Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D review
The Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D is the latest incarnation of Canon’s hugely popular mass-market range of DSLRs. This latest model is built around a 24MP sensor that uses Canon’s Dual Pixel AF system to offer improved autofocus in live view and video (more on that later).
At its core, it shares a lot with the more expensive EOS 77D but the differences become apparent when you first turn them on: both models feature a simplified ‘skin’ over the user interface, but only the T7i has these guiding functions switched on by default.
- 24MP APS-C sensor with Dual Pixel design
- 45 AF points, all of which are horizontally and vertically sensitive
- Built-in Wi-Fi with Bluetooth and NFC
- 1080p video at up to 60 fps with electronic IS
- Fully articulated 1.04M-dot rear LCD
This should make immediately apparent who Canon is targeting with this camera: casual and family photographers buying their first DSLR and people who want to learn a little more about photography. It’s these two audiences we’ll focus on in this review.
The Canon Rebel series (as it’s known in North America) is the best-selling series of DSLRs in the World, but it’s not without its rivals. A couple of these stand out, to us. Nikon’s D5600 is another 24MP camera that aims to offer a lot of capability in a relatively straightforward way.
Sony, meanwhile, offers two mirrorless cameras to target these users: the a5100 is a simpler, more point-and-shoot orientated camera while the a6000 has a little more of its raw power on display, for those who have the time to learn how to use it. Fujifilm again focuses on the photographer looking for a camera to grow into with its X-T20. Similarly, the Panasonic G85/G80 gives room to expand into, especially given its mix of touchscreen and button control and its 4K video capability.
|Canon T7i||Fujifilm X-T20||Nikon D5600||Panasonic G85||Sony a6000|
|Price (MSRP, w/kit lens)||$899||$999||$799||$999||$698|
|Sensor||24MP APS-C||24MP APS-C||24MP APS-C||16MP FourThirds||24MP APS-C|
|AF system||Dual Pixel
|LCD||3″ fully articulating||3″ tilting||3″ fully articulating||3″ fully articulating||3″ tilting|
|Burst rate||6 fps||14 fps||5 fps||10 fps||11 fps|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi NFC BT||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi NFC BT||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi NFC|
|Battery life (CIPA)||600 shots||350 shots||970 shots||330 shots||360 shots|
|Dimensions||131 x 100 x 76 mm||118 x 83 x 41 mm||124 x 99 x 70 mm||128 x 89 x 74 mm||120 x 67 x 45 mm|
|Weight||532 g||383 g||415 g||505 g||344 g|
* Denotes AF systems combining contrast and phase detection
In this company it’s really the T7i and D5600 that do most to accommodate both the beginner user and the photographer who’s already overcome that first difficult slope on the learning curve; the others, particularly the Fujifilm and Panasonic, work better if you already have a good idea of what you’re trying to achieve.
One slight disappointment is the adoption of a new ‘kit’ zoom lens. The T7i gets bundled with the 18-55mm F4.0-5.6 STM IS. This the standard range we’d expect to see a kit zoom cover and offers fast focus and image stabilization. However, it takes the unusual step of being 1/3EV darker than most of its rivals’ lenses. This isn’t a big difference, and the optical performance is very impressive, but any move towards a darker lens will hold the camera back, at least a little, and represents a step in the wrong direction.
The most basic need for a family or casual photographer is an Auto mode that performs well. The Rebel does extremely well in this respect, doing a great job of setting focus, exposure and white balance, meaning you can get good results by simply pointing and shooting.
That said, the T7i can be a little bit too keen to use its built-in flash, which risks bleached-out images. And, if you turn the flash off, the camera will tend towards the use of quite slow shutter speeds rather than hiking the ISO up, risking blurred shots if your subject isn’t fairly still. Sadly there’s no way to change this behavior, short of learning enough about the camera’s settings to correct it, undermining slightly its easy appeal.
The camera produces JPEGs with excellent color and its image quality is competitive with any of its rivals, even as the light falls or you move indoors. Photography under artificial light can sometimes be a little orange for our tastes and you’ll need to move to ‘P’ mode if you want to override this.
|Caption: The large number of buttons might make the T7i look daunting, but it behaves itself pretty well when left in auto.|
What makes the T7i really stand out for casual shooters is how consistent the shooting experience is, regardless of whether you shoot through the optical viewfinder or in live view, using the rear screen. Historically this has been a weak point for DSLRs, with a significant drop in performance if you tried to use the rear screen for composing or shooting. The relatively seamless behavior means you can shoot using the rear screen just as if it were a compact camera or smartphone.
|The EOS T7i/800D features a series of simplified menu options. In each case they guide you to change the settings in the same way you would if the guide mode were switched off, helping you learn the effect of each setting and how to change it.|
The benefit of the camera’s Dual Pixel autofocus system for family and casual shooters is twofold, beyond the simplified user experience. The first is that the camera can track subjects around the frame as well (if not better) in live view mode than it can when you’re looking through the viewfinder, which is perfect if you just want to tap the screen and have the camera follow your child at they run around.
