Canon T3i vs 60D

Canon Rebel T3i vs 60D : Who should buy the T3i?

Is the Canon 60D Worth the Extra Cost?

Canon T3i vs 60D: The Canon T3i’s release so soon after that of the Canon 60D is cause for speculation. Canon seems to be exploring a fancy new business model in which they release a product and then shortly afterwards announce a similar, less expensive one that also has some slick new features, all but sealing the fate of the earlier product. We saw it happen with the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the subsequent 5D Mark II, then again (to a lesser degree) with the 5D Mark II and the Canon 7D (because of the latter’s superior AF system), with the 50D and subsequent Rebels T1i and T2i, and now it seems that the announcement of the Canon T3i threatens to do the same with the 60D. Let me say before anything else that the Canon 60D is still probably the superior camera, but it may be difficult for most entry level photographers to pass by the T3i to get to it. Let’s take a closer look at the details.

The Canon 60D was released into a market that was already dominated by the popular and inexpensive Canon Rebel T2i / 550D. The 60D, however, had dropped the magnesium alloy body of the 50D and previous x0D series models in favor of a lighter, consumer oriented polycarbonate body. It also sported the same 18 megapixel sensor as the T2i, the same ISO range, the same number of focus points, and the same video capabilities. To the average consumer, the major differences were that the 60D had a spiffy new articulated LCD, a somewhat sturdier feeling body, and slightly faster shooting frame rates and shutter speeds.  The 60D also had the often overlooked (by me) advantage of wireless strobe control without the addition of the Canon ST-E2 transmitter.

Canon 60D and T3i Articulated LCD, Rear View
Rear view of the Canon 60D (left) and Canon T3i (right). Both cameras now feature an articulated LCD.

Enter (4 months later) the Canon Rebel T3i (also known as the 600D). The latest incarnation of the Rebel appears on the scene with the same high resolution, articulated LCD as the 60D, integrated wireless strobe control, new shooting modes, a host of in-camera processing “creative” options, and perhaps most significantly in the video department are cropping mats (to preview different aspect ratios on the LCD while recording) and… digital zoom.

“Digital zoom” has always been a dirty word in the past; we’ve seen it on camcorders and point and shoot digital cameras since the end of the 1990s. Digital zoom traditionally has involved using the same captured information from the sensor and simply cropping in, basically magnifying a lower resolution portion of the frame, which caused a significant degradation of quality. So, if the full sensor captured 1 megapixel, for example, the cropped image might only be displaying a small portion of that information… perhaps .5 or .3 megapixels, but with the pixels enlarged to fill the screen.

The digital zoom of the Canon Rebel T3i is a different story, and it’s actually an ingenious use of the extraordinarily high resolution sensor designed for the still camera. The highest resolution that our HDTVs can display today is 1080p, which is 1920 x 1080 pixels, just a hair over 2 megapixels. The T3i’s sensor, as we know, is 18 megapixels, so even when the highest resolution video is captured, only a small part of the available information from the sensor is being used. Because the sensor has such high resolution, the digital zoom can simply make use of a smaller area of the sensor to capture the video, and there will still be plenty of receptors in the area to provide the full 2 megapixel resolution of 1080p.

Beyond the items mentioned above, the Canon T3i is very much like the T2i, which was already quite similar to the 60D. Take a look at the chart below to see the details:

