In yesterday’s article, Canon T6i vs Nikon D5500 vs Sony a6000 Sensor Performance Surprise we looked at the performance of three of the best selling cameras on the market today, the Canon T6i EOS 750D, Nikon D5500, and the Sony a6000.
The surprise there was the less than competitive performance of the newest camera of the bunch, the Canon T6i, which left me curious as to how the sensors in the T “x” i line-up have evolved in comparison to each previous model.
I figured a good place to start was the Canon T2i as it was a well-loved camera in it’s day with very decent image quality, some would say even class leading. I owned one back then, and I remember it being quite a capable little camera, essentially punching far above its weight class.
In the top image, you can see that there really hasn’t been a lot of sensor improvement from the Canon T2i EOS 550D which was announced February 8, 2010, vs the Canon T6i EOS 750D which was announced February 6, 2015. To be fair, there was a resolution increase of 6 megapixels from the 18MP sensor in the T2i to the 24MP sensor in the T6i, and Canon still managed to place a better score than all the previous Rebels discussed here in all DXOMark test categories.
Color Depth is better. Dynamic Range is up by a half stop, and the high ISO, low-light abilities are better by a small margin. Not bad at first glance, but there’s a couple things we have to remember here.
First and foremost, this performance is NOT competitive in today’s market place. It’s a last place showing among some much more capable sensors. Simply put, the Nikon D5500 and the Sony a6000 simply outperform the Canon T6i sensor in every category.
Secondly, there were three other cameras in the evolution of the T2i into the current T6i. The Canon T3i EOS 600D, perhaps the most significant update prior to the current T6i, the Canon T4i EOS 650D, and the Canon T5i 700D. That’s five cameras in all, and four opportunities for sensor advancement along the way.
Four missed opportunities one could say.
The sensor advancements between the Canon T2i and the Canon T6i would’ve been great if they were the differences between the Canon T2i and the Canon T3i, but looking at them as the result of four model updates in the Canon Rebel line-up shows a serious lack of development and advancement and a lacklustre effort on Canon’s part at best.
Look at the differences between the Canon T2i EOS 550D and the Canon T3i EOS 600D sensor in the above test results from DXOMark. One would be forgiven for thinking it was the exact same sensor with the exact same image processor, with no technological advancements at all. Other than a VERY slight improvement in high ISO, low-light abilities, they are identical.
No reason for a new model here, at least not where the sensor is concerned anyway.
Next, let’s look at the difference between the Canon T3i EOS 600D and the Canon T4i EOS 650D. Surprisingly, we see a loss of sensor performance here in comparison to the previous two models. What’s going on? Why is the newer camera performing worse than the previous two?
Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for you, but it certainly makes you question what was going on over at the Hallowed Headquarters of Canon.
Now have a look at the above numbers comparing the Canon T5i 700D vs the Canon T4i 650D. Identical, EXCEPT for a performance DROP in the high ISO, low-light ability category. Again, one has to wonder why, and what was Canon thinking?
Then we come to the current Canon T6i EOS 750D, and finally we’re seeing some improvement in performance numbers. Not a huge improvement mind you, but at least there is SOME improvement and not a DROP in performance as we saw from between the T3i to the T4i, and again between the T4i to the T5i.
This is why I find the Canon T6i EOS 750D, in fact, this whole level of the Canon EOS line-up, so puzzling.
Why was there no improvement in the sensor between the T2i and the T5i?
Worse yet, why was there a DROP in sensor performance between the T3i to the T4i, and then the T4i to the T5i?
And now, with the introduction of the Canon T6i EOS 750D this year, why doesn’t the sensor perform better?
Makes me wonder what has happened over at Canon, and why they haven’t been able to compete in the sensor arena like they used to?
Makes me worry about the future of Canon cameras when I such a poor showing as this.
BUT HEY! Call me a delusional optimist, but I’m VERY hopeful that Canon will impress us all and blow all our socks off when they announce the new Canon EOS 80D this year!!!
Photography Gear Discussed or Shown in this Article: