Canon EOS Rebel T5 review

For what it is and whom it’s intended for, Canon’s EOS Rebel T5 is a decent budget DSLR. Yet, it leaves us wanting more.
For what it is and whom it’s intended for, Canon’s EOS Rebel T5 is a decent budget DSLR. Yet, it leaves us wanting more.
For what it is and whom it’s intended for, Canon’s EOS Rebel T5 is a decent budget DSLR. Yet, it leaves us wanting more.

Highs

  • Good stills with classic Canon image style
  • Good for DSLR newbies on a budget
  • Decent 1080/30p videos

Lows

  • Noisy shutter mechanism
  • Even though new, seems like old technology
  • Doesn’t handle high ISOs well
  • No Wi-Fi

DT Editors' Rating

Canon’s entry-level DSLR, the EOS Rebel T5 ($400), is an upgrade from the now discontinued T3. That’s all well and good, but is it better than the more affordable mirrorless competition – which have become very strong performers in the past year? While the camera will satisfy newbie DSLR owners in ease of use and great image quality, the fact that there isn’t a major upgrade in features leaves us wanting a little more — as you’ll see in our EOS Rebel T5 review below. (Check out our T5 vs. Nikon D3300 comparison here.)

Note: The EOS Rebel T5 is still available for purchase ($400 with 18-55IS II kit lens), and it’s Canon’s most affordable DSLR. It’s more than three years old, however, and newer models have superseded it with improved technology. If you’re looking to enhance your casual photography on a tight budget, the T5 will do the job, but we also recommend looking at the Nikon D3400 (the successor to our favorite entry-level DSLR, the D3300, with a few updates). Those looking to dabble in video creation or action photography will be better served by newer (but more expensive) models, like Canon’s EOS Rebel T7i (with trickled-down tech from the highly lauded EOS 80D) or Sony A6000. Check our list of the best DSLR cameras and best cheap cameras for even more suggestions.

Features and Design

Ho-hum, it’s another all-black basic DSLR with a textured grip. We really shouldn’t expect much more sizzle since, other than Pentax’s Day-Glo bodies, almost all digital single lens reflex cameras look alike. Canon fans will find nothing unusual here, neither will every buyer looking for a new DSLR. Granted, it doesn’t have the heft of the new pro-level Nikon D4S, but it also doesn’t have an MSRP that’s ten-times more expensive – the T5 is clearly for newbies and those looking to upgrade older Rebels.

Stealthy it is not, for it’s rather noisy as the mirror assembly flaps away.

At $549 with a kit zoom lens, the 18-megapixel T5 has solid imaging underpinnings but if you’re looking for “scintillating,” you won’t find it here. The camera measures 5.1 × 3.9 × 3.0 inches, weighing 17 ounces for the body, battery, and card. We know this is hard to quantify but overall it feels rather “plasticky.” At least, carrying it around your neck shouldn’t be too much of a burden.

The key feature on the front is the classic EF mount and, thanks to many years in the business, Canon offers a huge selection of glass. We can’t imagine anyone spending $1,000 for a wide-aperture prime lens to use with this camera, but the 55-250mm would be a good addition ($299); Canon sent that along for our review. Given the 1.6x digital factor, we had a 28.8-400mm focal range to play with, which was a lot of fun shooting landscapes.

Even though the T5 improves upon the T3’s 720p with Full HD 1,920 × 1,080/30p video, they neglected the stereo part of the equation, opting for a mono mic. We know manufacturers have to watch their pennies but this seems like a foolish oversight. Also, note the T5 does have an outboard AF Assist lamp like Nikon, Sony, et al. Here it’s part of the auto pop-up flash. This is nothing unusual for Canon DSLRs and fortunately we had few focusing issues.

We found the grip comfortable and the textured finish helped keep things steady. In keeping with its entry-level status, the main mode dial not only has Scene Intelligent (smart) Auto, PASM, and Movie, it has four commonly used scene options (Portrait, Landscape, Macro, and Sports) along with other settings.

The two key features on the back are the optical viewfinder and LCD screen. The VF has a 95-percent field of view and is fairly bright. The 3-inch fixed-mount LCD is rated 460k (up from 2.7-inches/230k on the T3) but it still lacks detail. And there are reflectivity issues galore when used in bright sunshine. Make sure you crank up the brightness to 7 (max) before heading outdoors since 4 is the default. Like the recently reviewed Sony A5000, you can’t appreciate the detail of the sensor until you review images on a large monitor. The back is also home to a blizzard of well-marked but typical DSLR buttons. It’s not intimidating at all and casual users should have few problems making the move to DSLR Land.

