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Canon EOS Rebel T3i Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens (discontinued by manufacturer)
Overall score: 77%
See review summary and sample images
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- 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor
- 3.7 frames per second continuous shooting
- 9-point AF system
- ISO 100-6400 expandable to 12800
- 1080p HD video recording with manual controls
- 3.0 inch articulated LCD with 1,040,000 dots
- Wireless flash control
- 'Basic+' shooting mode and 'Creative Filters'
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|Auto Focus Technology|
|Battery Average Life||440 Photos|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||3.7 fps|
|Display Fixture Type||Fully-articulated|
|Display Resolution Maximum||1,040,000|
|Display Size||3 inches|
|Effective Still Resolution||18 MP|
|Expanded ISO Maximum||6,400|
|Expanded ISO Minimum||100|
|External Memory Included||Yes|
|Flash Memory Installed Size||32|
|Flash Memory Type||SD/SDHC/SDXC|
|Flash Sync Speed||1/200_sec|
|Flash Type||Built-in Flash, Hot-shoe, Wireless plus Sync connector|
|Flash Type||Built-In Flash|
|Focus Description||TTL-CT-SIR with 9-point CMOS sensor|
|Focus Type||Automatic with Manual|
|Form Factor||Compact SLR|
|HDMI Type||HDMI Mini|
|ISO Range||Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, (12800 with boost)|
|Image Aspect Ratio||1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9|
|Item Dimensions||3.94 x 3.15 x 5.24 inches|
|Item Display Weight||4.55 pounds|
|Item Weight||1.26 pounds|
|Lithium Battery Energy Content||3.996 Watt Hours|
|Lithium Battery Weight||0.355 ounces|
|Manufacturer Warranty Description||ONE YEAR|
|Material Type||Magnesium Alloy|
|Maximum Focal Length||135 mm|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/4000 of a second|
|Maximum horizontal resolution||5,184|
|Metering||Multi, Center-weighted, Spot, Partial|
|Minimum Focal Length||18 mm|
|Minimum Shutter Speed||30 seconds|
|Optical Sensor Resolution||18 MP|
|Optical Sensor Technology||CMOS|
|Photo Sensor Technology||CMOS|
|Processor Description||Digic 4|
|Remote Control Description||E3 connector, Infrared|
|Removable Memory||Secure Digital card|
|Sensor Cleaning Method||Low-pass filter vibration|
|Shipping Weight||4.7 pounds|
|Style Name||w/ 18-135mm lens|
|Supported Battery Types||Lithium-Ion LP-E8 rechargeable battery & charger|
|Video Capture Format|
|Video Capture Resolution||1080p_hd|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical (pentamirror)|
|Water Resistance Level||Not Water Resistant|
Review summary from DPReview
The latest model in Canon's popular Rebel series is very much the camera that the range's history leads us to expect: well featured, well-designed and competitively priced. It's a very conventional camera in a part of the market that is seeing some interesting innovations, but the conventional DSLR design still best suits many people's needs, especially when it's done this convincingly.
Scoring is relative only to the other products in the same category.
Sample images from DPReview
Sample images for Canon EOS Rebel T3i
From the Manufacturer
18.0 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor and DIGIC 4 Image Processor for high image quality and speed.
The EOS Rebel T3i has an 18.0 Megapixel CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensor that captures images with exceptional clarity and tonal range and offers more than enough resolution for big enlargements or crops. This first-class sensor features many of the same new technologies as used by professional Canon cameras to maximize each pixel’s light-gathering efficiency. Its APS-C size sensor creates an effective 1.6x field of view (compared to 35mm format).
DIGIC 4 Image Processor
The Canon DIGIC 4 Image Processor dramatically speeds up the entire EOS Rebel T3i DSLR’s camera operations for intuitive operation and offers improvements in both fine detail and natural color reproduction. It works in concert with the EOS Rebel T3i DSLR’s CMOS Image Sensor to achieve phenomenal levels of performance in nearly any situation.
Amazing Results, No Matter the Light.
ISO 100 – 6400 (expandable to 12800) for shooting from bright to dim light.
