Despite their low price point ‘entry-level’ cameras are incredibly important for manufacturers. These are the cameras with which the consumer starts their journey with a brand – and many of those consumers will stay with that brand for a very long time.
Because of this, you can get a lot of camera for relatively little money these days. The Canon EOS 1300D (badged as the Rebel T6 in the US) is Canon’s latest entry-level proposition, and it’s available at a great price for beginners, students or anyone new to DSLR photography.
The 1300D doesn’t represent a major upgrade from its predecessor, the EOS 1200D – which itself was hardly a huge overhaul of the 1100D. It seems Canon has once again played it relatively safe with the spec sheet, which helps to keep the camera affordable for those all-important entry-level customers.
The sensor is the same as the 1200D’s at 18 million pixels, while the processor gets a modest upgrade to the Digic 4+ (the 1200D had a standard Digic 4). However, considering that Canon’s latest processor is the Digic 7, the 4+ is still pretty old technology.
The 1300D uses the EF-S lens mount, which is compatible with all of Canon’s EF lens range, so it’s a camera that existing Canon DSLR owners looking for a backup camera may want to consider too.
Several of the other features of the Canon 1300D are the same as in the 1200D. It has the same 9-point autofocusing system, with one central cross-type (more sensitive) point. There’s also a 95% coverage optical viewfinder.
Native sensitivity remains at ISO100-6400, expandable up to 12800, but given the slightly better processor a modest improvement in low-light performance is promised.
One feature that has seen an upgrade is the screen. The 1300D’s LCD is a 3-inch, 920k-dot unit, whereas the 1200D boasted only 460k dots. This upgrade should make viewing images, and using the menus, a more pleasant experience.
The headline new feature for the 1300D is the inclusion of inbuilt Wi-Fi and NFC. This enables you to control the camera from a connected device, such as a smartphone or tablet, and you can send images from the camera to your devices to share quickly online.
As well as the fully automatic and scene shooting modes you’d expect in a camera aimed at novice photographers, there are also manual and semi-auto aperture priority and shutter priority modes, plus the ability to shoot in raw format.
As with the 1200D, the 1300D offers full HD (1920 x 1080) video recording, and you can take manual control of video, with 30, 25 and 24fps frame rates available; not surprisingly for a camera at the price point, there’s no 4K shooting.
Battery life remains at a respectable 500 shots, which should see you through a typical day’s shooting without the need for a recharge.
An obvious competitor to the EOS 1300D is Nikon’s 24 million pixel D3300. That camera offers higher resolution and better battery life (700 shots) and its maximum burst rate of 5fps beats the 1300D’s 3fps.
However, the Nikon is more expensive and doesn’t have inbuilt Wi-Fi or NFC, so which camera you prefer will depend on which specs are most important to you.
The overall design of the 1300D is the same as the 1200D. There’s a textured coating on the chunky front grip and the rear thumb rest, which helps to create an impression of quality higher than that of a typical entry-level camera, making it feel more like a mid-range Canon such as the 750D.
The grip itself is nicely contoured to fit your middle finger when your index finger rests on the shutter release; those with larger hands may find it a little less comfortable to hold, though.
The rear button configuration is easy to understand and get to grips with if this is your first camera, and will be familiar to anyone who’s used a Canon DSLR before, making it equally easy to use as a second camera.
A ‘Q’ or Quick menu button enables you to quickly access and adjust commonly used settings. While there are also dedicated buttons for essential settings such as white balance, autofocus mode, ISO (sensitivity) and exposure compensation, in the case of options such as Image Quality and Picture Style the Quick menu will save you having to delve around in the menus.
A scrolling dial on top of the camera, just behind the shutter button, is ideally placed for making quick changes to aperture or shutter speed, depending on the shooting mode you’re in. If you’re in manual mode you can use the dial to change both – you’ll need to hold down the exposure compensation button at the same time to change the aperture.
There’s no touchscreen on the Canon 1300D, which means that all adjustments to settings need to be made via the physical controls, although there are enough direct access buttons for this not to be a chore.
There’s a button just to the right of the thumb rest for setting the autofocus point. There are just the nine points to choose from, all of which are grouped fairly centrally, so you’ll often have to focus and recompose for subjects that are towards the edge of the frame.
The main dial on the top of the camera enables you to switch between shooting modes, including video mode – there’s no dedicated video button, and selecting video via the dial makes snatching footage on the hoof a little harder than it would be with a separate button.
