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Canon SL3 (250d) Ultimate Review

What’s up guys, Sagi here and welcome to another Tech Gear Talk. Today we’re going to take a look at the new Canon SL3, or 250d, depending on where you’re from. I was super excited when Canon announced that the SL3 is being released and today we’ll go over the features and functions of this camera and see if it’s a good fit for what you need. This is the latest release in Canon’s entry-level DSLR line, and there are some really exciting new features that I can’t wait to tell you about. At the same time, there are some areas where I wish Canon had done more.

Let’s go over some key features before we get into the detailed review:

  • The SL3 has a 24.1MP APS-C CMOS Sensor and uses the DIGIC 8 Image processor
  • It shoots at 4k at 24 or 25 fps and 1080p or full HD at up to 60fps.
  • Uses Canon’s awesome Dual Pixel Autofocus and can shoot photos continuously at up to 5fps
  • It has a 3” 1.05m dot fully-articulating or Vari-Angle Touchscreen and it can shoot in-body 4K Time-Lapse movies.
  • Finally, it can be fully controlled with the Canon Camera Connect App.

The SL3 is the updated version of the SL2 or 200d so let’s take a look at what Canon added to this new release.

Sensor Size and Processor

The SL3 comes with a really nice 24.1MP APS-C CMOS sensor which is the same sensor used in the SL2. So we can expect to get the same type of performance in a similarly sized body. This APS-C sensor is an excellent option for both photography and video and we have a flexible native ISO of 100-25600 which allows us to work in different lighting conditions. If you’re a hobbyist photographer, or are looking to create video for YouTube, the SL3 is going to give you really nice and crisp video and of course we have that excellent Canon color science. That was the sensor, let’s talk a little about the processor, and with the SL3, Canon opted for the newer DIGIC 8 processor. This is one of the upgrades from the SL2 which used the DIGIC 7. And this newer processor combined with the nice APS-C sensor gives you sharper video and images and helps minimize noise and improve clarity for better low light performance. The DIGIC 8 also makes the camera operate nice and responsively for both video and stills. Startup time is fast, image preview is quick, video playback is fast and general menu operation and feature selection is also nice and fast. For photography, the DIGIC 8 allows the SL3 to have 5fps burst, or continuous, shooting in both jpeg and RAW. Now for jpegs, it will give you unlimited exposures, so basically you can hold the shutter down and it will shoot until the card is full. For RAW, you can get up to 10 exposures. So this is a feature I use all the time. I can just hold down the shutter and the camera will just keep firing. This is an excellent feature if you’re photographing kids running around, your pets, if you’re at a sporting event, or anytime when you’re shooting fast moving subjects. Now, the more exposures per second you have, the more likely you are to get the shot you want and I was hoping that the SL3 will shoot at 10fps like the M50, but no luck.

Ergonomics & Battery

In terms of ergonomics, the SL3 is very similar to the SL2. The lines are a little sharper but the feel is essentially identical. The only 2 differences I noticed is the mode dial at the top no longer contains a No Flash and Creative Auto mode; and that the flash is now triggered with a small flange, rather than a flash-release button. The SL3 is the same size and a tiny bit lighter, something like 4 grams which is not something you’re going to notice. This is one of the strengths of this camera because you’re getting a versatile and powerful camera in a small and light form factor. I also like that it’s not too small – some cameras almost feel like a toy and are a little more difficult for me to handle.

One of the strengths of the SL2 was the battery life, and the SL2 was rated for 650 shots. Canon took another big step here and even though it uses the same battery, the SL3 is rated for 1070 shots which is pretty insane. It definitely means that you can shoot all day with one battery and I love the fact that I don’t need to carry a spare battery. I usually get one anyway, especially with how much video I shoot, and it’s nice to see that I can re-use my SL2 batteries. The SL3 also has an optical viewfinder which helps preserve the battery when you’re not shooting images in livemode.

Lens Options

Alright, let’s move to lens options which is something else that makes the SL3 an excellent choice. The SL3 can natively accept both Canon EF and EF-S mount lenses which means you are able to use the entire line of Canon lenses without needing an adapter. I started out with the 18-55mm STM IS, sometimes called a “kit” lens. This is a great first lens, gives you a nice focal range to work with and comes with Image Stabilization and the newer STM autofocus motor. One of the best things about buying Canon cameras is that there are a lot of lens options. So if you want to go even wider, you can pick up a 10-18mm lens, there is also a 55-250 if you want to more zoom for shooting subjects that are at a distance. I’ll link to another video I did which will give you lens recommendations for different aspects of photography. The important thing is that you have options and you’re not stuck with a fixed lens. That means that you can start out with something like the kit lens and then continue to build on this camera body as your needs change. One thing I wanted to mention is that since the SL3 uses an APS-C sensor, there is a crop factor or 1.6x. This means that that if you want to get the 35mm equivalent of any lens, you have to take the focal length on the lens and multiple it by 1.6. For example, this lens is a 18-55, which when I multiply it by 1.6 actually makes it a 29-88mm equivalent on a full frame sensor camera. And I just wanted to reiterate that I love being able to use all of my high-end L-series lenses with such a small and light body.