The EOS Rebel T3i features an expanded ISO range that makes shooting possible in situations previously unthinkable without flash. With an ISO rating up to 6400 (expandable to ISO 12800), along with the DIGIC 4 Image Processor's improved noise-reduction technology, creative possibilities abound. Combine the EOS Rebel T3i with one of Canon's EF or EF-S lenses with Optical Image Stabilizer and the shooting possibilities for both movies and stills expand even further.
HD Dreams Come True.
Improved EOS Full HD Movie mode with manual exposure control, expanded recording [1920 x 1080 Full HD video at frame rates of 30 (29.97), 24 (23.976) and 25.0 frames per second] with new Movie Digital zoom and Video Snapshot features for enhanced video shooting options.
The EOS Rebel T3i does not just shoot video clips, it offers the enhanced ease-of-use, image quality, smooth frame rates and adaptive exposure compensation necessary in a professional video-making tool by boasting the most advanced EOS video capturing features to date: When Full HD (1920 x 1080) is set, you can use Movie Digital Zoom to magnify the center of the image by 3–10x while at the same time maintaining gorgeous Canon Full HD image quality. With the Video Snapshot feature, the EOS Rebel T3i DSLR will capture short video clips (of 2, 4 or 8 seconds) then combine them automatically into one video file as a snapshot or highlights “album.” With no editing needed after shooting, the compiled video is perfect for sharing online or displaying directly on an HDTV via the camera’s HDMI port.
In addition to a number of different recording size and frame rate modes, the EOS Rebel T3i enables easy manual control of exposure, focus and Live View features and even allows for in-camera editing. The large CMOS sensor and compatibility with over 60 lenses provide a wealth of depth-of-field options. And it’s all as easy as the press of a button — the EOS Rebel T3i has a dedicated Live View/Movie Recording start/stop button that gets the shooting started fast.
Three Recording Sizes
Full HD Video is captured at 1920 x 1080 resolution at 30p (29.97), 24p (23.976) or 25p frames per second, for up to 4GB per clip. Video are saved as .MOV files and can be viewed in Full HD with HDMI output. Other recording sizes include HD at 1280 x 720 (50p/60p (59.94) fps) or SD/VGA at 640 x 480 (30p (29.97) and 25p fps).
Vari-angle 3.0-inch Clear View LCD monitor (3:2) for shooting at high or low angles and 1,040,000-dot VGA with reflection reduction using multi coating and high-transparency materials for bright and clear viewing.
The EOS Rebel T3i features a bright, high resolution, flip-out Vari-angle 3.0-inch Clear View LCD monitor for shooting at a variety of angles. By simply rotating the monitor, you can hold the camera directly overhead for above-the-crowd shots at concerts, or hold the camera at a low angle for kids and pets. By rotating the LCD monitor fully, the EOS Rebel T3i becomes the ideal camera for self-portraits. The EOS Rebel T3i freely enables easy angle adjustments even if the camera is mounted on a tripod or has a battery grip attached.
Model used is not EOS Rebel T3i and is used to illustrate vari-angle feature only.
With 1,040,000 (dots/VGA) pixels for spectacular detail, the advanced, smudge-resistant monitor includes high transparency materials plus anti-reflective and water-repellant coatings to provide clear and bright viewing. Superb for reviewing, editing and deleting photos or composing new images in Live View function, the Vari-angle Clear View LCD monitor is also the perfect means for accessing camera settings like ISO, metering modes, AF Point selection, the horizontal Electronic Level and flash options.
Automatic Scene Analysis for Standout Color.
New Scene Intelligent Auto mode and Picture Style Auto incorporating the new EOS Scene Detection System to capture beautiful scenes with ease.
The EOS Rebel T3i DSLR’s new Scene Intelligent Auto mode unites five Canon digital camera technologies – the new Picture Style Auto, plus Automatic Lighting Optimizer, Automatic White Balance, Autofocus, and Automatic Exposure –into a powerful new feature for photographers. Using the advanced EOS Scene Detection System, the camera automatically analyzes the image, taking into account faces, colors, brightness, movement and contrast. Scene Intelligent Auto then chooses the enhancing features to deliver maximum impact. Blues and greens are more vivid, “hot” colors are more fiery, and skin tones are smooth and truer to life.Intelligent Scene Analysis for Superb Exposure.
