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Box Photo

Included in the box with the Canon T3i:

  • Battery pack LP-E8
  • Battery charger LC-E8
  • Wide neck strap
  • Interface USB cable
  • Stereo AV cable
  • Software/Manuals

The Canon T3i utilizes the same 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor that has been seen in the Canon 7D, T2i, and 60D. As its fourth go-round, this sensor doesn’t have any surprises in store. It is packed with pixels, with the highest pixel density of any of the cameras in our comparison group. As such, it offers a ton of resolution, but generally at the expense of increased noise.

Quite simply, you can do a lot with 18 megapixels. If your goal is to print A4-size images and smaller, you can effectively crop out half your image and still get reasonable results. That kind of flexibility is great when you’re shooting in situations you can’t control, such as on vacation or with family. If you are a person that likes to crop and print to large sizes, you’ll definitely want a sharper lens than comes kitted with the T3i, however.

The T3i uses an optical viewfinder that covers about 95% of the frame, with approximately 0.85% magnification and -3.0 to +1.0 m-1 (dpt) correction range. If you need further correction for your eyes and hate contact lenses, there are other dioptric correction eyepieces that can be purchased.

The T3i features the same swivel-LCD that made its debut on the Canon 60D. It’s a 3-inch screen with approximately 1040k dots of resolution. It’s not particularly visible in direct sunlight, but that’s why you have an optical viewfinder.

Much like on Canon’s other DSLRs, the LCD provides a great deal of information without feeling cluttered. You can overlay grids to assist with framing and leveling, or utilize a live histogram to better judge exposure or color temperature.

The ability to twist the LCD offers the kind of flexibility that really is needed if your aim is to record video with the Canon T3i. Complemented by the screen’s 170-degree viewing angle, the LCD offers shooters a view of their recording at just about any angle. With DSLRs becoming a more serious option for videography, swivel screens should be here to stay.

The T3i has the same built-in flash as the T2i before it. It has an effective range of about 3.7 meters (12.1 feet) at ISO 100. Like most built-in flashes, it tends to be far too harsh within 15-20 feet at moderate to high ISO speeds, resulting in washed out colors and darkened backgrounds. The T3i does also inherit the 60D’s ability to control flashes wirelessly, adjusting power and balance between the built-in flash and the external wireless strobe.

The flash on the T3i can be set to fire automatically or be turned off completely. It has a maximum sync speed of 1/200, though this is adjustable to slower settings. In the menu, you can set the camera to meter required flash power to either evaluative or average modes, while also setting a compensation of +/- 2 stops to however the camera meters the scene.

The Canon T3i features a mini-HDMI output and combined USB/AV output hidden behind a rubber flap on the left side of the camera. There is also a remote release and stereo mic input behind a second flap. On the right side of the camera is the memory card port, which hides behind a solid plastic piece that slides out, just like on the T2i.

The Canon T3i uses the same LP-E8 battery as the Canon T2i. There’s not much about the T3i to justify upgrading if you own a perfectly functional T2i, but if you have a spare LP-E8 lying around they’ll share that at least.

The T3i can utilize SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards. There is no listed maximum card size. Memory cards slot into a small compartment on the right side of the camera and are easily removable, even with the T3i on a tripod.

The idea of “sharpness” in a lens is derived from its ability to keep distinct areas of contrast from blurring into one another—a natural occurrence when light passes through any lens. Neither kit lens from Canon offers much in the way of sharpness, but we found the 18-135mm to be particularly poor. It should be noted that we take our test shots using the “Faithful” color mode—the most accurate color mode that we found—which, unlike automatic mode, adds no sharpening to images.

Both the 18-55mm and 18-135mm kit lenses available for the Canon T3i / 600D are soft at the edges of the lens, especially at the wide angle and with the smallest apertures. More on how we test sharpness.

We found the image stabilization on the 18-135mm kit lens to be effective, especially during scenarios of high-shake, such as when walking. Image stabilization was best able to counteract motion at shutter speeds faster than 1/8th of a second—beyond that the shutter is simply open too long to register many sharp images on the T3i.

We found that the T3i reproduced colors accurately, though it generally favors slightly more vibrant colors rather than pure accuracy. The automatic mode was oversaturated a bit, with blues and yellows being the least accurate. More on how we test color.