On the left side of the T5 is a compartment covered with a door that has a rather flimsy hinge, which hides the USB, mini HDMI, and remote control connections. The battery is rated 600 shots (no flash), 190 using Live View. These are OK numbers but a spare might be a good thing if you plan on using the display as your viewfinder all day or have an indoor family gathering on tap where the flash will be pulling heavy duty.

If you like having smartphone connectivity with a camera, look elsewhere. The T5 doesn’t have Wi-Fi built in.

What’s in the box

The camera body and kit lens comes with various caps and a strap. You also get the battery, plug-in charger, and a USB cable. To get you started Canon supplies a 114-page Basic Instruction Manual. You also get two booklets – “Flash Classroom” and “Do More With Macro” – which are quite helpful for newbies and even those who feel they’re pretty knowledgeable. Going against the trend of having everything in the cloud, Canon supplies three CDs: the EOS Digital Solutions Disk (ver. 29) with software for handling files, the full Instruction Manual, and a Software Instruction Manual.

Warranty

The T5 comes with a limited one-year warranty. Full service and support information can be found here.

Performance and use

The T5 has an 18MP APS-C sensor (5184 x 3456 pixels), a nice upgrade of the 12MP imager found in the predecessor, the T3. It uses an older DIGIC 4 processor, so this camera’s performance is hardly supersonic. Top speed is 3 frames per second but you can crank off 69 JPEGs before the camera starts gasping. If you’re shooting RAW, this drops to six images. We doubt these limitations will put off casual shutterbugs since, for everyday use, the camera focuses very quickly and is ready to keep firing as long as the auto-flash doesn’t keep popping open. If this does occur, just hold it shut and go about your business.

The T5 does the job it’s intended to do, and that’s to take good photographs.

For a DSLR, the T5 is very easy to use, perfect for its intended audience. However, it is rather noisy as the mirror assembly flaps away; stealthy it’s not. The menu system is simple to follow and all of your main controls are within quick reach. But we don’t think buyers of the T5 will go beyond the Smart Intelligent Auto setting and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, since it does a good overall job of metering and adjusting for specific scenes. Why make life difficult for yourself if you don’t have to? Would we like an upgrade to the basic nine-point AF system (one cross-type)? And would we like a higher-res LCD display, stereo soundtracks, and Wi-Fi, just to name a few things? Of course, but this is a $550 DSLR kit, not a $1,199 Canon EOS 70D or any other high-priced enthusiast model.

Overall, the T5 does the job it’s intended to do, and that’s to take good photographs. We’ve always liked the “tone and feel” of Canon cameras, and it’s no different with the T5. Images have accurate colors with a depth that’s not over the top – they just look good (see samples). We went out on a boat ride in Arizona’s Saguaro Lake (yes, there is water in Arizona!), using the kit lens as well the telephoto zoom. Fortunately both are image stabilized which cut down on blur, but it was still hard capturing a speeding water skier from a moving craft. Once we slowed down, landscapes of cacti and hills came out just right. Other shots taken on land, of flowers and various still lifes, also delivered the Canon quality. That said, these aren’t the sharpest lenses in the shed; they’re good value but don’t compare them in any way to a quality prime lens.

canon eos rebel t5 photo catus

Movies, on the other hand, did not have the superior quality of the 70D with its Dual Pixel AF technology. Colors were a bit muted and there was some rolling shutter that’s to be expected from low-priced DSLRs. Also, using Live View in bright sunshine is not pleasant as there are reflectivity issues aplenty. Make sure you know how to quickly adjust the LCD brightness in the menu settings to manage this problem. At 460k don’t expect to examine your videos (or stills) with a lot of accuracy; you’ll need a large monitor for that. And, of course, the mono mic transforms winds into roaring hurricanes.

The T5 has a basic ISO range of 100-6400 that can be extended to 12,800 once you adjust the Custom Settings. It’s really not worth the effort since 12,800 results are very poor and should be avoided at all costs. The camera does well to ISO 800 and starts to decline rapidly as you go higher. For best results, we wouldn’t tread above 1,600. This is somewhat disappointing, given the overall improvement in the industry.

