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Describing the major changes between the Canon Rebel T5i (MSRP $799.99 body-only) and the T4i that it replaces doesn't take that long—there aren't any. Besides a few minor changes that we'll discuss in a moment, the T5i will take the same images with the same image sensor, processor, body design, and control as the T4i.
Sure, iterative changes are the norm in the camera world—technology simply doesn't move fast enough to really justify —but the T5i is quite literally the T4i with a different badge and some new kit lens options. Oh, and the mode dial can now twist the full 360 degrees rather than having hard stops at either end. Is Canon pulling our chain?
The Canon Rebel T5i: the T4i with a fresh coat of paint
The only real physical change to the T5i from the T4i is a new mode dial.
The T5i handles and operates just like the T4i, which in truth handles and operates very similarly to the T3i and T2i before it. Canon Rebels are easy to use with relatively simple button layouts, and the company clearly hasn't seen a reason to change the design for several generations. The grip is large and easy to keep hold of, while the buttons are spaced out well with a control dial on the top plate of the camera where your index finger naturally falls. It's a successful design that doesn't require major revision.
The back of the camera features the 3-inch, 1,004k-dot articulating LCD screen. As with previous Rebels, it sits on a side-swinging hinge so it won't interfere with tripod layouts while still allowing you to look at the screen from practically any angle. The back also has a four-way directional pad with various shooting functions mapped to it, playback buttons near the thumb rest, a dedicated button for activating live view, and a button to use the camera's "Q" control menu.
The only real physical change to the T5i from the T4i is a new mode dial. The layout is practically identical, save for the addition of a "SCN" spot for scene modes and the fact that the dial now twists fully around, without hard end-stops. Canon also claimed that there was a new texture to the finish of the body, though to our hands the difference was undetectable.
Something here seems familiar...
On the software side, the T5i also sees practically no updates over last year's model. There are some minor changes—digital zoom is now available in video, and creative filters can be viewed in live view so you can preview the effect before your shot—but that's it. The sensor, processor, shooting modes, and spec sheet are all identical to the T4i.
On the software side, the T5i also sees practically no updates over last year's model.
For posterity, the T5i has an 18-megapixel APS-C image sensor with phase detection AF integrated into the sensor. This is still the first-generation hybrid CMOS sensor, however, and not the new variant that will be seen in Canon's Rebel SL1. The difference is the percentage of the frame covered by the phase-detect sensors. On the new sensor, approximately 80% of the frame is covered by these points, while on the T5i and T4i only the center 40% or so will be covered. Outside of these sensors the camera will revert to contrast-based autofocus for tracking your subjects. When shooting through the viewfinder, the T5i will use a traditional 9-point (all cross-type) phase detect autofocus system.
The only other change worth discussing is the new 18-55mm STM kit lens variant. It's optically identical to the 18-55mm kit lens that is available with the T4i, though the new lens has a stepping motor for smooth, quiet autofocus during live view and video. We found the STM lenses to be great if your primary focus is on video, but for stills the difference is marginal.
A T4i by any other name...
There is something truly galling about the T5i getting a whole new badge and model number without so much as a token spec update.
Minor, iterative updates are nothing new, and Canon is hardly the first company to make minor updates to a popular model and call it a day. That said, there is something truly galling about the T5i getting a whole new badge and model number without so much as a token spec update. The entire list of changes for the T5i includes two software adjustments that could've easily been done via firmware update, a new kit lens variant, a cosmetic addition to the mode dial, and an undetectable change in the textured finish of the body.
We have no doubt that the T5i will be a fine camera, competitive with the other bodies on the market at this price point. We're confident in saying that because the T4i is still a fine camera, competitive with the other bodies in the market at this price point. The T5i is the same camera, though it will replace the T4i entirely. Our recommendation is to snap up a T4i while you can, as they will undoubtedly be placed on clearance to make room for the newcomer. There isn't any T4i kit with the new 18-55mm STM lens, but given the otherwise inconsequential updates, we don't think you'll be missing out on much.
For a full breakdown of what the T5i will offer, the image quality you can expect, and a full suite of performance tests you should check out our in-depth T4i review. Given the similarities and minor cosmetic updates, there is no reason to believe the T5i will perform any differently, though we'll have a full lab test as soon as we get our hands on a production-level model.
TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.