 Canon Rebel T3iCanon 60DCanon Rebel T2i / 550D
Canon Rebel T3iCanon EOS 60D
Amazon Price (body)$699$999$699
B&H Price
$699$949 $629
Body MaterialPolycarbonate, Fiberglass and Stainless SteelPolycarbonate, Aluminum, Fiberglass, and Stainless SteelPolycarbonate, Fiberglass and Stainless Steel
LCD Size / Resolution3.0"
1,040,000 pixels
1,040,000 pixels
1,040,000 pixels
LCD Articulated?YesYesNo
Sensor Size14.9 x 22.3mm (APS-C)14.9 x 22.3mm (APS-C)14.9 x 22.3mm (APS-C)
Crop Factor1.6x1.6x1.6x
Sensor Resolution18 Megapixels18 Megapixels18 Megapixels
ISO Range100-6400
Total AF Focus Points999
Cross-Type AF Sensors191
AF Light Level Range-.05 to +18 EV-.05 to +18 EV-.05 to +18 EV
Metering System63 Zone Point Linked Evaluative
9% Center Weighted
4% Spot
63 Zone Point Linked Evaluative
6.5% Center Weighted
2.8% Spot
63 Zone Point Linked Evaluative
9% Center Weighted
4% Spot
Exposure Compensation1/2 or 1/3 stops1/2 or 1/3 stops via thumb dial1/2 or 1/3 stops
Max Frame Rate : RAW (14-bit)3.75.3 fps3.7
Max Burst Duration RAW (at highest frame rate)6166
Max Burst Duration JPG (at highest frame rate)345834
Shutter Speed Range1/4000th - 30 sec.
1/8000th - 30 sec.
1/4000th - 30 sec.
Maximum Flash Sync Shutter Speed (standard flash)1/200th sec.1/250th sec.1/200th sec.
HD Video Resolutions1080p, 720p1080p, 720p1080p, 720p
Available HD Video Frame RatesPAL and NTSC
24/25, 30 at 1080p
60 at 720p
24/25, 30 at 1080p
60 at 720p
24/25, 30 at 1080p
24/25, 30, 60 at 720p
Firmware Sidecar AvailableUnder DevelopmentAvailableUnder Development
Weight570g (including battery)675g (body only)530g (with battery and SD card)
Viewfinder Coverage95%
0.87x magnification
96% Frame,
.95x magnification
0.87x magnification
Built-In Wireless Strobe ControlYesYesNo

Benefits of the Canon 60D

In opening this article I mentioned that the Canon 60D is still a better camera than the T3i, but I may not have made it obvious in the following paragraphs, so let me explain why.

The Canon 60D will primarily benefit one type of photographer: the action photographer. Although the two cameras in question have the same number of focusing points, the points are not created equal. The T3i, like the T2i, has a single cross-type focusing point in the center, while all 9 of the 60D’s focusing points are cross-type, giving it faster and more reliable AF performance, especially for off-center subjects. To capture high speed objects, the 60D also features a top shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second and top flash sync speed of 1/250th, as opposed to the 1/4000th and 1/200th of the T3i. And while the T3i can capture 3.7 frames per second, the Canon 60D can manage 5.3, giving 60D shooters 3 extra pictures in every 2-second burst.

This is not to suggest that you can’t shoot action with the T3i; you can. You’ll simply have a higher percentage of good shots with the 60D.

I spent much of last evening playing around with a 60D and a T2i (I don’t have access to a T3i yet), and I find that the 60D really does feel significantly better in the hand. It feels solid and comfortable, and it also has the thumb wheel for exposure compensation, probably my favorite Canon feature of all time. Both cameras, however, feel much better than the top point and shoot, though, at least to my fingers. And there is also the fact that 60D shooters don’t have to tolerate having “REBEL” printed across the front of their cameras. How embarrassing for us Americans.


Because the 60D is so precariously perched between the powerhouse Canon 7D and the enormously popular Rebel series  (not to mention competition from the Nikon D7000), it’s not surprising that in the few months since it hit the shelves, its price has already dropped from $1100 to $899… just $100 more than the T3i (update 6/18/11: the price has since gone back down to $899 with an instant rebate, but the body only is hard to find in stock).  With only $100 difference in price, it seems almost foolish to pass up the 60D, unless:

  • you’ve never used a DLSR before and need the beginner features of the T3i (in camera guide and program shooting modes)
  • you plan to take a lot of video and really think you’ll use the T3i’s digital zoom or video snapshots
  • you primarily shoot portraits, landscapes, or moderate paced action and don’t want to spend $100 on features you won’t use.

