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Dive Guide | Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1

There has been a lot of excitement around the mirrorless and micro four thirds cameras from Sony, Olympus, and Panasonic. It reminds us of the early days of digital, when each year seemed to bring new cameras twice as good as the last. In 2014, mirrorless represented about 7.4% of all cameras sold, slightly up from the year before. In the underwater world, they have been great because we could shrink down our housing size without sacrificing the ability to swap lenses and focus on either macro or wide angle photography.

The birth of a new DSLR

At this point, Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras still remain dominant—by far—in the interchangeable lens market and in the professional's camera bag. And while at first glance nothing has changed, Canon has actually posed a great question to us. Instead of giving up all of the things you love about a DSLR to make it smaller, why not just make a smaller DSLR camera?

Size comparision Ikelite housing for Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1(left to right) Actual size comparison: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1, Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

So was born the Canon EOS 100D (Digital Rebel SL1 in the US market). Now we have a large sensor, superb image processor, fast auto-focus capabilities, great battery life, and our choice of the best "glass" (lenses) on the market. And all of this is packed into a body that's similarly sized to comparable mirrorless cameras, lighter weight, and less expensive.

Performance to size ratio

We took Canon's lead on this one, and reinvented the underwater DSLR housing with reduced size as our primary objective. By using an electrical connection to the camera's flash hotshoe, the height of the housing is dramatically reduced because there is no need for a tall flash attached to or protruding from the camera. Since the camera is not firing an onboard flash to trigger the strobe, camera battery life is maximized. This direct communication between the camera and the strobe also provides the most accurate exposure and fastest strobe recycle times possible.

The Ikelite housing for the Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1 is not only the smallest DSLR housing we've ever seen, but it's also smaller than most housings for mirrorless cameras currently on the market.

Size comparision Ikelite housing for Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1(left to right) Housing size comparison based on published specifications: Nauticam for Sony A6000, Ikelite for Canon EOS 100D, SEA&SEA for Canon EOS 100D, Ikelite for Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Nauticam for Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Port performance

A completely new port system was designed to optimize size, ease of assembly, and optical performance. The camera with 18-55mm kit lens simply slides into the front of the housing and automatically engages with the zoom sleeve. With just three port pieces you're able to accommodate 5 of the most popular lenses for Canon cameras:

  • Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye
  • Canon 10-18mm STM
  • Canon 18-55mm STM
  • Canon 60mm Macro
  • Canon 100mm USM IS Macro
Size comparision Ikelite housing for Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1(left to right) Dome Port with Zoom (included with housing), Lens Extension for 100mm Macro, Flat Port

Users have loved this system so much, we have translated it directly to our mirrorless housing line.

Try it topside

Camera manufacturers have worked for decades on the ergonomics and grip of SLR cameras, much longer than digital cameras have even been around. So the Canon EOS 100D feels like a natural fit, especially for professionals looking for a smaller system to travel with. The camera body also accepts every lens designed with a standard Canon EF/EF-S lens mount—dozens more than any mirrorless system at this time.

Size comparision Ikelite housing for Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1Ikelite Housing for SL1 in between Olympus and Nauticam housings for mirrorless cameras. Photo © 2014 Phil Rudin


Compared to a full-size DSLR, like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, the EOS 100D Rebel SL1 has the smaller, DSLR sized APS-C sensor and about half the battery life. It also trades the heavy duty magnesium alloy body for a lightweight aluminum, polycarbonate, and fiberglass body. We think it's well worth it to save over 5 pounds of luggage and thousands of dollars in equipment.

Compared to popular mirrorless cameras, the EOS 100D has a larger sensor than micro four-thirds cameras from Olympus and Panasonic. Compared to all current mirrorless models it is in the top end of battery life. It's mid-range in size and weight and on the low end of the budget spectrum!

According to a Canon expert, the average person wouldn't be able to detect any difference in quality between shots taken with the 5D Mark III vs the 100D Rebel SL1. And when we put it in the hands of beginner photographers, the SL1 is preferred 5-to-1 over compact and GoPro systems.

From performance to size to price, the Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1 ticks almost all of our boxes and is truly our top choice right now for the traveling diver.

The results

The proof is in the pudding... Real results courtesy of our own Steve Miller!

Copyright 2014 Steve Miller

Turtle coming in for a close-up in Little Cayman... TTL exposure and fast strobe recycle time were key to getting the shot instead of fiddling with controls.

Copyright 2014 Steve Miller

The groupers are very friendly in Little Cayman and always looking for a "hunting buddy" who can lure the lionfish into the open water.

Copyright 2014 Steve Miller

Set-up shot back in the reeds in Alexander Springs, Florida. Now we just have to sit back and wait for the alligator to swim by...

Copyright 2014 Steve Miller

Add the Tokina 10-17mm lens and you can start practicing Snell's Window.

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