Canon EOS Rebel SL1. Bring it!

by Matt on September 16, 2014


When you are a photographer, people ask questions. Who do you photograph? What do you photograph? What camera do you use? What camera should I buy?  My answers are usually always the same: Chefs, Authors, Celebs, Everyday People. Food. Phase One, Canon, Sigma. And lastly, anything Canon.

The conversation then goes like this: But I don’t need anything fancy, I don’t even know how to use it and I just want something simple to photograph my family/kids/friends/vacations.

And still I say Canon.

Having been a Canon user for so long, I always feel confident pointing them in that direction, telling them to start with a dSLR from the starter’s section. It’ll do what you want, you’ll be able to learn and grow, and you’ll love the images. But when my colleague Christopher emailed and asked if I’d give the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 a spin, I thought why not? I’m always telling people to use it, shouldn’t I get my hands on it and try it, too?

So I did!

Never one to be mired down with deep technical facts (although I really should!), I look for quality, ease-of-use, resolution, image quality, and how it suits the user. These are the factors I always consider. But would this little tiny camera work for me? I decided to take it for a spin!

First things first: I’m not one to read manuals. I know, SORRY SORRY SORRY! I just don’t have the patience, which explains why I’m the guy with all those extra Ikea parts laying around after assembly. Oops! I wanted to see how similar the menus and operation of the SL1 are to other Canon models so I hit the ground running!  But first I removed the 18-55 kit lens that ships with the camera. I am not a fan of that lens at all. Granted, putting a Canon 5omm f/1.2L lens on this little body made it look funny (see above), but this way I knew I could remove any lens issues from the equation and really evaluate the camera’s sensor on its own. Well, at least that’s what I think I’m doing :)

My verdict? I love this little thing! It’s small, accessible, and makes me feel like I’m using a Canon. The touch screen is nice, and I’m rather happy with the images. I did not try out the video feature, maybe next time. But I’m happy to confidently recommend this camera to anyone starting out who wants something small with great quality. It’s just lovely.

Let’s look at some images, shall we?


This Kalanchoe beharensis in our backyard strikes an imposing stance, and I wanted to see how the blue ceramic planter would look against the corten steel fence.


I have a thing for 6pm, lens flare, my backyard. As usual, the SL1  didn’t disappoint me with this it-could-sorta-be-difficult-to-expose-for-shot.


Caesalpinia pulcherrima from the front yard. Also known as Mexican Bird Of Paradise, it’s from the pea family. Makes the most beautiful arrangements, too! Shooting this wide open let me blur out the background and make it all prettypretty.



Fountain in the yard, side light. I was thrilled that the SL1 managed to hold detail in the lights and the darks simultaneously.


I took it to Las Vegas, and it was nice to not have a a big giant camera to lug around!


It does well in low light, like most Canons do. In post I had to open up the shadows just a wee bit. I took this photo before cocktail time at Mandarin Oriental, which is good because drunk.


MOZen Bistro, Mandarin Oriental for breakfast.


Congee at Mandarin Oriental. Let me get this off my chest, please: IT IS MY FAVORITE HOTEL IN LAS VEGAS. It’s the only way I can bribe Adam to go to Las Vegas. It’s truly an amazing property with phenomenal service and I get to have congree every single morning. Win win all around.


Beautiful delicate touches in the rooms like petals in a bowl. Lovely.


You might not know it, but this was photographed in their rather dark spa, shot at ISO 800 and still manageable.


Don’t want none unless you got buns, hun. I took the camera to the studio for some fun!

(notice how I truncated the above sentence to remove anaconda? MY MOTHER READS THIS BLOG, Y’ALL)



Those famous hands adjust avocados.


Behind the scenes of a taco shoot for Gaby. I was happy how the SL1 handles color, but of course I wasn’t surprised!



Pasta! Color!


Happy to have detail in the shadows, and nice punchy highlights everywhere else.


The prop table! Thank you, Alicia!


And the final shot for Gaby, a big dip situation! The Rebel really performs well!

And don’t forget to BringIt! Upload your shots and share your Canon images with the world. I’m having a great time viewing the galleries, so much fantastic stuff there!


Thanks to Canon and Christopher! Disclosure: Canon provided the EOS Rebel SL1 on loan, I was not compensated for this post. All images adjusted for color, contrast, and resized for web. Photographed in manual mode, various settings, always raw. Edited in Photoshop. #Canon #BringIt

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Oh goodness, IT HAS BEEN FOREVER AND A MOTHERFLIPPIN DAY that I have waited for this. Zoe Nathan’s first cookbook, Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets and Recipes From Our Kitchen, Chronicle Books, 2014.  I had such an unbelievable and obscene amount of fun working on this, I cannot even tell you. And true to form I did indeed taste every single thing I photographed. Yep. EVERY. SINGLE. THING.

If you know Huckleberry in Santa Monica, then you know Zoe. And if you know Zoe and Josh then you know they are filled with so much spirit, joy, humor, care, and kindness that it’s difficult to not fall in love. Being in Zoe’s presence (and her bakery and her home) is to be surrounded by love. And most oftentimes that love is handed to you on a plate, in a cup, or a pastry bag.  She has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen, and this book captures her spirit and humor so perfectly. And the recipes? THEY ARE EVERYTHING.





The cookbook is out this Tuesday, September 9th, and I am a̶s̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ telling you to immediately pre-order it now. NOW. You’ll want this book and I can pretty much guarantee that it will stay on your bookshelf for years to come, if not forever.  Congratulations to Zoe, Josh, Laurel and the entire Huckleberry Team, and to Chronicle for making such a beautiful book. It was an honor to photograph it.

And to Heidi Swanson! :)

Speaking of photograph…video-message-550px

Patrons were given plenty of notice over the 2 weeks we worked on the book.


Next time someone says to me “Oh, you’re lucky.  I don’t have a studio to work in so I don’t have the luxury of all that” blah blah blah (because yes, people do say that all the time) I am going to show them these pictures. You see, shooting on location in a busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy bakery during business hours can be a challenge. Frenetic, wild, hyper, loud, and at times super intense, you must make things work. You must always make things work. Luckily the customers at the bakery were so delightful and didn’t mind cables and cords as we played Twister to reach our shot.

(Confidential to one of my most favorite actors on the planet who came over to say hello and see what we were doing: I love you even more now. Really).


Propping was minimal, only a few cutting boards and trays were needed. I take this small tablecloth that I bought in Paris with me everywhere, and I loved seeing how the light hit it. Speaking of, there’s such great light in that bakery!


One is never hungry for long when you are with Zoe. Every day involved eggs and bread and I will never ever ever say no. Ever.


We tried not to leave a huge mess, we really did.  This was our set, all 3 1/2 feet of it.


Tripod moments were scarce, there simply wasn’t enough room which meant high ISO, lots of handheld, and the world’s best digitech and friend.


Working in a bakery meant early morning call times, which meant Zoe’s breakfasts. No way to resist, really. Thank goodness. Here we are at Milo & Olive for a quick pick up shot.

Make sure and get your copy of Huckleberry or else we can’t be friends. I’m serious. I’m off to my kitchen now to make page 187!



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