As the first DSLR with a touchscreen, the Canon EOS Rebel T4i is in a class by itself until rivals catch up. It's our Best Reviewed pick among step-up entry-level cameras. Testers say the touchscreen makes the camera a pleasure to use, and the faster shooting speeds and extra features can help you capture great photos even in tough situations. All this makes it a nice upgrade to basic entry-level DSLRs like the Canon T3i (Est. $695 (with kit lens)) and Nikon D5100.
"Stunningly good" touchscreen makes photography easier -- and more fun. Experts unanimously love the Canon T4i's touchscreen, the first ever on a DSLR. It's just like an iPhone: You can tap to shoot a photo, swipe to flip through the photos you've taken, pinch to enlarge and more. DPReview.com's hard-to-please critics say it's "stunningly good ... transforms the [T4i] into a camera that is actually fun to operate."
Hate touchscreens? All of the regular physical buttons are still there. You can ignore the touchscreen or disable it altogether, but reviewers predict the responsive touchscreen will probably win you over. Tap-to-shoot "makes it quick and easy to capture the moment," says Mark Goldstein at PhotographyBlog.com. Testers at TechReview.com say you'll "appreciate the ability to review your images by swiping from side to side and pinching to magnify them (at least we did)."
The side-hinged screen tilts and swivels just like on the Canon EOS Rebel T3i, on which the equally compact, lightweight T4i is built. This makes it easier to see what you're doing while photographing from odd angles like over the heads of a crowd, from a tripod or shooting video.
For beginners, the Canon T4i has a fully automatic Scene Intelligent Auto mode that senses what you're shooting and automatically chooses the best settings. Once you outgrow that but aren't ready to tackle the T4i's full manual controls, Creative Auto mode lets you tweak settings on your own. For example, Background lets you adjust the aperture to blur the background and Exposure is adjusted using simple sliders on the LCD screen.
Quick bursts and special tricks help you get tough shots. The EOS Rebel T4i makes it easier to capture challenging shots, experts say. It shoots more quickly than the cheaper Canon T3i -- up to 5 frames per second (fps) versus 3.7 -- making it "fast enough for most wildlife, action and sports photography," TechRadar.com says.
The T4i also gets an upgraded 18-megapixel compact sensor, plus some new shooting modes that get the job done in tough situations. HDR Backlight Control helps you get a better photo when your subject is backlit, shooting underexposed, correct and overexposed photos and then combining them into a single, better image. Handheld Night Scene works similarly when you shoot in low light without a tripod. Multi-shot Noise Reduction uses the same technique to reduce grainy image "noise."
The EOS Rebel T4i shoots video in full 1,080p HD with continuous autofocus, but suffers from the usual noisy sluggishness that plagues DSLR video autofocus. "Be warned that the microphone can pick up the sound of the focus motor, and the subject might even go out of focus for a few seconds," says Goldstein at PhotographyBlog.com. Autofocus is also a bit lethargic when you frame your shot on the LCD screen in live view, although it's nearly twice as fast as on the T3i, DPReview.com says. However, autofocus is snappy when you look through the optical viewfinder.
Battery life is rated at 550 shots per charge, on par with other entry-level DSLRs.
Plastic body feels sturdy. The Canon EOS Rebel T4i "is built to the expected standard, with the stainless steel chassis and polycarbonate resin shell" used on all entry-level DSLRs, says WhatDigitalCamera.com's Matt Golowczynski. Like its rivals, the T4i's plastic-over-steel construction proves tough enough.
"In terms of build quality, the Canon EOS 650D/T4i certainly feels solid enough for a consumer-grade DSLR, although not in the same league as the semi-professional" EOS 60D (Est. $1,100 (with kit lens)) and EOS 7D (Est. $1,000 (body only)), says PhotographyBlog.com's Goldstein.
