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Canon's new entry-level DSLR is good enough for its target audience

Engadget Engadget 2/05/2016 Edgar Alvarez
© Provided by Engadget

As meaningful as professional cameras like the EOS-1DX Mark II are to Canon's business, the company knows it has to dominate the beginner market as well. Now, with the new $500 EOS Rebel T6, Canon has designed a DSLR that sits alongside the T6s and T6i -- two of its most popular entry-level shooters. Not counting the aging T5, the T6 is the cheapest DSLR in Canon's lineup. And while its specs won't blow your mind, they should be decent enough for most aspiring photographers.

Inside, there's an 18-megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, Digic 4+ image processor, ISO range of up to 12,800 (6,400 native) and a nine-point autofocus system. Not surprisingly, video-recording is limited to 1080p at 24 and 30 fps, or 720p at 60 fps. (It's going to be a while before Canon puts 4K features on budget-friendly cameras.) That said, the Rebel T6 does come with a respectable, albeit expected, fixed 3-inch, 920,000-dot screen, as well as WiFi and NFC for sharing pictures remotely via Canon's Camera Connect app (available for iOS and Android).

Given that this is geared toward beginners, I used it differently than I would a higher-end model, such as the EOS 80D DSLR or one of Sony's mirrorless cameras. Instead of shooting with manual settings, I relied heavily on the Rebel T6's preset modes. For example, during a food-themed photoshoot, I used the camera's Food Mode, which locks in AF points and tries to automatically adjust exposure compensation and white balance, based on the subject and lighting around the scene.

While most of my photos looked colorful and sharp, the camera at times tried to do a little too much, resulting in soft, over-exposed shots. Still, I'd say eight out of 10 images produced by the Rebel T6 were satisfactory.S

In particular, I was impressed by how the light the camera is, which weighs less than a pound without a lens attached. It also doesn't feel cheap: The magnesium and aluminum alloy chassis make it seem as durable as more expensive Canon shooters. For a $500 DSLR, 18-55mm EF glass included, the T6 doesn't disappoint. Sure, it has its limitations, but it's an excellent option for people who want to go a step above a point-and-shoot or smartphone camera.

Alternatively, you could go for Nikon's better-specced D5500 DSLR, but be prepared to spend about $200 more on it. That said, some online retailers appear to be selling it for roughly $500, though that might be a temporary price drop. Either way, if you're looking for an easy-to-use, high-quality DSLR today, the Rebel T6 is worthy of your attention. And it doesn't hurt that Canon is known for making solid beginner-friendly cameras, with a strong lens ecosystem to meet most of your photography needs.

To view our sample images in full resolution, click here.

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