You may also want to consider the Rebel T2i if the video features are not important to you (keep in mind that in all three cameras, video is primarily a manual-focus operation (though slow AF is available by pressing the shutter button half-way). If you don’t mind spending a couple hours with the manual, don’t care about an articulated LCD (or are concerned about its durability), the T2i is a virtually identical camera and the body costs a mere $675, at this point.

As usual, please let me know if you have any questions or comments!

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  • Gosh. I do wish that I had come across this thread earlier! I feel that every day we learn so much. Thank you so for being so patient and to respond to each and every query.

    Thanks again and Marahaban from Dubai!

  • i am using canon rebel t3i. i want to upgrade. mainly i like to shoot landscape, portait and street photos. but i am not convinced with latest canon releases. may i go for nikon D5500 or D7200? Could you please suggest me? and if you suggest me a good lense for T3i, which one is that?

    • Hi Selva,

      I just mentioned in another comment that I think the D5500 sounds like a good option for you.

      I’d be happy to suggest a lens for your T3i, but I’ll need to narrow it down. What focal lengths do you like to shoot? Is there something that your current lens isn’t doing for you that you’d like?

      – Matthew

      • Yes. But I am not sure whether it is camera or lens (I am using 17-50 f/2.8) problem. it is noisy and some patches over the images. and I checked my T3i sensor with service center. it is clean. if you need I can mail you that image.
        Expecting focal length 10 to 135…
        Thanks Matt…

  • I currently own a Rebel t3i, have been for two years now. I’m a self taught photographer for now but soon I’ll be taking some classes. I mainly photograph landscapes, I aldo love making abstract photography. Lately, I’ve been having some problems with the t3i in low-light conditions. I’ve been doing wedding events lately and starting to take portraiture. I’m thinking of upgrading to the 60D but I’m not sure if it’s an upgrade at all. I’ve been reading and the only thing I’ve noticed that’s an upgrade is the fact that it shoots faster.. any tips? Also, I’d like to know if I can use every accessory I use on the t3i for the 60D, if they’re all compatible. Please let me know.

    • Hi Adriana,

      As you’ve already seen in the article above, there are a few reasons to go for the 60D over the T3i, but the sensors are almost identical, and the AF system of the 60D is better, but not dramatically better, than that of the T3i. For me, getting a camera with a rear command dial for setting exposure compensation is a very important feature for shooting events and action (and the 60D has one).

      However, most of the accessories that are compatible with the T3i should also work with the 60D (lenses and flash equipment, anyway). They do use different batteries, though.

      – Matt

  • Hi Daniel,

    I am fairly new to photography and have started out with a Canon SX50. As I am beginning to decide which direction I would like to go with my photography, I am seeing that I am definitely ready, and more importantly, need to make an upgrade to a better camera. I tend to research myself into a state of complete confusion, which I seem to have done while researching the T2I/T3I.

    What I am running into with my current camera is the terrible noise, even at low ISO, and the lack of manual focusing ability. While this camera does offer manual focus, it is totally worthless, in my opinion. It is almost impossible to shoot a sharply focused photo. I would say it is just me, but my sister has the same camera and says the exact same thing.

    I am wanting to get into primarily portrait photography, but still love landscape, wildlife and macro. Of the three cameras, T2,T3I and 60D, which would you recommend, and what lenses also.

    A few of the arguments I am running into are concerning the lenses, which is that that the kit lenses are junk, and that it would be more advantageous to buy the camera body and purchase better lenses separately. The way I see it is that regardless of whether I go with the kit lens, or just body and purchase lenses separately, I am still upgrading from where I am now. Any thoughts on that?

    And lastly, I have also found myself comparing these to comparable Nikons. Any advice there?

    Thank you for any feedback you can offer.


    • Hi Randi,

      To begin with, when it comes to pure image quality, the T2i – T5i are all virtually identical; there’s really nothing to recommend one over another. This is assuming that you shoot RAW instead of JPG, which will give you all of the quality that the sensor can offer.

      That said, my general advice is always this: buy the least expensive camera that will meet your needs, and buy the best lenses that you can afford. The lenses will last longer and make a bigger difference in your photography.

