Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D Review

Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D Review
Note: The Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D has been replaced by the Canon EOS Rebel T4i / 650D.

The Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D delivers 18 megapixels of professional grade image quality in a compact, lightweight, feature-filled, easy-to-use body that carries a very affordable price tag. These are the qualities have anchored the flagship Canon Rebel model in the top-selling DSLRs category for years - and I fully expect the T3i to maintain the Rebel's popularity.

The T3i is the 7th 3-character Canon Digital Rebel model and, including the low-end Canon EOS Rebel XS/1000D, the 8th Rebel model to become available. The 9th, the less-feature-filled Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D, has been announced but is not available as of review time.

As always, the latest model offers advantages over the previous model. This is a very mature camera line, and the advances we find in the T3i are not going to cause buyer's remorse to many T2i owners. But, the combination of new and existing Rebel features are going to make the T3i the right choice for many new DSLR buyers or those looking to upgrade from an older DSLR model - or from a point and shoot model.

Prior to reading the rest of the T3i review, I recommend that you read the T3i Press Release. I'll open that URL in a new window for you - to retain your place here - just close that window when you finish. The press release highlights the new features and some of the T2i carry-over highlights - no sense in me re-writing the PR.

New features include: Feature Guide Instruction, Scene Intelligent Auto Mode, Creative Image Filters and my favorites, the Integrated Speedlite Transmitter and 3" Vari-Angle Clear View LCD as demo'd below.

Rebel T3i Vari-Angle LCD Demonstration

One | Two | Three | Four

 
Along with fast phase-detection autofocus, amazing image quality (especially in low light) is one of the big drivers for the popularity of Digital SLR cameras. And the Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D does not sacrifice image quality to achieve a very modest price. Sharing the same sensor with the T2i, 60D and the EOS 7D means, in this case, that the T3i matches the image quality of even Canon's current best APS-C format DSLR. Here is a Canon EOS Rebel T3i vs. EOS 7D resolution comparison (use the mouseover on that page to see the similarities). Four EOS DSLRs sharing the same sensor marks a new record.

ModelFOVCFSensorPixel SizePixels/MegapixelsViewfinderDLA*
Canon PowerShot G1 X1.9x18.7 x 14.0mm4.3µm4352 x 326414.3  f/6.9
Canon PowerShot G124.7x7.4 x 5.6mm2.7µm3648 x 204810.0  f/4.3
Canon PowerShot G94.7x7.6 x 5.7mm2.5µm4000 x 300012.1  f/4.0
Canon EOS M1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0  f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .87x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T5i / 700D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .85x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T4i / 650D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .85x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .85x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T2i / 550D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .87x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T1i / 500D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.7µm4752 x 316815.1 .87x95%f/7.5
Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .80x95%f/6.8
Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D1.6x22.2 x 14.7mm5.2µm4272 x 284812.0 .80x95%f/8.3
Canon EOS Rebel XSi / 450D1.6x22.2 x 14.8mm5.2µm4272 x 284812.2 .87x95%f/8.3
Canon EOS Rebel XS / 1000D1.6x22.2 x 14.8mm5.7µm3888 x 259210.1 .81x95%f/9.1
Canon EOS Rebel XTi / 400D1.6x22.2 x 14.8mm5.7µm3888 x 259210.1 .80x95%f/9.1
Canon EOS Rebel XT / 350D1.6x22.2 x 14.8mm6.4µm3456 x 23048.0 .80x95%f/10.2
Canon EOS 300D Digital Rebel1.6x22.7 x 15.1mm7.4µm3088 x 20566.3 .80x95%f/11.8
Canon EOS 70D1.6x22.5 x 15.0mm4.1µm5472 x 364820.2 .95x98%f/6.6
Canon EOS 60D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 .95x96%f/6.9
Canon EOS 50D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.7µm4752 x 316815.1 .95x95%f/7.5
Canon EOS 40D1.6x22.2 x 14.8mm5.7µm3888 x 259210.1 .95x95%f/9.1
Canon EOS 30D1.6x22.5 x 15.0mm6.4µm3504 x 23368.2 .90x95%f/10.2
Canon EOS 20D1.6x22.5 x 15.0mm6.4µm3504 x 23368.2 .90x95%f/10.2
Canon EOS 10D1.6x22.7 x 15.1mm7.4µm3088 x 20566.3 .88x95%f/11.8
Canon EOS 7D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm4.3µm5184 x 345618.0 1.0x100%f/6.9
Canon EOS 6D1.0x35.8 x 23.9mm6.54µm5472 x 364820.2 .71x97%f/10.5
Canon EOS 5D Mark III1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm6.25µm5760 x 384022.3 .71x100%f/10.1
Canon EOS 5D Mark II1.0x35.8 x 23.9mm6.4µm5616 x 374421.1 .71x98%f/10.2
Canon EOS 5D1.0x35.8 x 23.9mm8.2µm4368 x 291212.8 .71x96%f/13.2
Canon EOS 1D X1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm6.9µm5184 x 345618.1 .76x100%f/11.0
Canon EOS 1D Mark IV1.3x27.9 x 18.6mm5.7µm4896 x 326416.1 .76x100%f/9.1
Canon EOS 1D Mark III1.3x28.1 x 18.7mm7.2µm3888 x 259210.1 .76x100%f/11.5
Canon EOS 1D Mark II N1.3x28.7 x 19.1mm8.2µm3520 x 23368.2 .72x100%f/13.2
Canon EOS 1D Mark II1.3x28.7 x 19.1mm8.2µm3520 x 23368.2 .72x100%f/13.2
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm6.4µm5616 x 374421.1 .76x100%f/10.2
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm7.2µm4992 x 332816.6 .70x100%f/11.5
* Learn more about DLA (Diffraction Limited Aperture)