If you’re looking for as much accuracy as possible, the “faithful” picture style is the best choice, as it offers near-perfect saturation and good accuracy. The automatic and standard picture styles that are available enhance sharpness artificially and are not as accurate as the faithful mode. For that reason, we used the faithful picture style to offer the most accurate test results possible.

NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.

We found that the T3i's color accuracy to be very good, scoring comparably with the models in its price range. The T2i scored slightly higher, but the T3i shares the same sensor and had near-perfect saturation in the faithful color mode. The Nikon D5000 and Sony A55V were slightly more accurate, but tended to oversaturate. The Samsung NX10 was the only camera that struggled to keep up, with modes that tend to either severely mute colors or make them pop, with accuracy sacrificed.

The Canon T3i comes with a number of different picture effects modes. We tested the accuracy of Auto, Standard, Portrait, Faithful, and Neutral modes. The faithful mode was not only the most accurate, but it also doesn't artificially enhance sharpness. Neutral also does not enhance sharpness, but renders very muted colors. The auto, standard, and portrait modes ultimately produce very similar images, with slight enhancement to color tone and sharpness.

The Canon T3i, like most DSLRs, performs well in correcting for different temperatures of light. Most of the cameras in our comparison group did better, but the T3i’s automatic setting was more than adequate in a variety of lighting conditions. The T3i is let down mostly by a custom function that is inaccurate in many situations and not well implemented from a user perspective.

Automatic White Balance ()

The automatic white balance on the Canon T3i actually outperformed the custom white balance in both compact white fluorescent and daylight, where it managed a lower average color error across the board. This did not hold true for tungsten light, where the Canon T3i had serious difficulty accounting for the color temperature in automatic. This is not uncommon, as tungsten filaments—typically used in home incandescent lightbulbs—tend to give cameras problems.

We found that the T3i produced an average color error of just 92.50 degrees kelvin in lab-simulated daytime lighting. That is impressive, considering taking the time to actually set a custom white balance resulted in a far less accurate color score.

Incandescent lighting generally causes havoc with automatic white balance settings on digital cameras. That was certainly the case here, as the T3i produced a strong warm color cast that resulted in an average color error of 1816.15 degrees kelvin.

We found the automatic white balance produced an average color error of 123 degrees kelvin under compact white fluorescent lighting. It again performed worse with a custom white balance, producing images with a color error of 211.50 degrees kelvin.

Custom White Balance ()

Setting a custom white balance on the Canon T3i is a pretty cumbersome affair. Quite simply, it’s more difficult than it needs to be. In order to tell the camera what white is in a given lighting condition, you have to first take an image of a neutral subject and then go into the menu and tell the camera to reference that image as white. If you format the card and happen to change or wipe the custom setting, you then have to take a new image and repeat the process. Why doesn’t Canon allow users to save multiple white balance settings, or at least leverage the camera’s live view to make the process easier?

All the cameras in our comparison group performed well in white balance testing. The T3i is the lowest scoring of the comparison group, but only because its custom function didn’t perform as well as it should have.

There are six preset white balance options available on the T3i, in addition to the custom and automatic options: daylight (5200 K), shade (7000 K), cloudy (6000 K), tungsten light (3200 K), white fluorescent light (4000 K), and a setting to correct for the built-in flash.

In addition to custom white balance, the T3i also allows for white balance bracketing and shifting. Bracketing will take multiple exposures with different levels of color bias, but will reduce the total number of pictures the user can take and slow down continuous shooting. White balance shifting allows users to alter the camera’s white balance settings to match the scene if color temperature is known.

The T3i was able to keep noise and color error to a minimum during long exposures. As with the Canon T2i before it, the T3i’s long exposure noise reduction feature did little to actually improve noise results. In our tests, noise reduction had no real effect on either color accuracy or noise. More on how we test long exposure.

In our long exposure testing, the T3i produced images with an average color error of 3.6 in shots longer than one second. That error, while worse than we saw with shorter exposures, was fairly constant beyond one second, never rising above 3.8.

In long exposure testing, the Canon T3i produced noise of approximately 0.8% in shutter speeds ranging from one second to thirty. Noise was worst in the red and blue channels, while saturation was slightly higher than in shorter exposures.

The Canon T3i improved both color error and noise by significant margins over the T2i, though the scores still lagged behind the Samsung NX10 and Nikon D5000. The Sony A55V, which has suffered from concerns about overheating on long exposures, had the worst problems here, with noise rising significantly in shots longer than 15 seconds.