      So, as far as cameras go, you’ll need to figure out what you’ll be doing with it, and see what fits. For portraits, any of the cameras you mention would be great, and the same is true of landscapes. For wildlife, you may want a camera that has a higher frame rate and more robust autofocus system… though again, any of the cameras you list will work… they might just not be ideal. If you’d like to have your bases covered for sports and wildlife, go with the 60D. If the extra bit of speed is not a big priority, go with any of the Rebel series.

      The lenses are a bigger question. The kit lenses actually are NOT junk; they’re optically really great lenses, despite the fact that they may feel a bit junky (assuming that we’re talking about the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and 55-250mm. The old 18-135 [non-stm] and the 18-200 are junk). They’re not especially fast focusing, but they’re not terrible. But they’re also not the greatest portrait lenses.

      For portraits, most photographers like lenses that allow them a shallow depth of field… ie, the subject can be in sharp focus while the background is very blurred. This can be achieved by using a large aperture (f/2.8, f/2, f/1.8, f/1.4, etc) or a telephoto lens, or both… so traditionally, large aperture mid-telephoto lenses are preferred portrait lenses, such as Canon’s 85mm f/1.8 (or the Sigma 85 f/1.4), 100mm f/2.8, or other large aperture primes, such as Sigma’s 35mm f/1.4 or 50mm f/1.4 (these are newer designs and sharper than Canon’s much older offerings). Another good option is a 70-200mm f/2.8… Canon’s IS II is the best, but the new Tamron is truly excellent as well, and a lot less expensive.

      Personally, I think it’s nice to have a zoom lens to carry around for casual use, and then I can choose one of my prime lenses when I’m doing something specific. If I were going to get a single walk-around lens for Canon, I’d go with the 18-135mm STM lens.

      As for the comparison to Nikons… well, that’s tricky. They’re both great cameras, and both systems offer some great lenses. Canon and Nikon have been going back and forth for years… for a while the one is better, then the other for a few years. Right now, Nikon probably has better sensors. I prefer Canon lenses and autofocus systems. Truth is, though, that either way you go, the camera isn’t going to hold you back… your own skills will be the limiting factor.

      Hope that helps a bit…

      As long as you’re here, you might want to check out the “Lens Recommendations” section of the site, and also watch my 3 Basics of Photography video.

      – Matthew

      • Hi,
        I am looking for upgrade from T3i (not concerning for T4i or t5i)
        Most of the case in using it for product photograph.
        Please advise what Cannon model should I choose and what lense you would recommand? Truly appreciate for your time.

        • Hi Mosar,

          The first questions is… why? Is there something that the T3i isn’t doing well enough for you? There are, obviously a couple of cameras that will give you minimally higher resolution, but it’s not very significant.

          Also, are you shooting large products? Small products? That will help me make a lens recommendation.

          – Matthew

  • Buenas tardes, estaba apunto de comprar la t3i pero me resulto un amigo que queire vender la 60D de el mas barata, con un leten 16-200. Soy principiante y apenas quiero incursionar en el mundo de la fotografia, me gusta mucho fotografiar paisajes.

    Que me recomendarian.

    • Hola Daniel,

      La 60D puede ser la mejor camera de los dos, si quieres una camera mas rapida para coger fotos de acción. Si quires tomar video, la mejor camera el la T3i porque si quieres usar el enfoque digital. Yo recomiendo el 60D porque tiene el mejor foco automatico y es mas rapido. La lente EF-S 18-200mm es una lente general que le servira bien.

      Si tienes otras preguntas, no dude en preguntar.

      — Alfred Lopez

  • I am looking to purchase a new camera to take pictures and videos of my daughter playing fast pitch softball. I can’t decide between the T3i and the 60D. If I bundle the camera I get the 55-250mm IS II lens and save $150.00. With that being said which camera would you recommend?

