The Canon EOS 100D breaks new ground in that it’s the smallest and lightest DSLR ever made. Find out how it performs in the full Canon EOS 100D review
Slotting into the company’s EOS for beginners range, the 100D positions itself between the entry-level EOS 1100D and EOS 600D and 700D. Offering impressive features within a camera of this size suggests that cheaper DSLRs are starting to offer more to tempt people away from choosing compact system cameras. Let’s find out if the Canon EOS 100D sets a new standard in the DSLR market.
Canon EOS 100D / Rebel SL1 review – Features
The Canon EOS 100D may be petite, but don’t get the impression that features have been stripped out to make the size it is. For a start, the 100D shares the same resolution output as the EOS 600D and EOS 700D, though the 18MP APS-C sized Hybrid AF II CMOS sensor has been redesigned with a smaller and thinner sensor unit. This delivers an ISO range of 100-12,800 and is extendable to 25,600 in the H setting when the ISO expansion is switched on within the custom settings.
The Hybrid AF II CMOS sensor also supports built-in phase-detect AF pixels for continuous autofocus when recording HD video, which the Canon EOS 100D captures at a variety of frame rates that include 30,25 or 24fps. Alternatively, there is also the option to record movies at 50fps(1280×720) and a 3.5mm mic port is located at the side above the remote port.
The miniaturisation of a new drive system, combined with a denser component layout, contributes to a reduction in the Canon EOS 100D’s main board size. In spite of this it still manages to cram in a DIGIC 5 image processor that enables the camera to shoot a continuous burst at up to 4fps, with 28 consecutive JPEGs or 7 Raw images claimed of being recorded.
To ensure it’s compatible for those looking at the camera as an upgrade option, or photographers who’d like to expand their system, the EOS 100D retains Canon’s EF-S lens mount and can be used with both EF and EF-S lenses.
For stills, the EOS 100D features the tried and tested 9-point array of AF points in a diamond formation, with one cross type AF point in the centre. AF point selection can be set to automatic or manual, with AI focus, One Shot and AI servo modes available from the 100D’s quick menu display after touching the Q Set button at the rear.
For metering, the 100D adopts the TTL full aperture metering, 63-zone SPC metering system that has impressed us before in other DSLRs such as the Canon EOS 7D. The playback zoom out button doubles up as the AE lock button when shooting and exposure compensation is provided up to +/-5EV in 1/3 or ½ stop increments.
Turning to the rear of the camera, the EOS 100D’s optical viewfinder makes a refreshing change to the electronic viewfinders we’re so commonly used to seeing on cameras of this size. Coverage isn’t the full 100%, but approximately 95% with a 0.87x magnification. Dioptre correction (-3 to +1 m-1) is supported, as is a depth of field preview button that lies directly beneath the lens release.
Below the viewfinder is a 3in, clear view II TFT touch screen, which boasts a 1040k-dot resolution – a significant improvement on the 230k-dot screen as previously seen on the Canon EOS 1100D. The Canon EOS 100D’s screen is similar to that of the EOS 700D, other than it’s not the Vari-angle type and remains fixed and cannot be pulled out or swiveled.
The built-in flash is handy for the times when you’d like to use a bit of fill-in flash and comes with a guide number of 13. Alternatively the hot shoe is ready to accept Canon EX series speedlights such as the Canon 270EX II and provides wireless multi-flash support.
Beside the Canon EOS 100D’s small Li-ion LP-E8 battery (claimed to be good for 440 shots) lies a SD card slot ready to accept SD,SDHC or SDXC (UHS-I) media. Unlike other Canon DSLRs however, such as the EOS 6D, the EOS 100D lacks any form of wireless connectivity, meaning those who’d like to transfer their shots from the camera to a smartphone or tablet will have to do so via the more conventional way of first uploading them to a computer.
Canon EOS 100D / Rebel SL1 review – Design
The Canon EOS 100D’s design is the model’s big talking point, but compared with previous models and CSC rivals, just how small is it? To give you some idea of its diminutive dimensions, it shaves off 9.1mm in height and 16.3mm in length compared to the Canon EOS 650D.
