Reviews |Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D Review

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D review
Review

Price when reviewed

£839.99

$749.99
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Our Verdict

Putting aside the limitations imposed upon its 4K video capability, the Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D is a potentially attractive sub-£850/$750 DSLR. Its build is very plasticky and it doesn’t feel very robust, but it’s lightweight and easy to carry with a good control arrangement and excellent touch-control. It also delivers very nice images with a good level of detail in a wide range of conditions, however, its intended audience is likely to be better served by a mirrorless camera.

For

  • Excellent AF systems
  • Vari-angle-touchscreen
  • Compatible with a huge range of lenses and accessories

Against

  • Lightweight but feels very plasticky and not robust
  • Crop applied to 4K video
  • Mirrorless rivals offer more for the money

What is the Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D?

Known as the Canon EOS 850D in Europe and the Canon EOS Rebel T8i in the USA, the Canon 850D is a 24.1Mp DSLR camera that sits towards the entry-level end of Canon’s enthusiast-level camera range.

As a modern DSLR, the Canon T8i /850D has a Live View system which enables images to be composed on the screen on its back, as well as an optical viewfinder. This means that there are sensors dedicated to the autofocusing and exposure metering when the viewfinder is in use. In Live View mode, the T8i’s imaging sensor is used to gather the necessary information.

Although the Canon Rebel T8i /850D  is 4K-enabled, there are a few limitations when this video resolution is selected.

Specification

  • Camera type: Digital SLR
  • Announced: 13th February 2020
  • Sensor: 24.1Mp APS-C (22.3×14.9mm) CMOS
  • Processor: Digic 8
  • Lens mount: EF/EF-S
  • Sensitivity range: Stills: ISO 100-25,600, expandable to ISO 51,200, Movies: ISO 100-12,800 expandable to ISO 25,600
  • Autofocus system: Viewfinder: 45 cross-type AF points (45 f/5.6 cross-type AF points, 27 f/8 points (9 cross-type), centre point is f/2.8 and f/5.6 dual cross-type), Live View: Dual Pixel CMOS AF (phase detection) with up to 143 points
  • Metering system: Viewfinder: 220,000-pixel RGB+IR sensor, Live View: imaging sensor divided into up to 384 zones
  • Viewfinder: Optical pentamirror covering 95% with 0.82x magnification
  • Screen: 3-inch 1,040,000-dot Clear View II vari-angle touchscreen
  • Built-in flash: GN 12 @ ISO 100 with Integrated Speedlite Transmitter
  • Maximum continuous shooting rate: 7fps with viewfinder, 7.5fps in Live View mode
  • Maximum video resolution: 4K UHD 3840 x 2160 (25, 23.98 fps)
  • Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I
  • Battery: Rechargeable Li-ion Battery LP-E17, up to 800 shots with viewfinder, 310 shot in Live View mode
  • Dimensions: 131.0 x 102.6 x 76.2mm
  • Weight: 515g including battery and memory card

Features

Inside the Canon 850D/8Ti is an APS-C format CMOS sensor with 24.1-million effective pixels. As Canon has used its Dual Pixel CMOS AF design for this sensor, the camera uses phase detection focusing in live view and video mode as well as when the optical viewfinder is used to compose images.

In live view mode there are up to 143 autofocus (AF) points available for selection. If you swap to composing the image in the viewfinder, there are just 45 points, but they are all cross-type with lenses that have a maximum aperture of at least f/5.6, which means they are more sensitive than the standard linear type.

Canon has paired the 8Ti/850D’s sensor with the Digic 8 processing engine. For stills, this combination enables a standard sensitivity range of ISO 100-25,600, which can be expanded to ISO 51,200. In video mode, the range is ISO 100-12,800 (expandable to ISO 25,600).

There’s also a maximum continuous shooting rate of 7fps (frames per second when the viewfinder is in use and 7.5fps in live view mode. I haven’t seen Canon’s figure for the burst depth, but I was able to capture 63 raw and Jpeg images in one 7fps sequence when a UHS-I SD card was in the 850D’s card slot. Interestingly, although the 850D/T8i’s single SD card slot is UHS-I compliant, when I put a UHS-II card in, the burst depth reached 98 raw and Jpeg files in a 7fps sequence.

Video

Although the headline for the Canon T8i /850D’s video specification is that it can shoot 4K (3840 x 2160) footage at 25P/23.98P (PAL/NTSC), scratch beneath the surface and you’ll discover that there’s a crop of around 64% applied to the frame in 4K mode. Consequently, lenses look quite a bit longer than you expect.

Also, in 4K mode, the T8i /850D loses the phase-detection focusing and uses contrast detection instead.

Full HD video can be shot at up to 50/59.94P, which means it’s suitable for creating 2x slow-motion movies.

There’s no sensor-based stabilisation but Canon has given the T8i /850D Digital Movie Stabilisation. As usual, using this imparts a slight crop. In this case, it reduces the recording area to about 90% of the frame in full-HD mode.

