Canon T4i Digital Camera Review$1,199.00
Studio photographers will appreciate the fact that the T4i renders colors very accurately when using the Neutral and (particularly) Faithful color modes, which are near perfect with regard to saturation and extremely good in terms of accuracy. Other color modes, such as Automatic, Portrait, and Landscape are less conservative, tending to amp up the saturation (as high as 123% in Landscape) and taper off in accuracy.
If you're shooting RAW, of course, none of this matters much since the camera's color modes are applied to JPEGs only. Since it doesn't apply any sharpening or other image adjustments (contrast, tone, etc), the Faithful color mode is a reasonably accurate simulation of the T4i's RAW output, though actual RAW files will differ slightly. More on how we test color.
In terms of color accuracy, the T4i is right up there with the best cameras in its class, and isn't even all that far off of full-frame professional-quality cameras like the flagship Canon EOS 1D X.
NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.
The T4i is equipped with seven default color modes: Automatic, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, and Monochrome. These can be adjusted to the user's preference, or left as-is. By default, the Faithful color mode was the most accurate, and as a bonus it doesn't artificially sharpen images.
There are also three custom color mode presets, which allow the user to control fine adjustment of sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color tone.
As with most DSLRs, the T4i performs well across varied lighting types. Its automatic white balance mode really only let us down under tungsten light, which is notoriously difficult for cameras to handle. A variety of lighting-specific presets work well, including Tungsten—which makes you wonder why they don't just build that range into the AWB setting in the first place. The custom white balance setting, though unnecessarily awkward to use, is quite accurate when set properly. More on that later.
Automatic White Balance ()
Automatic white balance is generally pretty accurate on the T4i. In daytime lighting, the auto setting was actually more accurate than the custom setting, and in compact white fluorescent lighting it held its own pretty well, too. Tungsten was a problem for the AWB, but that's true of pretty much any camera.
In lab-simulated daytime lighting, the T4i produced an average color error of just 78.17 kelvins when using automatic white balance. This is an excellent score, and one that bested our custom white balance tests under the same lighting by nearly 30 kelvins.
Compact white fluorescent lighting was another strength of the T4i's auto white balance, where it was 271.33 kelvins away from perfect temperature. Here it was a little worse than setting a custom white balance, but not too far off... certainly usable with a little tweaking in Photoshop.
Tungsten was the real danger zone for the T4i, where it produced a color error of 1947 kelvins. This is very poor performance, particularly when compared to the excellent results you get from a custom white balance setting under the same lighting conditions.
Custom White Balance ()
Setting a custom white balance on the T4i isn't nearly as intuitive as it could or should be. Many cameras let you take a shot directly from the custom white balance submenu, analyze the shot, and set the white balance for you. The T4i, on the other hand, makes you take a shot, then enter the custom white balance submenu, and then it analyzes the shot you've just taken (or another one, if you'd like) to set the white balance. Worse still, the T4i doesn't allow you to save custom white balance settings like some of its competitors. This may seem like a pretty minor complaint, but it's a moderate-to-major annoyance in practice.
But anyway, once the custom white balance is set, the T4i performs pretty well. In Tungsten lighting, for instance, it deviated only 155.33 kelvins from ideal color temperature (compared to 1947 kelvins when using AWB). It was in this general ballpark for daylight and compact white fluorescent light as well, with average color errors of just 105.50 and 150.50 kelvins in those conditions, respectively.
White Balance Options
The T4i offers six custom white balance settings beyond its custom and automatic options: Daylight (5200K), Shade (7000K), Cloudy (6000K), Tungsten (3200K), White Fluorescent (4000K), and a dedicated Flash setting. This is no different than what the T3i included.
Also present are menu options for white balance bracketing and white balance shift. Bracketing lets you take multiple shots with different white balance settings, in case you're unsure as to what setting is correct (or for artistic effect). This option does reduce the overall number of shots you can take and slows continuous shooting to a crawl, so it's recommended that you use it in moderation. White balance shift, on the other hand, lets you fine-tune white balance settings to match the scene if you know the exact color temperature.