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.
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.
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.
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