If you have read any of the site's other recent Canon EOS DSLR camera reviews, you will recognize the following color block test that clearly shows and compares sensor noise. Read about the Camera ISO noise tests in the help section to learn more about the tests and how they are conducted. A key take-away from that page is that noise reduction is completely off unless otherwise specified.

Click on the color block image below to view a pair of image comparisons between several current-at-this time DSLR cameras. This comparison was previously featured on this page, but later moved to its own page to avoid (especially for mobile users) the large file download required.

Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D High ISO Noise Comparison

If you read the image quality discussion on that page, you can skip down to the file size table and discussion.

As the signal from the sensor is amplified, noise enters the picture. High ISO noise is not a differentiator when choosing between the T3i, T2i, 60D and 7D - I don't perceive any differences (other than that my T3i produces slightly brighter images). ISO 1600 and 3200 are the settings my tolerance for noise maxes out on. I reserve ISO 12800 for emergencies only.

The 5D II is obviously the winner in this competition.

The T3i's with-noise-reduction examples above have a range of noise reduction added - from 1,2 (Luminance,Chrominance) at ISO 100 up to 8,16 at ISO 12800. These examples clearly show that noise reduction reduces the visible noise - and reduces the fine details as well.

Fine details in the fabric better-hides high ISO noise. If you have trouble seeing differences in these comparisons, you will have at least as hard of a time seeing differences in your real world image quality. Again, I don't perceive any significant differences between the T3i, T2i, 60D and 7D. And the 5D II is again the obvious the winner in this competition.

The resulting file sizes for the examples used above are:

The following table shows comparative RAW file sizes for a photo of a standard in-studio setup with a moderately-high amount of detail taken with the referenced Canon EOS DSLR body.

Model / File Size in MB @ ISO:(MP)100200400800160032006400128002560051200102400204800
Canon PowerShot G1 X(14.3)19.119.620.220.921.723.124.926.2    
Canon EOS Rebel SL1(18.0)23.724.224.825.827.128.730.833.437.2   
Canon EOS Rebel T4i / T5i(18.0)24.124.525.226.127.629.031.133.737.4   
Canon EOS Rebel T3i(18.0)25.525.926.627.528.730.332.434.9    
Canon EOS Rebel T2i(18.0)25.525.826.527.428.630.232.334.9    
Canon EOS Rebel T1i(15.1)20.621.021.522.423.425.027.129.8    
Canon EOS Rebel T5(18.0)25.425.926.627.528.830.232.535.1    
Canon EOS Rebel T3(12.2)17.818.018.318.919.720.622.0     
Canon EOS Rebel XSi(12.2)15.415.916.617.518.7       
Canon EOS Rebel XS(10.1)10.410.610.911.311.9       
Canon EOS 70D(20.2)25.125.726.527.729.331.133.335.939.5   
Canon EOS 60D(18.0)25.225.626.227.028.329.932.234.8    
Canon EOS 50D(15.1)20.320.721.322.123.224.726.729.5    
Canon EOS 7D(18.0)24.124.525.326.227.328.630.733.2    
Canon EOS 6D(20.2)25.325.626.026.727.929.230.933.135.338.642.5 
Canon EOS 5D Mark III(22.3)28.629.029.530.331.633.135.337.840.644.749.2 
Canon EOS 5D Mark II(21.1)26.927.127.728.629.731.333.636.741.2   
Canon EOS 1D X(18.1)23.723.924.324.825.726.727.929.731.834.537.441.3
Canon EOS 1D Mark IV(16.1)22.022.222.823.424.325.326.728.530.834.235.9 
Canon EOS 1D Mark III(10.1)13.013.313.814.515.316.417.8     
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III(21.1)25.626.527.429.031.033.4      
Canon RAW file sizes increase with: 1. Resolution 2. Bit Depth (14-bit is better/larger) 3. Detail (noise adds detail, so high ISO file sizes increase). Memory and disk are cheap - buy more. :)

The Canon T3i uses SD/SDHC/SDXC cards for storage. Use the figures above to get a rough estimate of the size card you need. Of course, the JPG file format is significantly more storage space efficient and has various levels of image quality that also adjust space requirements downward dramatically. My advice is to shoot RAW and buy lots of memory - it is cheap and the cards are useful for temporary archiving and backup use.