Up against CSC’s such as the Panasonic Lumix GH3, the Canon EOS 100D is around 20% thinner and 30% lighter, weighing a mere 407g on the scales body only. There’s no doubting the fact that this reduction in size and the way in which Canon has accomplished its weight saving is a great achievement, but with a smaller footprint comes a smaller handgrip to wrap your fingers around and less space at the rear for large, easy to access buttons.
Canon EOS 100D / 1100D comparison
The body materials are made from aluminium alloy and polycarbonate resin with carbon and glass fiber. This is an improvement on the EOS 1100D’s stainless steel body construction that weighs 88g more. Unlike the EOS 1100D’s plastic veneer, the EOS 100D’s finish is much improved despite its weight loss. It feels refined in the hand, thanks in part to a newly added rubberised material at the front section of the handgrip and where the thumb lays to rest at the rear.
The Canon EOS 100D feels up to the task of heavy use and its build quality is now on par with other entry-level DSLRs in the market such as the Nikon D3200. Not surprisingly for a camera in its price bracket, the EOS 100D doesn’t feature weather sealing, unlike more expensive EOS models in the lineup.
The d-pad is smaller than we’ve seen on some Canon DSLRs, but this allows the 3in touch screen to be squeezed alongside. Menu and info buttons are accessed with your left thumb and it’s good to see that Canon has opted for two independent buttons for playback zoom control rather than one, which has been the case more recently on full frame DSLRs such as the EOS 6D and 5D Mark III.
The Canon EOS 100D’s top plate is neatly arranged with an On/Off switch around the mode dial that can be operated by the thumb or index finger. Pushing the On/Off switch forward an extra notch accesses movie mode and there’s a dedicated button beside the scroll dial to access ISO settings on the fly.
To adjust aperture in manual mode, users are required to depress the AV +/- button and use the top plate dial, as only one scroll dial is located on the 100D’s body.
On the whole there’s very little to fault with the Canon EOS 100D’s design. Those with large sized hands may find that their little finger drops off the bottom of the grip and rests underneath. The build quality of the camera brings it into line with Canon’s other two DSLRs in the EOS for beginners range and clearly separates itself from the more plasticky designs we’ve seen in the past.
Canon EOS 100D / Rebel SL1 review – Performance
The disadvantage of the Canon EOS 100D’s 9-point AF system compared to the EOS 700D is that it only has one cross type sensor in the centre as opposed to them all being the cross-type. What this essentially means is that the AF points surrounding the central AF point aren’t as responsive or as accurate – something we identified when attempting to focus on a subject positioned off-centre shooting towards the light.
As for the coverage of AF points, they’re fairly well spread across the frame and it’s quick to reposition the target using the d-pad after hitting the AF point selection button, however on a few occasions there were times when an AF point didn’t cover our subject. In this scenario we deployed Live View and reverted to tapping the screen to ensure the focus point was directly where we needed it to be.
We also discovered the Live View button isn’t as sensitive as some of the other buttons on the camera and there was the odd occasion when we had to depress it twice to activate the live screen feed or switch it off.
Kit lens performance
Continuous AF (AI Servo) is snappy for stills with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens attached, but when you switch to movie mode, autofocus operates in an entirely different way. The stepper motor within the lens (STM) combined with the 100D’s full-time Servo AF mode produces beautifully smooth focus transitions for video with the option to pause movie Servo AF using the touch screen when you’d like to fix your AF point or reposition the AF point before telling the camera when you’d like it to refocus. It makes for an intuitive way of focusing during video recording, plus there’s the added benefit of the STM motor in the lens being completely silent so there’s no threat of whirring autofocus noises affecting audio footage either.
The sensitivity of the Canon EOS 100D’s touch screen is first-class and offers a similar responsiveness to touch screens found on the very best smartphones and tablets. Unlike some models that require you to use a combination of the touch screen and the buttons to operate the camera, there’s very little other than the shooting modes that you can’t setup by using your finger on the screens surface.
