Canon T3i vs T2i: Is the T3i Worth the Extra Cost?

Canon T2i vs T3i Comparison

T3i vs T2i ?

The Canon Rebel T3i is already on store shelves, even though the Canon T2i was announced just a year ago. Not surprisingly, the technological differences between the two are minimal, at least at first glance: they use the same sensor, image processor, and autofocus system. Yet the T2i is still available, and at only $579 for the body, it is a tempting offering. But when comparing the T3i vs T2i, is the T3i worth the extra cost? For some people it will be; for others it will be a waste of money. Below, I’ll very briefly note the differences between the two cameras and explain who will benefit from the T3i and who will be just as happy with the T2i.

[UPDATE : The release of the Canon T4i changes this picture significantly. Also see my comparison of the T3i and T4i here. ]

The Similarities

Before making a big deal about the differences, it’s worth noting that these two cameras are mostly identical when it comes to standard photographic operation, and there is no difference in RAW image quality between the two. The table below shows the functional similarities.

[To see the whole T2i vs T3i table, click in the drop down box which currently displays “10” and select “50”],

 Canon Rebel T3i / 600DCanon Rebel T2i / 550D
Canon Rebel T3i
Amazon Price (body)$699 (Until Sept 3)$639
Body MaterialPolycarbonate, Fiberglass Resin and Stainless SteelPolycarbonate, Fiberglass Resin and Stainless Steel
LCD Size / Resolution3.0"
1,040,000 pixels
1,040,000 pixels
LCD Articulated?YesNo
Sensor Size14.9 x 22.3mm (APS-C)14.9 x 22.3mm (APS-C)
Crop Factor1.6x1.6x
Sensor Resolution18 Megapixels18 Megapixels
ISO Range100-6400
Total AF Focus Points99
Cross-Type AF Sensors11
AF Light Level Range-.05 to +18 EV-.05 to +18 EV
Metering System63 Zone Point Linked Evaluative
9% Center Weighted
4% Spot
63 Zone Point Linked Evaluative
9% Center Weighted
4% Spot
Exposure Compensation1/2 or 1/3 stops1/2 or 1/3 stops
Max Frame Rate : RAW (14-bit)3.73.7
Max Burst Duration RAW (at highest frame rate)66
Max Burst Duration JPG (at highest frame rate)3434
Shutter Speed Range1/4000th - 30 sec.
1/4000th - 30 sec.
Maximum Flash Sync Shutter Speed (standard flash)1/200th sec.1/200th sec.
HD Video Resolutions1080p, 720p1080p, 720p
Available HD Video Frame RatesPAL and NTSC
24/25, 30 at 1080p
24/25, 30, 60 at 720p
24/25, 30 at 1080p
24/25, 30, 60 at 720p
Weight570g (including battery)530g (with battery and SD card)
Viewfinder Coverage95%
0.87x magnification
0.87x magnification
Built-In Wireless Strobe ControlYesNo


What’s New in the T3i?

In-Camera Guide on T3i

The two lines of text at the top of the LCD here represent the new “In-Camera Guide”

From the outside, the only major difference is the rear LCD. The new T3i sports an articulated LCD, much like that found on the Canon 60D. To accommodate the new LCD, the body is slightly deeper, and the whole unit weighs a hair more. Canon has also made some minor ergonomic changes, such as adding additional rubberized padding to bottom of the front left side of the body for extra comfort and protection.

Internally, there are a few more significant differences, though. These include:

  • Native wireless control of off-camera flash (T2i requires accessory Canon ST-E2 module)
  • Digital zoom for 1080p video, while recording. (Since 1080p video is only 2 megapixels, this can crop down to the center of the sensor, effectively providing a 3x – 10x zoom)
  • Cropping mats for shooting in different aspect ratios
  • “Video Snapshots”, which are short video clips assembled in-camera into an extended video
  • In-Camera Guide, which provides information on the LCD panel that makes choosing alternative settings a little easier for beginners
  • An image-database driven full-auto mode (A+) and some additional in-camera processing options, the “Creative Filters”.
Rear View Comparison of Canon T2i and T3i

Rear view comparison of Canon T2i (left) vs T3i (right).

Who Should Buy the T2i?

If you have used a 35mm film camera in the past and are simply looking to get a digital camera to do the same things, the T2i is probably for you. It’s no accident that this has been the best selling SLR in the world for much of the past year. The new video features in the T3i won’t be of use if you’re only interested in taking photos, and the auto settings and In-Camera Guide will not be relevant for those who already have a firm handle on photographic theory. Some photographers have also expressed concern about the articulated LCD of the T3i and 60D collecting dust or breaking off; and for those who work in rugged conditions, this may also be worth considering.

Photographers (like myself) who use radio-triggers for their flashes also needn’t worry too much about the native wireless flash control on the T3i (the exception being Radiopopper shooters, some of which translate the optical trigger signals from flash control units into radio signals).

Rear view of T3i, articulated LCD

Canon T3i Rear View, LCD Open

On the other hand, you should go ahead and buy the T3i if you enjoy shooting video and think you’ll use the digital zoom. This is a feature that I’m actually very excited about myself; using a $100 50mm f1.8 lens as a 500mm f1.8 would open some incredible video opportunities (assuming that a stable tripod is available). Of course, you’re really only getting the same image quality that you’d get if you shot a photo and cropped in to the two megapixels in the center of the frame (1920 x 1080 pixel full HD video is about 2 megapixels), but on a low resolution display like HDTV, it could still look good.

Photographers who frequently shoot while holding their camera overhead will, of course, benefit from the T3i‘s swivel screen, as will video bloggers and others who want a handy video monitor while they’re in front of the camera. And, if you think that you’ll use the built in flash control, it would certainly save you money and hassle to buy the T3i.