"The T4i feels more sturdy than the previous two Rebels," says one poster at Amazon.com, who owns the EOS Rebel T2i (*Est. $650 with kit lens) and tested the T3i for weeks. "The buttons are more solid and the selector wheels are improved. The adjustment wheel has better clicks and doesn't feel like you could easily flick it and change a setting by accident. The mode selector wheel is sturdier, as well."
If you need a really durable camera, the Pentax K-30 (*Est. $825 with kit lens) is coldproof, dustproof and fully weather-sealed, and it's the only DSLR in this price range that is.
Plenty of serious tools plus fun extras. Experts say the Canon T3i was already pretty full-featured, with the tools photographers really need including exposure bracketing, a basic feature missing from Nikon's entry-level DSLRs. But the T4i does have a few new tricks up its sleeve.
Of course, the touchscreen is the big news, but the T4i has also stepped up its movie game. It still has an external mic jack, but now the built-in mic records in stereo -- the T3i's mic is mono -- with a wind filter and attenuator to stifle sudden, loud noises. Video Snapshot lets you shoot short clips of two, four or eight seconds, the length of the clips on most TV shows, and edit them together to make your movie look "slicker," says TechRadar.com. The camera saves the clips to a Video Snapshot Album, "and you can even add a soundtrack in-camera," says Goldstein at PhotographyBlog.com.
The T4i boasts several new shooting modes, as well. Some, like Handheld Night Scene and HDR Backlight Control, help you capture good images in challenging situations. Others let you creatively tweak photos. For example, Basic+ mode gives you nine options -- Standard, Vivid, Soft, Warm, Intense, Cool, Brighter, Darker and Monochrome -- to help you get the look you want. Three User Defined modes let you save your favorite personal styles of saturation, sharpness and more as your own custom shooting modes. Seven Creative Filters add special effects to your photos, such as Grainy Black and White or Water Painting Effect.
Review Credibility: Very Good This U.K. website gives the Canon EOS Rebel T4i, which is called the 650D across the pond, 4.5 stars out of 5. Its vari-angle touchscreen makes it incredibly easy to use, testers say, and its fast performance and terrific image quality make it "a worthwhile upgrade" from cheaper entry-level DSLRs.
Review: Canon 650D Review, Angela Nicholson and Peter Travers, July 11, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good After exhaustive testing, experts here give the Canon EOS Rebel T4i the site's Silver Award. They like the efficient touchscreen controls, quick burst shooting and "very good" image quality. Autofocus in Live View and movie mode still isn't fast enough for their liking, however.
Review: Canon EOS 650D/Rebel T4i In-Depth Review, Amadou Diallo, August 2012
3. What Digital Camera
Review Credibility: Very Good An excellent touchscreen and improved on-screen autofocus propel the Canon EOS Rebel T4i onto this site's list of the best midpriced DSLRs. Golowczynski says this new model will be an even better value when it comes down in price.
Review: Canon EOS 650D Review, Matt Golowczynski, July 3, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good In his thorough evaluation of the Canon EOS Rebel T4i, Goldstein notes all of the same pros as other experts: great touchscreen, fast shooting and more. As at DPReview.com, sluggish Live-View autofocus is the camera's only real demerit.
Review: Canon EOS 650D Review, Mark Goldstein, Sept. 10, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Editors here test several DSLRs, including the Canon EOS Rebel T4i. They rate each camera's image quality, flash photos, videos, LCD and viewfinder, and ease of use before ranking the cameras from best to worst. ConsumerReports.org doesn't accept any freebies or advertising, so its impartiality is impeccable, but reviews here aren't as detailed as at the dedicated camera websites.
Review: Canon EOS Rebel T4i, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of October 2012
Review Credibility: Good More than 70 owners evaluate the Canon T4i here, awarding it an average of 4.1 stars out of 5. Most of the negative comments center around defective, recalled T4is that a seller mailed out.
Review: Canon EOS Rebel T4i 18.0 MP CMOS Digital Camera, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2012