Our initial apprehension that the icons within the menu could be too small to select by touch were proven wrong and after prolonged use we found it faster to navigate the menu by touch rather than using the dpad. Swipe, as well as pinch and zoom gestures are also supported and well received for reviewing and showing images more intuitively in playback mode.
Switching the Canon EOS 100D to continuous shooting and loading it with a SanDisk class 10 Extreme Pro SDHC card enabled 4 JPEG&Raw images to be captured before the buffer reaches its capacity. The same number of files were recorded when the file format was set to Raw only, however the camera managed to rattle out an unlimited number of frames at 4fps when it was set the highest quality JPEG setting available.
Setting the mode dial to the CA setting gives you the option to explore the Canon EOS 100D’s seven creative filters, each of which can be refined to make the effect subtle or more dramatic. One annoyance on previous EOS DSLRs has been the inability to see how a creative filter affects the scene your shooting before the image is taken. This has been answered on the Canon EOS 100D by offering a live preview of the selected effect when Live View is deployed.
Out of the grainy black and white, soft focus, fish-eye effect, art bold effect, water painting, toy camera and miniature effects, the latter is our favourite. It has an advantage over some other cameras that offer this feature and allows you to reposition and rotate the beam of focus very easily using the dpad to suit your scene and create effective, tilt-shift effects.
Canon EOS 100D / Rebel SL1 review – Image Quality
Tone and Exposure
Adopting the same 63-zone SPC metering system as used on other Canon EOS DSLRs, the EOS 100D puts in a similar tone and exposure performance as produced by the EOS 600D, 650D and 700D. The camera’s metering system can be trusted to record scenes faithfully and during our extensive testing we experienced no apparent signs of the camera underexposing or overexposing.
For those who’d like to retain as much detail as possible in highlight and shadowed areas, there’s an Auto Lighting Optimizer available, which can be switched off completely or set to low, standard or high. As we discovered, the results aren’t too dissimilar from what you’d expect to record with the camera set to HDR backlight control from the scene settings.
Colour and White Balance
Colours straight from the 100D are just as you’d expect – neutral with no sign of any colour cast. Set to Auto white balance, the camera’s white balance system is capable of interpreting colour temperature very well, though it does have a tendency to lean towards cooler and more neutral tones.
To give our portraits slightly more warmth, we opted to apply a low opacity-warming filter in Photoshop, but this of course was our personal preference and others may like the way the auto white balance system removes excess warmth from skin tones automatically. Either way, users of the EOS 100D won’t be disappointed by the Colour and White Balance performance.
The 18MP sensor within the Canon EOS 100D resolves excellent detail, giving you the option to crop in tightly without the dread of image quality degrading. A close inspection of the Canon EOS 100D’s Raw files after shooting our resolution chart revealed the sensor is capable of recording 30 horizontal lines per millimeter at ISO 100, which is a very respectable performance.
At higher sensitivity settings images do become softer and to resolve the most detail from the chip you’ll want to ensure your shoot in the Raw format or alternatively shoot Raw&JPEG.
The 100D’s ISO performance at high sensitivity settings is comparable to the Canon EOS 700D. Clean, noise-free images are produced between ISO 100 and ISO 800. At ISO 1600, colour noise is visible at close proximity in shadowed areas, however this can be quickly removed in Camera Raw by increasing the value of the Colour slider from beneath the detail tab to a value of 30.
ISO 3200 and 6400 are useable too, but to counteract the effect of luminance and colour noise creeping in, you’ll be required to apply some noise reduction using the noise reduction sliders in Camera Raw. ISO 6400 is the limit at which we’d happily push the sensitivity to on a frequent basis. At ISO 12,800 softness is recognizable without zooming into images, so we’d advise to stay clear of the highest two sensitivity settings for the best results in low-light situations.
Raw & JPEG
JPEG’s (above left) are noticbly sharper and more saturated than Raw files (above right) straight out of the camera
Inspecting JPEGs alongside Raw files indicates the former has a slight boost in contrast and saturation, which is most noticeable in the warm tones of images. The in-camera processing and sharpening that’s applied to JPEGs isn’t overly aggressive, but under close inspection it becomes more noticeable, especially when you compare highly detailed areas of an image at 100%, such as hair strands against a blurred background as shown below in the example.
