What’s up guys, Sagi here and welcome to another Tech Gear Talk. The Canon SL2 was released in June of 2017, and was one of the most popular cameras of 2018, but is it still worth getting in 2019? There are so many cameras coming out and there’s always the latest and greatest thing on the market but sometimes it makes sense to take a step back and look at what would work for you, rather than just getting the newest available toy. There are things I love about the SL2, or 200D depending on where you live, and there are somethings that I wish were different so let’s take a closer look and see if it’s still a great option in 2019. When I heard that Canon has a small and light full DSLR I knew I had to pick it up. I shoot all of my videos with Canon C100MKII’s but they aren’t the best or easiest to use options for vlogging or content creation – and they can’t even shoot stills. And I’ll just use the term create content as shorthand for both photography and video. Ok, enough about that, let’s get started.
One of things I love about the SL2 is that it natively accepts all of Canon’s EF-S and EF mount lenses. No adapter, not extra costs, just take whatever lens you want, slap it on and start shooting. Canon is known for having a phenomenal line of DSLR lenses and the SL2 supports them all. That means that I can start with something like the 18-55mm STM kit lens with comes with image stabilization btw – and build from there. This is actually the lens that I recommend almost all beginners start with before they go spending money on lenses that they don’t need. It give you a nice focal range to work with and will help you realize whether you need or want wider angle, a macro lens for those amazing closeup shots, a longer focal length for more zoom or maybe a faster lens for shallower depth of field and better low-light performance. One of the best things about buying a Canon DSLR is that there are a lot of options at difference price points. This of course includes all of the L-series USM glass from Canon… which…while some of them cost many times the price of the body of this camera, the SL2 can accommodate them with no problem and get fantastic results. By the way, I did a much more detailed review and I’ll link to in the corner and in the description, so if you’re interested in learning more about the specs and features of the SL2, go ahead, pause this video and come back when you’re done – or just watch it later.
I’ve been using the SL2 for quite a while now and one of the things that first attracted me to the it was it’s size and weight. Look, a lot of it is about removing friction; what’s getting in the way of you creating content. This camera is SO light, I mean SOOO light. It’s less than a pound. And even after adding a battery, memory card and the 18-55mm lens I told you about it’s still well under 2 lbs. That’s absurd. If you’re already own a camera then you know this, and if you don’t own one, I’m going to tell you, but one of the main reasons why people don’t end up taking their gear with them is because it’s big and heavy. If you’re going to go on a hike or on a trip, every single thing you take with you adds size and weight. And no camera is going to work for you if you don’t take it with you. So having a camera that’s small and light is a huge bonus and makes it much more likely you’ll have it with you and you’ll create more content. I’m also going to mention that the SL2 has a really deep grip for a camera of this size, so it’s not as challenging to handle as some small mirrorless cameras are. This is always on a continuum and I think there is a really nice balance here for how I would use the SL2.
Sticking with the idea of removing friction, the SL2 is very easy to use. The Canon user interface is pretty straight forward and that’s something else that I think people sometimes overlook when they choose a camera. If you can’t figure out how to use your gear, or even if you have figured it out but the ergonomics just aren’t what you like, you’re more likely to get frustrated, miss your shot and end up not liking your gear. While the SL2 only has one dial at the top, they were pretty clever with the design of the controls on the back. You can very quickly change shutterspeed, aperture and ISO without having to monkey around too much. If I’m comparing it to some higher end models, sure, it’s nice to be able to have more controls but I don’t evaluate products in a vacuum and my expectations are adjusted for the price. Another thing that easy to use is the menu system. This includes both the liveview overlay and the Settings menu. Both are simple to navigate and clearly marked, again leading to a better user experience.
One of the features that makes the SL2 so user friendly is the full touch screen. We’re all so used to interacting with our mobile phones and a touch screen is such an intuitive user interface. I’ve used so many cameras that cost a high multiple of what the SL2 does and don’t have a fully functioning touch screen. Some don’t have a touch screen at all, and some have a touch screen that only works for focus, or focus and playback, but not for changing settings. This amazes me. With all the incredible tech that some of these cameras have, they didn’t take the time or put in the effort to implement a touch screen. But back to the SL2, killer touch screen. It works for everything. Focus, liveview options, Settings menu and playback – that’s what I’m talking about. And while we’re on the subject of the screen, the SL2 has a fully articulating screen. Again, I’ve used cameras that cost thousands of dollars more than the SL2 and they don’t have a fully articulating screen. This is such an important feature for me, for so many reasons. First, if I’m in front of the camera, I can turn it to face me, and I can see that I’m in focus and that my shot is framed just how I want it.
Next, if I’m using the camera on a tripod, on a slider, or on the ground, I can always position the screen it a way that makes it super easy for me to see what’s going on. These are the types of things that you may not think about, until after you buy a camera, but you should, because they make a huge difference.