Conclusion

For what it is and whom it’s intended for, the T5 is a decent camera. We wouldn’t go out of our way to recommend it, especially since there are less expensive options available like the recently reviewed, lighter weight Sony Alpha A5000. Sure, it doesn’t have a classic viewfinder, but you do get 20 megapixels, Wi-Fi, and 1080/60i stereo videos. We’re sure the T5 will be a best seller since Canon is a default choice for many buyers, and the price is reasonable. Yet it definitely left us wanting more.

Highs

  • Good stills with classic Canon image style
  • Good for DSLR newbies on a budget
  • Decent 1080/30p videos

Lows

  • Noisy shutter mechanism
  • Even though new, seems like old technology
  • Doesn’t handle high ISOs well
  • No Wi-Fi

Update on May 30, 2017: The EOS Rebel T5 is still available for purchase ($400 with 18-55IS II kit lens), and it’s Canon’s most affordable DSLR. However, it’s more than three years old and since time of launch, newer models have superseded it with improved technology. If you’re looking to enhanced your casual photography, but are on a tight budget, the T5 will do the job, but we also recommend looking at the Nikon D3400 (the successor to our favorite entry-level DSLR, the D3300, with a few updates). However, those looking to dabble in video creation or action photography will be better served by newer (but more expensive) models, like Canon’s EOS Rebel T7i (with trickled-down tech from the highly lauded EOS 80D) or Sony A6000.

Product Review

With the Z7, Nikon gives DSLR holdouts the mirrorless wonder they've waited for

Nikon’s long awaited full-frame mirrorless cameras are here, and the Z7 is the new flagship model. But does it stand up to the company's DSLR pedigree, and, more importantly, does it have what it takes to compete with the likes of Sony?
Photography

Full frame or 4K for less than $1K? These 4 older cameras still have a lot to offer

Looking for a great camera deal? Sometimes, you might be better off buying one that's a few years -- last generation's professional models may not cost much more than today's entry-level models.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Product Review

The first Nikon Z zoom lens looks sharp, captures even sharper photos

If you're fine with f/4, Nikon's first zoom lens for its full-frame mirrorless Z system will impress you with sharp, colorful images and smooth autofocus performance with a useful 24-70mm zoom range.
Photography

The matte-black Leica Q-P is a statement piece for affluent introverts

If the all-black, minimalist Leica Q was just too garish for you, the new Q-P may be exactly what you need. Built on the same tech as the standard Q, it comes finished in a new matte-black paint and foregoes the Leica red dot.
Photography

Flickr just expanded Pro tools — but free users may have to delete some photos

If you have more than 1,000 photos on a free Flickr account, you might want to decide which to delete . Flickr announced some changes following an acquisition by SmugMug, including a new way to calculate the free account storage limit.
Product Review

Rylo is the 360 camera that finally makes 360 video useful

The Rylo puts a new spin on 360 video by focusing on flat, fixed-frame output. It can’t quite replace your action camera or camcorder, but it shows a glimmer of what the future of consumer video could be.
Photography

Premiere Pro A.I. plug-in for Adobe paints your videos in the style of van Gogh

CyberLink is bringing its suite of artificial intelligence-based video effects directly to Adobe users as a plug-in for Premiere Pro. The A.I. Style video plug-in "redraws" video in the styles of artists like Vincent van Gogh.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Photography

Photography News: Flickr keeping Creative Commons photos, ONA gets colorful

Flickr has confirmed it's saving all Creative Commons images, ONA has released a new capsule collection in partnership with Passion Passport and 7Artisans has launched a new drone-specific 35mm f/5.6 lens.
Photography

Get your Sagan on with 60 awe-inspiring photos of the final frontier

Few things instill a sense of wonder quite like the final frontier. The best space photos show off the beauty of Earth, our solar system, and the far corners of the universe. Here are our current favorites.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Product Review

Airselfie 2 may as well be a GoPro stapled to a drunk hummingbird

On paper, the Airselfie 2 is marketed as flying photographer that fits in your pocket and snaps selfies from the sky. Unfortunately it’s more like a HandiCam controlled by a swarm of intoxicated bumblebees
Mobile

Which smartphone has the best camera? We found the sharpest shooters

They say that the best camera is always the one you have with you and that makes your smartphone camera very important indeed. Join us for a closer look at the best camera phones available right now.