Resolution and Framerate

Photography

Next I want to talk about resolution, framerates and image quality. For stills, the SL3 has a maximum resolution of 6000 x 4000 which is more than what most people ever use. As I mentioned before, it can shoot in both JPEG and RAW, but with the SL3 we get the new .CR3 RAW file format which provides improvements, including a 40% smaller file size in C-RAW (compressed RAW) format. The image quality is similar to the SL2 and I’ll be publishing a detailed another video comparing image quality and low-light performance, so if you’re interested and you don’t see the link up in the corner or in the description, hit the subscribe and notification buttons. I love the images I get form the SL3, the colors are true and the images are clean and crisp.

Video

For Video, the SL3 can record 4k video at 24 and 25 fps which makes the SL3 the first Rebel camera to offer 4k video, but there are some limitations which I will discuss in a bit. The SL3 and also shoot video at FULL HD, or 1080P at 25, 30, 50 and 60 fps. And I’m almost speechless here because Canon took away the option to shoot 24fps at Full HD. In case you’re not familiar with framerates, it comes down to what kind of look you prefer to have for your video. If you like a more cinematic look, you can go with 24fps and if you like a sharper more crisp look you can shoot at 60fps. If you edit your videos at 30 fps like I do, you can play your 60fps SL3 footage at 30fps and you can slow things down by 50%. So removing the 24fps option for 1080p is, well… I don’t even know. I usually can think of a reason why a company chooses to hold a feature back, but this is just a really strange move. It’s not like the sensor can’t handle it, it’s not something they would be “saving” for higher-end models, since pretty much every DSLR and Mirrorless camera they put out in the past bunch of years has had this capability. I really hope it was like Friday at 4:30 and someone was typing up the last document before leaving for the weekend and they just forgot to add it. Hopefully it’s something they can take care of with a firmware upgrade. I wasn’t expecting to get 120fps at Full HD because Canon doesn’t offer that on any consumer camera, but I’m surprised they didn’t include 120fps @ 720p like on the M50. So slow motion is still an area where Canon is lagging behind the competition. So definitely some peculiar choices here.

In terms of image quality, the Full HD video is very good for this type of camera. The footage is crisp, the colors are great and I’m super happy with what I get right out of the camera. Going back to 4k, I wanted to mention some of the limitations. As I mentioned earlier, the SL3 can shoot 4k at 24/25 fps but like the Canon M50, there is an additional 1.6x crop. That means that if we take the wide angle extreme of the 18-55mm kit lens, and we shoot at 18mm – we have the APS-C crop factor of 1.6x and on top of that the 4k crop factor of 1.6x, so we now getting a field of view of about 46mm. This is something that you need to be aware of because you will either need to get much wider lenses, or you will need to move your camera farther away from your subject to allow for this. This is not something I really mind on an entry-level camera as much as I do on something like the much more expensive EOS R – which has a similar crop factor in 4K (but is a full frame sensor camera so it’s not quite as restrictive) There is one other restriction with the 4k footage which I will discuss in the next section. And by the way, if you’re looking to get cinematic footage, check out the tutorial up in the corner and in the description. One of the best upgrades we have with the SL3 is that it has a clean HDMI. This means that we can now livestream with the SL3 while using autofocus and we won’t get the white square in our frame like we did with the SL2. So if you’re someone who wants to use this camera for streaming, you can just use the HDMI out right into your capture card and you’re good to go.

You can also record 4:2:2 10bit video externally and get amazing footage with more information to use when color correcting and grading your footage. It’s possible that not a lot of people will take advantage of this feature, but if you’re using the SL3 for video, that’s definitely something you should look into. Once again though, we see some strange limitations. In 4k, you can record in 24/30 fps, but for 1080p you can only record externally at 60fps. And I don’t know that this will actually matter to the majority of SL3 users, but I just don’t understand why.

