The more zeros in a model’s ID, the lower are the specs. This one is the T3i (also known as the) 600D, while a few months ago I reviewed Canon’s EOS 60D.
I came away from the 60D with the comments “a superior camera …”, “Well thought out …” and “I have rarely had so much fun and captured great shots with precision.”
This new piece of kit is very similar but quite a few dollars cheaper. The specs are similarly very close, with one exceptional difference: the new baby is 240 grams lighter in weight, made from stainless steel and polycarbonate resin with glass fibre. Which says a lot: pros like cameras with a dab of weight while the amateur fraternity goes kinky for models that don’t lower the shoulders.
The review camera was supplied with the f3.5/18-135mm lens, quite a handy optic with its 7.5x range; the f3.5/18-200mm lens, bundled with the Premium kit would, be an even more capable piece of glass.
Canon T3i/600D Features
What’s nice and new with the 600D is its articulated, high res Live View screen that can be swung outwards, downwards, forward or used as a fixed rear screen.
The bright and clear optical pentamirror finder will please trad snappers who will also enjoy the depth of field button that sets DSLRs in general apart from that lesser breed: compact digicams!
Olympus pioneered the Art Filter feature (and my reviews extolling their advantages still draw flak); and Canon continues with its quintet, calling them Creative Filters: grainy B&W; soft focus; fisheye, toy camera and miniature effects.
The 18 megapixel APS-sized CMOS can capture a maximum image size of 5184×3456, or 44x30cm as a print. Full High Definition video with 1920x1080p res is also on board.
For such a reasonably priced DSLR, it is heartening to see the inclusion of a maximum continuous speed of 3.7 fps (up to six RAW images, 34 JPEGs) but there are some cautions with this speed: the rate is decreased if high ISO speed noise reduction is in play; some highly detailed subjects may affect it as JPEG compression has to work harder; similarly, the rate may drop if the AI Servo AF function cannot keep up with it; low light capture may also affect it.
Some more experienced photographers may find early days with the EOS 600D a bit of a puzzle, as some controls are not where they usually are.
Added to the movie capture is an interesting helper that could enhance your videos: you can preset the record time to lengths of two, four or eight seconds, then save to memory as a single file and even add music to it.
I was not so impressed with the Movie Digital Zoom feature that can enlarge the shooting range by 10x … it’s a digital enlargement.
The built in mic will capture audio (of a sort) but an auxiliary stereo mic is recommended; you can shoot full size stills at the same time as movie recording.
After some time with the camera I found it best to use manual focus when shooting video; the auto focus does not track while moving; also, you will pick up any handling noises or lens action on the audio track.
Movies: you can adjust shutter speed, aperture and ISO speed via the viewfinder menu options.
Canon T3i/600D ISO Tests
As with the EOS 60D the ISO range is wide, topping out at ISO 6400 with an expansion to 12,800.
Up to ISO 1600 I found the image quality to be top class, with only a slight in crease in noise at 1600 visible.
At ISO 3200 definition was still holding up, with only a small increase noise.
At ISO 6400 noise is now evident but, with the right subject, a useable setting.
At ISO 12,800 we’re pushing it a bit: noise is very evident with definition suffering. Only if you have to …
Quality: tops in every department. I found the 600D body and the f3.5/18-135mm lens to be a super combo.
Why you would buy the EOS 60D: near-pro features; relatively lightweight; vari-angle LCD.
Why you wouldn’t: no AF in movie mode; it’s not a beginner’s camera.
And congrats to Canon for the printed manual: 300 pages in a pocketable book.
Canon T3i/600D Specifications
Image Sensor: 18.0 million effective pixels.
Metering: Evaluative, partial, centre-weighted metering and spot.
Effective Sensor Size: 22.3×14.9mm CMOS.
A/D processing: 14-bit.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1:6x.
Compatible lenses: Canon EF, EF-S mount.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: Bulb, 30 to 1/4000 second, Bulb. Flash sync: 1/200 sec.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards; minimum Class 6 recommended for movie shooting.
Image Sizes (pixels): 5184×3456 to 720×480. Movies: 1920×1080 to 640×480 at 24/25/30/50/60fps.
Viewfinders: Eye level pentamirror, 7.6cm LCD (1.04 million pixels).
File Formats: RAW, RAW+JPEG, MPEG4.
Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 12,800.
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI mini, DC input, PC terminal, remote control, mic input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC adaptor.
Dimensions: 133.1×99.5×789.7 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 515 g (body only).
Price: Get a price on the Canon Rebel T31 in a variety of formats including: "Canon EOS Rebel T3i (Body Only) or Canon EOS Rebel T3i with EF-S 18-55mm or "Canon EOS Rebel T3i with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Zoom Lens & EF 75-300mm.