In the battle for best beginner DSLR camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T3i vies for first place, shooting top-notch photos and HD video in tests. It boasts some extras not found on its competitors, including a swiveling LCD screen and exposure bracketing.
Swivel screen lets you see from all angles. A side-hinged, tilt-and-swivel LCD screen is one of the Canon EOS Rebel T3i's most helpful features, reviews say. No more craning to see the screen when the camera's on a tripod or you hold it at an odd angle like over the heads of a crowd, and you can shoot video without holding the camera right in front of your face. Overall, testers find the Canon T3i lightweight, comfortable and intuitive; it is "an attractive blend of ease-of-use and fine control," says TJ Donegan at Reviewed.com Cameras. Plenty of owners at Amazon.com say the T3i is simple to use, with more than 400 users giving the camera nearly perfect ratings.
Outstanding image quality. "Still images from the Canon T3i are stunning," says Shawn Barnett at Imaging-Resource.com, and other experts agree. The Canon EOS Rebel T3i's 18-megapixel compact sensor is similar to that on the pricier Canon EOS 7D (Est. $1,000 body only). The Canon T3i "starts up as soon as you flip the power switch, so you can take photos instantly," says Jeff Keller at DCResource.com. Although autofocus is sluggish if you frame your shot on the LCD screen, it's snappy if you look through the optical viewfinder. The T3i can burst-shoot 3.7 fps, and reviews say the video footage looks terrific. Battery life is rated at 550 shots per charge.
Plastic, but solid. Like other budget-priced DSLRs, the Canon EOS Rebel T3i shaves costs by using a mostly plastic body. Critics say that's okay because it still feels sturdy. "There's a stainless steel frame on the inside," says Keller. "That gives it a fairly solid feel, and that goes for all of the camera's ports and doors. One thing I don't like about the finish on the camera is that it tends to scratch very easily, leaving a white residue behind. Thankfully, you can just wipe it away." The plastic body has an upside, too: lighter weight. "The camera is a lot lighter than the Canon metal-bodied cameras, and has survived a couple of nasty falls with no damage," says one T3i owner at Amazon.com.
Inherits features from Canon's pricier EOS 7D. The EOS Rebel T3i offers "just about every feature we've been longing for in a sub-$1,000 camera," say reviewers at Imaging-Resource.com. It shares a laundry list of extras with the much more expensive Canon EOS 7D, including the same metering system, ISO and exposure compensation range, which help account for the T3i's stellar image quality. It gets the same advanced Movie Mode features, too, and an external microphone jack.
Although it doesn't break any new ground, the Canon EOS Rebel T3i is "an impressive camera for the money and it's hard not to imagine owners loving theirs," these experts conclude after exhaustive testing.
Review: Canon Rebel T3i/EOS 600D Review, Richard Butler and Andy Westlake, March 2011
2. Reviewed.com Cameras
After a thorough evaluation, TJ Donegan recommends the Canon EOS Rebel T3i with some reservations about its kit lens quality, menu organization and slow autofocus in live view. When the Nikon D5100 appears a few months later for essentially the same price, Donegan prefers it.
Review: Canon T3i Digital Camera Review, TJ Donegan, April 20, 2011
Canon offers several excellent cameras in this price range, but the EOS Rebel T3i is "the best compromise," experts here decide. This extensive review features in-the-field shots, including a family zoo trip and a dimly lit kindergarten concert, and compares the T3i to several rivals in lab tests.
Review: Canon T3i Review, Shawn Barnett, Dave Etchells, Zig Weidelich and Mike Tomkins, Aug. 11, 2011
After a full test, Jeff Keller recommends the Canon EOS Rebel T3i as a top choice for beginners. However, he also likes the newer Nikon D5100, and in that later review he notes a few ways that the Nikon beats the Canon, including low-light shooting.
Review: DCRP Canon EOS Rebel T3i Review, Jeff Keller, April 26, 2011
Will Greenwald gives the Canon EOS Rebel T3i 3.5 stars out of 5 for its speed and good picture quality. He says the only real difference between the T3i and its predecessor, the T2i, is the flip-out LCD. He calls it a decent mid-range SLR.
Review: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Will Greenwald, Oct. 19, 2011
More than 1,100 owners review the Canon EOS Rebel T3i here, and about 94 percent of them give it 4 stars out of 5 or a perfect 5 stars. Particularly helpful are the lengthy reviews -- by both camera enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts -- detailing what they like and dislike about the T3i.
Review: Canon EOS Rebel T3i 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2014