    • I’d go with the 60D… it’s a significantly better camera for action (faster and longer bursts, better AF system) and along with it, I’d go for the STM version of the 55-250; it’s a much faster focusing lens, and will also be quieter if you’re shooting video. That said, either of them should be just fine… especially during daylight games.

      – Matthew

  • Hello,

    I have recently been exploring Concert Photography. I have been doing it for a little over a year now with a basic point and shoot and am now ready to buy my first DSLR. I just bought a Canon Rebel T3i and had been battling back and forth between the Canon EOS 60D and the Canon Rebel T3i and decided on the Rebel. I shoot both indoor and outdoor. I have started to get photo passes, but a lot of my shows still are not which I will use the point and shoot I have for that. With Concert Photography as my main objective- did I make the right choice in your opinion by going with the Rebel? I figured since this was my first DSLR it would be a good start.


    • Hi Kendra,

      The 60D does have some advantages when it comes to the autofocus system and overall speed, but in terms of image quality, you’ll get the same image quality with the T3i as you would with the 60D, as long as you’re shooting RAW files instead of JPG (and you should be, especially in low light).

      The big advantage of the Rebel in your case is that it leaves you more money to spend on the proper lenses, and for what you’re doing, the lenses are more important than anything. For shooting concerts in low light, it’s a huge advantage to have large aperture lenses like…

      the 50mm f/1.8 (cheap) or 50mm f/1.4 (not so cheap)

      the 85mm f/1.8 (not too expensive, better reach than a 50mm)

      the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 (pricey, but maybe the best zoom lens ever made for an APS-C sensor).

      And any good 70-200mm f/2.8

      All of these lenses will give you dramatically more light to work with than a kit zoom lens, so you’ll get less motion blur or less digital noise (or both).

      Good luck! I love concert photography myself :)

      – Matthew

  • Hey Matthew,

    Thank you for very helpful written review!

    Which one would you suggest if I will use more ofter for taking Full HD videos? What is your suggestions?

    Thanks :)

    • Hi Sean,

      Sorry for the delay. For full HD video, they both are going to perform about the same. The T3i does have the advantage of a non-lossy digital zoom, but that may or may not be of interest to everyone. The important thing is that both cameras support the Magic Lantern side-car firmware, which dramatically improves the functionality of the camera for use in shooting professional video.

      My recommendation would be to buy the T3i and spend the money you save on lenses, but I also don’t do much in the way of shooting video, so I’m probably not the best person to ask :)

      As Ever,

      Matthew Gore

  • I’m very much interested in learning photography. My googling skills has revealed that for t3i or any other rebel, it’s really hard to configure ISO, Aperture and shutter speed where as for 60D you just have more custom buttons and wheels. Thought 60D will put a hole in my wallet, I don’t want to get frustrated with controls in the long run. Are there any budget canon camera out there which has such button and wheels to adjust iso and other configurations?.

    • Hi Jijo,

      Unfortunately, this is a trend with all SLR manufacturers right now; to simplify the appearance of SLRs for beginners, they remove the buttons and dials that people don’t use much and move them into the electronic menus. All of Canon’s cameras below the 60D/70D level are like that.

      However, it’s not quite as bad as you might think. If you take a look at the back of the T3i, you’ll notice that there’s a “Q” button. Pressing that will bring up all of those main settings, where they can then be changed with just a couple of clicks of the menu buttons. Alternately, you could go with the T4i, which has a touch screen so you can change those settings directly.

      I’ve always preferred using a full size camera like the 60D or 70D, which has an LCD on top to show me my settings all the time, and buttons to change them quickly… but my advice has always been: buy the least expensive camera that will meet your needs and the best lenses that you can afford. :)

      – Matthew

  • I am trying to decide between these two cameras. I am a mom and would use this for the purpose of taking photos of my kids, macro, landscape. Would the t3i be okay for this?

    • Hi Cindy,

      Yes, it sounds like the T3i would be a great choice for you. The 60D has some advantages when it comes to shooting sports and high speed action, but it sounds like that’s not your main goal. As you may already know, since the T3i is a couple of years old, the price has dropped quite a bit… and the nice thing is that the KIT price (including the 18-55mm lens) is only $10 more than the body alone!