If the automatic modes and In-Camera-Guide in the T3i are a deciding factor for you, though, you might alternatively consider a photography book, or better yet, enrollment in a photography course or seminar. Not only will it give you a better understanding of your camera and photographic theory, it may dramatically improve your photography in a dozen other ways.

I’ve tried to keep this comparison brief and simple, but please feel free to ask me any questions that you might have in the comment section below!

[UPDATE : The release of the Canon T4i changes this picture significantly. See my comparison of the T3i and T4i here. ]


  • Kirk Erickson says:

    Hi Matthew,
    My wife takes pictures at my high school football games. The games start out in day light and end up at night. The day pictures turn out good but the night pictures come out blurry. We are looking to up grade. Which would you recommend the T2i or the T3i for sporting events. Also what lens would recommend. Thank You for your time.

    • Hi Kirk,

      The T3i and T2i are essentially equivalent in every way when it comes to taking sports photos (same sensor, processor, auto-focus system, metering system). The differences have to do with off-camera flash (triggered by the on-camera flash) and video, and some software differences, and of course, the swivel screen on the T3i, which you won’t use for sports. Unless those features make some difference for other things that you shoot, save some money and get the T2i for $499.

      Unfortunately, you’ll need it for a lens if you want to shoot sports at night. The lens is what is going to make the biggest difference for shooting when its dark (unless you want to use serious flash equipment instead). To stop action, you’ll need faster shutter speeds, and to get fast shutter speeds, you’ll need more light or high ISO. Your wife is probably already using the camera’s highest ISO that’s practical, so the only real option is letting in more light through the lens… and lenses that let in a lot of light are usually expensive.

      You can identify lenses that let in lots of light by their LOW f-number. f/2.8 is relatively low, whereas f/5.6 is relatively high. An f/2.8 lens lets in 4-times more light than an f/5.6 lens. So, if you’re looking at lenses such as the 55-250mm f/4-5.6, the f-number range means that when zoomed out to 55mm, the most light it will let in is f/4 (half as much as f/2.8), but when zoomed in to 250mm, it will only let in f/5.6 ( 1/4 as much as f/2.8).

      On the other hand, if you buy a 70-200 f/2.8 lens, you can use f/2.8 whether you’re zoomed to 70mm or 200mm.

      What’s the difference? Well.. suppose you’re shooting at f/5.6 and your shutter speed is 1/125th of a second. Any action in the photo would be blurry. If you used f/2.8 instead (in the same situation), the shutterspeed would be 1/500th, which would stop most motion.

      So, if you want to get a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, there are several available for Canon. Tamron makes a nice one for $769, which is optically good, and the focusing motor is sufficient though not the best. Sigma makes one with a better focusing motor for about $830, but the optics are not quite as sharp… they also make one with image stabilization for about $1400, though it’s useless for sports. Canon makes a great one for about $1200, fast and sharp, and an even better one for $2200 with image stabilization.

      There are cheaper lenses that let in more light, but they won’t have the telephoto range. The Canon 50mm f/1.8 (lets in more than twice as much light as an f/2.8 lens) costs about $110. The 85mm f/1.8 costs about $415. Unfortunately, neither are really sports lenses… they just don’t have the telephoto reach for football.

      Maybe more details than you were looking for… hope it helps :)

  • Peter Haentjens says:


    If you were a beginner photographer and had to choose between starting out with a t3i with a bunch of good lenses or a 5d mark ii with one good lens, what would your choice be?


    • That’s a good question. My advice has always been: buy the cheapest body that will fulfill your needs and then get the best lenses. Lenses will last decades… bodies are updated every couple of years.

      Also, for a beginner, an important part of developing a style and learning composition is exploring the different possibilities and perspectives provided by different lenses…. ultra wide angle, macro, fisheye, telephoto, large aperture, super telephoto, etc.

      This is not to say that a professional couldn’t work with a good body and single, high quality lens. Someone who has already developed a personal style and knows exactly what they want can afford to narrow their options. I wouldn’t recommend that for a beginner, though.

      So, I guess my answer is, I’d get an inexpensive body and the best lenses I could afford. Whether the body is a T3i or a 60D or 7D would depend on my own personal needs.

      • Peter Haentjens says:

        Are all canon lenses interchangeable between crop frame and full frame cameras?

        • All EF lenses (full frame) can be used on any EOS camera. The EF-S lenses (crop frame) can only be used on crop-sensor cameras.

          This has led many beginners to want to buy only full-frame compatible lenses, on the assumption that in the future they will upgrade to full frame. Generally, I think that’s a mistake. There are some full frame lenses that should be purchased because they’re great lenses, but to get a good wide-angle lens for a crop camera, you really need a crop lens. The upside is that if you buy a high quality lens, it will retain its value if you decide to sell it later… but most people, if they end up getting a full frame camera, retain the old body as a backup, so it’s just as well to keep the lens anyway.

          – Matthew

          • Peter Haentjens says:

            I took your advice and bought a t3i with a bunch of lenses that you recommended. I had the camera for 5 days before this wednesday and was planning on using the camera mostly for food photography (had an earlier comment in this post about it) and partly as a toy for myself. Little did I know that the camera’s true job would be documenting the burning and eventual rebuilding of my restaurant.

            Thank you for your advice, I love the camera and the lenses that you have recommended and actually got some pretty good food shots with it. As soon as I’m rebuilt the camera will go back to it’s intended job of photographing my new menu. Here’s the link to my website were I’ll be documenting the rebuilding process, if you’d like to take a look at some of the pictures I’ve taken so far.

            Peter Haentjens

            • Wow… what an ordeal. One of my uncles in Montana recently lost his building (he’s a dentist) to fire, and it was a bigger hassle than even he imaged. He did make it through and ended up with a beautiful new building, though.