Enhanced metering with a 63-zone, Dual-layer metering system for accurate metering between exposures, and 9-point AF system utilizing a high precision, f/2.8 cross-type center point.
The EOS Rebel T3i features a sophisticated, 63-zone Dual-layer sensor designed to complement the 9-point AF system. By taking into account the color and luminosity surrounding chosen AF points, this system delivers an advanced level of accuracy for better results even in difficult lighting situations. Since the metering sensor has a color measurement function, exposure errors and focus errors caused by different light sources are minimized; the EOS Rebel T3i gives stable exposure from shot to shot in situations where light changes, such as in a theater or concert hall. This makes the EOS Rebel T3i ideal for scenes with extreme difference in brightness such as brightly lit scenes or backlit scenes; the camera balances exposure of the main subject at the background, and exposures are not overly influenced by bright areas in the shot. Since the EOS Rebel T3i provides high-speed X-sync (“X-sync” means the fastest shutter speed that can synchronize with a flash burst at the moment the shutter is fully released) up to 1/200 sec., the range of photographic expression is dramatically increased, allowing the EOS Rebel T3i to be used with confidence in bright scenes or dim.
63-zone Metering System
Express your creativity with advanced imaging features like Basic+ function, Multi-Aspect function and Creative Filters.
Basic+ is a new creative imaging feature that makes it easy to create the image effects you want. It can be set with the Quick Control screen in Basic Zone modes. Basic+ provides two options:
Shoot by ambience selection
Based on the Picture Style and its parameters (sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color tone), the exposure compensation and white balance correction are adjusted to attain the selected ambience. You can also can also select the strength of the ambience effect.
Shoot by lighting or scene type
Although the actual parameter set is the white balance, the settings are expressed in more understandable terms.
The Multi-Aspect Function of the EOS Rebel T3i lets you express an image in one of three ways by matching the aspect ratio to each scene. In addition to the camera’s standard 3:2 ration, the Multi-Aspect Function includes a 1:1 ratio that creates the sensation that the viewer's gaze is focusing upon the center of the image. At the 4:3 ratio, you get nearly the same aspect ratio as a regular TV or a 4:3 computer display. The 16:9 aspect ratio provides a wide look, much the same as HDTV.
The EOS Rebel T3i incorporates five in-camera Creative Filters so you can artistically manipulate scenes without the aid of an outside computer. Soft Focus lends a dreamy, romantic aspect, while Grainy Black and White gives a dramatically gritty, hard-bitten look. Miniature Effect creates an illusion in which expansive subjects are seemingly reduced to doll-house-like proportions, and Toy Camera Effect recreates the colors and softness rendered by cameras with a plastic lens, an effect often sought after by art photographers. Fish Eye Effect mimics the “Fisheye” lenses that are favorites of professional photographers for their quirky, convex perspective.
Never Miss a Moment.
3.7 fps continuous shooting up to approximately 34 JPEGs or approximately 6 RAW.
The EOS Rebel T3i can shoot up to 3.7 frames per second (fps) for up to approximately 6 consecutive RAW files or approximately 34 full-resolution JPEGs. Shooting at speeds of up to 1/4000 sec., the EOS Rebel T3i can capture even rapidly-unfolding scenes with ease.
Photography Made Truly Easy.
New Feature Guide offers short descriptions of each function and Quick Control screen for easy operation.
The Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR demystifies great photography by including an in-camera Feature Guide. Appearing on the camera’s LCD, the Feature Guide displays a simple description or advice for the respective function. It is displayed in each shooting mode, during Mode Dial operations, and for Quick Control screen functions (during normal shooting, Live View shooting, movie shooting, and playback). The Feature Guide appears automatically during Mode Dial operations and when a function is selected on the Quick Control screen.
Flexible Storage with Memory Cards.
Compatibility with SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards.
The EOS Rebel T3i uses popular SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards. Compact, inexpensive and available in increasingly large capacities, SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards are a perfect complement to the EOS Rebel T3i DSLR’s compact and lightweight body design.
Additionally, the EOS Rebel T3i is compatible with Eye-Fi* SD cards, which are outfitted with a Wi-Fi transmitter (IEEE 802.11b/g) and an internal antenna for wireless, high-speed transfer of images. With an Eye-Fi card installed, the EOS Rebel EOS Rebel T3i can display the Eye-Fi’s connection status and error notes with ease, for fully functional wireless uploading of images directly from the camera.