The T3i comes with three levels of noise reduction: low, standard, and strong. We found the standard to be the most useful, as it applies less noise reduction at the low end of the ISO range (up to about ISO 800) and a greater amount beyond that. In total, standard mode keeps noise to a respectable level, with just about 2% at ISO 6400. If you really want to keep noise out, the maximum setting of noise reduction will drop that amount to 1.4% at ISO 6400, though at a greater penalty to fine detail.

Noise is most apparent in the red and blue channels of the images with the T3i, with yellow and green noise being less of a problem. Luma noise is barely perceptible at low ISOs, only becoming an issue above ISO 800. At ISO speeds 3200 and greater, noise spikes sharply upward without noise reduction activated. More on how we test noise.

The Canon T3i comes with an ISO range of 100-6400 in its default settings, with an ISO expansion option that provides a “High” option equivalent to 12800 ISO. There is also an automatic ISO mode, with a menu option to limit the maximum ISO to 400, 800, 1600, 3200, or 6400. One note: if you turn on the highlight tone priority option, ISO 100 and 12800 are not available.

The Canon T3i performed right on par with the T2i, which was expected given that they share the same sensor. Images from the T3i showed over six stops of range through ISO 800, with results quickly falling off thereafter. The T3i has several modes to help alleviate that, with both highlight tone priority and auto lighting optimizer options available—though not at the same time—to help keep detail in the brightest and darkest areas. Shooting in RAW also helps, as you can rescue some detail on either end through post-processing. More on how we test dynamic range.

The Canon T3i, Nikon D5000, and Canon T2i performed very similarly in this test, as all were able to pull in well over seven stops of range. The Samsung NX10 had the worst scores of the lot, losing a lot of detail in the brightest and darkest areas. The best camera in our group was the Sony A55V, which was able to preserve more than 3 stops all the way to ISO 12800—also posting the best scores at a more practical ISO 3200.

The only comparison camera that really beat the T3i out in dynamic range was the Sony A55V, which scored very well on our test. The Nikon D5000 came in just a hair behind the T3i and T2i, with the Samsung NX10 putting up a disappointing score overall.

The T3i comes with three levels of noise reduction: low, standard, and strong. We found the standard to be the most useful, as it applies less noise reduction at the low end of the ISO range (up to about ISO 800) and a greater amount beyond that. In total, standard mode keeps noise to a respectable level, with just about 2% at ISO 6400. If you really want to keep noise out, the maximum setting of noise reduction will drop that amount to 1.4% at ISO 6400, though at a greater penalty to fine detail.

Noise is most apparent in the red and blue channels of the images with the T3i, with yellow and green noise being less of a problem. Luma noise is barely perceptible at low ISOs, only becoming an issue above ISO 800. At ISO speeds 3200 and greater, noise spikes sharply upward without noise reduction activated. More on how we test noise.

The Canon T3i comes with an ISO range of 100-6400 in its default settings, with an ISO expansion option that provides a “High” option equivalent to 12800 ISO. There is also an automatic ISO mode, with a menu option to limit the maximum ISO to 400, 800, 1600, 3200, or 6400. One note: if you turn on the highlight tone priority option, ISO 100 and 12800 are not available.

The Canon T3i utilizes a nine-point autofocus system with a single cross-type center point. We found that system to be snappy in use for most everyday snapshots, though not always perfectly accurate. In live view the camera reverts to its contrast detection system, which is not nearly as fast or accurate. When using live view the zoom button allows for a 5x or 10x magnification, which helps with manual focus.

The Canon Rebel T3i allows users to select individual points or to utilize the entire array automatically. Focus area settings are easy to change, with a button just above the thumb rest allowing quick access to the feature.

The T3i was able to keep noise and color error to a minimum during long exposures. As with the Canon T2i before it, the T3i’s long exposure noise reduction feature did little to actually improve noise results. In our tests, noise reduction had no real effect on either color accuracy or noise. More on how we test long exposure.

In our long exposure testing, the T3i produced images with an average color error of 3.6 in shots longer than one second. That error, while worse than we saw with shorter exposures, was fairly constant beyond one second, never rising above 3.8.

In long exposure testing, the Canon T3i produced noise of approximately 0.8% in shutter speeds ranging from one second to thirty. Noise was worst in the red and blue channels, while saturation was slightly higher than in shorter exposures.

