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Canon's Top Rebel


The new EOS Rebel T6S is Canon's highest-megapixel Rebel so far.  In fact, it's Canon's highest-megapixel APS-C camera so far, surpassing even the 7D Mark II.

The T6S comes complete with some pro features, yet it's packaged in the small form factor of the Rebel line.

Some people might say that such a camera is "not enough of any one thing" to be any good.  Others might say it's the best of both worlds, and therefore it's going to be fantastic.

Let's find out which is the case.



All photos Copyright 2015



A Quick Note

This article exists only with the help of readers like you, when you purchase your gear through the sponsored links.  

I don't get free cameras;  I have to work hard to be able to rent or buy the stuff I review.   If you like this article, please help me by purchasing your Canon T6S through this link.  Your help is much appreciated.






In This Article:

Some Specs

Power Up & Basic Use



Autofocus

Buttons & Controls

Continuous Shooting

Custom Modes

Flash

Image Quality

High ISO / Low Light Performance

JPG Resolutions

Shutter

Touchscreen

Video




Canon T6S vs T6i

The Best Rebel DSLR

Conclusion







Some Specs

Autofocus Points:  19 all-cross type
Batteries:  single Li-ion rechargeable pack (Canon LP-E17 @ 1,040 mAh)
Battery Grip Available?  Yes  (Canon BG-E18)
Battery Life:  up to 550 shots
Connectors:  A/V OUT (Digital);   HDMI Mini OUT;   1/8" Mic IN;   N3-type Remote Control
Continuous Shooting (Burst Rate):   5 frames per second
Crop Factor:  1.6
Electronic Level?  Yes
Exposure Compensation:  +/- 5 EV in 1/2 or 1/3 stop increments
Exposure Control:   Auto, Programmed Auto (P), Aperture Priority (Av), Shutter Priority (Tv), Manual (M)
Eye-Sensing Viewfinder:  Yes
Flash:  Pop-up flash and Hotshoe
Flash Sync Speed:  1/200 sec.
GPS:  No
HDR modes:  Yes
Image Formats:  JPG and 12-bit RAW
Image Processor:  DIGIC 6
Image Stabilization:  lens-based
ISO settings:  ISO 100 through 12800, with Auto ISO and Extended settings available
Lens Mount:  Canon EF-S
Made in:  Japan
Metering:  Evaluative, Partial, Center-Weighted, & Spot modes
Microphone Input:  Stereo
Optical Low-Pass Filter (OLPF):  Yes
Panoramic Modes:  No, but software is included for your computer
Pixel Pitch:  3.72 ┬Ám
Release Date:  May 2015
Resolution:  24 megapixels
Sensor:  APS-C
Size: 5.2 x 4 x 3.1 inches (about the same size as a Rebel T5)
Shutter:  Focal plane
Shutter speeds:  30" to 1/4000;  Bulb
Startup Delay: 
Touchscreen:  Yes
Video:  1080px HD (PAL & NTSC) @ about 30 fps;  720 px @ about 60 fps.
Video Snapshot:  Yes
Viewfinder:   Optical
Viewfinder Coverage:  95%
Weight (no batteries):  520 grams (18.35 oz.)  - Compare with 70D @ 675 g
Weight (with battery):  565 grams (19.93 oz.) - Compare with 70D @ 755 g
Weather Sealing:  No
Wi-Fi:  Yes
Wireless Flash Control?  Yes

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Power Up & Basic Use

The power switch is located under the Mode dial, just as you'll find on a 6D or 5DIII.  The big difference is that the T6S has a three-position switch:  Off, On, and Video.

If you're primarily a still-photographer, you might not like this feature.

If you shoot a lot of video, you will love it.

Here's why it can be sort of a pain for still photography.  If you're in a hurry to photograph something, it's very easy to overshoot and go into video mode, when instead you meant to use normal "On" mode.  It's not a deal-breaker, though, at least not for me.   This is something that just takes some practice.