Overall, the Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D's image quality is impressive. I don't have any complaints - especially for the price of this camera. It was not many years ago that we could only dream about this image quality - and would expect to pay many times the T3i's price for lower image quality.

Proper exposure is important for a quality image and to this end, the T3i inherits the first-seen-on-the-EOS-7D 63-zone iFCL (Intelligent Focus, Color, Luminance) Metering System that takes focus, color and illumination into account when establishing the proper exposure. Spot metering is available along with the other usual modes - Evaluative, Partial and Center-weighted.

I shoot in auto white balance mode more today than I ever did before (though I may tweak this setting when post-processing my shots). Auto White Balance historically has had trouble balancing tungsten light properly, but even this lighting is correctly balanced by the T3i - as it was in the T2i.

T3i Top

I keep saying it, but ... if the shot is OOF (Out of Focus), the best image quality in the world is not going to save it. AF performance matters (unless you are using manual focus of course). The Canon EOS Rebel Series DSLRs get Canon's entry-level AF systems (a sacrifice made to achieve the low price), but even entry-level Canon AF is still very good.

Like the T2i's AF system, the T3i's 9-point AF System is derived from the Canon EOS 30D's AF system. The center AF point is a cross-type center point sensor while the other 8 AF points are horizontal-line-only sensitive. With an f/2.8 or faster/wider aperture lens, the center point operates with greater precision.

While not exactly the newest AF System available, the T3i performs very well in Single Shot mode. Focusing is fast and accurate. Let me emphasize "fast" - a significant percentage of Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D owners will be stepping up from point and shoot models that left them frustrated because the moment they intended to capture would be passed before the camera could take the picture. DSLR phase detection AF is a major step up from point and shoot contrast-detection AF.

In AI Servo mode, all Canon DSLRs attempt to predictively focus the attached lens at the precise location the subject will be at the moment the shutter opens. A camera's ability to focus-track a subject rapidly approaching the camera is a differentiator between camera models. Canon's 1-Series cameras have faster and far more sophisticated AF systems - if your income is depending on you getting the shot, these are the models you need to be using. A huge number of non-pros are using these models as well.

The Canon EOS 60D and Canon EOS 7D are also better cameras in this regard.

Considering its price, the T3i's AI Servo AF performs quite well. The faster a subject is approaching the camera and closer the distance is, the more taxing the situation is on AF and the more out of focus shots you should expect with the even best lenses. In the live action testing I did using the center focus point only, I was actually surprised at the percentage of in-focus shots delivered by the T3i. There are an infinite number of AF situations to throw at a camera, but subjects moving parallel to the sensor plane usually pose much less of challenge for a camera.

As usual for Canon's non-1-Series bodies, the T3i requires a lens with a maximum aperture of at least f/5.6 (as reported by the lens) for AF to function.

If you are using AF, you are likely using the viewfinder. And the first thing point and shoot users will notice when peering into the T3i's viewfinder is that it is big. And the first thing that 60D (or similar body) users will notice is that the T3i's viewfinder is very small. It is all about what you are used to, but the T3i has a relatively small body size with a relatively small pentamirror viewfinder to match it.

While it is not a mirrorless camera, the small viewfinder mounted on a small camera makes the T3i very easy to take with you. And having viewfinder is a huge asset.

As noted in the first chart in this review, the T3i viewfinder provides 95% coverage. You are going to have a little more subject in your image than you see in the viewfinder. I seldom hear people complaining about this - you get used to it. But you might need to crop out something unintentionally present in your image during post processing if you are not careful.

The T3i inherits the EOS 60D's excellent Vari-Angle 3" Clear View LCD screen with anti-reflective and smudge-resistant coatings. I wasn't too enthused when the 60D's Vari-Angle LCD was announced, but I quickly became so after using it. With the LCD screen angled to your convenience, it is now easy shoot from high, low and other angles/positions that are far from convenient to use the viewfinder or non-articulating LCD from. The bottom line is that you will likely capture more varied perspectives and have a better overall portfolio. Video is another feature that makes good use of the the articulating LCD

The closed-reversed LCD is well-protected from damage during transport, storage or even use (including protection from nose prints). So, I really like the new twist on the DSLR LCD.

The T3i inherits the T2i's wide 3:2 aspect ratio, 1.04 million dot LCD - matching the aspect ratio of the image sensor and better-matching the 16:9 HD Video aspect ratio. The LCD's image quality is great.