This same capability and simplicity extends to video shooting. The camera is a little bit limited in spec terms: it only offers 1080p video and either auto everything or full manual. However, Dual Pixel autofocus design means again you can just tap where you want the camera to focus and be more confident that the focus will stay on your subject and won’t ruin your footage by hunting for focus.
Our only real concern for beginner users is that, because viewfinder and live view operation have historically been totally different, it ends up being possible to set them to behave differently, in terms of autofocus. Particularly for beginners, we’d like focus drive mode and focus area mode to honor the same settings across both methods of shooting.
Sadly, this simplicity doesn’t extend to the operation of the camera’s Wi-Fi system. There’s little point having a better quality camera if your images remain landlocked on the memory card while everyone around you posts their phone images to social media or sends copies to other family members. We found the T7i is a little complex to connect to a smartphone, which may hinder some users.
The other key audience Canon has always aimed this series of cameras at is a person who wants a camera they can learn and grow into. This is a difficult balance to strike: the more camera and capability you offer for developing photographers, the more you risk over-complicating the camera for those users who don’t necessarily want to learn every function.
The T7i does a great job of striking this balance. Its guided and simplified user interface acts like training wheels, supporting you until you can live without it. Once you’ve done away with it, you’re left with a camera that offers a good level of direct control and a well-worked Q.Menu that lets you change some of the less-obvious settings without menu diving.
|Canon’s JPEG color is among the most popular. Here we’ve set the white balance to ‘Daylight’ to capture how orange the late evening sunshine was.|
Again, the highly capable autofocus, particularly in live view mode and video shooting help set the T7i apart as your photography develop. It means you can spend a little money on a better or more specialized lens, after shooting the camera for a year, rather than feeling the need to move to a more expensive camera.
There are a couple of odd omissions that you might find yourself missing as your knowledge grows, though. The lack of in-camera Raw conversion option is frustrating, for instance. It’s now a commonplace feature unless you’re shooting Sony or low-end Canon (it’s offered on the 80D and upwards). The option to re-process a Raw file with other settings such as lifted shadows, corrected white balance or a touch more contrast is hugely useful if you want to Wi-Fi and post to social media.
|The camera’s Auto Lighting Optimizer lifts the shadows to balance high-contrast scenes. Sadly, there’s no in-camera Raw conversion option to let you apply more or less of the effect, after you’ve shot your image.|
Another disappointing limitation is the simplistic Auto ISO implementation. You can choose the highest ISO the camera should use, but there’s no way of telling the camera whether you’re more concerned about camera shake or subject movement, so it won’t necessarily get you the photo you want. Canon has a more sophisticated system, but has chosen not to include it here.
Overall, these are minor concerns, though. The balance of features and image quality make the T7i an excellent choice for someone just getting into photography or hoping to develop their skills and understanding. That said, the more expensive but very similar EOS 77D adds an extra control dial for faster operation, while maintaining everything that makes the T7i so attractive.
The Canon Rebel series has long been a safe bet: not necessarily the best camera available, but usually competent and competitively priced. Looking around the comparison table above, it might look like that story has been repeated: there are cheaper cameras with competitive specs, faster cameras and cameras that shoot better video. Yet the T7i stands out as the best Rebel I’ve ever used.
|It’s not got the best specifications we’ve ever seen, but the new kit lens is really quite capable.|
Guide modes are pretty common on cameras of this type but I’ve rarely seen one that helps with learning how the camera operates beyond guide mode, rather than leaving you stuck in a simplified mode forever. This, combined with the consistency of performance between shooting through the optical viewfinder and rear screen (in terms of both speed and effectiveness), makes the T7i one of the easiest DSLRs to use if you’re not familiar with their operation. It also means it’s one of the easiest cameras to capture video with.
It’s not perfect: the video is only 1080 and is a little soft, settings aren’t always consistent between live view and viewfinder shooting and the supposedly simple Wi-Fi system is perhaps too clever for its own good. Overall, though, it’s a great camera for its intended audiences.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn what these numbers mean.
Canon EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D / Kiss X9i
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The Canon EOS Rebel T7i/800D is arguably the best ever Rebel. Its Dual Pixel autofocus allows it to offer similarly fast performance whether you shoot through the viewfinder or in live view mode, helping make it one of the most accessible DSLRs we’ve ever encountered.