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Canon EOS 600D / Rebel T3i Gordon Laing, April 2011
 
   
 

Canon EOS Rebel T3i review

Canon's EOS 600D - or Rebel T3i as it's known in North America - is the company's latest upper entry-level DSLR. Announced in February 2011, it's numerically the successor to the EOS 550D / T2i, although the older model is expected to remain on-sale at a lower price point.

The EOS 600D / T3i is positioned between the EOS 550D / T2i and EOS 60D in Canon's current DSLR lineup, but at first glance it's much closer to the former. Externally the EOS 600D / T3i greatly resembles the 550D / T2i, with similar dimensions, weight, build, styling and controls. Internally it also shares the same 18 Megapixel sensor and core HD movie modes, not to mention the same viewfinder, AF system, continuous shooting, 3in 1040k pixel screen and metering, but as Canon tradition dictates, it inherits a number of key aspects from a higher-end model in the range (in this case the EOS 60D), along with at least one brand new feature.

From the 60D, the EOS 600D / T3i inherits the fully articulated screen, allowing you to compose and shoot or film at unusual angles. It also features the 60D's multiple aspect ratios when shooting in Live View and Creative Filters which are applied during playback, along with manual control over audio recording levels in movies. The 600D / T3i additionally enjoys wireless flash control, albeit with a simpler implementation than the 60D. In terms of brand new features, the EOS 600D / T3i's Movie mode now offers Digital Zoom and Video Snapshot capabilities, while the Auto shooting mode now employs scene detection. There's also a new Mark II version of the EF-S 18-55mm kit lens.

   

 

  Table of contents
1 Introduction and contents
2 Design, build quality and controls
3 Flash and wireless control
4 Viewfinder
5 Screen and Live View
6 Shooting information and menus
7 Battery and connectivity
8 Lens mount and kit options
9 Focusing and AF performance
10 Exposures, metering and bracketing
11 Sensor and processing
12 Drive modes and remote control
13 Movie mode
14 Digital Zoom and Video Snapshot
15 Results: Real Life JPEG resolution
16 Results: Real Life RAW resolution
17 Results: Real Life JPEG noise
18 Results: Real Life RAW noise
19 Results: Sample images gallery
20 Verdict
21 Rival comparisons
22 Final verdict and rating
23 Video samples
 
The two most important updates over the earlier EOS 550D / T2i are undoubtedly the articulated screen and wireless flash control. Despite deploying articulated screens for years on selected PowerShot compacts, the EOS 600D / T3i is actually only the second Canon DSLR to feature one, following the EOS 60D. It's a valuable feature for those shooting movies or at unusual angles in Live View.

Wireless flash control has been seen before on the EOS 60D and EOS 7D, but this is the first time it's filtered-down to an entry-level EOS DSLR. Reflecting the target audience, Canon's also simplified the interface with a new Easy mode for quick multiple flash setups. Great for anyone wanting to enhance their portrait or action lighting with minimal fuss.

While these are the major upgrades over the earlier EOS 550D / T2i, the EOS 600D / T3i additionally enjoys a number of smaller but worthwhile updates. It may not have in-camera RAW processing of the 60D, but it does have the Creative Filters which can be applied during playback, including one new effect. The Auto+ mode now employs scene detection to better identify the subject.

Those intending to use the camera for filming video will welcome manual adjustment over recording levels, along with the brand new Digital Zoom and Video Snapshot features. Both may seem like novelties at first glance, but as we discovered, each delivers compelling results which some may find invaluable.

So the new EOS 600D / T3i is more than just a 550D / T2i with a flip-out screen and wireless flash control. It's also more than just a budget version of the 60D. In our full review we'll detail the differences between the three models and take a close look at the new and existing features in practice, including in-depth reports on the image and movie quality.



Testing notes:

We tested a final production Canon EOS 600D / Rebel T3i running firmware version 1.0.0. Following our convention of testing cameras using their factory default settings unless otherwise stated, the EOS 600D / T3i was set to Large Fine JPEG quality, Auto White Balance, Evaluative metering and the Auto Picture Style; High ISO Noise Reduction and the Auto Lighting Optimiser were set to their default Standard settings, except in our High ISO noise tests page where the latter was disabled as it can introduce noise. Highlight Tone Priority was disabled apart from during our specific tests of the feature. Image Stabilisation was enabled for all handheld shots and disabled for tripod-based tests.

Many thanks to Queenstown Cameras for their support in this review. If you're in Queenstown, New Zealand and need any photographic equipment, prints or advice, please head on over to their store on Camp Street.

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