Here is a visual comparison of the back of many Canon Digital SLR bodies.

Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D Back View Comparison

1D IV | 5D II | 7D | 60D | 50D | 40D | 30D | T3i | T2i | T1i | T3 | XSi | XS | XTi | G9

 
The most obvious camera back difference between the T2i and the T3i is the just-discussed articulating LCD. The T3i's has no top LCD, so the rear LCD provides shooting information. The larger size of this LCD pushes the buttons rightward and covers the T2i's eye sensor location. The rear LCD now turns off when the shutter button is partially pressed or the display button (now on the top of the T3i) is pressed instead of when the eye is sensed. I don't find this change to have any negative consequences.

The Info button replaces the display button near the top left of the back of the T3i. Pressing the info button displays camera settings and information such as the memory card freespace.

Otherwise, the rear of the T3i remains very similar to the T2i. Buttons provided are logically located and control the most-used functions. The dedicated Live View & Video Start/Stop button is convenient to have and nicely located for use.

Cross keys are used to specify a setting change to be made or to make changes to a previously-specified setting. While not as fast to use as a Rear Control Dial found on the higher-end EOS models, the cross keys are logical and easy to use. Press the "Q" and navigate an LCD full of settings using the Cross Keys. When the setting you want to change is selected, press Set and make the change desired.

To make life easier for novices, Canon has included a new EOS Feature Guide with an enhanced Quick Settings Screen that now includes detailed descriptions of camera settings. For example, turning the mode button results in a description of that mode being displayed on the LCD. Users who know camera exposure basics will likely find the Feature Guide to be annoying. Fortunately, we can turn this feature off via a menu option.

Canon's menu system is very easy to use and gets a little better with each DSLR released. One new menu option you will on the T3i is the "Creative filters" option as found on the 60D.

The T3i offers 4 creative filters: Grainy B/W, Soft Focus, Toy Camera Effect (vignetting and color shift) and Miniature Effect (reverse tilt-shift look). These filters can be applied to a RAW or JPG image in-camera. A new image file is created using the selected filter and filter settings leaving the original file unaffected. EXIF information for the resulting files contains the name of the filter used along with the setting strength (no setting for Miniature).

Here are examples of these effects (shot with an EOS 60D):

T3i Creative Filters

Soft Focus Low | Standard | Strong
Miniature Horizontal | Vertical
 

As I said in the Canon EOS 60D Review, I personally find the effects gimmicky and will probably never use them. The Miniature is easily the most intriguing to me - maybe I'll use that one. You might see a slight background change in the Vertical Miniature sample above- this is because I cloned a limb out of this area above the girl's head.

Like the rest of the recently-delivered EOS DSLRs, the Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D is a video DSLR. Turn the Mode Dial to Video Mode and press the Live View/Video button to start recording.

The T3i matches the T2i's video feature set: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video compression, variable (averaged) bit rate, Full HD 1920x1080p at 30/25/24 fps, HD/SD 1280x720p/640x480 at 60/50 fps (actual frame rates match the NTSC or PAL standards such as 29.97 for NTSC), .MOV file format and linear PCM audio recording. Full manual exposure control is available including ISO settings ranging from Auto (allows fixed aperture and shutter speeds) up to 6400. Auto exposure modes use center-weighted average and evaluative metering.

"The new Movie Digital Zoom feature, a first for Canon DSLRs, allows users to achieve 3x to 10x magnification while shooting Full HD video." The cropped zoom feature is not the digital zoom available in most point and shoot cameras that delivers poor image quality. Since the overall size of the T3i sensor is so much larger than necessary for 1080p video, the processor can achieve full resolution zoom by using pixels closer to the center of the sensor.

However, the classic digital zoom is also available and does result in degraded image quality. Increased noise is noticeable in cropped video mode as can be seen in the ISO 1600 mouseover comparison below. These images are crops of images saved using ZoomBrowser's "Save as still image" option.

T3i Cropped Video Example

 
The T3i includes the usual built-in, get-the-job-done monaural microphone (with wind filter) and a 3.5mm jack for an external stereo microphone such as the Rode Stereo Video Mic. All compatible lenses can be used.

Video memory card requirements for video are Speed Class 6 or higher SDHC or SDXC. Recorded file size is limited to 4 GB per video clip (11 minutes at 1080p, 330MB/min) and a single video cannot be longer than 29:59.

Two, four or eight second "video snapshots" can be taken. Use Canon's included ZoomBrowser EX software to extract still photos from video files (at relatively low resolution of course)

DSLR video is a great feature that is ever being used by more people/companies/businesses. DSLRs, with their huge-to-video-camera-standards sensors, deliver impressive video image quality. The large sensor combined with the huge range of lenses available gives even those on a tight budget the ability to create incredible video projects utilizing shallow DOF and low/available light.

