system. The T5i's autofocus system is a through the lens focus system with 9 AF points, which can be selected manually or automatically.
When shooting in the Rebel T5i's Viewfinder mode, you'll have three autofocus options -- One-Shot AF, Predictive AI Servo AF, and AI Focus AF. There's almost no shutter lag when shooting in Viewfinder mode, because the autofocus system works very fast.
When shooting in Live View mode, though, you're going to notice a much different level of autofocus performance. There are four autofocus options in Live View mode -- Face Detection with Tracking, Flexizone-Multi AF, Flexizone-Single AF, and Quick Mode. Significant shutter lag is common in Live View mode, so you'll want to hold down the shutter button halfway to pre-focus on the scene whenever possible to eliminate the shutter lag.
While the T5i's focus assist lamp has an effective range of up to 13.1 feet, you may notice some problems when trying to shoot in extremely low light, as the autofocus mechanism struggles a bit in this scene. You may want to switch to manual focus for this type of photo.
To use manual focus with the 18-55mm kit lens, you have to slide the focus switch to MF on the side of the lens. The manual focus ring for this kit lens is at the top end of the lens, just above the Canon label in the photo. The focal ring, which is the large ring in the middle of the lens, allows you to adjust the focal length of the zoom lens. This 18-55mm kit lens has a minimum focusing distance of 0.82 feet.
You also can see the Rebel T5i's right-hand grip in the photo above, and Canon has corrected the problem with the chemical reaction found in the original T4i's rubberized coating.
The kit lens included with the EOS Rebel T5i/700D has a focus mode switch and an image stabilizer switch on the left-hand side of the lens when it's attached to the camera.
As mentioned earlier, you'll use the focus mode switch to toggle between AF (autofocus) and MF (manual focus). The image stabilizer (IS) switch on the kit lens determines whether the lens' optical image stabilization is On or Off.
Within this photo you can see the flash button on the far right side, which allows you to open the popup flash unit on the Rebel T5i.
Once the popup flash on the EOS Rebel T5i is open, it will extend a couple of inches above the camera body, giving it a good angle as to the scene while reducing the chance of having vignetting from a shadow from the attached lens. The hot shoe is visible between the arms of the popup flash, and you can add an external flash to the camera here.
In Program mode the T5i will determine which shutter speed to use with the popup flash depending on the shooting conditions. The shutter speed will be set between 1/60 and 1/200 of a second.
The effective flash range for the popup flash depends on the ISO setting in use with the Rebel T5i. For an ISO 400 setting, the flash range is about 3.3 to 24.3 feet at wide angle with the kit lens and 3.3 to 15.1 feet at full telephoto.
As you're holding the Rebel T5i, you'll notice that most of the control buttons on the camera's top panel are within reach of your right hand. One of the few differences between this camera and the Rebel T4i is visible here, as the mode dial rotates 360 degrees with the T5i and has a few different labels.
With the Rebel T5i Canon has split the mode dial into Creative Zone and Basic Zone. The Creative Zone is marked by the curved bracket around the M, Av, Tv, and P settings. The mode dial works well for gaining quick access to the shooting modes. The currently active setting is indicated by the small white dash to the left of the mode dial. The mode dial options 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 (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 right side of the mode dial is the power switch, which is a toggle switch allowing you to power On the camera, power Off the camera, or open the movie recording mode.
The shutter button is the black button on the far end of the right handgrip. I thought it was a good size to use comfortably. You'll find an indention around the button that works well for resting your right finger before shooting a photo.
Behind the shutter button is the main command dial, through which you can scroll through menu items or stored images more quickly than using the four-way switch. And to the left of the command dial is the ISO button, through which you can set the desired sensitivity in the creative modes.
On the far left of this image, you can see the hot shoe.
The back of the T5i camera body has several key buttons and features.
The optical viewfinder probably is the most important feature of this camera, as shooting in Viewfinder mode gives the Rebel T5i incredibly fast performance. Although some inexperienced photographers migrating from a point-n-shoot camera to this entry-level DSLR camera may feel more comfortable using the LCD screen to frame images -- just as they did with their beginner-level cameras -- learning how and when to use the viewfinder is a good idea with the T5i.
When you lift the Rebel T5i to your eye to use the viewfinder, a sensor that's visible above the eyecup will activate and switch off the LCD to save battery power. The eyecup has plenty of padding to allow you to shoot comfortably for an extended period of time with the viewfinder. And you can see a bit of information about the camera's settings in the viewfinder, including the autofocus points, ISO, shutter speed, and exposure valuation. The eyecup padding can be removed if desired.
