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Customer Review

4,663 of 4,744 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Choosing between the T3i, T2i, 60D and 7D, February 27, 2011
This review is from: Canon EOS Rebel T3i Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens (discontinued by manufacturer) (Camera)
The Canon Rebel T3i takes the consumer level dSLR a couple steps closer to the mid-level Canon 60D with the addition of the rotating rear LCD screen, remote flash firing, and in-camera processing features. The already highly competent, older Rebel T2i already shared many important features with the 60D (and even features of the semi-pro 7D) including the 18 MP sensor, 63-zone exposure metering system, high ISO performance, HD movie capabilities, and Digic 4 image processor. With these new upgrades, it might make it even more difficult to choose between them. But there are some important differences.

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.
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Tracked by 27 customers

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Showing 51-60 of 198 posts in this discussion
Posted on Sep 2, 2011 3:02:27 AM PDT
R. Ferguson says:
Thanks for the awesome info. I'm torn between the 7D and the T3i. If money was no object, I know I'd get the 7D but money is a huge object. :) I keep thinking, that saving $1000 would go a long way to buying a really good lens instead of a cheaper lens that I'd have to with the 7D.

One point I"m confused on. Does the T3I completely lack Tv, M and AV modes are are they buried in the menus instead of on the dial. Since, I'd have to think through most of those settings for now, switching to them in an instant isn't a big deal for me. Some of the functions on the 7D are probably are so advanced that it would e a long time before I used them, if ever.

Something else I wonder about. I'm currently living in the Philippines. Lots of sand, high humidity and sometimes more rain. I wonder if that weather sealing wouldn't be more important for me than the average user. Really high humidity. :)

I hope someone can clear these things up for me.

I just bought a used Rebel XT to get back into an SLR but it is my first Dslr. It will be a few months before I buy anything.

Thanks for the help.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2011 8:02:40 AM PDT
dojoklo says:
What about the 60D? That sits between the T3i and the 7D.

The T3i has Tv, Av, and M on the mode dial. I think every dSLR has them on the mode dial.

The sand and humidity may be an issue. I think the 60D has some more weather sealing than the T3i, but not quite as much as the 7D. As far as the humidity, that will probably affect any camera when working. The important thing is, when not using your camera, to store your camera with a good silica pack like Adorama Silica Gel with Indicator in a Reuseable Canister. or the Zorb-it packets.

See how things go with the Rebel XT. If you like it and it serves all your needs, then the T3i will be a good, lateral upgrade to that (meaning it is the same level camera, but with 4 or 5 years more current and improved technology). If you find you need more access to controls and need additional features and customization options, go for the 60D.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 12, 2011 10:13:59 PM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Sep 22, 2011 10:01:45 PM PDT
Shebba says:
I have found your review very helpful. I'm trying to decide between a 60D and T3i. Thought I had decided on the 60D until I went to Best Buy and the clerk (seemed very camera savvy) recommended the T3i. It IS cheaper, but I don't want to regret not getting a better quality camera (60D) down the line. This will be my first SLR, but I also hope that it will be the LAST camera I buy. Most of my photography is taken of family events, travel, and friend gatherings. I do attend many concerts and love to take photos at the concerts, but am very dissatisfied. The low-light is a big challenge in concert photography. I also do a good amount of videography at concerts when possible. I am using Av, Tv, and M modes more than Auto and trying my best to learn more about White Balance.

Given that information, which camera would you recommend? Thanks for your help!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 23, 2011 10:11:53 AM PDT
dojoklo says:
If you plan to really learn the camera and take advantage of its advanced features, the 60D is the way to go. The T3i is capable of many of the same functions, but if you are really using them, you do not have such direct access to the controls and ability to customize them as you do with the 60D. Plus the 60D has to top LCD panel to keep your eye on your settings at all times. And the 60D has higher speed continuous shooting which you may want.

No digital camera will last you forever. As a consumer electronic, they have a limited life (though it should last 5 years min, probably even longer. I've heard of more than one well used Rebel XT camera, from 2005, reaching their failure point lately). But also as an electronic, they become outdated over time. While 18 MP and all the features it has may seem the max you ever need, this was also the case when the 40D came out back in 2007, and now that model seems antiquated.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 23, 2011 2:34:43 PM PDT
Shebba says:
Thank you for your prompt reply. I had been leaning toward the 60D. I don't want to feel "limited" a year from now. I'm certainly not a pro but I am learning and loving the possibilities. Concert photos are difficult due to low light and fast moving rockstars! ;). Thanks again for the info. Reading YOUR books right now! ;)

Posted on Oct 4, 2011 1:56:39 PM PDT
I'm hoping to put my foot in the door of photography and have a question. They have a deal going on right now for the "Canon EOS Rebel T3i 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera and DIGIC 4 Imaging with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens". You mention the "Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS", "Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens", and the "Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM" as good starting lenses. Since I'm not sure what is most important about the lens I'm not sure if I should take advantage of the deal or not.