*Canon cameras are not guaranteed to support Eye-Fi card functions, including wireless transfer. In case of an issue with the Eye-Fi card, please consult with the card manufacturer. The use of Eye-Fi cards may not be available outside the United States and Canada; please contact the card manufacturer for territory availability.
The Best Optics for the Best Images.
Compatible with the full line of Canon EF and EF-S lenses.
The EOS Rebel T3i is compatible with all Canon lenses in the EF lineup, including compact and lightweight EF-S lenses, ranging from ultra-wide angle to super telephoto lenses. Canon lenses employ advanced optical expertise and micron-precision engineering to deliver outstanding performance and deliver beautiful results. Special technologies like the Canon Image Stabilizer technology in select lenses helps to minimize the effect of camera shake, effectively adding up to four stops of light. With a dizzying array of lenses perfect for travel, sports, still life and everything in between, photographers can truly maximize the quality and performance of their EOS Rebel T3i with superlative Canon optics.
With a flash sync speed of 1/200 of a second, the EOS Rebel T3i also features the acclaimed E-TTL II flash metering system. With any of the flashes in the EX Speedlite line, E-TTL II provides reliable flash output whether shooting fill-in flash pictures in sunlight, or using flash in total darkness. With E-TTL II, the exact same 35-zone metering sensor used for measuring ambient light is also used for flash metering — giving even finer metering command of the image area. If you prefer a broader area for flash metering, there’s a menu setting to change to “Average” flash metering — where the entire 35-zone area is measured evenly for flash exposure. Additionally, the EOS Rebel T3i has a Speedlite transmitter built-in for convenient, full-featured wireless control of EX-series Speedlite flashes set as slave units.
The Canon Speedlite 430EX II is the ideal step-up accessory for powerful flash shooting with the EOS Rebel T3i. It has excellent flash power (maximum guide number of 141 ft./43m at ISO 100), and is the perfect way to get great flash pictures when you can't get right up to the subject. The 430EX II is also great for bounce flash, with its tilting and swiveling flash head. It automatically zooms the flash head to cover lenses ranging from 16mm up to 105mm or longer with the EOS Rebel T3i. Of course, it works with the camera to provide full E-TTL II automatic flash exposure. And the 430EX II has a powerful AF-assist beam, which allows the camera to autofocus even in total darkness on subjects as far as 32 ft. from the camera.
Speedlite 430EX II
What Is In The Box
- EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
- Eyecup Ef (not shown)
- Wide Strap EW-100DBIII
- USB Interface Cable IFC-130U
- AV Cable AVC-DC400ST
- Battery Pack LP-E8
- Battery Charger LC-E8E
- EOS Digital Solution Disk and Instruction Manuals "Great Photography is Easy" Booklet and "Do More with Macro" Booklet (not shown)
Top Customer Reviews
If you are considering the Rebel T3i vs T2i, the Rebel T3i is replacing the T2i. Since both cameras share the same 18 megapixel sensor and Digic 4 processor, both the T2i and T3i will create images with exactly the same image quality, produce the same low light/ high ISO performance, shoot at 3.7 frames per second, and have nearly the same size and build quality. They are both offered with the same 18-55mm kit lens (with some minor cosmetic differences on the new T3i kit lens). The T3i is very slightly larger and heavier due to the addition of the rotating rear LCD monitor. And that is one of the biggest differences between the two cameras. Do you want and need a vari-angle rear screen or not? The other major difference is the ability of the T3i to remotely control multiple off-camera flashes. Like the 60D and 7D, you can use the built-in flash of the T3i to trigger other Canon Speedlites. Some other minor additions to the T3i include the Scene Intelligent Auto Mode, which is a feature borrowed from point and shoot cameras. When in Auto mode, the T3i will make a determination of what type of scene you are shooting - close-up, portrait, landscape, etc. - and automatically configure the camera settings accordingly. However, if you want to use a powerful and costly digital SLR as a point and shoot, you should probably save the money and just buy a nice, high quality point and shoot like the Canon S95. Other additional but not essential upgrades include the in-camera processing Creative Filters, and the ability to choose different image size ratios and to rate your images. (Helpful hint: press the Q Button while in image playback and you can access features like rating, rotating, and Creative Filters.) There is also a marginally helpful Feature Guide which gives brief descriptions of various settings and some additional video features like Video Snapshot, which you can use to shoot short video clips that are automatically joined together into a video, with music.