              Thanks for sharing the link… good luck!

  • Victoria says:

    Greetings Matthew,
    I want to thank you very much on your easy to understand comparisons of the t3i vs t2i.
    No one has asked you about the video quality of these cameras that I have seen.

    To make a short story long : )
    Please bare with me.

    I went out to my sister’s ranch in Durango, 2 of us took the same picture,
    (both cameras on auto-focus) of a beautiful pink sky, snow covered mountains
    and pine trees in the foreground, her pictures were fantastic, true and clear.
    Mine, on the other hand didn’t capture any of that…..dull
    She has the Canon Rebel XS, I had a Canon Power Shot SD1300.
    I know… comparison.
    I have been in a lot of chat rooms and forums deciding on either the t3i or t2i.

    Went to Sam’s Club, they had the t2i Bundle, with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5 – 5.6 IS lens
    and also included a EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS lens, plus bag, etc. For a good price I thought …. $800.
    Bought it, they were going fast. But have not taken it out of the box yet. Can always take it back.
    As I am still undecided.

    I have a 2 year old grand daughter, (finally) and I take a lot of pictures and especially videos.
    Have heard that when taking videos with these cameras, you will hear a clicking or wrenching sound
    (as other people have put it) while zooming in and out, because of the internal microphone.
    Is this true…. and the only thing I can see different between the 2 cameras is the articulating LCD.

    In your opinion, would it be worth spending more money on the t3i ?
    How good are the videos with these cameras ?

    Sorry for burning your ears.
    Any input from you would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Victoria,

      First of all, welcome to the site :)

      When it comes to video, there are no significant quality differences between the two cameras… they both shoot the same quality video at the same frame rates and resolutions. With the T3i, you can use a smaller portion of the sensor to capture the video, which is a type of digital zoom, but otherwise, they’re identical. Both cameras shoot extremely high quality video; it is, in fact, Hollywood motion picture quality. Video from the more expensive 5D II and 7D are frequently used in the production of TV shows and movies, and the video quality of the t2i and t3i is the same as the 7D.

      BUT… shooting video with these cameras is not easy like it is with a videocamera or even a point-and-shoot. The auto-focus performance while shooting video is too slow and inaccurate to be useful; professional film makers use these cameras strictly in manual-focus mode, as so most amateurs.

      The sounds that you catch with the internal microphone will depend largely on the type of lens that you use. USM lenses (ultra-sonic motor) are very quiet when focusing, and more expensive lenses don’t make any significant noise while zooming. Your two lenses have standard micro-motors for focusing (but you should manually focus anyway).

      The T3i has a feature called “Video Snapshots”, which basically collects your short video clips together into a longer video. Also, it’s pop-up has an extra feature for people who shoot with a lot of flashes. It can wirelessly trigger other flashes (up to 30 feet away from the camera, or so) as if they were connected to the camera. Many beginners won’t use this, but it’s great for people who are very interested in using flash.

      It sounds to me like you got a good price on the T2i, and I don’t know if any of the T3is features would be of any use to you.

      Good luck! Let me know if you have any more questions :)

      – Matthew


      • Victoria says:

        Greetings Matthew,
        Kudos to you and this website, I love it….you have helped me before, need to know more.
        ( t3i vs t2i )

        Even though you said I did get a great deal on the t2i bundle, (2 lenses, bag, etc).
        Still have not opened it as of yet.
        I do, in fact, take a lot of videos of my granddaughter, which is why I think the t3i
        with the articulating LCD would be better. Getting down to floor level is killing my knees.

        I found a great deal (maybe) on ebay from ‘ getitdigital ‘ need your input again.
        I have been seeing this a lot ” We sell both USA and Imported models ”
        Imorted is Grey Market, right? Is the warranty just as good ?
        Is there a difference between camera / lenses imported or made in the USA ???

        Before I buy from them I would greatly appreciate your input…..again.
        Thanks so much Matthew
        So sorry for burning your ears again. : )


        • Hi Vicki,

          Imported/Grey Market equipment does not have a USA warranty. Sometimes it will have an international warranty, but that means shipping returns to Japan for repairs, generally. I don’t remember whether Canon or Nikon operates that way… I haven’t purchased Grey Market since the early 1990s.  It would be a pain, at any rate, if something went wrong.

          The products themselves are also a little different. The Canon Rebel T3i is called the 600D in foreign markets, so there’d be cosmetic differences (I’d prefer it to be called 600D here, actually). There may be firmware differences, but I’m not aware of any specifically with the T3i/600D.

          In general, though, they’re the same hardware.

          – Matt

          • Victoria says:

            Hey Matt,
            Thank you so much for the quick response.
            ‘ getitdigital ‘ has a great package that I want. Except for the 55-250 lens.
            It doesn’t state that its an EF-S lens, not a stabilezer lens right, is that a big issue?
            This package has a lot, filters, flash/slave…etc, wish I would have copied and pasted…
            You know what……I’ll get back to you on that.

            Thanks Matt
            Be right back

            • Victoria says:

              Hi Matt,
              I want to thank you for being so patient with an old lady.
              But, it you would, could you please go to and paste this link to their site and tell me what you think about this package….. USA made…..I love that.

              Canon EOS Rebel T3i 600DDigital SLR Body + 4 Lens Kit: 18-55 IS + 55-250 IS + 24GB & Accessories Bundle!!

              I am so into, my photo’s are not entry quality.

              Thanks again.
              I know, I know, my son tells me all the time I’m a pain.

              • Hi Vicki,

                Bargain shopping is probably outside my area of expertise, but I can say a few things about this deal.