But DSLRs are not a perfect-for-everyone video package. Though settings can be set fully automatically, recording a quality T3i video requires some forethought. Here is why: First, AF during video is available but not recommended - even by Canon. The contrast detection AF (using the shutter release button) that is available in video mode is slow and can completely ruin a segment while it tries to find the right focus distance ("focus pulling" is what the pros do). All lens focusing sounds are audibly recorded by the internal mono mic as are the aperture changes made by the auto exposure feature (unless exposure is locked or Manual Exposure Mode is used). If zooming or panning in auto-exposure mode, changes in scene brightness will cause undesirable exposure changes in the recorded video. All other camera sounds including image stabilization noises will be picked up - along with wind noise unless an external mic is used. Rolling shutter can be obvious in fast-pans of vertical lines.

Put the camera on a tripod, manually focus the lens and life is much better. The quality from the built-in mic is not bad, but an external mic will definitely produce better results. And again, video quality is very, very high. HD video is a very nice and valuable feature added to an already great and affordable DSLR. If high end production video is for you, this camera quickly becomes bargain-priced.

Getting back to the above camera image comparison ... The T3i is a small camera - not much larger than a Canon PowerShot G-Series camera. Small size is great for convenience and portability - and for small hands, but the larger bodies are easier to control - especially with a large lens mounted. I have medium-sized hands and, with the T3i's rubber grip surface, do not have problems using it. I find that all fingers rest comfortably on the grip (older Rebels left my pinky hanging). My preference is still for the larger bodies. Adding the optional and easily removable Canon BG-E8 Battery Grip goes a long way to making the T3i more controllable.

Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D Top View Comparison

1D IV | 5D II | 7D | 60D | 50D | T3i | T2i | T1i | T3 | XSi | XTi | XS

 
The most obvious change on the top of the T3i is the addition of the Diplay button - as I mentioned earlier in the review. Looking more closely, you will see that the fully automatic green square mode icon on the mode button gets an "A+" - I'll talk more about that later.

Canon goes far in trying to make this DSLR easy to use for a beginner, but keeps expert-level controls readily available. The T3i has a total of 14 modes available via the top dial. These modes encompass all needs from fully manual to fully automatic (green square mode) with many preset and creative modes in between. The "CA" (Creative Auto) mode has become a standard inclusion. Creative Auto mode allows the photographer to adjust the shot settings using easily understood words instead of using f/settings and 1/zzz time value shutter speeds. These settings are displayed on the rear LCD while adjustments are being made.

The mode button also receives less aggressive ribs on its side - reverting to T1i-style. I like this change. As I said before, changing modes with the Feature Guide enabled results in a description of the mode being displayed on the LCD.

As I also mentioned before and as you will notice when comparing to the larger DSLRs, the T3i has no top LCD. All settings are visible on the back LCD. The dedicated top-positioned ISO button is very convenient.

The Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D gets an "A+". At least the mode button's green square fully-automatic mode does. Auto mode now incorporates Canon's "Scene Intelligent Auto technology" which adds Picture Style to the rest of the auto settings including exposure, focus, white balance, and Auto Lighting Optimizer. "By analyzing faces, colors, brightness, movement, and contrast, the camera will dynamically adjust picture-style parameters to match the subject and control vividness. So when the camera is photographing a face it will reproduce more natural skin tones or blue skies for more vivid landscapes, a flashy red car for more saturated color and evening sunsets for more expressive images." (press release)

I spent some time evaluating the new SAIt. Overall, it seems to work, but mostly I see a small amount of saturation added to certain images. I would say it is an improvement.

"Auto" is now available as another Picture Style on the RAW processing tab in DPP for T3i images. However, a RAW image shot in "A+ does not quite match the same image shot in another mode but processed to the same parameters in DPP. Saturation seems to be the difference - and increasing saturation in the non-"A+ shot produces similar results.

Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D Side View Comparison

1D IV | 7D | 60D | T3i | T2i | T3
 

As you will see in the size specifications table below, the T3i is spec'd to be thicker than the previous models. But as you can see in the comparison above, there is not .7" (17.8mm) of difference. The angles used in the above images perhaps make the T3i appear slightly larger, but it is not. It appears to me that Canon changed their measurement to include the flash.