Canon Rebel T3i vs. 60D vs. 7D
Sensor and Image Quality: All three cameras share a very similar sensor and 18 megapixels, and so their image quality will be virtually the same. All are capable of taking professional quality images.
Exposure Metering: The three cameras all share the latest 63-zone, dual-layer exposure metering system and 4 metering modes. That means they will all determine the exposure virtually identically and enable you to take properly exposed photos in most every situation, including difficult back-lit scenes. The size of the areas metered for Partial and Spot metering vary slightly between the cameras, but that isn't anything critical.
Autofocus: The T3i shares a similar autofocus system to the 60D, with 9 focus points and three auto focusing modes. However the 9 AF points of the 60D are more sensitive than those of the T3i: all are cross-type in the 60D, only the center is cross-type in the T3i. The 60D autofocus system is much less complex than the sophisticated AF system of the 7D with its 19 AF point system and its additional Zone, Spot, and Expansion focus modes. These various modes address how you want to deal with and group the numerous AF points. Plus the custom settings of the 7D allow one to customize how the AF system works - how it tracks subjects, how it deals with objects that come between you and your initial subject, how quickly it responds to these changes of possible subjects that are at different distances from you, etc. However, if you are not an avid sports photographer, a wildlife shooter, or someone who understands, needs, and will use the elaborate features of the 7D AF system, then this shouldn't sway you.
Construction: As you can probably figure out from the prices, each camera is not built the same. The T3i has relatively strong construction of a stainless steel frame with polycarbonate body. The 60D has a stronger and lighter aluminum frame and polycarbonate body, but not as strong as the 7D's magnesium alloy construction. The 60D also has some amount of weather sealing - more than the T3i, less than the 7D. But for most users, including even those using the camera daily or in travel situations, the construction of any of these cameras is far more than good enough, strong enough, and durable enough.
ISO: Since they all share a very similar sensor, the ISO sensitivity and performance at high ISO settings is virtually the same for these three cameras. But don't take my word for it, don't be swayed by pixel peepers on forums, instead check out the camera sensor tests at dxomark to verify this. As you can see, they all share the exact same overall score, and show very similar performance.
Controls: As with construction, the buttons and controls vary with these cameras. Unlike the T3i, the 60D and 7D have nearly every control an advanced photographer needs on the exterior of the camera and they also have the top LCD panel and rear Quick Control Dial that are not on the T3i. With all the cameras, any controls can also be easily accessed with the Q Button and Q Menu or in the other menus on the rear LCD monitor. The top buttons of the 60D set only one setting each, so this is less complicated than the multiple-setting buttons of the 7D. Canon has removed the white balance (WB) button on the 60D that the 7D has, but that isn't a big deal - use the Q Menu. Another change on the 60D is that the Multi-controller has been moved from the thumb joystick like the 7D and 50D and placed in the middle of the rear Quick-control dial. This doesn't change how it functions, and should just be a matter of getting used to the difference. If you plan on using your camera on Auto or Program most of the time, then the controls of the T3i are more than sufficient for your needs. If you work in Av, Tv, or M modes and need quicker and more direct access to your controls and the additional top LCD screen to view and change your current settings, then you need to consider the 60D or 7D over the T3i.
Menus and Custom Functions: These allow for greater control over customizing how the camera functions. The T3i has less Menu and Custom Function setting options than the 60D, and the 7D has yet a few more than the 60D. These settings enable you to customize the operation, function, and controls to work how you want them to, including things like exposure increments, peripheral illuminations correction for lenses (fixes dark corners), tweaking how the autofocus system operates, setting more precise white balance settings, and customizing which button does what. There are ebooks such as my Canon T3i Experience - The Still Photographer's Guide to Operation and Image Creation With the Canon Rebel T3i / EOS 600D and Your World 60D - The Photographer's Guide to Operation and Image Creation with the Canon 60D which walk you through all of the Menu settings and Custom Function settings so that you can set up your camera to work best for how you photograph, and also begin to learn to master all the advanced features, settings, and controls of these powerful dSLR camera.
