Entry-level DSLRs under $900

Canon EOS T5 review: Entry-level DSLR offers basics and value, but not much more

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At a Glance
  • Canon USA EOS Rebel T5

Entry-level DSLRs under $900

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The Canon EOS Rebel T5 is an appealing entry-level SLR option that offers a good, inexpensive entry point for those graduating from a point-and-shoot. At $550, the T5 strikes a good value-versus-power proposition: It has far more versatility and control than a high-end point-and-shoot, yet it’s also compact enough and low-cost enough to not be an albatross around your neck. But while image quality is good, you’ll be giving up some features to get that price.


The T5, which came out earlier this year, is 100 grams lighter than its T5i sibling. Physically, it’s slightly more compact, too. The hand grip is a little narrower, for example—a small detail, but it did have an impact on how comfy I found the camera in-hand. The T5 and T5i also share some other characteristics: Both have an 18-megapixel resolution and sensor size.

But there are more differences between the two than similarities. The T5 uses an older DIGIC 4 processor, lacks a dedicated slider switch for movie mode (instead, you use an option on the mode dial), lacks the articulating touchscreen display of the T5i, and the battery compartment shares its space with the SD card—which is less convenient when swapping memory cards. I actually found this an annoyance on an SLR, where you’re more likely to need to replace a memory card than on, say, a point-and-shoot camera (where this design is commonplace). I also dislike that the built-in microphone is on top of the camera’s body, whereas the T5i’s mic is on top of the flash unit; plus, the T5i offers separate microphone input.

canon eos t5 top

At the top of the T5 sits a dial with standard settings for manual, aperture, shutter priority, automatic, and program modes, as well as selections for enhanced modes (such as macro, landscape, creative auto, sports, and movie). Since movie mode is the last option, it’s awkward to do on the fly—expect to need an extra second.

To navigate the exposure settings, you use a combination of the horizontal scroll wheel on top of the camera (just before the shutter button), and the Q button at the back of the camera. I found the dial a bit stiff, perhaps a reflection of the T5’s lower cost overall.

canon eos t5 back

You’ll navigate the menus with four buttons on the back, arranged around a center Set button. The menu, while a step better than some of Canon’s classic text menus, is heavily text- and tab-driven. Even though the interface lacks the visual panache of some of its competitors, I found it manageable and at times even efficient.


Like the T5i, the T5 has a nine-point auto-focus. With just those nine points, I felt a bit limited in range when attempting to creatively frame images. Adjusting focus was easy: Tap the focus button at the top-right corner, then use the scroll wheel at top, or the four-way buttons at bottom, to cycle among the focus points. (For more focusing flexibility, you’ll need to step up to the $1199 (body only) Canon EOS 70D, which comes with a 19-point auto-focus sensor.)

Live View focus was the most frustrating—here, the camera often needed more time to lock in than a modern-day smartphone would. To enter Live View, just tap the button on the back of the camera, to the right of the viewfinder (the same button you’ll use to activate video recording). To adjust the focus point in Live View, you have to use the buttons at the back, a tedious process.

canon eos t5 front2

The T5 lacks the capture speed of the T5i. It can only capture up to 3 frames per second, which may suffice for capturing different facial expressions at a party, for example, but isn’t as good at shooting fast-moving sports.

At ISO 200, the T5’s images looked very close to those I got from the T5i. The camera only supports up to ISO 3200, which is fine since you won’t really want to go beyond ISO 800. Beyond that, you start seeing more noise and a reduction in sharpness and detail, though ISO 1600 may be work for your needs. I captured pleasing images at all focal lengths. Colors looked accurate, with good sharpness and detail. As with the T5i, I noticed some shots tended toward a brighter exposure. Canon says you can expect to get about 500 shots or so on the battery.

Bottom line

The Canon EOS Rebel T5 is relatively inexpensive and does take care of the basics. But I’d suggest stepping up to the more expensive T5i for a more satisfying experience.

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At a Glance
  • A budget camera that gets you started with taking great pictures, but its interface and design are less appealing than those of the more capable Canon T5i.


    • Relatively low cost
    • Great image quality


    • Live View focus seems sluggish
    • Physical controls can be awkward to navigate
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