The Canon T3i improved both color error and noise by significant margins over the T2i, though the scores still lagged behind the Samsung NX10 and Nikon D5000. The Sony A55V, which has suffered from concerns about overheating on long exposures, had the worst problems here, with noise rising significantly in shots longer than 15 seconds.

We tested the Canon T3i to see how sensitive it was to light and found that it took just 8 lux of light on a lab chart to reproduce an image that reached 50 IRE on a waveform monitor. This is a fairly acceptable image that, while dark, is still visible with some degree of detail.

The Canon T3i exhibited little chromatic aberration in our tests using either the 18-55mm lens or the 18-135mm lens. There is noticeable blue/green fringing, but it’s largely kept under control and is only visible at the periphery of the lens. In our sample photos we didn’t notice it to be a distraction to any large degree.

We found that the 18-135mm IS lens that we used during testing was subject to heavy distortion across the zoom range. There is more than 3.5% barrel distortion at the wide angle, with pincushion distortion developing through the telephoto range with a maximum of about 1.6%. This distortion can be corrected in post-processing, but 3.5% distortion is poor—even for a lens that covers a large zoom range. When we tested with the 18-55mm lens, distortion was only noticeable at the wide angle, where there was a 2.39% pincushion distortion.

There was a fair amount of artifacting and ghosting with the T3i in video capture. We found that generally the resulting videos were appealingly smooth, though if the camera panned to either direction there is a noticeable rolling shutter effect. Exposure is fully adjustable on the camera, though, so you can adjust shutter speeds to fine-tune motion performance to your liking. More on how CamcorderInfo tests motion.

The videos out of the Canon T3i look much better than the older Nikon D5000. In addition to being 1080/30p as opposed to the Nikon's 720/24p, there is much smoother video with less artifacting from the T3i. Colors are more undersaturated with the T3i, but motion is rendered much more attractively.

The Sony A55V had some of the best DSLR video that we've seen yet, with near-perfect saturation levels and sharp motion with little flaring or ghosting. The T3i suffers by comparison, with video that is undersaturated and underexposed.

The videos out of the Samsung NX10 had better contrast and sharpness, with slightly more accurate colors than those from the T3i. However, the videos from the NX10 are heavily compressed by comparison. As a result there is far more artifacting than in the T3i, color gradation is rougher, and some fine detail is lost.

We found that the T3i with the 18-135mm kit lens produced fairly sharp results in video recording. In our test we found that the T3i was able to resolve approximately 750 lw/ph of vertical sharpness, though just 600 lw/ph of horizontal sharpness. This is an improvement over the T2i (tested with the 18-55mm lens) and is slightly sharper than what we have seen from other video-capable DSLRs. More on how CamcorderInfo tests video sharpness.

We tested the Canon T3i to see how sensitive it was to light and found that it took just 8 lux of light on a lab chart to reproduce an image that reached 50 IRE on a waveform monitor. This is a fairly acceptable image that, while dark, is still visible with some degree of detail.

The Canon T3i has a fairly typical layout compared to other Rebel SLRs. It has a mode dial, power switch, display button and ISO button on top of the camera. There is also the shutter release button just where your index finger comes to rest above the grip.

On the rear of the camera is the articulating LCD, with menu and info buttons above and to the left of the viewfinder. On the right side of the rear of the camera is a four-way control pad—eschewing the more functional control wheel of the Canon 60D—with playback keys beneath. Above the control pad are buttons to access the quick menu and exposure compensation functions. The Quick menu gives access to a number of settings while in live view, and also allows users to change the “ambiance” of a scene mode to emphasize certain colors and tones.

There is also a dedicated live view button to the right of the viewfinder, as well as buttons for focus/exposure lock and focus assistance. The focus assistance button selects your AF point in normal shooting and zooms in digitally up to 10x during live view to make focusing easier. These buttons work to zoom in and out while in playback mode.

There are several picture effects available in the automatic modes and scene modes. These fall under “ambience” settings and make slight adjustments to the way a scene is interpreted. There are settings for vivid, soft, warm, cool, brighter, darker, monochrome (with black and white, blue, and sepia), and intense effects. Each of these effects can be given a strength of low, medium, or high.

