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Canon EOS Rebel SL2 vs SL3: Which Camera Is Best for You?

In this article, I compare the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 vs SL3. 

I’ll take you through all the key features – from the image quality to the handling to the video capabilities and more. 

So if you’re struggling to choose between the SL2 and the SL3, you’ve come to the right place. 

Let’s get started. 

Canon SL2 vs SL3 Overview

The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 debuted back in 2017 as an ultra-light, ultra-compact DSLR for stills and video beginners. 

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 DSLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm STM Lens - WiFi Enabled

It offered a well-rounded set of features, including decent image quality, Canon’s usual (excellent) ergonomics, a fully articulating screen, 1080p recording, and impressive Live View autofocus.

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The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 is compact, it feels great, and it takes beautiful images. If you’re on a budget and want a small DSLR, the SL2 is a good choice.

Compact body
Decent image quality
Great ergonomics
Weak autofocus

The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 launched nearly two years later, and it offered near-identical features to the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 – with a few key differences that I’ll emphasize throughout this article.

Canon EOS 250D / Rebel SL3 Digital SLR Camera Body w/Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 Lens...

The ultra-compact frame was still there, as was the reasonable price point, image quality, and fully-articulating screen. But the SL3 featured a new processor, and with this came an improved buffer plus enhanced autofocus; the SL3 also served up 4K recording (though with a frustrating crop). 

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The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 features a fully articulating screen, nice image quality, 4K video, and impressive Live View AF – plus, it’s ridiculously compact. For vloggers, content creators, and travel photographers, the SL3 is a superb choice.

Compact build
4K video
Fully articulating screen
Mediocre standard autofocus

So which is better, the EOS Rebel SL2 vs SL3?

That depends on the type of photography you do. As I explain below, the SL2 offers quite enough camera for most beginners – but if you’re interested in video, or if you shoot action more than the average photographer, you might want to consider grabbing the SL3.

Now let’s take a closer look at the SL2 and SL3 features, starting with:

Build Quality and Handling

Since the rise of mirrorless technology, “small” and “light” have taken on new meanings – but the SL2 and SL3 genuinely are lightweight, compact cameras, clocking in at 453 g/15.98 oz and 449 g/15.84 oz, respectively (and with identical 122 x 93 x 70 mm/4.8 x 3.66 x 2.76’’ dimensions).

Honestly, while the SL2 is technically 4 g heavier than the SL3, I’d be astonished if you could tell the difference. Both models are supremely travel ready, and you can comfortably carry them in a backpack, in a purse, or around your neck without ever breaking a sweat. The builds aren’t bad, either; while neither camera is weatherproof and both are made of plastic, you’ll never feel like you’re carrying junk.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 DSLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm STM Lens - WiFi Enabled

In other words, both models are perfect for frequent travelers, hikers, and bikers, as well as anyone who simply wants a camera they can carry with them to events, both inside and outdoors. 

In terms of ergonomics, both models feel great, and while they’re certainly smaller than their DSLR competitors, the front grips are meaty enough that you shouldn’t run into any problems. 

Both models also offer fully-articulating touchscreens – one of the areas where Canon consistently beats Nikon, and the reason why the SL2 and SL3 work well for vlogging (where the ability to flip the screen and see yourself while recording is a huge deal). You’ll also appreciate the articulating LCDs if you like to shoot macro or architecture, where the need to get low will often cause a stiff neck.

As for differences: 

While the SL2 and the SL3 are practically indistinguishable, the SL3 loses a depth of field preview button. (This lets you view the depth of field before taking a shot. Honestly, I’ve been doing photography for over a dozen years, and I can count the number of times I’ve used the DOF preview button on one hand.)

Canon EOS 250D / Rebel SL3 Digital SLR Camera Body w/Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 Lens...

And, well, that’s about it for the differences. Both cameras offer a single SD card slot, 1040K-resolution LCD screens, as well as wireless capabilities for transferring images on the fly.

In other words, when it comes to build and handling, it’s essentially a tie.

Autofocus and Continuous Shooting

The Canon SL2 and SL3 offer identical autofocus capabilities when shooting with the optical viewfinder. The 9 AF points don’t offer much coverage, making subject tracking difficult, but they’re perfect for photographing still subjects, such as standard portraits and landscapes

So while I wouldn’t recommend either of these cameras for frequent sports or wildlife shooters, you’ll be perfectly satisfied if you’re looking to capture pretty much any other subject.

Things get much more interesting when you switch over to Live View. Here, both cameras feature Canon’s Dual-Pixel AF technology, which boosts focusing speeds into the range of impressively fast. As you can imagine, this is a big deal for vloggers and other videographers, because you can easily track subjects (or yourself) while filming.

Note that the SL3 does feature an update in the form of Eye Detection AF, which allows you to nail focus specifically on subjects’ eyes. If you like to shoot portraits or events or people in the street, then this is going to be a major selling point, because keeping the eyes sharp is tough even in the best conditions.   

Regarding continuous shooting:

Both the Rebel SL2 and the SL3 can shoot up to 5 frames per second. This isn’t great, and it certainly won’t make for a stellar action photography experience. But for casual photography, 5 fps is more than enough. 

Thanks to its new processor, the Rebel SL3 improves on the SL2’s buffer (in other words, you can shoot more photos at high speeds without the camera freezing up). While the SL2 could shoot only five RAW photos in a burst, the SL3 can now shoot up to 15 (and if you switch over to JPEGs, you can shoot for forever). 

