Is the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 Still Viable in a Mirrorless Age?

Canon EOS Rebel SL3 Image

Canon EOS Rebel SL3 DEALS

The first camera in this series, the Rebel SL1 came out in 2013, with the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 being the latest in the series. A natural progression in its own right, the SL3 offers ever more advanced features. A worthwhile proposition on its own, but customers now have the choice between the mirrorless or DLSR formats, which makes the SL3 not as clear-cut as an entry-level camera solution.

Coupled with the availability of next-generation lenses, it’s easy to be swayed from the tried and tested DLSR format to the mirrorless format, but DLSRs still have a lot to offer. Thus, let’s take a closer look at what the SL3 has to offer and if it is still a worthy adversary to the mirrorless onslaught.

Design

The Rebel SL3 has been given slight tweaks and upgrades from the Canon EOS Rebel SL2, using an identical 24MP APS-C (1.6x Crop Factor) sensor and a Digic 8 processor. This is the same sensor used up to the Canon EOS 80D, with a respectable ISO100-25,600 and a continuous shooting speed of 5fps. There’s also 4K video included at 24fps and HD at 60fps with an internal recording time of up to 30 minutes.

Canon EOS Rebel SL3 Image 1

The physical layout of the camera is more or less the same as before, with the omission of the Wi-Fi button and the few extra settings on the mode dial. The top plate of the camera is quite straightforward, featuring the mode dial, on/off and video mode switch, ISO and DISP buttons, dial for custom settings or for selecting menu items/Af points and the shutter button.

The rear of the camera has the handy three-inch fully articulating LCD touchscreen, four-way selector, menu and info buttons, video button, zoom buttons, AV, play and delete buttons. Basically, just enough external features for advance control without overwhelming the beginner.

The optical viewfinder is still one of the major selling points of a DLSR. Viewing the world directly through the lens is extremely beneficial, but you really have to step up to the likes of the full-frame versions for the brightest and clearest views. On the SL3, the coverage is 95 percent with a 0.87x magnification, while the rear touchscreen provides all functionality you would find on the mirrorless versions.

Canon EOS Rebel SL3 Image 2

In comparison, the viewfinder provides nine AF points, while in live view there are 143 focus points, which utilize Dual Pixel Autofocus (DPAF), along with face detection and subject tracking. A Scene Intelligent Auto mode is a simple way to adjust things like brightness and contrast. Basically, a straightforward way to play with the more advanced exposure settings. Done through live view, you can see the adjustments in real time.

Wireless connectivity has been included with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi… sorry, no GPS. With connections on the camera for a 3.5mm Microphone, HDMI C (Mini) port and Micro-B (USB 2.0). Everything weighing in at a lightweight 449g.

The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 In Use

With a reasonably fast lens attached (24-70mm L in this case), the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is quite a speedy performer. In reasonable lighting conditions the 5fps burst rate is achievable and even when using the servo autofocus mode, there are not many misses. The options for shooting both RAW and JPEGs provide the most leeway, both resulting in find depth of color and a good degree of contrast.

It’s also advisable to use a quality lens on this camera. The included kit lens is just okay, while a quality piece of glass attached truly brings out the sensor’s capabilities. One of the distinct advantages of the DSLR system is the ability to use a wide range of EF lenses straight on the camera.

Coming from using the Canon 5D for years, I couldn’t help but feel what had been left out. But, the simplified workings still allowed for fully manual control and apart from the lack of bells and whistles, the SL3 is perfectly happy as an all-day shooter. Images come out exceptionally clear and smooth at base ISO levels, with noise only starting to creep in around ISO 800, with respectable images still arriving at ISO 1600.

While 4K footage is available, it does have a heavy crop factor and is limited to 24fps. There is also a significant amount of rolling shutter, which means that if you want the most flexibility, 1080p is the best option with 25p, 30p, 50p and 60p. All video formats can be recorded to an external device at 10-Bit 4:2:2 sampling. The use of an external microphone is also the best option over the internal mic to reduce with noise and for extra quality.

Lastly, battery life is excellent if you just use the optical viewfinder. The rating of 1,600 was highly achievable, but dropped significantly to around 300 images if Live View is the only route used.

How Does the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 Compare?

Snapping at the heels of the Rebel SL3 is the Canon EOS M50. On paper, you’re getting the same internal specs, like the same 24MP sensor, just in a more compact mirrorless package. The SL3 comes in slightly cheaper and has the benefit of the optical viewfinder and far longer battery life. However, if you shoot predominantly in live view, shots per charge are roughly the same.

One advantage of the Canon EOS M50 is your ability to use Dual Pixel Autofocus and Creative Assist in all areas, while the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 can only use this functionality in live view. In many ways, the attraction of the optical viewfinder and extended battery life of the SL3 are its biggest appeals.

 Canon EOS Rebel SL3Canon EOS M50
Resolution24MP24MP
Video4K4K
ISO100-25600(extended-51200)100-25600(extended-51200)
Weight449g387g

Conclusion

The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 brings only modest upgrades to the previous version, but is still a highly capable camera. The extended battery life will last you all day and although the body isn’t weatherproofed, it’s still robust enough for many shooting scenarios. Weight-wise, there’s not much difference between the EOS M50 and the SL3, which means it’s down to which format you prefer the most.

As an entry-level camera, the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is a worthy proposition and at this level I would still go the DLSR route. Better battery life and a far wider range of lenses to choose from, which fit natively. However, the EVF of the EOS M50 with as you see it changes, can’t be ignored and the same workings through viewfinder and rear screen is a seamless bonus. On the SL3, viewfinder functionality feels far more limited.

But, you could also argue that optical viewfinders inadvertently train the user to always think about exposure settings and at least get you in the ballpark for any scenario. Instant visual feedback is nice, but does it lead us down the path of relying too much on technology to get the shot instead of solid photography experience?

In total, while the fashion moves towards mirrorless cameras, the SL3 proves that the DLSR still has legs and isn’t going away any time soon. The camera produces excellent images and respectable video, especially with a good lens. Plus, apart from the EVF versus optical viewfinder debate, an excellent all-round imaging device.

Ultimately, the proof is in the use. When using the SL3 on an all-day shoot, I wasn’t longing for a mirrorless version. A different proposition at the top end of the camera range, but don’t write off the DSLR just yet. It can still teach you a thing or two.

The Review

Canon EOS Rebel SL3

8
The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 brings a simplified DLSR solution for the entry-level photographer. A 24MP sensor and Digic 8 processor, along with 4K video make for a great all rounder, with a very healthy battery life.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Battery life
  • Excellent image quality

Cons

  • Limited features
  • Optical viewfinder vs. EVF debate

Canon EOS Rebel SL3 DEALS

Review Breakdown

Design

Performance

Camera

Battery

Price

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