Autofocus

Alright, next, let’s talk about autofocus which has always been a strong suit for Canon. If you’ve watched any of my Canon reviews you’ve already heard of Canon’s Dual Pixel autofocus. This is probably the best autofocus system on the market and is outstanding for both photography (in live view) and video. I’ve been using it for years on my Canon DSLRs, mirrorless and cinema cameras and it’s just so good. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again, I do not worry about focus when using the Dual Pixel AF system. I can just hold the camera up facing me, and I know even without looking that the SL3 identified my face, put a little white square around it, and will now track it and keep it in focus even if I move. It’s not going to hunt or anything silly like that and for me, autofocus is right there toward at the top of the list in terms of priorities. This face detection is a great feature for video whether you’re shooting interview-style videos, if you’re vlogging or if you’re just using it to shoot video of your family.

You can also have the SL3 track a subject by clicking on it. Once the subject has been identified by the camera, you’ll see a white square around it and the Dual Pixel AF system will keep adjusting focus as it moves through the frame. You can can also have the camera rack focus from you from one subject to another. So I can have the focus point in one area, then simply click on something else in the frame, and the SL3 will rack focus for me. There’s no messing around with manual focus and trying to do this by hand, you just click and it’s done. One thing that is disappointing about the SL3 is that it does not use the Dual Pixel Autofocus System when shooting in 4k.

For photography, you can use the optical viewfinder with a 9-point phase-detection autofocus system where the center point is a cross-type AF point. I was hoping to see this number go up from nine, but I think Canon is saving that for some of their higher-end models. If I want to use the Dual Pixel autofocus for stills, I can use the LCD to set focus. I can also trigger the shot from the LCD, so I can click on a subject and the SL3 will quickly attain critical focus and then take the shot. An awesome new feature in the SL3 is eye-detection autofocus which can be used to prioritize focus on the subject’s eye. This is a great feature for portraits where you no longer have to worry about where the focus point is, and we’re getting a more precise focus-point on the eye, rather than just the face. This feature also works when shooting video in both 4k and full HD so as long as your subject is facing the camera both face and eye-detection work great. For multiple faces in the same shot, you can use the right and left arrows to select a different subject. If eye detection is on, you can use the arrows to switch between the subject’s eyes.

Fully Articulating Screen

Next I want to discuss the SL3’s a fully articulating touch screen which I absolutely love for both photography and video. I love being able to position the screen just how I want it whether I’m behind the camera, below it, above or to the side. And I’ll give you some practical examples. When I need to shoot over a group of people, or the camera is on a tripod I can easily point the screen down, all the way to 90 degrees so that I can always easily frame my shot. If I’m on a slider or photographing from the hip, I can have the screen pointed up. And if I’m doing product photography or are working on a slider, I can point the screen to either side to accommodate for different conditions. Finally, if I’m in front of the camera, I can just flip it 180 degrees to the side, and I can always see just how I’m framed and that the SL3 has me in focus. It’s crazy to me that not every single dslr and mirrorless camera has a fully articulating screen, and here we have an entry level camera with this feature.

Next, the screen is a full touch screen – so unlike some brands where you might only be able to use the screen for focus, or for focus and setting but not the menu, you can control everything on the SL3 with the touchscreen. We use phones and other touch enabled devices every day and it’s great to be able to use the menu, change exposure, select settings and set focus. Like on the SL2, when you’re shooting photos you can either use the screen in liveview and then tap to focus and shoot. Or you can Turn liveview off and then you’ll different functions based on what mode you’re in. If you’re in full manual mode you’ll see your shutter speed, aperture and ISO. If you’re in shutter-priority or aperture priority you’ll see those settings as well as some others like exposure compensation, whether you’re in single, continuous or self-timer modes, which of the 9 focus point positions you have selected and the focus preset you selected. The screen is nice and bright and worked great for me when shooting photos and video indoor and outdoors.

WIFI/Bluetooth/NFC

Let’s move on to connectivity The SL3 also has built in Wi-Fi which lets you easily pair the camera with a smartphone or tablet so you can wirelessly share images and movies. This is awesome for when you’re doing a shoot and maybe you took some stills that you quickly want to post to Instagram or Facebook, you can quickly transfer them to your phone, give them a quick edit and post them. With bluetooth you can both share images and remote control the camera from a mobile device using the camera connect app. That’s huge when you’re working alone, you can literally use your phone as a remote monitor. There is a slight delay but it’s an awesome feature and one that I use all the time when I’m shooting alone. For photography, I like to use this feature for macro photography, so I can take a picture without having to touch the camera.

