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Canon launches EOS Rebel SL1, 'the world's smallest and lightest DSLR' (hands-on)

Canon launches EOS Rebel SL1, 'the world's smallest and lightest DSLR' (hands-on)

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We've seen a lot of cameras over the last few months that attempt to get DSLR-level image quality from a smaller, point-and-shoot-style body, but Canon's taking a different approach. It's just shrinking the DSLR: the company has announced the EOS Rebel SL1, which it says is "the world's smallest and lightest DSLR." The SL1 weighs about 14 ounces, and reps said it's about 30 percent smaller than other Rebel models; indeed, after a few minutes of using the SL1 any other DSLR feels enormous.

The smaller body does require a few hardware sacrifices — the SL1 has a smaller battery and grip than the T4i, for instance, and in some ways is even a little harder to hold than a larger camera. Its LCD is fixed to the back of the camera. Otherwise, it's very much like the T4i, from the 18-megapixel APS-C to the hybrid autofocusing system and touch-enabled screen. It shoots just four frames per second and has only one cross-type autofocus point, but for the most part is right in line with Canon's other entry-level DSLRs. It's simply a smaller model, designed to be less intimidating for a first-time DSLR owner or less burdensome for the weight-conscious. It sits near the bottom of the Rebel lineup, at $649.99 body-only or $799.99 with a kit lens.

Speaking of the T4i — it's dead. Canon is quietly replacing it with the EOS Rebel T5i, which is absolutely identical to the T4i save for an improved mode dial, the ability to view and apply filters in real time, and a slightly new texture and finish. Of course, we liked the T4i quite a bit, and since the T5i clocks in even cheaper — from $749.99 body-only up to $1,099.99 with Canon's smooth, silent 18-135mm STM lens. For $899.99 you can get the T5i with new glass, an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens. Canon's STM lenses work beautifully with the hybrid autofocus, providing fast and smooth autofocus, and from what we've seen from other STM lenses they're tack-sharp as well. The lens can also be purchased separately, for $249.99.

Lastly, Canon announced the new PowerShot SX 280 HS, a new point-and-shoot camera. For around $330, it offers some real high-end specs, like ISO range up to ISO 6400, .MP4 video recording (a first for a PowerShot model), Wi-Fi, and shooting up to seven frames per second. It also comes with Canon's Digic 6 processor, which does wonders — Canon says the new chip lets the SX 280 HS shoot two full stops down from its predecessor, the SX 260, which means low light performance should be fantastic.

All of Canon's new models will be available at the end of April. None appear to be exactly revolutionary, but we're particularly curious about the SL1 – if Canon's really found a way to make a DSLR smaller without compromising image quality or speed of operation, strap-bearing shoulders everywhere might get a little lighter.