                First of all, a lot of the stuff in the package is not really worth anything. The flash, the “wide angle” and “2x telephoto” lenses, and the filters, for example, are things that I wouldn’t use if they were given to me for free. They don’t tell you the class-rating of the SD cards (they should be class 6 or 10 for the camera, but they may pass off old class 4 cards). If there’s something in the package that you really like, you can find it for just a couple of dollars at

                The fact that they’ll give you a bunch of junk to “sweeten” the deal with no regard for its quality should tell you something about the vendor. You might also want to check out the consumer reviews for the site… a lot of these places are scammers.

                I’d advice you to buy from a reputable dealer, even if it costs a couple dollars more. It will save you a world of frustration (and possibly money) later.

                – Matt

  • Joannie says:

    Hi, I’m really into photography but I can’t decide between the rebel t3, t3i or the t2i. My styles of photography are macro, night/low light, travel/outdoor and spontaneous. What would you recommend ? Please help, thanks !

    • Hi Joannie,

      Since the T2i and T3i use the same autofocus system and sensor, there isn’t really any reason to recommend one over the other for the type of work you do. The T3i has the advantage of being able to control external flashes with its popup flash, and it has a swivel screen, but the cameras are virtually identical otherwise (with some software differences).

      Since you specifically mentioned low-light photography, you might also want to consider the Nikon D5100 if you’re not tied to Canon already. The D5100’s sensor performs a little better in low light, and otherwise has the same set of features as the T3i (except its ability to act as a master for off-camera flashes).

      I could probably count the times that I’ve held a T3 in my hands on my fingers. Since the T3i is so popular, the T3 is largely ignored (by me, at the very least :) ). The T3 has a lower resolution sensor than the T3i, so you might suspect that it has less digital noise at high ISO, but in fact, it uses old sensor technology and is actually worse than the T3i…. so I’d steer away from it.

      My answer then is this: Get the T2i unless you want the swivel screen and flash advantages of the T3i, or get the Nikon D5100.

  • Mo says:

    Your in put is terrific, I’m new to photography and recently bough the T2i as a package deal at Costco. I see you mention the 50mm f/1.8 lens for potraits, would this be a a good lens for taking pictures of a baby or what other lens would you recomend. I’m a new grandfather and ths is my primary focus for taking pictures at the moment. Thanks for any advice.


    • Hi Mo,

      The 50mm f/1.8 would be a great lens for baby pictures… it will help you get fast shutter speeds in low light and reduce blurring, and give you nice, soft backgrounds, when you shoot at f/1.8.  If you’re looking for something that’s a bit more of a telephoto, the 85mm f/1.8 is a more traditional portrait lens, and it has a better build quality, but it’s still not outrageously expensive. When there’s sufficient light, the 18-55mm kit lens should do a good job for catching your wide angle needs.

      Congratulations on becoming a grandfather! My own grandfather, believe it or not, is an avid reader of this site… and he’s 85 :) I’m content with being the uncle of twin girls, though I don’t see them as much as I’d like anymore.

      – Matthew

  • chelsey says:

    I am looking at the t3i and see package deals for them with an extra lense. is this worth the extra money and if so what lense should i be looking for? i will be using it for general picture taking, children, sports, etc.

    • Hi Chelsey,

      For general shooting, to cover everything from wide angle to telephoto, the combination of the 18-55 and 55-250mm lenses is pretty hard to beat, for the price. It covers a very wide range, and does so with excellent optical quality. The kit with the 75-300 gives you a little extra zoom reach, but the lens quality is really pretty poor.

      The two lenses that I mentioned above (and also in the Lens Recommendation section in the right column —> ) are great for general shooting, but they’re not ideal for low-light action shots (the image stabilization is only helpful when the subject isn’t moving), and they could be a little faster focusing, but they’re pretty good on that count.

      If you decide that you want a lens for shooting in low light (which is also good for portraiture), I can recommend the very inexpensive 50mm f/1.8, which is usually just a little over $100.

      If you have any more questions, feel free to let me know. Also, if you’re new to SLR photography, you might want to take a look at my article on the Three Basics of Photography. :)

      – Matthew

  • peterh says:

    I need a camera for food photography for my restaurant. I have been looking at the t3i as an entry level camera to get me started. Think this would be my best bet? What lens should I be using?

    • Hi Peter,

      The T3i would be a great camera to start with, especially if you add a flash to your setup. Lighting is very important for food photography. The T3i will wirelessly control that flash, while the T2i won’t.

      In fact (and I probably don’t have to tell you), professional food photography is much more difficult than it looks. Getting professional looking photos requires more than just using the right camera and lens, but also understanding the lighting, composition, and the fundamentals of exposure.

      That said, it really depends on what type of food photography you’re going for. If all you want is a photo that is, essentially, a sharper version of a snapshot, then the kit lens will do the job nicely. If you’re looking for more control over the depth of field (ie, whether the background is blurred but subject is in focus) or if you’d like to do macro work. I’d probably  lean towards a lens like the Canon 60mm f2.8 macro, which will give you extremely sharp images, shallow depth of field when you want it, and extreme close-up abilities. If you’d like to post a couple examples of the types of photos you’re trying to take, I might be able to give you some better advice, though.

      Good luck!

      – Matthew

      • Peter Haentjens says:


        Here are a couple shots that I had a professional photographer take.

        What is your opinion on this lighting product?

        I am pretty happy with the pictures the photographer took but I plan on releasing a menu insert with pictures every two weeks and using him would be prohibitively expensive. Photography interests me and I’d like to learn how to take these shots on my own.

        Thanks for your help!


        • Hi Peter,

          First of all, let me say that you got some good work out of the photographer you hired. It looks pretty nice. All of the shots look as though they were taken with a medium telephoto lens, so the 60mm lens would probably serve you well.