Noise reduction in JPEG images does tend to smooth out detail at higher sensitivities, but it does a good job of reducing the colour noise that’s more obvious in Raw files unless the colour slider is used within Camera Raw.
As mentioned previously, the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM operates silently and provides a smooth autofocus operation for video. Optically, you can expect the kit lens to produce chromatic aberrations along edges where there’s a high contrast between highlights and shadows, while vignetting is also obvious when the aperture is fully opened, however you’ll find this starts to disperse at the corner of images when the aperture is closed down beyond f/5.6.
Canon EOS 100D / Rebel SL1 review – Verdict
With four DSLRs to choose from at the entry level of Canon’s range, the Canon EOS 100D sits below the Canon EOS 600D despite it being £170 more expensive. For the extra outlay you’ll have the option to push the sensitivity higher in low light, take advantage of the 100D’s small and lightweight design, plus have a superb touch screen at your control.
At the time of writing (11/5/2013), the Canon EOS 100D costs £291 more than Canon’s entry-level DSLR, the EOS 1100D. If you’re considering one over the other, there’s no option but to choose the EOS 100D provided your budget can stretch. It’s a far superior DSLR, not only in terms of performance and image quality, but also its build quality. The overall finish of the 100D is much more what we’ve come to expect from Canon and when you compare the two, the plastic finish of Canon EOS 1100D leaves much to be desired.
Costing £569 body only, or £649 with the 18-55mm IS STM kit lens, the price of the Canon EOS 100D is identical to that of the Canon EOS 700D. The guts of the two cameras are virtually identical, but the 700D does offer an extra few benefits in that it has a full set of nine cross-type AF points, a flip out touch screen and offers up to 40% more shots per charge thanks to its larger body swallowing a bigger battery.
Given that the EOS 700D is the better-specified camera of the two and costs no more, the main reasons to choose the Canon EOS 100D over the 700D would be for its size and weight. To keep the camera and lens combination as small as possible, the super-slim 40mm STM pancake lens would make a good choice – a pairing that costs £733. Alternatively, the pancake lens can be purchased with the 18-55mm kit lens for £819.
If you’re looking to buy the Canon EOS 100D and pair it with the 18-55mm kit lens or bulkier telephoto lenses, the reasoning for opting for a smaller body is questionable and you could end up asking yourself why you didn’t opt for the 700D instead, which wouldn’t have cost any more and offers the better specification.
Comparison with the Canon EOS 700D
The Canon EOS 100D is most comparable to the Canon EOS 700D, with regards to specification and pricing. On the face of it the only thing that really seperates the two is their size. However, if you dig a little deeper you notice that there’s more between them than meets the eye.
For a full lowdown on the differences, head on over to our Canon EOS 100D v Canon EOS 700D comparison review.
Sample Image Gallery
These are a few images captured with during our first shoot with the Canon EOS 100D. For a full selection, visit out Canon EOS 100D sample image gallery.
1/1600 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 400. Center-weighted metering, auto white balance
EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
Canon’s latest DSLR is a completely new proposition from the company. Slotting in between the EOS 1100D and 600D in the Canon EOS line-up, the Canon EOS 100D (also known as the Rebel SL1 in North America) has become the world’s smallest and lightest DSLR available today. In comparison to Canon’s established XXXD range of DSLRs, its some 25% smaller, shaving off 9.1mm in height, and 16.3mm in length compared to Canon 650D, while they also claim its 28% lighter too, with the body weighing only 370g.
Canon has managed to achieve this miniaturisation by taking a step back and re-engineering many of the camera’s internal parts. This includes a new drive system with a smaller motor that reduces the shutter unit size, a denser component layout that reduces the Canon EOS 100D’s main board size, smaller battery and a smaller shutter unit and secondary mirror compared to its EOS siblings. This also means that the Canon EOS 100D retains an optical viewfinder, and with a relatively respectable magnification too of 0.87x.
