About 6.5 years ago, Olympus announced the E-Volt E-410, which at that point became the smallest dSLR ever. In the years since, I don’t remember anybody attempting to match it for size. But given that it used a Four Thirds-size sensor — smaller than the traditional APS-C size sensor that’s used by consumer dSLRs — that was pretty unsurprising. Now Canon’s rolling out its EOS Rebel SL1, which manages to outdo the E-410 for lightness and compactness, at least in two dimensions (the E-410 was thinner), becoming the smallest dSLR available.
Essentially a shrunken version of the T5i — the “SL” stands for “super lightweight” — there are a few notable differences between the SL1 and its big brother. For one, it incorporates an updated version of the company’s hybrid CMOS, which Canon claims offers a larger area dedicated to the contrast AF system for better autofocus outside the center area during Live View shooting and movie capture. (And it makes me wonder why they didn’t use this sensor in the T5i.)
Other differences include a fixed, rather than articulated, version of the touch-screen LCD, a slightly slower continuous-shooting capability, and mono audio. The battery life is also weaker, as it uses the same battery pack as the EOS M.
Basically, when you look at the camera head-on, the front is pretty much all lens; it’s got a grip, though not a deep one, and it’s almost dwarfed by Josh’s big man hands. Canon expects it to be popular among the more petite-handed upgraders from point-and-shoots, namely us womenfolk.
It does shave a few tenths of an inch here and there, as well as a few ounces, over the Nikon D3200, but I don’t know if that size difference is significant enough to overcome the slightly higher price in this very price-sensitive segment. (Has anyone studied size- vs. price-elasticity for digital cameras? If you’ve seen a study like that, please tell me.) Yeah, it looks pretty small compared with other Rebels, but they’re some of the bigger consumer dSLRs on the market. And I find the depth dimension a meaningless one to shave, since most people will be using a zoom lens that sticks out way past the grip; thus, you lose the big grip for little return.