If you're having a hard time seeing a sharp image through the optical viewfinder, you can spin the dioptric adjustment knob, which is just visible in this photo to the upper right of the viewfinder.
To open the Canon Rebel T5i's on-screen menus, press the Menu button, which is to the left of the viewfinder. The Info button is alongside, and it allows you to change the data that's displayed on the LCD screen when you're in the various shooting modes or in Playback mode.
To the right of the viewfinder is the movie recording / Live View button, marked with a camera icon and a red dot. When you move the power switch to movie recording mode, you can use this button to start and stop movie recording. When shooting still images, use this button to turn Live View mode on and off. (When shooting movies, you only can use Live View mode, so this button serves as the movie recording button in movie mode.)
The Rebel T5i has a good number of buttons on the right side of the back panel for controlling the various functions. There are fewer buttons than what you may find with an advanced DSLR camera, which should make this model easier to use for inexperienced photographers, but there are more buttons than a typical point-n-shoot camera, giving you better control over the camera.
In the upper right corner of the back panel are the AE/FE Lock button on the left and the AF Point Selection button on the right. These two buttons have white labels on the top panel of the camera that are not visible here; an asterisk for the AE/FE Lock button and a grid for the AF Point Selection button. 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.
Below and to the left of these buttons is the right thumb pad, and the Av/EV button is to the lower left of the thumb pad. This button allows you to adjust camera settings such as the aperture, shutter speed, and EV by holding down this button and spinning the command dial. The settings you're able to adjust depend on the shooting mode you've selected on the mode dial.
The Q button allows you to open the Quick Control menu on the LCD in either Viewfinder or Live View mode. The Quick Control menu is a great feature that gives you access to a large number of camera setting options on one screen.
The four-way button on the T5i consists of four separate buttons. You use these four buttons to move up, down, right, and left in the on screen menus or to scroll through stored photos in Playback mode. Each button is also associated with a specific camera setting, opening a popup menu when it's pressed when you're in Viewfinder mode. The upper button sets the white balance, the right button controls the autofocus, the lower button controls the Picture Style, and the left button controls the drive and self-timer settings.
The Set button in the middle of the four-way button allows you to make selections in the on-screen menus.
Along the bottom of the Rebel's T5i back panel are the Playback and Delete buttons. The Playback button opens Playback mode, from which you can delete images using the Delete button.
You'll find a high-resolution LCD that features a touchscreen with the Rebel T5i. While some photographers may feel like a touchscreen LCD is unnecessary for an advanced camera, this feature should help less experienced photographers figure out how to use the T5i more quickly. You even can use the touchscreen LCD to select the autofocus point or to activate the shutter.
This is a very sharp LCD too, containing more than 1 million pixels of resolution. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and the T5i's LCD measures 3.0 inches diagonally. Seven brightness levels are available.
The articulated LCD is a great feature with the EOS Rebel T5i, as you can adjust the position of the LCD to make it easy to see it while using the camera on a tripod without having to stoop over to look through the viewfinder. The T5i's articulated LCD swings away from the camera body and can then twist 360 degrees, giving you access to almost any angle you could want.
As you're holding the Rebel T5i, your left hand will rest near the two compartments that contain the camera's ports, as shown here. Each compartment has a soft plastic cover with a flexible hinge. The covers snap into place upon closing.
The compartment on the left contains the remote control terminal and the external microphone terminal. The compartment on the right includes the USB and HDMI ports.
On the right-hand side of the T5i camera body is the memory card compartment, which is protected by a hard plastic cover that first must slide out of place before opening on a sturdy hinge. The Rebel T5i can use any type of SD memory card.
The bottom panel of the camera protects the battery compartment. Again this cover is a hard plastic door with a sturdy hinge that reflects the very good build quality Canon has included with the Rebel T5i.The thick battery is appropriate for such a large DSLR camera.
The battery lifespan for the T5i is going to vary quite a bit depending on how you're using the camera. If you use the Rebel T5i in Viewfinder mode the majority of the time, Canon says you can expect an average of 500 shots per charge. Using Live View the majority of the time limits your average performance to about 200 shots per battery charge, according to Canon.
My tests showed you can expect between 250 and 300 shots per charge as you use both Viewfinder and Live View modes about equally and then use the touchscreen LCD to make changes to the camera's settings. A little better battery life would have been nice with the T5i, but the ability to extend the battery life by using Viewfinder mode is helpful when you notice the battery charge icon drifting into the "red."
The T5i has a separate battery charger, which is nice for those who want to purchase a second battery to use with the EOS Rebel T5i. You then can charge one battery while shooting photos with the second one. Or you can purchase a battery grip as a secondary accessory to the T5i to greatly increase your battery power.