Wireless Flash: Like the 7D and 60D, the T3i incorporates wireless flash triggering. This allows you to trigger multiple off camera flashes at different output levels. The T2i does not have this feature.
Articulating LCD Screen: The big new feature that the 60D and T3i have that the 7D and T2i do not is the articulating rear LCD screen. This may prove useful for videographers, as well as for setting up compositions while the camera is on a tripod, for macro use, or for using it from unusually low or high vantage points. Some users will be able to avoid buying an expensive angle finder because of this feature. There is also an electronic level in the 7D and 60D, visible in the viewfinder, rear LCD, or top LCD.
Viewfinder: The T3i has a pentamirror viewfinder with 95% coverage of the actual resulting image. The 60D has a large, bright pentaprism viewfinder with 96% coverage, not quite as nice as the nearly 100% view of the 7D pentaprism.
Processor: The T3i shares the same Digic 4 processor as the 60D. The 7D has dual Digic 4 processors. However, if you don't need to shoot dozens of continuous images, you probably won't notice any processing speed issues.
Continuous Shooting Speed: The T3i can shoot 3.7 frames per second. The 7D can shoot a blazing 8 frames per second, in which the photos barely change from frame to frame. The 60D can shoot a respectable 5.3 fps which is actually a more useful rate. If you need the extremely high fps for sports, wildlife, or other action shooting, get the 7D. If not, don't be swayed by this excessive feature.
Memory Card: The T3i and 60D use the SD memory card. The 7D uses the CF card.
Battery: The T3i and T2i use the smaller LP-E8 battery with less capacity than the LP-E6 battery used by the 60D and 7D.
Size and Weight: The T3i is smaller and lighter than the 60D, which in turn is smaller and lighter than the 7D. Go to a store and hold them to get a better feel for their size, weight, and feel. The 60D and 7D "feel" like the more substantial cameras that they are. A nice improvement of the T3i is that its hand grip area has been modified, and has a different feel than that of the T2i - the area where the thumb rests is contoured differently and has a nice channel for the thumb, which allows for a much more secure one-hand-grip of the camera.
AF Microadjustment: The 7D has this feature, the 60D and T3i and T2i do not. This allows you to adjust the focus of each of your lenses in case any of them are slightly front-focusing or back-focusing.
Locking Mode Dial: This is a new feature for a Canon dSLR, only on the 60D, that keeps the Mode dial from accidentally rotating. A nice touch.
Full HD video: Of course they all offer this capability. Note that this is not video for your kids' parties and soccer games. It does not have continuous autofocus while shooting, as a camcorder does. It is not designed for that kind of use, but rather for serious videographers who typically manually focus. You can adjust autofocus while shooting by pressing the shutter button or the AF button, but it may have a less than desired looking result and unless you are using an external microphone, the autofocusing sound will be picked up. The T3i has the digital zoom feature in video, which allows for nice smooth zooms while filming.
Flash Sync: the 60D and T3i do not have a PC sync flash socket to plug in PC sync cords for off camera flash use. The 7D has this. However, they all offer wireless remote flash capability with the built in flash as a commander.
Ease of operation: While beginners may find all the buttons, controls, and menus of any dSLR difficult and confusing at first, the menus and controls of the T3i and T2i are pretty basic and simple to learn for a dedicated user. The additional controls and menus of the 7D and 60D are all quite intelligently designed, intuitive, and straightforward for the more advanced user. Again, have a look at helpful guides such as my Canon T3i Experience - The Still Photographer's Guide to Operation and Image Creation With the Canon Rebel T3i / EOS 600D and Your World 60D - The Photographer's Guide to Operation and Image Creation with the Canon 60D to begin to learn to master all the advanced features, settings, and controls of these powerful dSLR cameras.
I have always been a photo fiend, taking my camera everywhere and pulling it out at any opportunity. While I'd gotten to a decent level of archiving important moments with my point-and-shoot cameras over the years, I wanted to take my photography to the next level. I was inspired by my brother-in-law's photos of his kids to take the dSLR plunge. But I knew (and still know), very little about professional photography. I wanted to start taking better photos right away. But I also wanted to have room to grow as a photographer and a camera that would grow with me.