          However, I would be remiss if i didn’t say something further. A professional photographer would undoubtedly be able to use a Canon T3i to get photos of that quality (in fact, the make and model of the camera would make very little difference). But no matter what camera you buy, or how much money you spend, you won’t take better pictures until you’ve learned how to be a good photographer; the camera will never do the important work. So don’t get your hopes up too high… you won’t get professional results at first unless you’ve had a lot of practice already.  But by the same token, also don’t be discouraged if your results aren’t what you’d hoped for… you can learn to produce them, there just isn’t a magic bullet like buying some type of camera. It will just take some study and practice. There are some great books on food photography, and of course, a good working knowledge of photography theory is critical.

          I would actually not recommend a setup like the one that you’ve linked to. That would produce soft side-lighting, which might work, but is not idea for food. For food photography, lighting is usually overhead and behind the hero (hero = food model that’s been perfected), which emphasizes the texture. You’d be much better off using a tripod and window light, with the window behind the food, or a standard flash head (like the 430ex) used with a grid and maybe a gel, on a light stand behind and above the food, and a reflector in front of the food.

          However, if that’s too much to deal with at first, then something like your link or a light tent would be a decent short-term solution. You’ll find dozens of similar setups like this on, just search for “Light Tent”.

          Good luck! Let me know if i can be of any further help.

          – Matthew

  • Lauri Fairey says:

    Thank you for a clean, concise, easy to understand comparision. It gave me all the info I needed to decide between T2i / T3i.

  • supraman408 says:

    Hey Matthew,
    Thanks for your comparison between the T2i and T3i. It was by far one of the best comparison Ive found and made my decision for a T2i that much easier. Was wonder what lens you’d recommend for taking pictures up close of flowers and insects. Thanks in advance!

  • tammy wahl says:

    What does •“Video Snapshots”, which are short video clips assembled in-camera into an extended video” mean??? That was one of your above differences that the T3i has over the T2i.

    One thing that bothers me about using a camera instead of a camcorder to video is that everything is in clips.. I want it to be one flowing video of, for example, my kids basketball game. I may stop and start my video on my camera 20 times but only have about 7 min of video total and it is a pain to open each individual clip to show someone the video. With my camcorder just puts it all together for me.

    Soooo I guess my question is will the T3i solve that problem???

    Thank you, Tammy

  • Tiffany says:

    So, what is the best lense to use for taking pictures of children? I currently have an 18-55mm and a 55-250mm.

    • Hi Tiffany,

      Those zoom lengths are will give you great coverage for most situations. The problem that most people run into when photographing children, though, is that they don’t have enough light, so the photos end up being blurry, either from the camera shaking, or from the kids moving.

      Unfortunately, neither of your lenses are great for letting in lots of light, but if you’re not shooting in dimly lit situations (or if you’re using flash), then that won’t matter.

      If you DO find that that you need more light, then I’d recommend the 50mm f/1.8, or for a little more range and smoother backgrounds, the 85mm f/1.8 . The f/1.8 means that it will let in 8x more light than one of your lenses at f/5.6.

      – Matthew

  • Tiffany says:

    Hello! I have checked out some Nikons, but I ended up buying a Canon Rebel 2Ti from Costco. I am wondering if I made a good choice? Most of the picutres I take are of my kids and my family. Was this a good choice? I could return or exchange the camera, if I needed to. Thank you for your time!

    • Hi Tiffany,

      The T2i is a great camera; whether it’s the right choice for you really depends on how you intend to use it. For pictures of kids and family, it should serve you well, as long as you use the appropriate lens (the same is true of any SLR, of course). If you haven’t already, you might want to take a look at the Three Basics article that is on this site.

      – Matthew

  • Ardis Pierron says:

    I am really wanting to get a DSLR camera and keep coming back to the 2 canon models, T2i and T3i. I had in the past the Rebel SLR which I loved, but film cameras are almost obsolete now. Anyway, I take pictures of landscapes, especially storms and close ups of nature, including insects and flowers. Would there be more of an advantage between the two for this specific purpose? And would the lenses that comes with these be sufficient for the use I am wanting? Both come in a package deal with either a 55-250 mm or a 75-300mm telephoto zoom lens.Thanks for your help. Also, I would need one that is user friendly and not too complicated.

    • Hi Ardis,

      As you’ve probably already read above, the differences between the T3i and T2i are minimal: the T3i has digital zoom for video, a swivel screen, and wireless flash control. The video features don’t interest me. If you have used a Rebel in the past, both of these are also easy to use… but you might want to take a minute to look at my “Three Basics” article, just to refresh your memory. I personally don’t find the swivel screen very useful, but I suppose some people will. (If you still have your old film Rebel, the lenses from that camera will work on either of these Rebels, too… just something to keep in mind.)

      The one thing that I DO think is important for some people is that the pop-up flash on the T3i can be used to trigger other flashes, wirelessly. If you’re a flash photographer, this can be important, or even if you’re not but like to do portraiture… it’s worth spending some time learning how to use wireless flash.

      Between the two lenses that you mentioned, I’d avoid the 75-300; it’s not Canon’s best piece of engineering. The 55-250 is optically very solid. But that said, if you’re interested in macro photography, I’d recommend looking at Canon’s 60mm f/2.8 macro lens, which is awesome.

      My general advice is always to buy the least expensive that will suit your needs, and then buy the best lenses possible. Good lenses will last for ages (as evidenced by your old Rebel lenses, mentioned above). :)

      Let me know if you still have questions.