There are also several picture filters available through the T3i’s playback menu. These will take a photo on the card and apply either a grainy B/W effect, soft focus blur, fish-eye distortion, a vignette like a toy camera, or selective blurring to make an object appear smaller. When these filters are applied a new image is created, preserving the original.

The menu on the T3i is precisely what you have seen on previous Canon Rebels: it is separated into several tabs from left to right, with shooting settings on the left in red, playback settings in blue, and camera settings and custom functions in yellow. There is also a customizable menu tab in green.

The menu is legible and laid out so that you don’t have to ever scroll down to see more options. However, the placement of some functions is a cause for concern. The custom function settings are stashed in a secondary menu, next to copyright information and LCD settings. These include near-essential menu items like noise reduction, ISO expansion, highlight tone priority, and exposure level increments. If there were custom modes on the dial that these settings allied with, I could see the need for differentiation. That isn’t the case here and it only works to further complicate the menu.

The T3i comes with a very substantial manual in both English and Spanish that tops out at 323 pages. There are a ton of features on the T3i and the manual does a good job at explaining them. The diagrams are clearly laid out, very legible, and organized in a thoughtful manner.

The manual itself isn’t necessarily geared toward beginners, but the camera comes with three small guides that provide very useful tips for amateurs. These books are definitely an extended sales pitch to buy things like macro lenses and external flashes, but they explain the benefits well and go over some key basics that will serve a beginner well.

The T3i handles almost precisely like the T2i that came before it. The articulating LCD is a great addition if you like shooting video or shooting in live view. We found the grip to be a great size, allowing a secure level of control with just a single hand, even for those with large hands.

The body is made mostly of plastic and aluminum, as with other Rebel series DSLRs. It feels a bit cheaper compared to a magnesium Canon 60D or 7D—not a surprise since it is quite cheaper—but there is also considerably less weight with the T3i. That’s important if you’re lugging the camera around on any extended shooting trips. The buttons have a satisfying stroke to them, offering an audible click with every press.

Handling Photo 1

The Canon T3i handles well, with the control scheme laid out in a way that facilitates single-handed shooting.

Handling Photo 2

The articulated LCD makes video recording much easier, especially if you're looking to shoot from a unique angle.

The Canon T3i has a fairly typical layout compared to other Rebel SLRs. It has a mode dial, power switch, display button and ISO button on top of the camera. There is also the shutter release button just where your index finger comes to rest above the grip.

On the rear of the camera is the articulating LCD, with menu and info buttons above and to the left of the viewfinder. On the right side of the rear of the camera is a four-way control pad—eschewing the more functional control wheel of the Canon 60D—with playback keys beneath. Above the control pad are buttons to access the quick menu and exposure compensation functions. The Quick menu gives access to a number of settings while in live view, and also allows users to change the “ambiance” of a scene mode to emphasize certain colors and tones.

There is also a dedicated live view button to the right of the viewfinder, as well as buttons for focus/exposure lock and focus assistance. The focus assistance button selects your AF point in normal shooting and zooms in digitally up to 10x during live view to make focusing easier. These buttons work to zoom in and out while in playback mode.

Buttons Photo 1

While we wish the T3i borrowed the jog dial from the back of the Canon 60D, the rear control scheme is still quite good.

Buttons Photo 2

The top of the T3i features a number of controls that are easy to manipulate and clearly labeled.

The T3i features the same swivel-LCD that made its debut on the Canon 60D. It’s a 3-inch screen with approximately 1040k dots of resolution. It’s not particularly visible in direct sunlight, but that’s why you have an optical viewfinder.

Much like on Canon’s other DSLRs, the LCD provides a great deal of information without feeling cluttered. You can overlay grids to assist with framing and leveling, or utilize a live histogram to better judge exposure or color temperature.

The ability to twist the LCD offers the kind of flexibility that really is needed if your aim is to record video with the Canon T3i. Complemented by the screen’s 170-degree viewing angle, the LCD offers shooters a view of their recording at just about any angle. With DSLRs becoming a more serious option for videography, swivel screens should be here to stay.

The T3i uses an optical viewfinder that covers about 95% of the frame, with approximately 0.85% magnification and -3.0 to +1.0 m-1 (dpt) correction range. If you need further correction for your eyes and hate contact lenses, there are other dioptric correction eyepieces that can be purchased.

We found the image stabilization on the 18-135mm kit lens to be effective, especially during scenarios of high-shake, such as when walking. Image stabilization was best able to counteract motion at shutter speeds faster than 1/8th of a second—beyond that the shutter is simply open too long to register many sharp images on the T3i.