In this one regard, all the Canon "pro" cameras are at a disadvantage compared with the lowly Rebel T3 and T5.  If you're right-handed, you just pick up your T3 / T5 and power it on with your thumb.   Even so, it's all about what you're used to.   Train yourself to use a particular control set, and it will eventually seem natural.  (The T6i has the right-handed-thumb power-on switch, but it also has the "Go too far and it's video, not stills" thing.)

Like any of the swivel-screen cameras, this one comes out of the box with the LCD screen turned inward.  This is also a good way to store it so your LCD doesn't get scratched.  For daily use, get some screen protectors.

The single memory-card slot is located in the right side of the camera, like the 6D.  This is much more convenient when you've got the camera on a tripod or perhaps a film-scanning rig.  On the low-end Rebels, you have to open the battery door on the underside of the camera to get at the memory card.   The side-accessible memory card is in itself a rather significant feature. Ah, but there's a lot more!





For still shots, it's incredibly easy to start taking pictures;  "Auto" mode does everything for you, and the autofocus is phenomenal.   That last part is really the key for a beginner who wants to take great photos. 

Auto works well enough, but I usually use Aperture Priority mode (Av), Program Auto (P), or Manual (M) modes. 

The camera also has the usual Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Close-Up, Creative Auto, and SCN (Special Scene) modes.   Once in SCN you can pick any of several sub-modes, including Candlelight and Handheld Night Scene.  All very handy, if you don't yet know how to set everything yourself... or you just don't feel like taking the time to do so.

For more about the specific controls, see also Buttons & Controls.


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Autofocus

With 19 all-cross AF points, this is one of the better cameras in the entire Canon lineup.  Only the 7D Mark II (expensive) and the 5D III / 5DS (more expensive) are going to be significantly better. 

For still photography, the T6S can autofocus just as well as the 70D.  Both have the 19-point AF.   



Canon EOS Rebel T6S

No post-processing except resize & label. 

More photos here.


For landscapes or people, 19-point AF is going to be more tech than I'll probably ever need.

The AF locks onto what it thinks to be the correct object.  Usually it's pretty accurate.  Sometimes it's not.  This is one of the tradeoffs for having super-duper laser-grade NASA autofocus:  the camera still doesn't actually know what you intended to focus on.  And now it has more possible points to choose from.

So far I've encountered only a couple instances where the AF couldn't pick the right object on which to focus.   But that's no problem:  simply choose a different AF Area Selection Mode.  You can use the button along the top LCD panel if you want.  If you don't like the automatic selection AF, simply choose Single-Point AF or Zone AF.  

If you want that ultimate accuracy that can be had only with manual override, choose Single-Point AF.  This will necessitate the old "focus-recompose" trick, but I'm glad that's here.

Overall, the AF is a joy to use.  It is crisp, fast, and for the most part, accurate.   I like the AF so much on this camera that it makes me wish I had the battery grip and a second LP-E17 battery pack.  I just want to go around and take tons and tons of photos so I can enjoy the autofocus.   (The battery grip would also be useful for video shoots.)

Make sure you use an STM lens with this camera.  The kit lens is STM, and so is the 40mm pancake (which is awesome).  There's also the 24-105mm non-L (review of that lens here.)  

The fine Canon EF-S 24mm pancake is an STM lens, as well.

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Buttons & Controls

Like many of the other Canon DSLR's, the T6S has the "Q button".  This allows you to move quickly between settings:  aperture, ISO, self-timer, and some other functions that are typically used.  Press the Q button, and it opens up a whole bank of different settings.  You can then use the Quick Control Dial to switch between them.

A little non sequitur here:  let's talk about that power switch again.  I'm actually more and more glad that they put the "video-on" switch where they did.   On some of the other Canon DSLR's, the video control is a lot more awkward;  you end up having to look at which button you're pressing, which means you have to take the camera off the subject for a moment and then recompose.

