Canon Rebel T6i and T6s: high-megapixel sensor, improved autofocus, Wi-Fi

Update: In today’s uber-competitive interchangeable lens camera market, can Canon’s Rebel stay on top? And are the T6’s extra features worth the cost? Read our complete T6i review to find out.

Canon’s EOS Rebel T3i and T5i are two of the top budget DSLRs available, earning our Editors’ Choice and Recommended awards, respectively. Canon is probably looking to maintain that reputation with the new EOS Rebel T6i and T6s. Both DSLRs use a new 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor – the highest available from Canon – and are the first Rebel models to have Wi-Fi and NFC.

Once the T6i enters the lineup at the end of April 2015, the T3i will be phased out, leaving the Rebel series with the T5, T5i, SL1, and the two new models. The T6s uses the same body as the T6i, but has some extra features including an LCD data panel on the top-deck – similar to enthusiast and pro DSLRs – and is designed for photo and video enthusiasts, Canon says.

Both cameras have a new auto-exposure sensor, and utilize Canon’s new Hybrid CMOS AF III autofocus system, which crunches data faster to allow for faster AF performance when shooting photos and videos using live view on the LCD (the camera uses a 19-point AF system via the viewfinder, up from the 9-point system in the T5i). It’s not as advanced as the Dual Pixel AF system found in the 70D, but Canon says that system is costlier and Hybrid CMOS AF III is a compromise between price and performance. The cameras also use Canon’s newer Digic 6 image processor.

The T6i and T6s feature Canon’s latest scene analysis system, introduced in the new 7D Mark II. It helps detect flickers and near-infrared light. New for the Rebel series are skin tone detection, clean HDMI-out signal, and Intelligent Viewfinder that overlays those 19 AF points. Both cameras feature the silent movie mode introduced in the SL1.

Also new is Wi-Fi and NFC. Of course, the features themselves aren’t new, but Canon is finally adding the wireless protocols to its cameras. With Wi-Fi, you can share photos online via a smartphone, print to compatible Canon printers, and remote operation. NFC allows for easier pairing with Android devices and Canon’s new Connect Station media sharing appliance.

The cameras retain the same look as the T5i, which is that iconic DSLR shape shared by all DSLRs. To accommodate the LCD data panel, Canon had to reposition the mode dial. Both retain the 3-inch, 1.04-million-dot vari-angle LCD.

The T3i and T5i are strong DSLRs for photography, but video capture isn’t their strength. Canon is looking to change that perception, particularly with the T6s. The cameras capture Full HD 1080 at 30p, which is a bit behind the times. For finer adjustments, the T6s offers manual exposure control, digital zoom, and a microphone jack.

Since these are designed for new DSLR users, you can find creative filters and other automated function, similar to those in point-and-shoot cameras. In live view mode, these functions can be shown in real-time on the LCD. As mentioned, the T6s is for those who want to step up to more advanced features, like the Quick Control Dial, Horizontal Level, HDR movie capture, Servo AF in live view (for continuous tracking of moving subjects during burst shooting).

The T6i will sell for $750 body only, $900 with an EF-S 18-55mm STM lens, or $1,099 with an EF-S 18-135mm STM lens. The T6s will sell for $850 body only, and $1,199 with the 18-135mm lens.