I would assume that if the numbers stand to reason that the "EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens" would be about as good as the 200mm just not capable of the distance shots it is. Is that a safe assumption?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2011 4:23:12 PM PDT
dojoklo says:
dSLR cameras typically have a "kit" package where you buy the camera and lens together, and save something like $50 or $100, or maybe more, if you were to buy them separately. I am not a big fan of the typical kit lens, the 18-55mm because it is not a very high quality lens. It seems to be looked at by many users as a "starter" lens that is often soon tossed aside for a higher quality lens or lenses. But what is a "starter" lens? Why not start with a higher quality lens and grow into it? Granted, it isn't costing you much for the kit lens, but if you are soon going to toss it aside, why spend anything on it?

The 18-135mm is sometimes offered as a kit lens, and that one will give you more telephoto reach for close-up shots of details or for subjects further away, but again its quality isn't the greatest. The 18-200mm is similar, but of higher quality, and even more telephoto reach. I believe the 18-200mm is a great all purpose lens that can fulfill many - if not most - of a users needs, all with one lens. No switching or carrying other lenses (except perhaps a 50mm for low light, portraits, and other uses).

With lenses you almost always get what you pay for in terms of image quality, build quality, wider maximum aperture, image stabilization, and many other features. I go into great detail about these differences, Canon lens notations and what they mean, how to go about choosing a Canon lens, and recommended lenses in some articles here:

Lenses also make a difference depending on how you photograph. I typically create compositions that involve zooming in close to capture details or faces. An 18-55mm lens, even of the highest quality, would not be a good lens for me because I just don't typically photograph wide (18mm) or normal (55mm) vistas or anything in between. I like to get in close, and always seem to work at the tele end of whatever lens I have on. But others like to capture the entire scene, or need a wide lens to best capture the scene or subject in front of them. So approaching this way, it becomes a completely personal preference unrelated to lens quality.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2011 7:42:45 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 5, 2011 8:07:40 AM PDT
Thanks for that. I'll hold off then. Reading your lenses section now. I plan to do mainly portrait(face and standing) and landscape photography. I figured eventually I would need at least two different lenses, but wanted something middle of the road to start out with while I learn.

Not asking you to get into detail, but is there something in the type of lens 18-55mm/f3.5-5.6 that would clue me into this might be the wrong lens over the 50mm/f1.4/f1.8 or is it just the actual construction of the lens itself(and therefor the price as you say)? I figured since the 18-55mm was an image stabilizing lens that it would be a higher quality then say the 50's because of it(I admit I didn't look a the price of the two). From what you say I see that isn't a safe assumption(I admit more doesn't always mean better).


Edit: I guess not. Because from what I'm getting from your blog so far(still reading) is the f/3.5-5.6 could be better for clarity of the full picture than f/1.4 or f/1.8.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2011 8:29:46 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 5, 2011 8:30:07 AM PDT
dojoklo says:
You just have to become familiar with the lenses and learn all the differences!

No, the aperture range (f/3.5-5.6 vs f/1.4) is not an indication of clarity, but rather of the maximum aperture size. A wider max aperture such as f/1.4 allows you to use the lens in lower light w/o a flash, and allows you to focus selectively with a very narrow depth of field, and "de-focus" the background, such as here:

Lenses with wide max apertures (f/1.4 or f/2.8) are typically better, and more expensive lenses. Most any lens will allow you to use a narrow aperture such as f/16 which will render the entire scene clearly in focus from near to far.

The 50mm f/1.8 is a high quality lens in terms of its optics, but I understand that the build quality is not great. It may not sustain a year of heavy use and travel, but at the price, people say, no big deal!

The 50mm f/1.4 is even higher quality, has an even wider maximum aperture for low light situations and great "background blurring," and higher build quality than the 50mm f/1.8

Wide angle lenses such as the 18-55mm range typically don't have or need image stabilization, though the 18-55 has it for some reason. Image Stab. is needed more for telephoto lenses, the 100-200mm range and beyond. Plus Image Stab. isn't always an indication of a "better" lens because some of them, like the 24-70mm f/2.8L are older models that Canon just hasn't gotten around to adding IS to them yet.

You have to consider the entire picture with any lens: optics, image stab., build quality, maximum aperture, etc. Often similar lenses vary in their features, so it is a trade off that you have to consider and contemplate. One lens may have image stab., but another may have a wider max aperture but no IS, and you have to try to determine which one is best for you.