As well as this, the Canon EOS 100D also features a smaller and thinner sensor unit, with a new 18MP, APS-C-sized Hybrid AF II CMOS sensor module delivering an identical ISO range of 100-12,800 (extendable to 25,600) as the EOS 700D, with Canon claiming identical image quality too.
While the Canon EOS 100D has been subject to this weight-saving regime, it retains Canon’s EF-S lens mount, and not the slightly smaller EF-M mount that’s sported by the EOS M mirrorless offering, so users will have access to 74 Canon EF mount lenses, as well as wide-ranging third-party offerings.
Just as we saw on the Canon EOS 650D, the Canon EOS 100D features built-in phase-detect AF pixels for improved focusing during Live View and video recording, while the 9-point AF arrangement features a single cross-type AF point at the centre of the frame.
Canon EOS 100D / Rebel SL1 First Look
With the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens attached, the Canon EOS 100D / Rebel SL1 it’s a very diminutive piece of kit and noticeably smaller than any other DSLR currently available – you’d probably have to go back to the Olympus E-450 Four Thirds DSLR to find something comparable in size. In fact, its nearer in size to Canon’s PowerShot SX50 HD Bridge camera.
With the bundled 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens attached and this size saving is somewhat reduced, and because the mirror box is still in place, the depth of the Canon EOS 100D is more pronounced than a typical Compact System Camera. They’ve still done a good job though to reduce the overall footprint of the Canon EOS 100D / Rebel SL1, especially when you consider it still features a optical viewfinder as opposed to an EVF.
The design of the EOS 100D / Rebel SL1 follows the ethos of other consumer-orientated EOS DSLRs we’ve seen, but there have been some subtle tweaks, most notably round the handgrip and shutter button. The textured-finish has a more modern, almost carbon-fibre look to it, that runs up round the shutter button, and we have to say we like this new addition.
As you’d expect, the handgrip is quite a bit shallower than other EOS models in this consumer, entr-level sector. Pick it up and in the hand you do miss the extra purchase of a larger grip, especially if you’ve got larger hands, but it’s still more than adequate for general shooting, while the general feel and finish is similar to that of a Canon EOS 650D and Canon EOS 700D.
The rear of the camera has been simplified a little compared to other EOS models, with a small all-in-one 4-way multi-purpose control as opposed to a dedicated 4-way control layout for White Balance, Drive, AF and Picture Styles that is the norm for other EOS entry-level models.
In the main though, functionality is very similar, and while the 3in, 3:2 aspect ratio display sits flush with the body, it offers the same level of touch-sensitive control as that found on the Canon EOS 650D and 700D. This means a very responsive user experience, with light pinch-and-zoom and swipe gestures required for quick and easy use. The ClearView II technology employed on the display is impressive, with plenty of clarity and detail, whether you’re scrolling through the menu, in Live View or reviewing images.
While it features a full suite of manual controls, the Canon EOS 100D is a camera that’s aimed at the new user that’s making the step-up from a compact, with a built-in Guide mode and a host of auto modes for easy shooting.
Unlike electronic viewfinders found on the majority of cameras this size, the optical viewfinder as you’d expect delivers a clear and uninterrupted display, if a little tunnel-like. The 9 AF points are spread fairly well across the frame, though the single cross-type point is a little disappointing.
Canon EOS 100D / Rebel SL1 – Initial impressions
The Canon EOS 100D is intended to offer another avenue of choice for the potential user and is an interesting development. A mini EOS DSLR is sure to appeal to a wide range of people, be it first time users or enthusiasts looking for a smaller camera they can take with them on occasions when they don’t want the bulk of their entire kit, but still want to use one or two of their lenses.
Competing not only with rival Compact System Camera brands such as Panasonic and their Lumix G5, the Canon EOS 100D also appears to be a rival for Canon’s own EOS M CSC offering, so it will be interesting to see how Canon develops these to strands of cameras side-by-side.
With a retail price of £699 when bundled with the new 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, the Canon EOS 100D is only £50 less than the equivalent EOS 700D kit which benefits from a host of additionally features, including a better specified AF and vari-angle tilt screen. Ultimately though that choice will come down to the user and whether size takes precedence over performance.