 Canon EOS 850D review

Build and Handling

While the Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D is nicely shaped so it fits in your hand well, and it’s light enough to be used one-handed with the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM kit lens mounted, I am underwhelmed by the feel of it. It’s more plasticky-feeling than I’d like and it lacks the solidity of some less expensive mirrorless cameras like the Fuji X-T30. It feels more entry-level than enthusiast-level.

That said, the control arrangement is good, and as there are dual dials (one around the navigation pad on the back of the camera and the other on the top-plate behind the shutter release), you can adjust the exposure quickly without the need to simultaneously press any buttons.

In addition, the vari-angle touchscreen is responsive and you can use it to make menu selections and adjust settings quickly. It also provides a decent view of the scene in live view mode, and it’s great to be able to position it so you can see it clearly.

Although the optical viewfinder is the less-expensive pentamirror type rather than the pricier pentaprism, is bright and clear.

 Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D review

Performance

While the build quality of the Canon 850D/8Ti is a bit lacklustre, the image quality is good. And the camera performs well in a wide variety of situations.

As it’s an optical viewfinder, when you look in the Rebel T8i / EOS 850D’s finder you see an uninterpreted view with none of the camera settings applied. That means if the exposure settings are set to underexpose the image, the view in the finder won’t change. If the exposure is going to be different from what the camera considers to be correct, the exposure meter will, of course, indicate the disparity.

Fortunately, the T8i / EOS 850D’s evaluative metering system is very good. It does a great job of assessing the scene and recommending settings that deliver a balanced exposure. Of course, that doesn’t mean you never need the exposure compensation control, but it’s not required excessively nor in some situations when an experienced photographer might expect it to be needed.

In live view mode, the imaging sensor is used for assessing the exposure and again, the Evaluative metering system is reliable. However, you can assess the exposure using the on-screen preview.

As a rule, Canon’s colour science is good and the 850D/T8i produces attractive colours. However, if you’re shooting in shade or overcast conditions, it’s worthwhile switching from the automatic white balance setting to the preset option for those conditions. It will give you warmer, more appealing images.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D Autofocus Performance

Because there are two autofocus systems, one for use with the viewfinder and the other for use in live view mode, it can be a little disconcerting at first when you switch between the two modes. However, both AF systems are fast and accurate, even performing well in low light.

Live view mode brings the option to use Face detection and Tracking AF with Eye Detection, which works very well. It also functions in video mode, which is great news for vloggers and anyone wanting to create video of social events (remember those?). As I mentioned earlier, the850D/8Ti uses contrast detection when the video resolution is set to 4K, but Face detection and Tracking AF with Eye Detection still operates. It’s not quite as dependable as when the Dual Pixel AF system is in use, but it’s not bad.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D Image Quality

It’s possible to shoot stills at up to ISO 51,200 on the Canon EOS 8Ti/850D, but it’s best to keep within the native range which tops-out at ISO 25,600, if you can.  Noise is controlled reasonably well at that level but I’d aim to shoot at ISO 6,400 or lower whenever possible. Even at ISO 6,400 there’s some texture visible in the even-toned areas of raw files, it’s not especially objectionable, but it’s there.

There’s a good level of detail visible in low-ISO images, on par with what I’d expect from a 24Mp APS-C format sensor. The edges in images are handled nicely so that the overall look is natural and not overtly digital.

Dynamic Range

Canon appears to have raised its dynamic range game recently and its good to see that this trend has continued with the EOS 8Ti/850D. For starters, it doesn’t lose the highlights too early and the shadows don’t become inky-black too readily. Should you need to, however, the low-ISO images from the EOS 8Ti/850D can withstand substantial brightening without noise becoming obvious and colours going wayward.

That means there’s plenty of scope for capturing detail in a tricky scene with bright sun-lit areas and deep shadows. In some cases, you can brighten an image by as much as 4EV, even more in some cases, without causing problems.

Canon EOS 850D review

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D Sample Images

Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images from the Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D.

Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D Image Gallery

Verdict

Canon has given the EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D an attractive collection of features with things such as a vari-angle touchscreen, excellent touch control, a very good autofocus system and a well-thought control arrangement. However, the build feels distinctly entry-level rather than enthusiast.

Also, there’s a bit of a disconnect between using the viewfinder and using the screen to compose images. The Canon Rebel T8i / EOS 850D handles it about as well as can be done with the DSLR design, but it adds an extra layer of confusion for inexperienced photographers and many are likely to find a mirrorless camera more satisfactory.

The limitations imposed on the T8i/850D’s 4K video capability are also disappointing.

If you’ve been considering the EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D, and you’re keen to have a Canon camera, take a look at the Canon EOS M6 Mark II which costs about the same body-only (at least in the UK) and is a little more rounded – although you’ll need to add the price of the optional external viewfinder.

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