      • Ardis Pierron says:

        Thank you so much for your response. Since you said that I could use my old Rebel lenses, I just checked to see what I have. I have on the camera, 34-80 mm, and also have an 80-200 mm lens too. Do you think these would work and would the 55-250 be still a good accessory? Also, I came across a Vivitar close-up lens kit, which includes a 1+, 2+ and 4+ (52mm) which goes with my Rebel. Not sure of the purpose for this kit. I am just wondering if I should get the T2i bundle kit or the basic camera and lens along with the 60mm f/2.8 if these other lenses will do the job. Oh, also, the reason I quit using my Rebel is that there was a problem with my zoom lens not working, so not sure if it was the camera or the lens. Thanks again Matthew and will be awaiting your response.

        • Hi Ardis,

          Do you know the full name of the 80-200 (eg, Canon EF80-200 f/2.8L)? Canon used to make a really nice one, but it was quite expensive; there were good ones from other manufacturers, too, and less expensive models from Canon.

          The Vivitar close up set is basically a set of magnifying lenses that screw onto the end of another lens of the correct size. I’m guessing they’d fit the 35-80, but probably not the 80-200, though I could be wrong there. They’re handy, but the image quality is generally not as good as a true macro, and they usually won’t get you as close up… and there’s some loss of light. For most things, the image quality is fine, though.

          If your 80-200 is in good working order, it might be a sufficient to replace the 55-250, though the 55-250 has image stabilization, and your older lens probably won’t. The 35-80 will not really be a wide angle on the T3i or T2i, it will be more like a mid-range to weak telephoto, so you might think about getting the kit lens (18-55) with the T2i if you skip the 55-250, if you want a true wide angle lens. The 60mm is not only a great macro lens, it’s a good portrait lens, too… good in low light, and very sharp.

          – Matthew

          • Ardis Pierron says:

            Matthew, the full name of the lens is EF80-200 1:4.5-5.6, plus it says Canon Lens made in Japan. That macro lens sounds great, but a little expensive. I guess though it would be well worth it. Not really sure about my older lens even works, so probably should just invest in the kit with the 55-250 since it seems to be a good deal and splurge for the extra macro lens too. With the macro, I am assuming I can get very close up photos of bugs without being close to the insect myself, right?

            • Actually, with the 60mm, you’ll end up getting pretty close to the insects, too, for true macro. The main difference between this lens and others is that it will keep focusing, even when you’re very close to the subject… more like a microscope than a telescope.

              To increase the working distance, you’d need to go with something like a 180mm macro. They’re a bit more pricey. Tamron makes a nice one, a 180mm f/3.5. Sigma has a 150mm that’s even more expensive… about $1100 (Canon’s is $1800).

              Perhaps a good intermediate choice would be the Tokina 100mm f2.8, which is around the same price range as the 60mm. Great image quality, nice solid build, not too expensive.

              – Matthew

              • Ardis Pierron says:

                Thanks so much for responding so fast. I do have one more question to ask. I found a lens for a very reasonable price and was wondering if it would work with the T3i; the canon EF 50mm F2.5 macro lens. Its about half the price of the 60mm one. Is there much difference between the two? I found these at Are they a reliable company?

              • The 50mm macro is also a good lens; it’s a very old model (late 1980s), but good, and will also work on a full-frame camera if you ever get one. I didn’t think they were still made, actually… but I see that it’s available at, too, for about $250. The more modern lens may be a little sharper (better lens coatings, etc) in the lab, but in the real world, I’d be surprised if you’d be able to see a quality difference.

                I can’t vouch for buydig… don’t know whether they’re reliable or not. I’ve only heard the name.

  • Leanne Lovell says:

    I currently own a pentax k10. I love all the features and have recently learned more about the manual mode and have done well with it. The problem is I shoot nite shoots of football and baseball. These are hard to shoot with the field lights and all the movement. I haven’t perfected it by no means. I am looking to upgrade and really cant decide which camera would be best. I have read all the reviews on this site and they are helpful but I want make sure I am getting the right camera for me. I haven’t used a camera with video but may beings that is one less thing to pack for the games. I 4 kid and they are active, I love shooting still shots of them as well but love getting them in motion too. I am still really stupid on the settings part but plan on getting some classes soon. I have looked at both the t3i and t2i as well as the nikon cameras, any opinion that could offer me some help in this decision would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you so much

    • Hi Leanne,

      It sounds like night/low-light photography will be the decisive factor for your new camera. There are really two important things for shooting in low light: 1) Large aperture lenses and 2) good high-ISO performance from your camera’s sensor.

      When it comes to ISO performance, the Nikon 16 megapixel sensors are probably a little better than Canon’s 18 megapixel sensors. The difference is actually quite a bit more minor than people make it out to be, and at high ISO, neither can really be considered Great image quality. But the Nikon may be the lesser of two evils at ISO3200 (pretty close) and certainly at 6400.

      The other important factor, lenses, is also probably the more expensive factor. You’ll want to buy something with at least an f/2.8 maximum aperture or larger (f2, 1.8, 1.4 are all larger). But these are frequently VERY expensive, so it’s worth checking on the cost of the lens that you want from both manufacturers and see how they compare.

      I guess the third option is using flash, but that takes a fair amount of dedication.

      In the end, for your needs, I’d probably lean towards the Nikon D5100, which is very closely matched with the Canon T3i (or if you can afford it, the D7000). The Canon does have some advantages, but it sounds like the low light superiority (even if it’s slight) will probably be more important to you.