Next to the viewfinder is the live view button – pressing this enables you to compose shots on the LCD. Autofocus speeds are noticeably slower when using live view, but it’s useful for shooting still life and macro subjects, where the emphasis is on precise focusing rather than speed – you can magnify the view by 5x or 10x for maximum accuracy.
There’s also a dedicated button for selecting the drive mode. Sadly the upgrade to the Digic 4+ processor hasn’t seen a bump in the maximum frame rate – it’s still just 3fp, although this isn’t a camera designed with high-speed action or sports shooting in mind. The buffer capacity has been increased though, and the 1300D can shoot 1100 JPEGs, or a much more modest six raw files, before slowing down.
Canon has stuck with the same viewfinder it used on the 1200D. Although many will argue that optical viewfinders are preferable to electronic viewfinders, one like this, which offers only a 95 percent field of view, leaves you to prone to unwanted objects creeping into the edges of the frame – something that wouldn’t happen with a 100 percent-coverage electronic viewfinder.
The fact that it’s optical rather than electronic also means you can’t see the effects of settings changes in the viewfinder as you make them – something which would be particularly handy for those just starting to get to grips with how a DSLR works.
In terms of in-camera filter effects, there isn’t a huge selection to choose from, which may be a little disappointing to keen Instagrammers who are new to DSLRs. You can, however, select from a range of Picture Styles, which include the usual options such as Landscape and Portrait, and a nice Monochrome effect.
As long as you’re shooting in raw format, when you apply a Picture Style you’ll have a clean version of the image to work with later on if you need it, alongside the processed one. You can also apply filters after you’ve taken a shot, via the playback menu; the camera will save a new JPEG alongside your original.
While Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity aren’t unusual in today’s cameras, their appearance in the EOS 1300D is probably the most significant upgrade over the 1200D.
To use Wi-Fi you’ll need to get the free Canon Camera Connect app for your iOS or Android device, then connect the camera to your device after switching Wi-Fi on in the main menu. Once that’s done you can remotely control the camera, or send images to your device; the intuitive app makes all this quick and easy to do.
If you have an NFC-enabled device, after switching on NFC in the 1300D’s menu you simply need to touch the device against the left hand side of the camera to start the pairing process.
Considering that the 1200D wasn’t exactly revolutionary, we’d been hoping for perhaps a little more from Canon specs-wise with the 1300D. As it is, the camera keeps many of its predecessor’s tried and tested features, but offers nothing particularly new or exciting – although this does mean Canon can offer the 1300D at a price that should be attractive to the prospective purchasers it wants to hook.
The Canon 1300D uses the same sensor as the 1200D, but with the very slightly better Digic 4+ processor rather than the Digic 4. So it’s no surprise that our labs testing indicates that the 1300D performs very similarly to the 1200D.
Image quality is very good, and while those who are new to DSLR shooting should be impressed by what the 1300D is capable of, at such a modest price those using a camera higher up Canon’s range may be tempted to invest in a 1300D as a relatively cheap second body for those occasions when swapping lenses is impractical.
JPEG images display a good level of warmth and saturation direct from the camera, in keeping with what we’ve become used to seeing from cameras across Canon’s range, while Picture Styles are a good way to tweak the tones depending on the subject – you may find, for example, that portraits will benefit from the more muted tones of that preset.
Raw images are a little more subdued than JPEGs, with a bit less contrast, giving you plenty of scope to process files according to your own tastes – you can use either Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software, which is bundled with the 1300D, or a third-party application such as Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom.
Canon’s 18 million pixel sensor has proven to be a capable performer when it comes to detail resolution, in the 1200D and elsewhere, and the overall impression of detail in JPEG images is very good from ISO100 through to ISO3200, with quality only falling away a little when you get to ISO6400.
The expansion setting of ISO12800 is best avoided unless absolutely necessary, as images take on a painterly appearance, with detail smoothing visible even at normal printing sizes.
When processing raw images it’s possible to bring back some of the detail that has been lost at the expense of introducing a little noise. If you’re photographing a high-detail subject though, you may prefer the noise to the loss of detail, so it’s good to have the choice.
Noise isn’t particularly apparent in JPEGs shot at ISO1600, but if you compare a JPEG with the corresponding raw file it’s clear how much noise reduction the camera is applying; and while the results are mostly natural and pleasing, if you’re photographing a particularly detailed subject the processing may be a little over the top for your liking.