Additional Features

I also want to talk about some additional features that the SL3 has that may help you make a buying decision. I’m going to start out with one of my favorites which is in-body timelapse. This is something that I absolutely love and use all the time in the Canon cameras that offer it. Just like the SL2, we still have a Full HD (1080p) timelapse option, but in addition to that the SL3 has a 4k timelapse mode which is awesome. As usual, Canon made this very simple, you just select the interval in seconds, which is how long you want it to wait between each exposure. You then select how many exposures you want it to take and this will control how long your final timelapse video will be. Finally, you select whether you want the SL3 to expose for each shot or keep the exposure settings from the first shot and use them for all subsequent shots. What’s great about this is that you don’t need to take individual photos and then process them yourself in Post. When the camera is finished taking pictures, it will compile the timelapse for you and it’s ready to be viewed. Next I want to talk about the microphone – the SL3 of course has a built-in stereo microphone, but if you’re looking to up your production value, there is also an external mic input which lets you connect an external microphone and then get much better audio right in-camera. I also want to mention the new Smooth Skin mode which offers five levels of skin smoothing to help reduce blemishes and make subjects’ skin appear soft. So this is a nice feature if you don’t plan on doing anything in post production.

Next I want to discuss the hotshoe functionality. This is not something that I would normally discuss because it’s pretty straightforward, but there is a little wrinkle here. With the SL3, Canon removed the center pin so now the SL3 is not compatible with most third-party flashes or accessories.

Skill Level

Ok so we talked about some of the functions and features, but who do I think the SL3 right for? It’s definitely an entry-level camera and it’s designed in a way that makes it very simple to use. If you’re a beginner, you can just set everything to auto, turn it on and start shooting. There are a lot of presets and scene modes that will help you get better shots. Something really nice for beginner photographers and videographers who are wanting to learn more, is that again, Canon included the Feature Assistant. So when you’re shooting using the viewfinder, the Feature Assistant will actually teach you how to use the SL3 better. It will show you examples of what changing your aperture will do and then the same with shutterspeed. It’s also going to explain why you’d want to use certain shooting modes and what exactly is being changed and you select a different aperture or shutterspeed. If you have questions about how to achieve a proper exposure, I’ll link to a tutorial up in the corner and in the description.

For more advanced users, there is a ton of manual control that you can have for both video and photography. So you can put the SL3 in manual mode and then set aperture, shutterpeed and ISO to get the exposure you want. I’m also working on a step-by-step tutorial about the setup and explanation of every dial and button on the SL3 so if you don’t see a link up in the corner or in the description, hit the subscribe and notification buttons so that you’re alerted when it’s published.

Conclusion

Alright so to recap, the SL3 is a great entry-level camera from Canon. If you’re looking for a full-featured small dslr for photography and video this is definitely an option that you should. I love how small and light it is, it has a proven APS-C sensor and the new DIGIC 8 processor. You can shoot great 24MP images and there are built-in scene modes to help beginners get better images. We have the excellent dual pixel autofocus which now comes with eye detection. For video 4k video at 24/30 fps and we can also shoot nice and crisp Full HD or 1080p at up to 60fps and remember that there isn’t an option for 24 fps. There is an awesome 3” fully articulating screen which is great for both photography and video. The new 4k timelapse feature makes it super easy to quickly in-camera 4k timelapse and the I love the clean HDMI out and the ability to externally record at 10 bit 4:2:2 for additional flexibility in Post.

If you have any questions, drop them in the comment section, I do my best to answer all of my comments. I really hope this review of the Canon SL3 /350d was helpful. If it was, please let me know by leaving a comment, sharing it, and if you haven’t yet join our community by hitting the subscribe and notification buttons on my YouTube.

You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @techgeartalk.

You know what I always say, buy it nice or buy it twice!

Good luck and see you soon.

I did a more detailed review of the #canonsl2 https://youtu.be/WEQtH8hh8dM so check it out if you’re interested in more detail.

If you’re looking to shoot video with the SL2, here is a cinematic look tutorial: https://youtu.be/B0o7MocgVBQ

Canon SL3 (200d) playlist:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9Y8hNm43poLbXyxQNNyvQndf4DS0BSES

Microphones comparison for Canon SL3:

Complete Review: https://youtu.be/hE84RCziiv8

Best Lenses for the Canon SL3:

https://youtu.be/UUPqjPs5Iw8

Canon SL3:

Body only (black): https://geni.us/NGYRlw
Body with 18-55mm Lens (black): https://geni.us/uZjitz
Body with 18-55mm Lens (white): https://geni.us/uZjitz
Body with 18-55mm & 55-250mm Lenses: https://geni.us/LvrLZ

Microphones for Canon SL3:

Rode VideoMicro: https://geni.us/rode-videomicro
Rode VideoMic GO: https://geni.us/rode-videomic-go
Rode VideoMic Pro: https://geni.us/rode-videomic-pro
Rode VideoMic Pro Plus: https://geni.us/9HSlB

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