Canon Rebel vs Sony A1
The Canon EOS Digital Rebel (called Canon 300D in some regions) and the Sony A1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2003 and January 2021. The Rebel is a DSLR, while the A1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (Rebel) and a full frame (A1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 6.3 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 49.8 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Digital Rebel and the Sony A1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Canon Rebel and the Sony A1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A1 is notably smaller (11 percent) than the Canon Rebel. However, the A1 is markedly heavier (14 percent) than the Rebel. It is noteworthy in this context that the A1 is splash and dust-proof, while the Rebel does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (Rebel) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A1, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
Concerning battery life, the Rebel gets 400 shots out of its BP-511 battery, while the A1 can take 530 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The power pack in the A1 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon Rebel||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|2.||Sony A1||129 mm||97 mm||81 mm||737 g||530||Y||Jan 2021||6,499|
|3.||Canon T7i||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||532 g||600||n||Feb 2017||749|
|4.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|6.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|7.||Canon T1i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|8.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|9.||Canon XT||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|10.||Canon 20D||144 mm||106 mm||72 mm||770 g||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499|
|11.||Canon 10D||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||850 g||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999|
|12.||Nikon D70||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|13.||Sony A7S III||127 mm||97 mm||81 mm||699 g||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||129 mm||96 mm||78 mm||665 g||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499|
|15.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|16.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|17.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The Rebel was launched at a markedly lower price (by 86 percent) than the A1, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon Rebel features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A1 is 151 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 49.8MP, the A1 offers a higher resolution than the Rebel (6.3MP), but the A1 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.16μm versus 7.38μm for the Rebel). Yet, the A1 is a much more recent model (by 17 years and 5 months) than the Rebel, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the A1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 43.2 x 28.8 inches or 109.7 x 73.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 34.6 x 23 inches or 87.8 x 58.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 28.8 x 19.2 inches or 73.2 x 48.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon Rebel are 15.4 x 10.2 inches or 39 x 26 cm for good quality, 12.3 x 8.2 inches or 31.2 x 20.8 cm for very good quality, and 10.2 x 6.8 inches or 26 x 17.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A1 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the Rebel, the A1 has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (YESMP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Canon EOS Digital Rebel has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony A1 are ISO 100 to ISO 32000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 500-102400.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|2.||Sony A1||Full Frame||49.8||8640||5760||8k/30p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||23.7||13.9||2520||86|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
|15.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|16.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|17.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The A1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the Rebel does not. The highest resolution format that the A1 can use is 8k/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A1 has an electronic viewfinder (9437k dots), while the Rebel has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the A1 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the Rebel (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the A1 has a higher magnification (0.9x vs 0.55x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon Rebel and Sony A1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|13.||Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0||1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The Rebel has one, while the A1 does not. While the built-in flash of the Rebel is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the A1 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Sony A1 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The Rebel writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the A1 uses CFexpress or SDXC cards. The A1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the Rebel only has one slot.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS Digital Rebel and Sony A1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|13.||Sony A7S III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A1 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the Rebel does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A1 (unlike the Rebel) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The A1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the Rebel has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the Rebel was succeeded by the Canon XT. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon Rebel and the Sony A1? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon EOS Digital Rebel:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 88g or 12 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (86 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2003).
Arguments in favor of the Sony A1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (49.8 vs 6.3MP), which boosts linear resolution by 181%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 8k/30p video.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.9x vs 0.55x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 118k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (129x97mm vs 142x99mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (530 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.2 vs 1.1).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Reflects 17 years and 5 months of technical progress since the Rebel launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A1 is the clear winner of the contest (32 : 6 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon Rebel and the Sony A1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the Rebel or the A1. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon Rebel||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899|
|2.||Sony A1||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2021||6,499|
|3.||Canon T7i||4.5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||749|
|4.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|6.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|7.||Canon T1i||..||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|8.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|9.||Canon XT||..||80/100||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|10.||Canon 20D||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2004||1,499|
|11.||Canon 10D||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2003||1,999|
|12.||Nikon D70||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||999|
|13.||Sony A7S III||..||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||3,499|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||5/5||+||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499|
|15.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|16.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|17.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon Rebel vs Sony A1
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon Rebel||Sony A1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2003||January 2021|
|Launch Price||USD 899||USD 6,499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon Rebel||Sony A1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.7 x 15.1 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||342.77 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27.3 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6.3 Megapixels||49.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3072 x 2048 pixels||8640 x 5760 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.38 μm||4.16 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.84 MP/cm2||5.78 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||8k/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 32,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||500 - 102,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||55||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.0||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.8||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||544||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon Rebel||Sony A1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||9437k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||1.8inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||118k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon Rebel||Sony A1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||2.5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/32000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CFexpress or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon Rebel||Sony A1|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 1.1||USB 3.2|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon Rebel||Sony A1|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||530 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
142 x 99 x 72 mm
(5.6 x 3.9 x 2.8 in)
129 x 97 x 81 mm
(5.1 x 3.8 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||649 g (22.9 oz)||737 g (26.0 oz)|
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