There are so many cameras on the market. Sometimes, they are very similar and other times they offer more unique feature sets.
On top of the never-ending list of options, the price range for video cameras is wide, as well. We cover cameras that cost as much as 10,000 dollars or more, but not all of us are able to afford that. Enter in the Canon EOS Rebel T7i. Body only, it’s 750 bucks! It’s not a camera with a bunch of party tricks. Rather, it’s simply a DSLR that shoots video, but that’s what makes it affordable.
If you haven’t heard of the Rebel line, you must be hiding under a rock. Whenever I am traveling, I try to pay attention to what cameras everyone is using. Sure, when we are at NAB, I see everyone lugging around high-end gear. Outside of industry trade shows, I see Rebels everywhere. Let’s face it, it’s unlikely they would have seven versions of an unpopular camera. In today’s marketplace, 4K is making its way into just about every price bracket, but as we see with the T7i, for sub-1000 dollar cameras, it’s not a given.
The T7i is a DSLR that accepts EF and EF-S mount lenses. That means it can use high-end EF lenses if you so wish. It has a large sensor for its price. You’ll get a 1.6 times crop with its APS-C sensor. It shoots up to 60 frames per second in full HD — that’s more than a two times slow-mo when played back at 24p.
Although this camera offers plenty of options, one of the most important for this price point is the flip out screen.
Although this camera offers plenty of options, one of the most important for this price point is the flip out screen. Consider trying to shoot a vlog with a camera that doesn’t have a flip out screen. Your selfie game would be weak, but flip out the monitor and — boom — you can make sure you look your best. Setting up your field of view and framing is easy to do once you can see your shot. The flip out screen is also helpful for focus and exposure.
It’s only slightly smaller than its big brother cameras, the Canon 80D, 7D and 5D, for instance. However, it’s a bit simplified from the more feature-rich options Canon offers. For instance, only one dial is shared for aperture, shutter speed and ISO control. Because of this, when shooting manual, changing the exposure takes more time. We recommend shooting manual exposure, but, with only one dial, you might choose to shoot in auto. If having easier access to your exposure control is important to you, look to the 77D, as it offers another dial and top display to easily see its settings.
Another issue you might run into with this camera is that it has a shared headphone and mic jack. If you want your audio to turn out right, being able to listen as you record is paramount. When monitoring your audio as you capture isn’t possible, like in this situation, you’ll need a different solution. For a simple work around, shoot a test shot, and play it back. Listen to the playback to verify the audio is as you want it. Make sure before you leave the set that all the audio is usable. This will take more time on the shoot, so be prepared for that.
Let the testing begin!
First, we started out testing out the low-light capabilities. What we were looking for is at what ISO the noise in the picture becomes unusable by professional standards. To evaluate its low light performance, we set the camera at ISO 100, adjusting the shutter and aperture for proper exposure. How much noise the picture has will be dependant on the ISO control. We doubled the ISO to ISO 200 and adjusted the shutter speed to correct for the additional light. We began to see noise at ISO 400. Although it was visible, it wasn’t distracting. It wasn’t significant enough to worry about. It wasn’t till we got to ISO 1600 that we saw too much noise for any professional venture.
What kind of lighting situations will have you pushing the ISO to 1600? Any time there isn’t ample light, getting to ISO 1600 will almost be a given. In that sense, the amount of noise at 1600 ISO is disappointing. However, outside or indoors with even the smallest amount of natural sunlight, ISO 1600 will be more rare. Only in times where a fast shutter speed is needed, or with a small aperture, will you need to push the ISO level. Consider what lens you buy for this camera, as lenses with a minimum aperture of above f/5.6 will be difficult to use without having to worry about noise.
Canon’s DSLR cameras aren’t known for a wide dynamic range, and the T7i continues that tradition. However, we were not disappointed with how much dynamic range it had; it was acceptable. While shooting in the afternoon sun when shadows are at their longest, the T7i required us to settle with an imperfect exposure to still be able to see details in the shadows as well as the highlights.
To test for rolling shutter, we set a pole up in our studio. That pole helps us see how significant the rolling shutter is while panning slowly and then quickly. The lighting in the room is soft and even. We placed the camera onto a fluid head tripod and began to pan slowly, then faster. Again this is to see how significant the T7i rolling shutter is. We’re pleased to see that the rolling shutter was not significant. Yes, it was there when whipping the camera around, but how often are you doing that? The need to move the camera that fast doesn’t reflect how most would use their camera. Or at least if you do, it’s rare. Overall, the rolling shutter it does have isn’t worth worrying about.