Since I just mentioned autofocus, let’s talk about it – and it shouldn’t take long, because the SL2 uses Canon’s amazing Duel Pixel Autofocus. The fact that you can get that for under $500 is nuts. Like, I know for a fact that if I turn on Face Detection and subject tracking, the SL2 will auto-detect my face and keep me in focus, regardless of where I move. And when I say “I know” I mean it, I don’t actually worry about it ever. It’s nice to have the screen facing me and it’s comforting to see the square follow me around the screen, but it never fails so I’ve learned to trust it. Another cool thing is that I can select an object, not just a face. So I can point it a my Macy for example and I know it will follow her wherever she goes. Like I said, short section – Duel Pixel AF is awesome – end of story.
Another thing I like about the SL2 is the famous Canon color- and a lot of people think that Canon has the best color science out there. I’m going to admit that there may be an element of bias here. Some people may prefer the Sony or Fuji “look”. Or maybe the way a panasonic looks – ultimately this is subjective. But for me, to get footage that I can just take right out of the camera and use, I’m really happy with the SL2. As far as image quality, I think the SL2 can produce some fantastic photos and video. Here are a couple of samples to give an idea of what you can expect.
Every day I get questions in the comments section where I’m asked to recommend a camera or to help someone choose between a few cameras they have narrowed their search down to. And if the main use of the camera is video then I think an external mic input is critical, unless you’re only using a camera for b-roll. No built-in microphone on a camera is going to give you great audio, especially in situations where you can completely control the surrounding noise and are not in a sound treated room – which pretty much means always. With an external mic input like on the SL2 you can attach any number of great microphones and significantly improve your overall sound quality. So back to comparing cameras, I think this is something that you should consider if you’re going to use the camera and the audio the camera is recording. Of course you can use an external recorder, and then synch the audio with the video in Post, but we already discussed removing friction, and that’s just more gear and more money.
Moving on, one of my favorite features of the SL2 is the ability to shoot in-body timelapse. There is a movie move that will allow you to shoot full-hd, or 1080P timelapse video, right in camera. All you need to do is enable it in settings, select an interval (or how much time should pass between each shot), the total number of shots you want the SL2 to take, and whether you want the exposure to change with each shot or not and then hit the shutter. You can also decide if you want the LCD re show you every exposure and if you want the camera to beep with each shot. If you turn off the LCD you can save battery life for longer exposures. So this is a great feature to have at your disposal and allows you to get another type of shot in your videos.
Another fantastic feature about the SL2 is remove control for both photography and video using the Canon Camera Connect app. There are so many great uses for this feature. But essentially what you do is connect your camera to your phone, and then you can use your phone as a remote monitor and control. For video, you can change pretty much any setting you need, get your exposure just right, make sure you’re framed correctly and are in focus, then start and stop your video. For photography, again, you can lock in your exposure and then trigger the camera remotely. This is a fantastic feature for macro photography, where you don’t even want to touch the shutter button so that you don’t create any camera movement. Once you have your images and video, you can wirelessly move both to you phone, make a quick edit (or not) and then share them. This is such a better workflow then having to take the SD card out, move everything to your computer, then figuring out how to it on your phone. This is something I would definitely look for.
Ok, now I’m going to get into a sticky subject and talk about value. Notice that I didn’t say price, I said value. A lot of people say that camera is expensive or that camera is cheap. I look at value. For the price of the camera, am I getting a feature set and performance that I think is a good value. And in this case, the answer is a straight yes. Just think of everything that I said up to this point in this video.
Until this point in the article, I only mentioned things I like about the SL2. But you know that I’m always going to tell you exactly what I think of a product, so let’s look at the bad. And for the price, there isn’t much. Would I like to see 4K? Of course, would I like to see 120fps, even at 720p, I guess,. Would In-body Image Stabilization be nice? Absolutely. I would also like another dial on the back or maybe slightly reposition one of the buttons on the back, but that’s really not something I’m going to cry about for $500. Are there better cameras out there? 100% – in fact, there are a lot of better cameras out there. But are there cameras that are a better value for beginner photographers and for content creators? That list is going to be pretty short.
No 4K, no IBIS and no 120fps but incredible autofocus, an unbelievable lens selection, great color and image quality, a fully articulating touch screen, in-body timelapse and full remote control, all in an inexpensive, small and light DSLR – yes please. So to answer the question I posed in the beginning, I think the SL2 is still a great option in 2019 but I would love to know what you think. Whether you agree or disagree with me, I’m always happy to have a discussion in the comment section. So let me know, do you think the SL2 is still a good option in 2019?
I really hope this article is useful in helping you decide whether the SL2 is a good camera to get in 2019. 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.
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You know what I always say, buy it nice or buy it twice!
Good luck and see you soon.