ModelBody DimensionsCIPA Weight
Canon PowerShot G1 X4.6 x 3.2 x 2.6"(116.7 x 80.5 x 64.7mm)18.8 oz (534g)
Canon PowerShot G124.4 x 3.0 x 1.9"(112.1 x 76.2 x 48.3mm)13.7 oz (389g)
Canon PowerShot G94.2 x 2.8 x 1.7"(106.4 x 71.9 x 42.5mm)12.9 oz (365g)
Canon EOS M4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3"(108.6 x 66.5 x 32.3mm)10.5 oz (298g)
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D4.6 x 3.6 x 2.7"(116.8 x 90.7 x 69.4mm)14.4 oz (407g)
Canon EOS Rebel T5i / 700D5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1"(133.1 x 99.8 x 78.8mm)20.5 oz (580g)
Canon EOS Rebel T4i / 650D5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1"(133.1 x 99.8 x 78.8mm)20.3 oz (575g)
Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1"(133.1 x 99.5 x 79.7mm)20.1 oz (570g)
Canon EOS Rebel T2i / 550D5.1 x 3.8 x 2.4"(128.8 x 97.5 x 61.9mm)18.7 oz (530g)
Canon EOS Rebel T1i / 500D5.1 x 3.8 x 2.4"(128.8 x 97.5 x 61.9mm)18.6 oz (527g)
Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1"(129.6 x 99.7 x 77.9 mm)16.9 oz (480g)
Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1"(129.9 x 99.7 x 77.9mm)17.5 oz (495g)
Canon EOS Rebel XSi / 450D5.1 x 3.8 x 2.4"(128.8 x 97.5 x 61.9mm)18.4 oz (522g)
Canon EOS Rebel XS / 1000D5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4"(126.1 x 97.5 x 61.9mm)17.5 oz (497g)
Canon EOS Rebel XTi / 400D5.0 x 3.7 x 2.6"(127 x 94 x 65mm)19.9 oz (564g)
Canon EOS Rebel XT / 350D5.0 x 3.7 x 2.6"(127 x 94 x 64mm)19.0 oz (539g)
Canon EOS 70D5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1"(139.0 x 104.3 x 78.5mm)26.7 oz (755g)
Canon EOS 60D5.7 x 4.2 x 3.1"(144.5 x 105.8 x 78.6mm)26.6 oz (755g)
Canon EOS 50D5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9"(145.5 x 107.8 x 73.5mm)29.1 oz (826g)
Canon EOS 40D5.7 x 4.4 x 2.9"(145.5 x 112 x 73.5mm)29.5 oz (836g)
Canon EOS 30D5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9"(144 x 105.5 x 73.5mm)28.1 oz (796g)
Canon EOS 20D5.6 x 4.2 x 2.8"(144 x 106 x 72mm)27.5 oz (781g)
Canon EOS 7D5.8 x 4.4 x 2.9"(148.2 x 110.7 x 73.5mm)32.2 oz (914g)
Canon EOS 6D5.7 x 4.4 x 2.8"(144.5 x 110.5 x 71.2mm)26.6 oz (755g)
Canon EOS 5D Mark III6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0"(152 x 116.4 x 76.4mm)33.5 oz (950g)
Canon EOS 5D Mark II6.0 x 4.5 x 3.0"(152 x 113.5 x 75mm)31.9 oz (904g)
Canon EOS 5D6.0 x 4.4 x 3.0"(152 x 113 x 75mm)32.0 oz (906g)
Canon EOS 1D X6.2 x 6.4 x 3.3"(158 x 163.6 x 82.7mm)54.0 oz (1530g)
Canon EOS 1D Mark IV6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1"(156 x 157 x 80mm)48.5 oz (1374g)
Canon EOS 1D Mark III6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1"(156 x 157 x 80mm)47.6 oz (1349g)
Canon EOS 1D Mark II N6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1"(156 x 158 x 80 mm)55.5 oz (1574g)
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III6.1 x 6.3 x 3.1"(156 x 159.6 x 79.9mm)49.5 oz (1404g)
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1"(156 x 158 x 80 mm)55.2 oz (1564g)

 
Small size and light weight are primary characteristics of the EOS Rebel/***D series DSLRs. The Rebel series is not built as well as the **D series, but it still has a very good quality feel to it. The rubber on both sides of the body provide a sure gripping surface.

Canon has not released a shutter durability rating for a Rebel DSLR since the T1i, so we are only left to guess what the current rating may be. I expect the number to be significantly high - perhaps 100,000?

ModelShutter Durability Rating
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100Dn/a
Canon EOS Rebel T5i / 700Dn/a
Canon EOS Rebel T4i / 650Dn/a
Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600Dn/a
Canon EOS Rebel T2i / 550Dn/a
Canon EOS Rebel T1i / 500D100,000
Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200Dn/a
Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100Dn/a
Canon EOS Rebel XSi / 450D100,000
Canon EOS Rebel XS / 1000D100,000
Canon EOS Rebel XTi / 400D50,000
Canon EOS Rebel XT / 350D50,000
Canon EOS 70D100,000
Canon EOS 60D100,000
Canon EOS 50D100,000
Canon EOS 40D100,000
Canon EOS 30D100,000
Canon EOS 20D50,000
Canon EOS 7D150,000
Canon EOS 6D100,000
Canon EOS 5D Mark III150,000
Canon EOS 5D Mark II150,000
Canon EOS 5D100,000
Canon EOS 1D X400,000
Canon EOS 1D Mark IV300,000
Canon EOS 1D Mark III300,000
Canon EOS 1D Mark II N200,000
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III300,000
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II200,000

 
The entry level line of EOS DSLRs trails the rest of the EOS line in regards to speed-related performance.