I also wanted the focus to stay firmly on my family - while I was willing to invest some time and care into the camera, I didn't want it to become like a pet I had to constantly watch over. While any dSLR takes some care and consideration, I've found the T3i has been an excellent camera for me and I've been quite pleased with it.
* VERY USER FRIENDLY: The auto mode (or auto without flash, my favorite) is highly forgiving, taking fantastically sharp images, true to color. They look so clear that I feel I'm capturing as close to real life as I've ever seen before in a camera.
* FAST: While I sometimes go in for trying out new modes and manual settings, I often leave the camera in auto or auto-sans-flash mode and just click away so that I can at least capture a moment before it's gone. I then play with manual settings if my kids stay still long enough for me to try something new. My previous cameras always had a horrible delay for the autofocus (the only mode they usually had), meaning I nearly always lost the moment when the toddler was on the move. The t3i is so ridiculously fast that I can snap multiple pics in the time one picture took before.
* BEAUTIFUL PICTURES: This kind of goes without saying at this tier of camera, but the pictures are just amazing quality. Coming from the land of point-and-shoot, I'm pretty blown away. And I know I'm only touching the tip of the iceberg for what's possible.
* BEAUTIFUL VIDEO: This is the nice new feature of the t3i. I wasn't sure I'd want or need the HD video. But hey, when you've got it, you use it. I've gotten some amazingly clear footage of the kiddo playing in the park with daddy and I'm so glad we went for the model with that feature.
* BIG, CLEAR DISPLAY: It's really easy to see what pics you've just taken and adjust your photo-taking accordingly. Just by seeing what I've gotten, I'm able to try again and improve a shot almost immediately.
* CLEAR MENUS/ABILITY TO IMPROVE: The interface on this is so intuitive that I've been able to learn a lot without even cracking open the manual (though that manual is my new reading material). The entry point for a new user is just a step up from normal photography - the possibilities, however, are nearly endless.
* NICE KIT LENS: For all that photographers get into new and better lenses, the kit lens on this is really nice and easy to use. I think it will hold us for a good long while before I get to be more of an expert. It gives me the range of zoom and focus I need for now.
* EYE-FI COMPATIBLE: WOW. I cannot even tell you how much I love this feature. If you get an eye-fi card, your pictures can be set up to automatically upload to your computer whenever you are within range of your synched wireless network. My husband set up a SmugMug account and the eye-fi capabilities. I take pics to my heart's content while out on walks, in the park, etc., and come home, then leave the camera on (auto-shut off after 8 minutes) to upload the pics. I can then tag and sort pictures later at my leisure. For me, this is amazingly useful. I don't have to take time out of my day to upload the pics - the camera does that for me.
* BATTERY LIFE (for common use): So far, the battery we bought for the camera lasts very well during normal photo-taking. It's just a standard Canon battery for the rebel line and it charges quickly. Even when taking pics like a mad-woman, it lasts through a shoot. HD video eats it up more quickly, so be warned. Still, I rarely run out of juice during the day so long as I pop the battery into its charger in the evening. However, uploading is another story (See below in cons).
Those are just the first few things I love about this camera. Here, however, are the...not cons, really, just challenges:
* dSLRs ARE EXPENSIVE, DELICATE, BIG AND BULKY:
And parents have enough precious and delicate things to worry about - namely, the kids. No getting around it - you can't just toss a dSLR into a pocket and go. I'm in a quest for a good bag/carrying solution (heh, yeah, wish me luck with that.) and I'm trying to get used to having one part of my brain keeping an eye on the camera as well as keeping the majority of my focus on the kids. When I'm in photo-journalist mode, it's no problem, but switching back to mom-mode is the hard part. I've already seen the camera knocked onto the ground (a very short distance onto very soft ground, so it was okay, but still, the experience practically gave me a heart attack) and once, when bending over, I caught the toddler on the temple with the kit lens (She sobbed. I felt so awful!) This thing requires constant awareness to both the camera AND the kids when using it. I'm quickly adjusting, but if you're not totally committed to learning to use and love the dSLR, you may want to stick to really good point-and-shoot camera if you're a busy parent.