      – Matthew

  • greg says:

    I, like the many others, am still contemplating which camera to buy, namely, the canon t2i or the canon t3i. I shoot mostly architecture and nature (animals, landscapes). I am also very interested in capturing daily life. Video is becoming an interest of mine but I doubt that it will overtake my love for stills. At any rate, I have exhausted my studies of the differences between the two aforementioned cameras and it boils down to the swivel screen. For $60 more on Amazon, the t3i is available in all its gimmicky swivel screen glory! In your opinion, how beneficial is this screen? Will I use it much? I do like to capture pictures from different angles but I don’t mind getting dirty for the right shot. So, is it worth it?
    -additional questions: will either of the above cameras work with the 64gb sdxc card or a standard 32gb microSD?
    -which is preferable to shoot in, RAW or JPEG? I have been using a Sony Cybershot and all my pics and knowledge are in the JPEG format. Thank you for all your time in educating us. Greg

    • Hi Greg,

      I personally do not use swivel screens when they’re available, in large part because I don’t use live-view for composing, and I don’t shoot much video. Live-view is slow, and hard to see in bright daylight. Whether you’ll use it much, I can’t speculate :)

      However, the T3i’s ability to act as a wireless eTTL command module is easily worth the $60, if you’ll use it… and it’s worth learning how.

      Neither camera accepts micro SD cards directly, but with an adapter, they might… though I’m not sure you’d get the best performance. They will both work with SDHC and XC, even the 128G cards.

      Canon’s JPGs are high quality, but you should always shoot RAW. It takes some learning, since RAW files generally won’t look as good as a jpg when they come straight out of the camera, but it’s well worth it once you know how. You get a tremendous amount more data to work with, and a lot more flexibility… which may not be important for every shot, but it’s very important if you’ve made a little mistake with exposure or white balance.

      – Matthew

      • Gregory Rodriguez Gomez says:

        hi Matthew. I decided to purchase the t3i. I am still learning how to use it. I have some questions regarding lenses and settings for shooting architecture in the snow. I’m going to eastern Europe for xmas and NY. What is the cheapest wide angle lens best for architectiral and landscape shots and what are the best settings for snow shots fora novice?

        • As with most things in photography, when you ask for “the best”, it really all depends on your budget. For a standard wide-angle to mid-range zoom, Canon’s 18-55 is actually cheap and optically good, and has image stabilization, but it’s not great for low light, and at 18mm, it’s not especially wide angle (about 28mm on full frame).

          A better option in the same zoom range would be the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8, also stabilized, but is a much better low light lens (4x more light at 50mm).

          But if you’re looking for something wider, there are three other good options. My first choice is the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, a nice wide angle with good low-light abilities, and high optical performance. But it’s a bit pricey. Canon’s 10-22 is optically good, too, but not so great in low light, and it’s expensive. Sigma’s 10-20 is practically the same quality as the Canon, and costs $400 less.

          Shooting in the snow generally requires you to change one setting: exposure compensation. But only when the snow is affecting your camera’s meter reading. It’s a little complicated to explain here, so I recommend that you take a look at my “histogram series” of articles (Menu on right, under “Learn Photography”). I think the last article deals specifically with snow. Basically, you’ll use exposure compensation to add about 2-stops to your exposure in the snow :)

          Good luck!

          • greg says:

            Thanks for your advice. I love your timely responses too! Any advice on 58mm filters for the T3i? I primarily shoot landscape and architecture. I am about to leave to snowy grounds so I think a filter is indicated. Thanks

            • My general advice is to NOT use a UV filter unless conditions are very bad. A little water will not hurt your front element. However, if you’re going to be rubbing it away frequently, then go ahead and use one. DO use a lens hood, all the time. UV filters are much more likely to degrade your image quality than to protect your lens (especially in backlight).

              If you do get one, get a good quality one; Canon makes them, of course, and B+W are good, too.

  • I am so glad to have discovered this post! I’m currently in the market to purchase a DSLR and wasn’t exactly sure what was the difference aside from price between these two models! You’ve helped me make a decision, I think the T2i will be suitable for my needs as I don’t have plans to really use my DSLR for video purposes. Thank you!

  • Natisha says:

    Hello, I am also looking for some advice. I want to get into some amature photography myself, mostly portraits and outside pictures. I am debating between the t3i an the t2i as well, I am hoping to start a small buisness in a year or so after some courses and experience. I don’t want to cheep out if it will benefit me down the road. I also want to prior chase an external flash and would love some advice on that for what I am wanting to do. Thank you! 😉

    • Natisha says:

      I meant purchase not prior chase.

    • Hi Natisha,

      My general advice is always to buy the least expensive camera that will fill your needs, and buy the best lenses you can afford. If you’re interested in portraits, though, then you’ll probably eventually want to start using off-camera flash (though at the moment, using flash might not sound appealing at all… once you learn how to use it well, it makes a huge difference). Since the T3i can act as a control module for off-camera eTTL flash, and the T2i can’t, that would push me over the edge for the T3i.

      When it comes to flash, the canon 430ex ii is a good place to start. It’s reasonably priced, full featured, and although it doesn’t act as a commander for other flashes, your T3i will… so you can use the T3i to wirelessly control the 430 ex ii. I recently wrote a quick comparison of some other good flashes, if you’d like to take a look.

      Good luck, and let me know if you have any other questions!

      – Matthew

  • Jacqueline says:

    I am new at this and my future photography will consist of weddings, babies, and portraits. I am leaning toward the t3i. What lens should I buy first?

    • Hi Jacqueline,

      It really depends on two things: what else you have already, and whether you’ll shoot with off-camera flash.

      My general advice is always to buy the least expensive camera that will fill your needs, and buy the best lenses you can afford… and if you’re going to shoot as a professional (which is what it sounds like your intention is), you’ll need some great lenses. So, I’m inclined to say, get the T2i and spend the money you’ve saved on better lenses or flash equipment. However, if you’re planning on shooting with off-camera eTTL flash (like wireless 430ex or 530ex IIs), the T3i can act as a control module, while the T2i can’t. A control module costs hundred of dollars, so you might as well buy the T3i if you plan to use it that way (and many people do). Otherwise, the T2i is pretty inexpensive right now… only $605 in a kit with the 18-55mm lens.