      That said, if you’re interested in macro work, you’ll want to invest in an appropriate lens at some point. Probably the best option is Canon’s 60mm Macro. In the meantime, though, there are plenty of less expensive options (if you’re interested in high magnification macro work), like extension tubes and close-up filters.

      Hope that helps!

      – Matthew

        • The T3i will give you about twice that frame rate, and more importantly, it will give you much longer continuous bursts (34 shots, if you shoot JPG), faster focusing, and less shutter-lag… the camera will be much more responsive. Of course, the same is true of the 60D, and you’ll get a higher frame rate (about 1 fps more) and an autofocus system that is a little more reliable for off-center subjects.

          Considering that the 60D body alone is about $200 more than the T3i, you’ll have to decide whether the limited increase in performance is worth the extra money to you.

          My general advice to anyone buying a camera is always this: buy the least expensive camera that will get meet your needs and the best lenses that you can afford. The lenses are much more important and they will last you longer. That difference in price will get you much closer to affording a telephoto lens for sports like the 70-300 IS USM or the 60mm Macro.

          – Matt

  • Hi Matthew,
    First of all, very nicely written review. Very helpful!

    I am thinking of getting the 60D (Body Only) myself. I currently have a Rebel T3 and shoot primarily with the 28-135 lens. It takes great portraits but I feel like I have outgrown the T3 (not the “i” series) and need to invest in something of better quality. I shoot mostly portrait pictures. What is your suggestion on this switch? Any other suggestions would be great too!

    Thanks again and Mahalo from Hawaii!

    • Hi Christina,

      Sorry for the delay… it’s that time of year :)

      I guess the real question is why you feel like you’ve outgrown the T3. If you’re looking for better image quality (higher resolution), than any of the “i” models will give you a modest increase, and the T5i, 60D or 70D will give you improved autofocus as well.

      My general advice is always to buy the least expensive camera that will fulfill your needs, and buy the best lenses you can afford… so, I’d probably recommend the step up to the T5i and you might want to think about a dedicated portrait lens, too… the Canon 85mm f/1.8 is an excellent option, and not outrageously expensive.

      If you’re looking for a camera that will give you better performance for shooting action and sports, the 60D or 70D (particularly if you like to shoot video) are also great options.

      – Matt

    • Thank you sooo much. I think for now I will go with the T3i and then down the line after I have learned what there is to learn I will go with a higher end camera. Keep up the great work.

  • I own a Canon 60D and this is my first DSLR camera but I can add one extra point about canon 60D that have not mentioned here that is canon 60D do have a excellent user access to all its function and really very easy to operate. Still there is many feature that I need to study about this camera but till now I can say this is the device you are looking for if you want to go for extreme photography with limited budget.


    • Hi Sazzad,

      Good point; I agree that the Canon 60D is very easy to use… but I’ve been using Canon SLRs for 20 years, so I usually leave my judgement on that matter out, since it’s a little subjective. On many entry-level models, advanced features are buried in sub-menues because camera manufacturers assume (correctly) that most people won’t use them… so for photographers who will use them, higher level bodies tend to be easier and more intuitive.

      – Matthew

    • That’s a tricky question. The 50D has some advantages, being a higher level camera, but the T3i is a bit newer and has a couple of technological improvements. I guess it depends on which are more important to you.

      The 50D can shoot at a faster frame rate, faster shutter speed (1/8000th), faster flash sync (1/250th), and of course, it has a metal body.

      The T3i has slightly higher resolution, but it’s also a newer sensor with less digital noise and higher ISO, and of course, video.