^ That's the big one.
* BATTERY LIFE (when uploading pics via eye-fi): Uploading pictures by eye-fi seems to eat the battery alive. It appears that the camera won't autoshutoff when uploading, so this morning, after a few hours of uploading big, glorious pictures to my SmugMug account, the battery finally ran out of juice. I wish there was a plug-in mode or some sort of docking-station I could plug the camera into when I return home. If it's only a few pics, they upload and the camera shuts itself off. But if it's a bunch of pics (and when the weather's nice and the lighting's good, I take a lot of pics), the camera requires a battery recharge just to finish uploading my pictures.
* SWIVEL SCREEN WORRIES: I find that the swivel screen, while hugely useful, is something I constantly worry that I'm going to snap off. However, you can keep it closed with the screen facing in(a nice feature) or tuck it onto the camera with the screen facing out. I also find if I'm looking out of the eye-piece, I leave cheek smudges all over the screen when its facing out.
* MANUAL-MODE GOOFS: Some of my manual mode forays have been less than stellar. I've taken a shot - set up so nice, focus just perfect, subject just so... only to find out I left it in white-balance adjustment for indoors and I was outdoors so the whole picture looks like I dipped it in blue. I've learned to take pics in auto-mode first before experimenting too much. I also learned to check the screen a LOT before proceeding.
SUMMARY: While the dSLR has required me to make some adjustments for including it in my busy life, I really love this camera, am pleased with the investment, am inspired by its ease of use, and I LOVE the pictures I've gotten of my family.
5 STARS: And so I give it 5 stars - my whole point in buying a nice camera was to make and preserve FAMILY memories - and the t3i records those memories beautifully - in .jpg, raw, or HD video - with a minimum of dSLR fuss.
*** UPDATE: about 6 months later ***
STILL AWESOME: I totally stand by the above review. If anything, I've come to adore this camera even more than I did when we first got it. When baby #2 arrived, the quality of pictures that we got far surpassed the pictures from the first baby's photo shoots. I'm truly pleased with this investment, as the pictures we get are lovely, clear, true-to-light/true-to-color, and just capture the memories so well. Really, this is EXACTLY what I was hoping for as an amateur photographer/mom.
Battery Woes: We invested in an A/C adapter for the camera and now no longer eat the battery alive when leaving the camera to upload pictures via the Eye-Fi connection. It's a little annoying to have to swap over to the A/C and then back to a battery all the time - I would rather have a charging station of sorts - but it works and it means I stick the battery in the charger so it's almost always ready to go.
Ease of Use: I adjusted to using this thing pretty quickly. I invested in a LowePro FastPack 250 and it works nicely as a diaper-bag/day bag/camera bag. Not the most attractive purse, but it works well. I'm much better at being ready for any photo situation now.
Swivel Screen: No problems to report. I just leave it screen out all the time.
SAME: Awesome camera all around. Truly, truly impressive. There might be higher tiers of quality out there, but for what I use in following the kids around, this captures amazing shots quickly. Love it.
GOT (just a little) WORSE:
Eye-Fi Annoyance: This is going to differ from person to person, but our Eye-Fi stuff has had some kinks to work out. The card we bought required several updates lately, then we had to change SmugMug account stuff, but the changed password meant Eye-Fi couldn't upload. Blah, blah, blah, I'm sure most of the problem is ME not getting the changes my hubby made. Still, Eye-Fi is usually automatic, but from time to time, it requires maintenance and understanding from all parties uploading stuff. Just be warned, it isn't so automagical as I hoped it would be.
Getting used to the dSLR bulk: I'd be lying if I said the size of the camera wasn't occasionally an issue. There have been quite a few times I think, "Oh, where's the camera? That's right, I left it at home/in the car because it's kind of a pain to pack around." On many occasions, the hubby's phone camera stood in for us (and it takes pretty decent pictures, so it's okay). But if I'm not being really deliberate about bringing the dSLR and using it, this camera becomes a very expensive toy that I never play with.
Other than that ^ though, awesome camera. I'm truly loving it. On the whole, a Lotta camera for Low maintenance.