ModelFPSMax JPGMax RAWShutter LagVF Blackout
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D4.028/11407/875ms 
Canon EOS Rebel T5i / 700D5.022/306/675ms 
Canon EOS Rebel T4i / 650D5.030675ms 
Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D3.734690ms130ms
Canon EOS Rebel T2i / 550D3.734690ms130ms
Canon EOS Rebel T1i / 500D3.4170990ms130ms
Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D3.0696  
Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D3 / 28305110ms150ms
Canon EOS Rebel XSi / 450D3.553690ms130ms
Canon EOS Rebel XS / 1000D3 / 1.5n/a590ms
Canon EOS Rebel XTi / 400D3.02710100ms170ms
Canon EOS Rebel XT / 350D3.0144100ms170ms
Canon EOS 70D7.040/6515/1665ms97ms
Canon EOS 60D5.3581659ms100ms
Canon EOS 50D6.3901659ms100ms
Canon EOS 40D6.5751759ms100ms
Canon EOS 30D5.0301165ms110ms
Canon EOS 20D5.023665ms115ms
Canon EOS 7D8.0110/13023/2559ms100ms
Canon EOS 6D4.573/125014/17<60ms 
Canon EOS 5D Mark III6.065/16k13/1859ms125ms
Canon EOS 5D Mark II3.978/31013/1473ms145ms
Canon EOS 5D3.0601775ms145ms
Canon EOS 1D X12/141803836-55ms60ms
Canon EOS 1D Mark IV10.01212840-55ms80ms
Canon EOS 1D Mark III10.01103040-55ms80ms
Canon EOS 1D Mark II N8.5482240-55ms87ms
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III5.0561240-55ms80ms
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II4.0321140-55ms87ms

 
Point and shoot users taking their first picture with the Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D will think that it is lightning-fast, but those used to a 1-Series body will think the T3i feels very sluggish. While this impression is based on user experience, the truth is that the Rebel cameras are not the ideal camera for capturing critical fast action due to the relative slowness of the shutter and the relatively slow frame rate.

To test burst rate, I shoot in M mode (wide open aperture, 1/4000 shutter speed), ISO 100, MF, IS off, lens cap on, and all noise reduction off. Testing this way delivered a consistent 7 shot RAW burst at 3.30 fps rate followed by 1 frame every 1.65 seconds. My experience is that the 7 shots seem to get used up very quickly when shooting action.

The T3i has a quiet shutter sound to go with its discrete size. Here are the MP3 clips.

Burst
Single Shot
Canon EOS T3i, then 60D, then 7D Burst Comparison

Looking at the T3i burst rate comparison in another way: the 60D burst sequence is 1.43x as likely (using Canon's rating) to have the exact frame you wanted in it and the 7D is over 2x as likely to capture that frame. If you don't shoot burst sequences, the difference is irrelevant.

The Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D uses the same battery pack as the T2i - the small Canon LP-E8. I am disappointed with the corded Canon LC-E8E Battery Charger that shipped with my T3i as it did with my T2i. I always love the Canon self-contained chargers that plug directly into an outlet - I don't want to deal with a cord - especially when traveling. A normal non-corded Canon LC-E8 Battery Charger appears in the user manual beside the LC-E8E, so the charger I want exists.

Canon rates the LP-E8 + T3i combination at a comparatively modest 550 (440 w/ flash) shots. The T3i tracks 4 levels of battery charge on the rear LCD.

Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D with BG-E8 Battery Grip

Want more battery life? Shoot in portrait orientation a lot? Want more control over your camera? Get a Canon BG-E8 Battery Grip. Above is a RFebel T3i with a Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens and a Canon BG-E8 Battery Grip mounted on it.

The BG-E8 accepts two LP-E8 batteries (or 6 readily available AA batteries in the included tray). Better yet, the BG-E8 provides a complete vertical grip with the appropriate buttons. The BG-E8 adds a lot to the size and weight of the T3i but it definitely makes the small body easier to control. It is easily installed or removed to give you the best of both worlds.

A BG-E8 enhancement over prior Rebel Battery Grips is an improved vertical/portrait orientation grip that better holds onto your hand. I like the change.

The Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D is compatible with the small, inexpensive Canon wireless remotes including the Canon RC-1 Wireless Remote and the Canon RC-6 Wireless Remote. Want to be part of your on family picture? Or just don't want to deal with a remote release cord? This is the accessory you want. Flip the LCD around and you can even see yourself in the frame.