The battery in the T7i is different from higher priced Canon cameras. The LP-E17, is at least 20 percent smaller than the LP-E6N used by the 80D, 7D and 5D models. With that smaller size, we expected it to not have as long of a battery life. Unlike mirrorless cameras, DSLR’s don’t typically suffer from short battery life. To test the battery life, we put it in its highest resolution and bitrate, then started recording. We made sure to have a large SD card, and away we went. The camera does have a 30 minute record limit, so our test spanned over multiple clips. After testing, we discovered an average battery life with the T7i is two hours, forty minutes. This is a great result.
How’s the picture look?
The T7i creates a nice looking picture as long as you have ample light. Use higher quality lenses, and it’s surprising how nice the picture looks. We would have liked better codecs and formats, but it’s a 750-dollar camera. Sure, we would like 4K, too, but Canon seems unwilling to offer 4K for anyone but the biggest spenders.
The T7i has the Canon look with good contrast and color reproduction. However, try to grade the footage more and you’ll run into adverse effects. The best use would be to set your exposure, make sure your white balance is correct and use the color as its shot. Shoot it right so you won’t need to grade.
Does 4K matter?
The T7i does not shoot in 4K. Like most of Canon’s lineup, HD is all you can hope for. But does it really matter? In the United States, 4K isn’t being broadcast; HD is still the standard. Online 4K can matter, but not in any measurable way. Compression on YouTube is poor. It’s bad enough that upscaled 1080 to UHD 4K will fool almost every viewer. Some say YouTube rewards higher resolution videos, but there isn’t any concrete evidence yet. A nice benefit of 4K is that it allows you to crop in without resolution loss if producing in HD. So do you care about 4K? At this price point, most buying this camera won’t get a huge benefit from shooting in anything higher than HD. That said, in this regard Canon is clearly behind competitive cameras from Sony and Panasonic, not to mention most mid-range smartphones.
Canon has had some great luck with the Rebel product line, and it has been a huge success thus far. But there are other similarly priced products that offer similar options for video shooters. We’re going to take a look at the Panasonic Lumix G7, Sony a6000, Nikon D5600 and Canon 77D.
At 750 dollars, the T7i has competition from every camera manufacturer in the market. Let’s take a look at the Panasonic G7, Sony a6000 and the Nikon D5600. Each camera must shoot at least full HD and be within a couple hundred dollars in price to the T7i.
We’ve had a lot of experience with the Panasonic Lumix G7. It is 800 dollars and is a strong camera. It has a 16 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, a touch screen, shoots up to 4K UHD at 30 and 24 frames per second and has Wi-Fi. The T7i has a larger sensor, but the G7 beats it in video resolution. The G7 has been out for a while now, so it’s likely a new offering from Panasonic could be even more competitive.
Next, let’s look at the Sony a6000 at 550 dollars. The a6000 has been out a while. In fact it has two big brothers the a6300 and the a6500. Yet it still has the minimum requirements to compete with the T7i. The a6000 offers a 24.3 megapixel APS-C sensor, had a tilting LCD screen, can shoot up to 1080p 24/60 fps and has Wi-Fi. The body is smaller due to it being mirrorless, so if heft is valuable to you, make sure to pick up an a6000 to see if you like its size.
Moving on to the Nikon D5600 at 700 dollars, it’s the most apples to apples competitor with the T7i. It offers a 24.2 megapixel DX-Format sensor, a flip out touchscreen, shoots up to 1080p 60 frames per second and offers both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The last option to consider is one from Canon’s product line — the 77D. At only 150 dollars more than the T7i, it’s practically the same camera. The big differences aren’t that big at all. You get one more knob for exposure and a top deck display for quick settings.
Conclusion and Recommendation
The T7i isn’t a groundbreaking camera. It’s an improvement over the T6i, but it’s really more of an update than an improvement. Don’t expect the T7i to offer the same ergonomics and ease of use like that of more costly options, but it has flip out screen. In the end, the picture it creates is equal to its price. For the money, the T7i is a great buy.
Chris Monlux saw the most amazing natural light at dawn in Morocco; it was like a real life Instagram filter. He is also Videomaker’s Multimedia Editor