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Review: Canon Rebel T4i

by Chris Gampat on 09/07/2012

The Canon T4i is the latest addition to the entry level lineup of cameras from the company. As what are usually their best selling DSLRs, the Canon T4i packs quite a bit of power into a small body with the addition of a new Hybrid AF Sensor.

But is it for you?

Gear Used

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the B&H Photo Video listing of the item

Imaging
Camera Type Digital SLR with Interchangeable lenses
Lens Mount Canon EF
Camera Format Canon APS-C (1.6x Crop Factor)
Resolution Effective Pixels: 18.0 Megapixels
Max Resolution: 17.9 Megapixel: 5184 x 3456
Aspect Ratio 3:2, 16:9
Sensor Type / Size CMOS, 22.3 x 14.9 mm
File Formats Still Images: JPEG, RAW
Movies: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, MOV
Audio: Linear PCM
Bit Depth 14-bit
Noise Reduction Yes
Memory Card Type SD
SDHC
SDXC
Focus Control
Focus Type Auto & Manual
Focus Mode Single-servo AF (S), Continuous-servo AF (C), Manual Focus (M)
Autofocus Points 9
Viewfinder/Display
Viewfinder Type Pentamirror
Viewfinder Coverage 95%
Viewfinder Magnification Approx. 0.85x
Diopter Adjustment - 3.0 to +1.0 m
Display Screen 3.0″ Rear Touchscreen   LCD (1040000)
Screen Coverage 100%
Live View Yes
Exposure Control
ISO Sensitivity Auto, 100-12800 (High Sensitivity Mode: 100-25600)
Shutter Type: Electronic & Mechanical
Speed: 30 – 1/4000 sec
Remote Control RC-1, RC-5, or RC-6 (Optional)
Metering Method Spot metering, Center-weighted average metering
Exposure Modes Modes: AE Lock, Aperture Priority, Manual, Program, Programmed Auto, Shutter Priority
Compensation: -5 EV to +5 EV (in 1/3 EV steps)
White Balance Modes Auto, Cloudy, Custom, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent (White), Shade, Tungsten
Flash
Built-in Flash Yes: Auto, FE Lock, Off
Max Sync Speed 1 / 200 sec
Continuous Shooting Up to 5.0 fps
Dedicated Flash System eTTL
External Flash Connection Hot Shoe
AV Recording
Video Recording Yes, NTSC/PAL
Audio Recording With Video, Stereo
Performance
In-Camera Image Editing Edit Movie
Shutter Lag 0.075 Seconds
Self Timer 10 sec, 2 sec
Connectivity 1/8″ Microphone, AV Output, HDMI C (Mini), USB 2.0
Wi-Fi Capable (With Optional Transmitter) Yes
Power
Battery 1x LP-E8  Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack, 7.2VDC, 1120mAh
AC Power Adapter ACK-E8 (Optional)
Operating/Storage Temperature Operating
32 to 104 °F (0 to 40 °C)
Humidity: 0 – 85%
Physical
Dimensions (WxHxD) 5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1″ / 13.21 x 9.91 x 7.87 cm
Weight 1.14 lb / 0.52 kg
Kit Lens
Focal Length 18 – 135 mm
Aperture Maximum: f/3.5 – 5.6
Angle of View 11.3° – 74.2°
Minimum Focus Distance 1.3′ (0.40 m)
Magnification 0.28x
Groups/Elements 12/16
Diaphragm Blades 7
Autofocus Yes
Image Stabilization Yes
Filter Thread Front: 67 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 3.1 x 3.8″ (7.87 x 9.65 cm)
Weight 1.06 lb (0.48 kg)

Ergonomics

The Canon T4i is a camera that once again emphasizes simplicity for the entry-level user base. With that said, the front of the camera only really contains the lens release button and a depth of field preview button that will probably go largely ignored by most users.

The top right of the camera is where most of the business will happen. Here is where you’ll find the shutter release, exposure control dial, ISO button, mode dial, and the on/off switch the the video mode incorporated into it here.

The back of the camera is fairly simple as well. One of the best features is the flip-out-tilting screen. Additionally, this is a touchscreen with touch-to-shoot functionality.

The back is where you’ll find settings and control like the aperture control, quick menu access, white balance, drive mode, autofocus selection point control, picture style selection, video record, menu access and more info.