T3i Flash

Obvious from the picture above, the T3i has a built-in flash - like all of the Rebel models before it. Not obvious is that built-in flash contains new functionality - it can remotely control off-camera Speedlite flashes. Like the EOS 7D and the EOS 60D, the T3i contains an Integrated Speedlite Transmitter.

No external flash controller (such as the Canon 580EX II Flash and Canon ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter) is needed to completely control as many remote flashes as desired. Using one of 4 available channels, the T3i can take complete control of multiple groups of flashes with ratios of up to 8:1. Flash settings are controlled from the T3i's menu which includes an extensive range of controls for both the built in and remote flashes including an EasyWireless or CustWireless option and up to ±2 stops of FEC (Flash Exposure Compensation). The Integrated Speedlite Transmitter feature alone, if needed, will save you the purchase of a device with a significant cost - and the convenience factor of having this feature built-in is huge.

I say it in each Canon EOS DSLR review, but it remains true. When you buy a Canon DSLR, you are buying into an incredible family of lenses and other accessories. The camera body is of course the base and a lens is the other essential piece of kit.

The T3i is, at review time, available in a body-only or in a kit with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens or the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens. The 18-55 IS II kit lens is decent and is a good value when purchased in the kit. The 18-135 costs more, but is also a better lens.

Because the quality of the lens makes such a big difference in the image quality delivered by a DSLR, I strongly recommend buying (now or later), one of the better Canon general purpose lenses available. As of review time, the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens and Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens are my most-recommended general purpose APS-C/1.6x lenses with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens and the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM Lens being excellent alternatives.

The product support provided by Canon's USA division is excellent (I have no experience with the other Canon divisions). When I call for support, I get an intelligent person who sincerely wants to help me with whatever my question or problem is. Repair service, though I have seldom needed it, is fast and reliable.

This review is not a complete description of every Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D (Kiss X5 in Japan) feature available. For that, I recommend the manual. The T3i owner's manual is 324 pages long - and it is your friend. The paper version comes in the box, the digital version is linked for download at the end of this review. Read it, go use your camera, repeat.

The manual will tell you all about features such as Auto Lighting Optimizer, Peripheral Illumination Correction, remote control via a USB-connected computer, the Self-cleaning Sensor, the built-in flash, High ISO Noise Reduction, Long Exposure Noise Reduction, Highlight Tone Priority ... and many, many other topics.

We have come a long way since the original Canon EOS Digital Rebel / 300D. But the T3i, in my opinion, is not a dramatic improvement over the T2i. Unless the Vari-Angle LCD and built-in flash controller are must-have improvements for T2i owners, they will probably be happier with an additional lens than with upgrading to the T3i.

For someone buying their first DSLR or upgrading from a couple of models back, the Vari-Angle LCD and built-in flash controller make the T3i worth paying the premium over the T2i in my opinion. The Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D is a great choice for someone moving up to a DSLR from a smaller, less-capable camera and a great upgrade for anyone shooting with a two or more-generation old Canon EOS Rebel ***/***D body (such as the XTi/400D) or from any Canon EOS Rebel **/****D body (such as the XS/1000D). Those with a Rebel T1i / 500D will need to look carefully at the new features before making an upgrade as these owners have the least to gain.

Need a backup camera to throw in the pack? The T3i is a great choice. Or, you can have your kids carry the backup camera for you (using it of course). The T3i is a great option for your child's entry into the world of DSLR photography - which leads to a great way to spend family time together - sharing your passion with your kids. Your kids learn a useful life skill while spending quality time with you. If your camera fails, you can share the kids' camera. :) My 14 year-old has been using a Rebel DSLR for years now and will be the likely recipient of my purchased-retail-at-B&H Rebel T3i.

Those wishing to consider an even more capable camera should next read the Canon EOS 60D DSLR Review. The EOS 60D is currently the next step up in Canon DSLR performance. Some of the 60D's advantages include a larger viewfinder (pentaprism vs. pentamirror), larger grip, longer battery life (almost 3 times as many shots on a full charge as the 600D), rear control dial, top LCD, shorter shutter lag, faster frame rate with a deeper buffer, faster shutter speed (1/8000 vs. 1/4000), faster max flash synch shutter speed (X-synch = 1/250 vs. 1/200), finer ISO setting control (1/3 stop vs. 1 stop), better AF system (still 9 points, but all are cross-type on the 60D vs. only the center point on the T3i), tighter partial and spot metering areas, horizon level ... The price jump to the 60D is not dramatic. The modestly larger size and weight of the 60D will not be seen as a benefit to everyone.

I summed up this review in the first paragraph: The Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D delivers 18 megapixels of professional grade image quality in a compact, lightweight, feature-filled, easy-to-use body that carries a very affordable price tag. These are the qualities have anchored the flagship Canon Rebel model in the top-selling DSLRs category for years - and I fully expect the T3i to maintain the Rebel's popularity.

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