On the T6S, you just flip the video switch.  You can start recording easily, because there are no other buttons crowding the customary location (end of your right thumb, to the left a bit).  The "Record" button is the only one located there.  Thus, if you want to record quickly, you won't accidentally press the wrong one.   That requires even less effort to do than it does to describe.  Super easy!

For when you're viewing your still photos, the playback magnification buttons are in the usual place.   Likewise, the "Trash" button and the "Menu" / "Info" buttons.  With a little practice, you can locate them in the dark when you're photographing fireworks or lightning.  (Both of these will generate a lot of blank images you'll want to delete.)

The mode dial is similar to that of the 6D, 7D II, etc;  it has a lock button in the center, so you can't accidentally move the dial.  Little features like these make a big difference if you use your camera every day.  If there's such thing as a "pro" Rebel, this is it.



Indeed, the Quick Control Dial (shown below) makes it much easier to use the T6S as a backup to one of the professional-level Canons.    You can adjust exposure compensation quite easily with it, just as you would on the other cameras. 



Unlike the other cameras, the T6S has four functions placed directly on the Quick Control pad: Picture Styles, Drive / Timer, White Balance, and AF.  Being able to jump to these directly is very useful.  Of course, you can access any of the other ones (ISO, etc) in the usual way:  press the corresponding button elsewhere on the camera, then rotate the Quick Control Dial to adjust it. 

Thanks to this dial, the transition will be much more automatic if you have to jump back and forth between this camera and a 70D, 6D, 7D Mark II, etc.   You won't miss as many shots having to re-acclimate yourself to a radically-different control set, as you would on the cheaper Rebels.

Even if you don't have to switch between two cameras all the time for your work, the Quick Control Dial is very nice to have.

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Continuous Shooting

Let's see how the T6S compares to some other Canon DSLR's:

Canon EOS Rebel T3
3 fps
Canon EOS Rebel T3i
3.7 fps
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
3.9 fps
Canon EOS 6D
4.5 fps
Canon EOS Rebel T6S
5 fps
Canon EOS 60D
5.3 fps
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
6 fps
Canon EOS 70D
7 fps
Canon EOS 7D
8 fps

The 70D has the edge here for continuous shooting.  Of course the 7D Mark II (not shown) wins over everything. 

Even so, 5 fps is not bad.  This is plenty for weddings and gatherings, and it's probably OK if you're shooting sports for fun.    


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Custom Modes

The T6S does not have a custom mode slot on the dial. 

If you need that, go for this camera instead.

Like other Rebels, the T6S simply remembers your last settings each time you power the camera back on. 

Along with the small viewfinder, the lack of Custom modes is one of the only "cons".  Then again, I don't really expect this feature on a Rebel DSLR.    It's entirely possible to photograph an event or do a portrait session without the Custom modes.   

Also, the quickly-accessible "Picture Styles" function on the back of the camera makes it a bit easier to deal with the lack of a Custom-mode slot.  Not perfect, maybe, but pretty good.  You can set up the individual Picture Styles to your liking (saturation, contrast, sharpness), and the camera remembers them anyway.  Nice feature, that.


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Flash

Being a Rebel, this camera has a built-in pop-up flash.  There is also a flash hotshoe.  If you think you might ever use one of those 1980's back-voltage flamethrowers (which was most of them), get one of these right away, otherwise you will burn out the flash control circuitry.  Couple hundred volts through a bunch of ultra-tiny SMD chips?  Bad idea, for any DSLR.

The T6S has built-in wireless flash control.  That means it can wirelessly command Canon speedlites such as this one.   This feature carries through the TXi line of Canon Rebels.  

The one major annoyance is the pre-flash in Auto mode.   This is the "AF Assist Beam".  The flash fires several times per second before you take the actual picture.  As you would expect, it's bright, too.