      Those are my initial thoughts, anyway. I’d lean towards the T3i (currently $899 with the 18-55mm and 55-250mm), or the 60D if you can afford it.

      – Matthew

  • Les Warren says:

    I have read several of your comparisons, very educational. I am leaning towards the T2i and would appreciate your opinion on using this camera and what would be appropriate lenses and equipment in certain situations. Like a lot of people, I will have the usual special occasions and holiday pictures but my main concern is outfitting to cover the following scenarios.
    1. Soccer in daylight hours, 20 to 50 yards away.
    2. Soccer at night, with high school quality outdoor lighting, 20 to 50 yards away.
    3. Volleyball, indoor gym lighting, 20 to 50 feet away.
    I have used 35mm SLRs and now have an older non-SLR digital (not happy with low light shots) but treat me as as beginner.

    • For soccer during the day, your have a lot of options. I’d probably go with something in the 300mm range (a 70-300 would be good), and it wouldn’t have to be particularly wide aperture, but a USM would be a good idea for any kind of sports. A 70-200 would be great too, though you’d get the best results on the near side of the field.

      Soccer at night is hard, and at the very least, it requires an expensive lens or a serious flash setup. You’ll need a lens with a wide aperture, like an f/2.8, and even then, it will be tricky. Canon’s 70-200 f/2.8 would be a good choice, and you might want to use it with a monopod. Or, you could spend the extra $1000 on the IS II model.

      If you take a look at the forum here, one of our members recently posted some photos of a shoot that he did at night in a relatively well lit football field, using that lens, and even then, he had a hard time getting fast enough shutter speeds to stop the action, even using very high ISO. So even an expensive lens isn’t a magic bullet, but without it, things would be much worse.

      Actually, if you could make due without the reach of a 200mm, an 85mm f/1.8 would give you even more light, and for a lot less money, but it’s really not a great sports lens because of the lack of zoom and the limited telephoto range.

      The same thing is generally true for indoor volleyball; it may seem light in a gym to the human eye, but to a camera, it’s quite dark. Since the court is so much smaller, you’re much more likely to be able to get away with a prime lens like a 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4, which are relatively inexpensive and let in a lot of light, but you wouldn’t get the flexibility and range of a 70-200 f/2.8.

      The other option is to set up flashes around the gym, and use radio-triggers to fire them. It’s an elaborate setup, but will generally give you the most control and best light in a gym. But explaining how to do it is probably beyond the scope of the comment section of this article :)

      I know that’s a little bit broad, so let me know if you still have further questions :)

      – Matthew

      • Les Warren says:

        Thanks. I was afraid that there would be an expensive end to the low light sports situations. That is an expensive lens for non-professional family photographer (term used lightly) but, the information you have given will keep me from spending money on equipment that will not produce the desired results. You only get one shot at it (life and photographs), right?

        I think I’ll save a little play money and go for your suggestion. That lens would also serve me well for the daytime soccer, right? Considering my three sports enviroments, this could be my most used lens. If you look at it that way, it’s not so bad.

        The link to the members photos was a great help. I’d love to get shots that good. He was little hard on himself.

        It’s nice to know there is someone out there that will spend their time helping with no personal gain expected. Thanks again.

        • The 85mm f/1.8 is an awesome portrait lens; that’s really what it’s designed for. It’s not much of a telephoto lens, though, so it’ll be great if your sports subjects are pretty close (and it will blur the background behind them nicely), but it will be hard to use for more distant subjects. An 85mm lens on a T2i or T3i would produce images more like a 135mm lens on a 35mm camera, though, so it’s better than it looks.

          I hope you looked around and found Rob’s earlier set of photos, which he shot in the daylight, for comparison.

          Good luck!

          – Matthew

          • Les Warren says:

            I should have been more specific. I was referring to the recomendation of the Canon 70-200 f/2.8. What do you think?

            • I see :) I’m of the opinion that Canon’s 70-200 lenses are the best in the world, and they’re great lenses for just about anything. It’s hard to go wrong with one, if you don’t mind spending the money.

              You’ll still get more light with a cheap 50mm f1.8 (about $100), so it will be worth considering one at some point in the future, for those times when you just need more light.

  • Josh Campbell says:

    This is definitely one of the best reviews I’ve seen comparing the two cameras, thank you very much. I’m a student photographer, have a good understanding of the fundamentals, and currently am still using a Rebel XS 10mp camera. I am throwing around the idea of upgrading my camera soon, but am not completely sure which I want to buy. I’m leaning towards a T3i or a 5D Mark II. While the 5D is much more expensive, does it really have that big of an advantage over the T3i? I mean, other than the obvious lack of flash and 3mp higher. I am just trying to avoid the buying of a camera, then 6 months later wishing I had just saved my money a little longer and bought the other one. Your thoughts are appreciated.

    • Hi Josh,

      There’s probably some good middle ground between the T3i and the 5D MkII :) There are two or three major differences when it comes to large sensor vs. APS-C. First, of course, is the difference in digital noise; smaller sensors are generally noisier, and there is a modest noise advantage in using the 5D. Smaller sensors also require higher resolution lenses (or put a different way, they enlarge the flaws of the same lens more than a larger sensor would), so there’s a resolution advantage that is significant. There’s also a depth of field difference; if you shot a portrait (framed the same, but therefore not from the same distance to the subject) at f/2.8 with the same lens on both cameras, you’d get shallower depth of field with the 5D… about a 1 stop difference (a bit more, actually). So, with the APS-C sensor, it would appear more like you’d shot it at f/4 .

      Depending on what you shoot and how you work, though, these things might not really be important. I discuss some of the details in more depth in my post comparing the 5D Mark II and the 7D, so you might want to check that out :) If that doesn’t clear things up, let me know, and I’ll see if I can help.

      – Matthew

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