All in all, if you plan on using your camera for a lot of videography, or you plan to do portrait or action shooting, then the SL3 is the better buy. Otherwise, the SL2 will work just fine.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 DSLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm STM Lens - WiFi Enabled

Image Quality

As far as I can tell, image quality on the Canon SL2 and the Canon SL3 is identical. 

Photos offer great colors and clarity (though of course this also depends heavily on the lens you purchase; make sure you don’t skimp on glass!).

Low-light performance is decent – on both cameras – without ever managing to impress. If you plan to shoot indoors or outside after dark, you’ll be able to crank up the ISO to around 1600 and capture very usable images. Whether you can shoot at ISO 3200 or ISO 6400 will depend on your personal noise tolerance, but I’d argue that ISO 3200 is pretty passable.

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Honestly, both these cameras offer exactly what you want in images, especially as a beginner. You get 24 MP of resolution, which is good, but not so high that file sizes become unwieldy. You’ll be able to make large prints and do a bit of cropping without too much trouble. And what’s great about a camera like the SL2 or the SL3 is that it allows you room to grow; images aren’t just good for an entry-level camera, they’re all-around good, so you can use the camera for years without needing to upgrade.

Canon EOS 250D / Rebel SL3 Digital SLR Camera Body w/Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 Lens...

Battery Life

If you like to travel or you’re a big backpacker/camper, then battery life matters more than you might think. 

Sure, you can purchase several batteries, but they’re a pain to keep track of, and you’ll always need to have them on charge. It’s much simpler to purchase a camera that can work for hours (or days) without stopping. 

Fortunately, the Canon Rebel EOS SL3 is that kind of camera. 

The SL3 is rated at 1070 shots, which is excellent for a DSLR, and miles better than even the best mirrorless cameras on the market. And in practice, you’ll often get many more shots than the rating I quoted above, which means that you can use the SL3 for plenty of photoshoots without needing a single recharge. 

Canon EOS 250D / Rebel SL3 Digital SLR Camera Body w/Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 Lens...

Note that battery life does drop substantially if you shoot via the camera’s rear LCD (all the way down to around 300 shots). But for a stills shooter who wants to keep recharges to an absolute minimum, the SL3 is an excellent choice. 

The Canon Rebel EOS SL2, on the other head, serves up a lackluster 650 shots, which is fine (and better than most mirrorless cameras), but nothing spectacular. 

So if you’re looking for a camera that can play the long game, the SL3 is the better choice.

Video

The Canon SL3 features one video improvement over its predecessor, and it’s a big one:

Instead of the SL2’s 1080p, you get 4K (up to a modest 24p).

This is a serious selling point over the SL2; 4K has recently become the video standard, so for vloggers and videographers looking to keep up with current trends, the SL3 is a worthy pick.

Canon EOS 250D / Rebel SL3 Digital SLR Camera Body w/Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 Lens...

Unfortunately, the SL3’s 4K does come with a notable crop, which limits your ability to record using an ultra-wide field of view. Whether this matters depends on your shooting style; if you don’t mind working with a tighter frame, there’s no need to worry.

Price

The Canon SL3 currently goes for around $700 USD, a price that includes the camera body and Canon’s 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM kit lens. 

It’s a pretty reasonable price, though it’s not quite as cheap as Canon’s most entry-level cameras (the T7 and the T100).

Unfortunately, the Canon SL2 is pretty tough to locate, these days. You can grab it used for around $50 to $100 USD less than the SL3 – so unless price is very important, I’d suggest just going with the SL3.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 vs SL3: Which Should You Buy?

The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 and the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 are both excellent cameras. 

And as you now know, they’re practically identical.

However, for $50 USD more, it’s probably worth grabbing the SL3. With it comes 4K video, Eye Detection AF (in Live View), an improved buffer, and double the battery life. 

Canon EOS 250D / Rebel SL3 Digital SLR Camera Body w/Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 Lens...

But if you decide to go with the SL2, don’t sweat it; you can still capture some stunning images!

FAQs

Which is better, the Canon SL2 or the Canon SL3?

The Canon SL3 is technically the better camera, in that it offers slightly upgraded autofocus, a better buffer, 4K video, and 1000+ shots of battery life. But it does cost more, and the improvements won’t be significant for some shooters, so the SL2 is still worth considering. 

What is the difference between the Canon SL2 and the SL3?

The Canon SL3 and the SL2 are almost identical. But the SL3 features Eye Detection AF in Live View, as well as a 15-shot RAW buffer (versus 5 shots on the SL2), a better battery, and 4K video (versus 1080p video on the SL2). It’s also $50 to $100 USD pricier.

Is the Canon SL3 worth it?

It probably is. The SL3 doesn’t cost much more than the SL2, and the better battery life alone is worth the difference, at least for a lot of photographers. 

Is the Canon SL2 a good camera? 

Yes! The Canon SL2 is an excellent camera, perfect for beginners looking to do photography, videography, or both. Sure, it’s old, but image quality is great, you get a fully articulating touchscreen, plus it’s small, lightweight, and fun to use.

Author

  • Jaymes Dempsey is a professional macro and nature photographer from Ann Arbor, Michigan; his work is published across the web, from Digital Photography School to PetaPixel.


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