You can set the camera to use IR AF-assist instead of flash AF-assist.  Then it won't do the annoying flash-pulse thing in "P" mode.  Auto will still do it, though;  but once you acquire even a little bit of skill, you probably won't want to use Auto anyway.  The other modes have so much more flexibility.



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High ISO  /  Low-Light Performance

With more megapixels, that means each pixel is smaller.  This is generally not good for low-light performance.  However, improved processing can offset this, at least to a point.  And, it seems to have worked here.  24 megapix on a crop sensor is not at all out of line;  Nikon has been doing this for a while now.  It was about time that Canon ventured into 24 MP.

Let's compare a couple of photos.  For now, I won't run through every ISO setting;  when you see the comparison you'll understand why.


Tomatoes at ISO 400

Canon Rebel T6S
ISO 400
f/11
Resized & tagged only;
no other post-processing.


That first photo was ISO 400, just to provide a reference.

OK, now look at this.  Same scene at ISO 12800:


Tomatoes at ISO 12800

Canon Rebel T6S
ISO 12800
f/11
Resized & tagged only;
no other post-processing.


If you can't see any difference here, you're not the only one.  This is why I didn't bother to show every ISO setting in between these.

I could enlarge these, or show 100% crops, which would reveal some luma noise at ISO 12800.  The point, though, is that you won't notice much difference for normal uses (such as Web viewing, or 8x10 prints).

ISO 12800 looks almost as good as ISO 400 here.  Of course it also helps that there's a fair amount of light in this scene.

Where all digital cameras strain is in the very low-light scenes at high ISO.    Even the mighty 6D and 5D3 will give noisy pics if you try to take photographs in the dark... unless you're using a tripod and lower ISO.

Aside from that, the T6S will do just fine.  Actually, better than "just fine".  To have pictures looking this good at ISO 12800 was almost unheard of just a few years ago.   This is a fantastic little DSLR.


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Image Quality

You've already seen the low-light performance comparison, above.

As usual, the image quality is great;  it's a Canon.  The basic "Canon colors" are what you'd expect, although it appears that the photos are a bit warmer compared to earlier Rebels.   That's okay by me.




Canon EOS Rebel T6S
EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens
ISO 200
f/4.6 @ 1/50th sec.


See also:  More Photos From the T6S.

Unless you zoom far in on the pictures, you won't notice a huge difference between 18 MP and 24 MP.  There is a difference though, even if it's subtle.  And maybe there are even a few people who can notice it right away (doubtful though). 

I like the 24MP for film scanning;  this enables you to get virtually all the resolution out of a 35mm negative or transparency.   That doesn't matter as much at Web resolution, but if you're trying to get the biggest enlargements out of 35mm it becomes much more important.  It's also nice to have those higher resolutions for archiving your film scans.  Film itself is the ultimate archive, but at 24MP you can know your scans are pretty darned good, too.

To enjoy the fullest image quality on this 24-MP camera, you'll want to start using the higher-quality lenses.  It would be worth it to get an L lens for this camera, such as the 17-40mm, and of course you can use any L lens on a full-frame DSLR if you later decide to go for that. 

Given how nice the pictures look from the T6S, though, I don't think you'll be in any hurry to move to another camera.  Together with the highly-usable control set, we have an EOS Rebel that actually feels like a destination, rather than a stop-over.  It's a very pleasant camera.


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(Canon T6S Photo Gallery)

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JPG Resolutions


With the new 24-MP sensor, here are the various JPEG resolutions offered by the T6S and its little brother the T6i:

Large Fine JPG
L
(smooth icon)                
24 MP
6000x4000 pixels
Landscape city!
Large Normal JPG
L
(jaggy icon)
24 MP
6000x4000 pixels

Medium Fine JPG
M
(smooth icon)       
10.6 MP
3984x2656 pixels
Pics still look great at this res
Medium Normal JPG
M
(jaggy icon)
10.6 MP
3984x2656 pixels
Small 1 Fine JPG
S1
(smooth icon)
5.9 MP
2976x1984 pixels
Useful;  the pics look surprisingly good
Small 1 Normal JPG
S1
(jaggy icon)
5.9 MP
2976x1984 pixels
Small 2 JPG
S2
2.5 MP
1920x1280
For the nostalgic
Small 3 JPG
S3
0.3 MP
720x480 pixels
For ultimate memory-card cheapskates. 
Expect the usual grainy, noisy, year-2000-looking pics.