Something else worth noting: the stereo microphones on top of the camera also work very well with their placement. Additionally, the finish doesn’t scratch as easily as the Canon 5D Mk III’s. And that is absolutely awesome.

Autofocus

For a wide majority of shooting situations, the Canon T4i’s phase detection focusing is extremely quick; when not in Live View Mode (more on that later.) My general way of using cameras no matter what the make or model is to manually select a single focusing point when shooting. However, when the user enables all focusing points to be used, you’ll end up having little to no problem in terms of both speed and accuracy. In fact, the Canon T4i’s focusing is better than my Canon 5D Mk II’s. Now don’t take this the wrong way; they are two totally different cameras. However, it is a testament to show just how far the technology has come: an entry level Rebel can outdo a 5D Mk II in terms of focusing. That’s pretty crazy when you think about it.

That means that when you want to snap photos of your kids moving about on the playground or in sports, you’ll be able to rely on your Rebel. In fact, the 18-135mm kit lens that comes with it is also very good and fast to focus. We generally don’t recommend zoom lenses, but since this one will be stopped down anyway, I can totally recommend it. Just remember that for applications like these, you’ll need to switch the camera into AI Servo mode.

In previous camera models, the Rebel’s only strong focusing point has been the center. Now, it seems to be all of the points. If Canon had put this focusing system into the 5D Mk II, they would have had many very happy users.

The only major autofocus problem comes when the camera is switched into Live View mode. It then becomes very slow even with the new lenses. If you can live with this problem, then fine. But that means that you’ll probably want to manually focus instead when you’re filming your cat running around as you make it chase a red dot from a laser pointer.

Ease of Use

Canon Rebels are generally very easy to use, and the T4i continues that tradition for the most part. With additions like the video mode being put on the On/Off switch and the back record button, users should find it easier to record video overall. As far as still operation goes, the Rebel has changed very little from its predecessors. So if you’re the tourists shooting photos of your family on a trip, this should be simple for you to use. Students will learn to grow with this camera and will eventually want to step up to Canon’s higher offerings with two dials vs one.

Also keep in mind that the new menu system can be a bit intimidating, but you’ll get through it once you wrap your brain around it.

Metering

In a Sunny 16 test, the Canon T4i underexposed around 1/3rd of a stop. That’s standard these days.

Image Quality

The T4i’s overall image quality is really quite good. The RAW files straight out of the camera need very little editing and the color accuracy is also really quite good. Overall, the files tend to render themselves more toward the warm side of the spectrum as well.

The image quality won’t only be good enough for mom and pop. It will also be good enough for professional shoots. The photo above is from a piece I wrote and photographed for Gear Patrol. You can see all the photos and read the article here; but the image quality was more than good enough for them.

Here are some other image samples:

High ISO Abilities

In general, the high ISO abilities of the Canon T4i are really pretty damned good. The noise at 12,800 ISO is easily dealt with with a simple touch of a noise reduction slider in Adobe Lightroom 4, but otherwise, I really didn’t feel a need to touch many of the photos otherwise. But even then, the image noise looks like film-noise. Here are some samples for you.

ISO 6400

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

ISO 1600

ISO 12,800

ISO 6400

ISO 6400

RAW File Versatility

The raw files in Adobe Lightroom 4 are fairly versatile and about on par with the top end of the mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras out there with the exception of the Fujifilm X Pro 1. Here are a couple of samples rendered with Chris Martin’s lightroom plugin.

Video Mode

Here’s a quick sample of the camera’s autofocusing. Notice the speed at which it is taking to focus. The camera was doing this all by itself.

Conclusions

The Canon T4i is a wonderful entry level camera with loads and loads of lenses available to the system. The image quality is excellent, it is easy to use, and it has a rather decent video mode. The menus can be a bit complex, but overall there really is absolutely no real problem with this camera despite what seems to be modest upgrades from its predecessor.

Still, it cannot outdo the Pentax K-30′s image quality, fps shooting, build quality, and overall ergonomic superiority. But it does beat it in terms of autofocusing capabilities, movie recording (you can actually change the aperture while recording in manual mode, but you always have been able to) and overall ease of use. I would also position it over the Nikon D3200 in terms of ease of use.

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