Like the 1200D, the EOS 1300D uses Canon’s iFCL metering system. On the whole this does a good job of producing accurate exposures, although, as priority is given to the active AF point, if whatever you’re focusing on is particularly bright or dark this can skew the overall exposure reading; on several occasions I found I needed to dial in a little exposure compensation to get the desired results.
The 1300D’s auto white balance system copes well with a variety of lighting conditions. Under artificial lights, tones look a touch warmer than is accurate; the results aren’t unpleasant, but for maximum accuracy it can be beneficial to switch to a more appropriate setting, such as Fluorescent.
In overcast conditions, the automatic option works well – the Cloudy setting produces images that are a little too warm for my liking.
It seems that the step up to the Digic 4+ processor has boosted operation speeds a touch compared to the 1200D. This means images are marginally quicker to appear in playback mode, although there can still be a noticeable lag if you take several photos in quick succession.
Autofocus speeds are generally very quick in good light, slowing down a little in darker conditions. I’ve been reviewing the 1300D with Canon’s EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens and I’ve encountered no problems, although other lenses may perform differently.
Switching to the AI Servo AF mode enables you to track moving subjects. The 1300D was able to keep up with relatively slow-moving subjects, such as a person walking across a scene, relatively easily, but struggled a little with faster subjects; as I’ve mentioned though, this isn’t claimed to be a camera for sports and action enthusiasts.
At 500 shots the quoted battery life is a little less than that of the rival Nikon D3300, but it’s more than most compact system cameras can offer. Our testing shows that 500 shots is about accurate, and I was able to shoot for several hours without much of a dip in the displayed battery life.
In terms of an upgrade, the Canon EOS 1300D doesn’t offer a whole lot over the 1200D – unless you’re desperate for Wi-Fi functionality, which is useful in certain situations.
There are a couple of other tweaks, including the slightly improved processor and the higher-resolution screen. The former doesn’t add a great deal, apart from marginally quicker processing speeds, while the latter makes for a nicer experience when playing back images or using live view.
These improvements probably don’t warrant an upgrade if you’re using a 1200D, and both cameras represent extremely good value for money; but for a first DSLR it’s worth paying a little extra to get the better specced camera if you’re not on a strict budget.
Image quality from the EOS 1300D is great, although as it’s roughly on par with the two-year-old 1200D it’s nothing particularly revolutionary. But if you’re stepping up from a compact camera or mobile phone photography you’ll be very pleased with what this camera can do, while if you’re using the 1300D as a backup DSLR you should be happy with how closely it matches your main camera for performance.
Detail resolution is good, if not quite as good as from the Nikon D3300 when images are examined closely; however this will only be an issue if you’re printing at very large sizes, or if you regularly photograph very detailed subjects, neither of which is likely to be a priority for most beginners.
The addition of Wi-Fi is welcome, but if you’re looking for something that’s in any way revolutionary you’ll be disappointed, especially if you already own a 1200D.
The viewfinder is bright and clear, but having only a 95 percent field of view can lead to issues when composing images; this limitation isn’t unusual for entry-level DSLRs, but it’s something you need to think about when you take a shot.
The Canon EOS 1300D offers extremely good value for money, and gives beginner photographers a camera they can learn with and progress with at the start of their photography journey.
The images produced are of impressive quality, and despite the fact that it’s ‘just’ an entry-level camera there are a satisfying number of direct access buttons and dials, which make changing settings quick and easy once you’ve got to grips with how everything works.
Like the 1200D before it, the biggest problem with the Canon 1300D is that it’s a little bit underwhelming. In order to continue to offer a great-value product Canon hasn’t added much in the way new technology to this camera, instead relying on an old sensor and an old processor.
It would have been nice to have seen a touchscreen introduced for the 1300D, especially given that many of the intended users will be used to smartphones and tablets, and are likely to miss the ability to touch a screen to change settings, set the focus point and so on.
The Canon EOS 1300D is a great camera for beginners, offering good image quality in a very reasonably priced and easy-to-use package. It’s a solid option for those looking for their first DSLR but who don’t want to lay out too much money, and it will introduce you to both Canon’s EOS ecosystem and to DSLR photography in general, with the hundreds of lenses and accessories these offer.
If you like to shoot macro images or other subjects with extreme levels of detail you might want to consider the Nikon D3300 – but be prepared to spend a little more money.
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