It's surprising how good the S1 Fine mode looks on this camera.  That's because this camera has a great sensor and excellent JPG processing.

Haven't yet tried S1 Normal, but the Normal JPG modes basically have half the file size of the Fine.

For anything serious, it's worth the memory card space to shoot Large Fine JPG, or even RAW for some stuff.   (Article:  SD Cards)


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(Canon T6S Photo Gallery)



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Shutter


If you've ever used the cheapest Rebels (T3, T5), you know their shutter sound is squeaky and toy-like.  They function well and seem to be quite reliable;  it's just that they don't sound so great.

The T6S shutter sounds nothing like that.  It has a much more "precision" sound, and it's relatively quiet.

It also has a silent shutter mode that's even quieter. 

A pleasant-sounding shutter makes the whole photography experience more enjoyable, even if it's hard to quantify.  It feels more like using a piece of high-technology gear, which it really is.


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Touchscreen

Many people will find this to be a highlight.   And though I normally don't like touchscreens, the ability to toggle Servo AF in video mode is very, very useful.   I could see becoming reliant on this feature. 

In the photo, note the "SERVO AF" indicator in the lower left-hand corner of the Live View screen.  That's a touchscreen icon, too.  Just tap it, and you can turn Servo AF on or off.   "Off" will help save batteries when you're not actually recording.







Notice the "D+" for Highlight Tone Priority, which I activated through the Custom Functions area of the menu. ( You can't turn it off or on through the touchscreen.)   There's also an estimate of how much recording time you'll be able to do. 

For still photography I prefer all-button controls, but I can see the use for touchscreens with video.   When you're dealing with a rapidly-changing scene, having the controls superimposed over the Live View picture is going to make things easier.

In case you're curious:  yes, you can access nearly all the camera's settings through the touchscreen, if you really want.  I'm not a big enough fan of touchscreens that I'd want to do that, but you might find this to be something you couldn't do without.



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Video


With the control layout and the video AF, it's clear that Canon designed this camera for video shooters.

So far, I haven't seen this camera do the annoying feature where it stops video recording when there's plenty of battery life and memory card space.   (I've seen other Canon DSLR's do that.)

There is one major annoyance with the T6S when doing video.  Live View shuts off too soon if it thinks you're not using it.  Problem is, the camera's definition of "using it" is actual recording. 

So, if you're trying to set up the scene, focusing a bit here and there, etc., the camera will shut off Live View if too much time elapses.

I have not timed it yet, but it seems like way too short an interval.   Don't think it's going to be the T6S alone that does this, though;  I think a lot of this has to do with conserving battery power.  We all want a camera that can do ten zillion awesome things, yet has infinite battery life.   There have to be design tradeoffs somewhere. 

Besides, the only time this really gets annoying is when you're using a tripod.  Everyone else will just be recording already.

I haven't yet figured out how to extend the Live View power-off delay, and I'm not sure it's even possible.  It seems to be a separate function from camera power-off delay. 


Encoding & Bit Rate

If you're wondering about the lower bitrate on the T6S compared to other Canon DSLR's, be sure to read this article.    

Video from this camera looks great.  The use of MP4 instead of MOV is an upgrade as far as I'm concerned, not a downgrade;  that's because MP4 is a universal standard.   By the way, if we're going to start comparing bitrates without taking anything else into account, consider this.  At about 29 Mbit/sec, that's at the upper end of high-definition TV bitrates.

