Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Canon EOS Rebel T3i Verdict and Video Review
The new Canon EOS Rebel T3i is not a wolf in sheep's clothing waiting to pounce on unsuspecting consumers in the competitive entry level DSLR market. Like fine wine and its predecessor, the Canon EOS Rebel T2i, gets better with time. The time of exactly one year to the day of delivery of the Canon EOS Rebel T3i/600D to ChadSorianoPhotoBlog.
The 18 megapixel crop CMOS sensored Canon Rebel T3i is not just a Canon Rebel T2i with an articulating screen. It has big features in a small package. The most obvious one is the vari-angle high resolution LCD just like the Canon EOS 60D. The T3i has built in wireless flash control for Canon Speedlites just like the Canon EOS 60D. The T3i has manual audio control for video capture like the Canon EOS 60D. See a familiar pattern? Consider the T3i as a baby 60D. Wait a minute, the T3i replaces the T2i in the Rebel series. Let us finally move on to the T2i now.
My ChadSorianoPhotoBlog is not a Canon wikipedia, so I will only go over the major differences between the T3i and the T2i. The first thing you will notice is the slight change in ergonomics. The T3i has a slightly bigger grip with more non slip rubber areas on the surface of the body along with a taller stance and a bit more depth. All these minute changes were to accommodate the swivel screen. The button layout are well placed like the T2i despite the smaller 4 way controller. It just plain works.
The T3i is marketed to entry level DSLR consumers as well as more advanced prosumers. In other words, there is a lot of built in beginner oriented camera functions that make first time photographers at ease with making good pictures. Like the picture above, the new Creative Filters to the T3i give in camera manipulation of JPEG files effects. I found the "Toy Camera" effect as well as the "Miniature" effect quite convincing. There are plenty of "Scene Intelligent Auto" features otherwise known as fully automatic mode to fill pages of my PhotoBlog. I will now move on to the nitty gritty.
It is all in the details. Skin details. I mean where skin looks like skin and not some mushy digital reproduction of skin. Canon excels in this category. As seen in my Canon Rebel T2i Verdict and the Canon 60D Verdict, the tried and tested 18 megapixel CMOS sensor with DIGIC IV processor wins the skin detail and dynamic range contest hands down. Canon also carried over the same winning sensor as well as the reliable 9 point focusing system. It plain works,again.
The DIGIC IV processor enables the T3i a native ISO range of 100-6400 plus a digital expansion of 12,800. I can confidently say you can shoot at ISO 1600 all day with no problem. Very clean images. ISO 3200 is good but easily cleaned up in RAW processing. ISO 6400 is for freezing action in dark interiors like cathedrals and church halls, so expect gritty but useful images. ISO 12,800 is for pitch black emergencies. Let the snowfall begin! The picture above is shot at ISO 3200 with ambient light from the restaurant and was processed from RAW with Digital Photo Professional. That is the free software that comes with every Canon DSLR.
Now for the glorious HD video capabilities of the T3i. Just like the T2i, the T3i has 1080p, 720p and 480p video resolutions at various frame rates in both NTSC and PAL. All exposure controls for video and audio are fully manual. You can plug in a stereo microphone in the minijack for external audio capture as well. Full control like this are only found in the more expensive full frame HD DSLR like the Canon 5D Mark II. A particular video feature of interest that cannot be found in the T2i and the 60D is 3x to 10x digital zoom during 1080p video recording. The video above demonstrates the amazing resolution at 3x to 10x. Imagine a 400mm lens with a 1.6x crop factor at 10x digital zoom. That is a 6400mm equivalent focal length. You can video tape a NASA Space Shuttle launch 12 miles away or shoot a lunar eclipse with no problem.
The above T3i Video Test is shot at 1080p at 29.97fps. Edited with iMovie'09 and used Quicktime at best quality to compress the h264 video file. I also used an IGUS Drylin Camera Slider on Benro 3580 legs give the camera some lateral movement during the shots. If you are wary of non linear video editing, the T3i has a new "Video Snapshot Mode". You can shoot 2,4, or 8 second video clips and the camera will do "in camera video editing". The finished sequence is saved to camera's SDHC memory card as a single movie file.
The Verdict? There is nothing entry level about the Rebel T3i except its price. $899 for the kit and $799 for body only. It is so chock full of pro-oriented features that the Rebel T2i will be only a faded Canon memory. The line between novice and advanced photographic tools is grossly blurred. Say good bye to my Rebel T2i and say hello to my new digital friend, the Canon EOS Rebel T3i/600D.
You can view more pictures, videos and ISO comparisons in my Canon EOS Rebel T3i Gallery.
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My initial Canon EOS Rebel T4i/650D Video Test is posted here. My Canon EOS Rebel T4i Verdict and Video Review will be coming soon. Make sure you check out all the new features of the new Canon Rebel T4i/650D, it has all sorts of new goodies!
I just posted my Canon EOS Rebel T4i/650D Verdict and Video Test here.