The T3i comes with a variety of common shooting modes available on its dial, ranging from full manual control to more creative options. If you’ve used the T2i, then the shooting dial on the T3i will look remarkably familiar. The only change between the two cameras has seen the full automatic mode become Scene Intelligent Auto, which has the camera try to adjust exposure, focus, and color settings based on what scene it thinks it is pointed at.

The Canon T3i utilizes a nine-point autofocus system with a single cross-type center point. We found that system to be snappy in use for most everyday snapshots, though not always perfectly accurate. In live view the camera reverts to its contrast detection system, which is not nearly as fast or accurate. When using live view the zoom button allows for a 5x or 10x magnification, which helps with manual focus.

The Canon Rebel T3i allows users to select individual points or to utilize the entire array automatically. Focus area settings are easy to change, with a button just above the thumb rest allowing quick access to the feature.

The Canon T3i features an 18-megapixel CMOS image sensor, but provides options for also shooting images of 8, 4.5, 2.5, and 0.3 megapixel resolution. The T3i also features RAW support, with an option to shoot a full resolution RAW + JPEG image simultaneously.

Creative Auto Mode

The creative auto mode is the same as the scene recognition auto mode, but it allows for some adjustments to things such as background detail, image tone, drive mode, and flash mode. It does these in a simple-to-understand layout that allows for a surprising amount of fine control without needing to know terms such as aperture.

The T3i shoots at approximately 3.7 frames per second, exactly as advertised by Canon. It does not seem to be limited by any buffer, as it is able to hold that pace through plenty of shots. When shooting RAW photos, however, you are generally limited to no more than six shots in succession.

The T3i is capable of shutter speeds ranging from 30 seconds up to 1/4000 of a second. There is a bulb mode available, as well, though it’s only accessible in manual mode. The camera syncs with flashes at shutter speeds as fast as 1/200 of a second. Shutter speed is electronically controlled with a vertical-travel focal plane shutter.

There aren’t many burst options on the Canon T3i. There is a useful self-timer that will fire off up to 10 shots after a 10-second delay, but there are no interval timing or time lapse options built into the camera to begin with.

The Canon T3i shoots at a speed of 3.7 frames per second that is exactly as advertised—not exactly a common occurrence. It’s plenty fast to capture good action. In shooting two rugby games we found the camera rarely missed critical moments, though it might’ve been a fraction off of perfect.

There’s a full suite of self-timer and remote options on the Canon T3i. There’s a two second self-timer, 10 second with remote control, and custom self-timer that will fire a user-selected amount of shots (maximum of 10) after a 10-second wait. The T3i will work with Canon’s RC-6, RC-1, and RC-5 remote controls.

The Canon T3i utilizes a nine-point autofocus system with a single cross-type center point. We found that system to be snappy in use for most everyday snapshots, though not always perfectly accurate. In live view the camera reverts to its contrast detection system, which is not nearly as fast or accurate. When using live view the zoom button allows for a 5x or 10x magnification, which helps with manual focus.

The Canon Rebel T3i allows users to select individual points or to utilize the entire array automatically. Focus area settings are easy to change, with a button just above the thumb rest allowing quick access to the feature.

There are several picture effects available in the automatic modes and scene modes. These fall under “ambience” settings and make slight adjustments to the way a scene is interpreted. There are settings for vivid, soft, warm, cool, brighter, darker, monochrome (with black and white, blue, and sepia), and intense effects. Each of these effects can be given a strength of low, medium, or high.

There are also several picture filters available through the T3i’s playback menu. These will take a photo on the card and apply either a grainy B/W effect, soft focus blur, fish-eye distortion, a vignette like a toy camera, or selective blurring to make an object appear smaller. When these filters are applied a new image is created, preserving the original.

The T3i features H.264 compression utilizing the .MOV container. It also allows videos to be recorded at 1080p in 30, 25, or 24fps, 720p at 60 or 50fps, and 480p at 30 or 25fps. Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content

The Canon T3i allows for full manual control over aperture, shutter speed, and ISO during video recording. This is accomplished via the control wheel and can be changed on the fly, though you are restricted from some options depending on what frame rate the camera is set to shoot in.