Canon has implemented a change in the file container, not the actual codec.    It's still MPEG-4 AVC / H.264.

MP4 files are a natural for YouTube, although on Youtube you really don't need more than 720p video right now.  This camera can do 1080.

Both the T6S and the 70D can do up to 1080p @ about 30 fps.  You're not going to find much better than that in the Canon line right now, unless you step up to the 1DC, which costs somewhere about ten thousand USD. 


T6S vs. 70D for video? 

The T6S will be easier to manage than the 70D for hand-held, but it's also great for small tripods when you're doing video, especially with a pancake lens.  A weight difference of about 200 grams might not seem like much, but that's headed toward half a pound.  Use it for a few hours, or all day, and the difference in weight will matter.

The 70D has the advantage of dual-pixel AF.  The T6S is therefore not quite as fast as the 70D for video AF, but it's way faster than any of the previous Rebel models, the 60D, the original 7D, and so on.   And, there's that weight thing again.

Bottom line:  you can actually autofocus meaningfully while making a video with the T6S.  This is kind of a big deal.   I still prefer manual focus for a lot of video situations, but the T6S is good enough that I think I will actually use the autofocus.  

Remember that shuddering, lurching video AF on previous Rebels?  You won't find that on the T6S, thankfully.  Use an STM lens (that includes the 18-135 kit lens) and it's smooth sailing.  Other lenses will not perform as well.

If your subjects are running around while you're trying to make home movies, then the choices in a Canon DSLR are pretty clear:  get yourself either the T6S (here) or the 70D (here). 


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Canon T6S vs. T6i

Here's a quick rundown of features:


Canon T6S
Canon T6i
Autofocus points
19
19
Cross-type AF points
19
19
Continuous shooting speed (fps)
5
5
Custom mode slots (C1, C2, etc.)
None
None
Electronic Level
Yes
No
Eye-Sensing Viewfinder?
Yes
No
Hybrid CMOS AF III?
Yes
Yes
ISO (maximum)
12800
12800
Megapixels
24.2
24.2
Quick Control Dial on back of camera?
Yes
No
Top-panel LCD?
Yes
No
Touchscreen?
Yes
Yes

Features such as the control placement, the top-panel LCD, and the electronic level are more significant than they might appear at first.  If you do much landscape or nature photography, they become even more important.


Goin' Out to Photograph Some Lightnin'


The top LCD on the T6S puts it in good company with the 5D3, 6D, 70D, etc.
Amber backlit, too.  You will be glad you have this when it's forty minutes after sunset.



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The Best Rebel DSLR

Canon's decision to include pro features with a Rebel seems to me a good idea.  They didn't add every pro feature, but it works.

Had they enlarged the viewfinder, this camera would probably compete a little too much with the 70D.   If you use a Rebel for long enough, it's easy to overlook the small viewfinder anyway.  

The T6S is something of an innovation in Canon DSLR's.  It's not that it has some radically-new feature that never existed anywhere (although it sort of does);  it's that it combines the best of both worlds into a highly usable, enjoyable camera.  It's not quite going to replace a 70D for everything... but for some uses, it definitely will.

The extra features, the control layout, and the image quality make the T6S the best Canon Rebel DSLR yet.  

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The Canon Rebel T6S with 40mm Pancake




Conclusion

While the Canon Rebel T6S doesn't have the spacious viewfinder of the 70D, it does have a number of other "pro" features.  And it's all packed into this light, compact little DSLR that you'll just want to take everywhere.

Is this camera worth getting?  I would say yes, absolutely.   Rather than being just another small increment in the TXi series, the T6S represents a leap.   Because of its features, image quality, and overall handling, the Rebel T6S actually feels like a satisfactory destination, rather than just a stop along the way. 

If you found this review helpful, please help me keep this website on-line by purchasing your gear through the links on here.  Your help is much appreciated.

As always, thanks for visiting my website. 





              


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