Auto Controls

The T3i does a serviceable job in automatic mode, though like in still mode it does tend to underexpose by about a full stop. Unlike still shooting, however, it's a little more of a process to rescue that shadow detail in post-processing.

Zoom

One great addition to the T3i is the ability to utilize a cropped portion of the sensor to zoom in during video recording. There is no real loss of image quality, and the effect works like a smooth zoom in (or out) as the T3i zooms up to 10x magnification.

Focus

Focus during live view and video recording is simply not the strong suit of the Canon DSLRs, and they lag behind Sony and Nikon in this regard. The microphone input alleviates some issues with the focusing motor being audible during video recording, but the T3i does not feature the most alacritous of auto focus systems. Focusing while in video shooting requires holding down either the shutter button or setting another button for this function. There is a quick AF and face-detection AF feature available, but they're not as useful as the live AF found in competing video-capable DSLRs.

Exposure Controls

The T3i allows for a full range of manual control over aperture and shutter speed while in video recording. You will have to change the movie exposure setting to manual in the menu before this is allowed, but from there it’s a simple matter of utilizing the control wheel to get the desired exposure.

Other Controls

There is also a full range of ISO settings on the T3i during video recording. These allow the T3i to shoot in very low light conditions.

The T3i features a built-in monaural microphone, but has a handy stereo microphone input on the side beneath a small rubber flap. These are becoming increasingly common on video-capable DSLRs and its an absolute must if you want to record clean audio.

The T3i features some manual control over audio input by the the “sound recording” screen in the menu. It doesn’t display levels while recording, but you can check them beforehand using this screen. The T3i also gives you the ability to set a maximum recording level and a wind filter.

Box Photo

Included in the box with the Canon T3i:

*Battery pack LP-E8

*Battery charger LC-E8

*Wide neck strap

*Interface USB cable

*Stereo AV cable

*Software/Manuals

One word comes to mind when discussing the Canon Rebel T3i: safe. Canon certainly found a very appealing formula with the T2i and is not looking to spoil the recipe by changing too much. While Canon’s certainly still the name to beat in the entry-level DSLR market, the T3i has some competition that the T2i did not.

There’s little new to brag about on the T3i. Its major enhancement is its articulated LCD screen and ability to control wireless flashes directly from the camera. The fact is, shooters will have to decide if those features are worth the extra money. If you already own a T1i or T2i, then the 60D is likely the more appealing upgrade here. If you’re a beginner looking for a lightweight DSLR with solid video credentials, then the T3i is a fine choice. It is an easy camera to pick up and grow with—though you’ll want to invest in some better lenses to go with it.

We definitely can recommend the T3i for its video quality, solid handling, access to the EOS EF lens library, and image quality. There are some issues with menu organization, slow live view autofocus, and the quality of the 18-135mm kit lens, but these don’t necessarily outweigh the positives of shooting with the T3i.

Performance
With three other cameras in the Canon family that feature this same 18MP APS-C sensor system, there really isn’t a lot that surprised us about the T3i. It showed incremental improvements in its ability to handle noise in still images and video, with slightly improved dynamic range. We found in long exposures, Canon has found a way to improve color accuracy and reduce noise—likely by more effectively dissipating heat from the sensor to reduce interference.

Video
The T3i features 1080/30p video recording, with solid sharpness results and attractively rendered motion. There is slightly less chromatic aberration than with comparable cameras on the market, but autofocus remains painfully slow in both video recording and live view. Poor live view autofocus is becoming a trend with Canon DSLRs, and it’s interesting that both Sony and Nikon have brought more effective full-time AF in live view to the market.

Hardware
The Canon EOS system is arguably the most beginner-friendly lens system on the market, with dozens of lenses that will autofocus on Rebel-series cameras at a range of price points. There are plenty of gems in the Canon lineup of lenses, though the 18-135mm lens isn’t one of them. Canon’s 28-105mm lens, while it doesn’t have the same range, is a sharper option that lets in more light for less money.

Controls
The control layout on the Canon T3i is just complex enough to offer a challenge to beginners without feeling intimidating. Controls are well-labeled and placed in convenient locations that rarely require a second hand to operate. The menu design could be less convoluted, with several key shooting options stashed deep in the menu. Overall, the T3i is an attractive blend of ease-of-use and fine control.

Meet the testers

TJ Donegan

TJ Donegan

Executive Editor

@TJDonegan

TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.

See all of TJ Donegan's reviews

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