      If you’re an action shooter, the 50D still might be the best option for you… otherwise the T2i – t5i might be better :)

      – Matthew

  • gracias por tu respuesta! Lo que quisiera saber es el tiempo de vida de la canon t3i, tengo entendido que la 60d tiene hasta 100.000 disparos, es por eso que estoy pensando en cambiarme a esa camara. La t3i tiene menor tiempo util? gracias

    • Luciana,

      The shutter module of the T3i is rated at 100,000 shots, too. However, there are a few important things to keep in mind:

      • that doesn’t mean that your shutter will fail at 100,000 shots. It might go on longer.
      • that doesn’t mean that something else won’t fail first! I had an aperture control module go bad on a Nikon after about 20,000 shots, less than half the expected life of the shutter.
      • if your shutter module goes bad, you might be able to have it replaced for a few hundred dollars. It depends on the camera, and I’m not sure about the T3i.
      • I shoot a lot of pictures, and I’ve never come close to wearing out a shutter. Even if you shoot 100 pictures per day for 1000 days, that is almost 3 years of use… and I don’t know any amateurs who shoot that much. And if you’re a pro, you’ll certainly want a new camera after three years :)

      Good luck!

      – Matthew


  • Hola, como estas?muy bueno tu artículo. Tengo una consulta para hacerte. Tengo una canon t3i, y quiero cambiarme a una 60d por cuestiones de que tengo entendido de que la bateria le dura mas tiempo y la 60d tiene mas tiempo de vida.. Eso es cierto? Se que ambas cámaras tienen similares caracteristicas, lo que estoy buscando es una cámara que me dure años.. La t3i siento que es como una cámara descartable. Gracias!!!

    • Hola Luciana,

      The 60D does have a much nicer, more solid feeling to it, and it also has a superior auto-focus system and significantly longer battery life. So, it sounds like the 60D would be a good choice for you.

      Another option, though, would be to buy a battery grip for your current camera. Something like this batter grip for the T3i would double your battery life, and it also gives the camera better balance and a more professional look and feel… and it’s a lot less expensive than buying a new body.

      – Matthew

  • Hi Matthew,
    I am planning to buy a 60D or a t3i to photograph my artwork (oil paintings). I am moving up to a DSLR because I need a camera with a larger sensor to be able to offer large prints sizes. Based on your article, I am leaning towards the t3i because I have never used a DLSR before and think I might need the beginner features of the T3i.
    Do you think the Canon 50/2.5 macro lens would be a choice to photograph paintings? The paintings range from small 8×10 to large 30×40.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Jamie,

      First, the T3i or the 60D will work equally well for your project, so the T3i sounds like a good plan.

      Canon’s 50mm f/2.5 Macro is a great older lens; nice and sharp, and it should work nicely for you, and it has the advantage of also working on a full-frame camera, should you ever have that need in the future.

      Alternately, there’s the 60mm f/2.8 Macro, which is a more modern lens and also has excellent optics, but it’s quite a bit more expensive… so the 50mm seems like the way to go.

      The important thing when photographing paintings is to keep the plane of the sensor parallel with the plane of the artwork so that you don’t get distortion that needs correcting.

      – Matthew

  • I have a question. My wife most recently had a T3 rebel. Unfortunatly it was stolen on a recent trip to Malaysia. I upgraded her to a 60d with a 70-300mm IS USM telephoto lens. Well, her parents just bought her a Rebel T3i as a gift to replace her stolen camara. Should I take the 60d back as both camaras are basically the same or just keep both? I guess we could put the 50mm 1.8 portrait lens on one and the telephoto on the other.

    • Hi PJ,

      As a professional photographer, I always have at least 2 camera bodies so that I’m not out of commission if one of them dies (it has happened once, so far).  When I’m shooting events, it’s also convenient to have a wide angle lens on one body and a telephoto on the other; I can then switch between the two very quickly while maintaining high image quality (as opposed to using an all-in-one zoom, which does not).

      However, it sounds as though your wife is more of a hobbyist, so considerations are a little different. My general advice for buying camera equipment is to buy the least expensive body that will fulfill your needs, and then buy the best lenses that you can afford. In your case, I’d select the camera body that fulfills your (or you wife’s) needs, and trade in the other for a nice wide-angle lens.  A large aperture prime would be a good choice, or probably even better would be a large aperture zoom… like Sigma’s 17-50 f/2.8 .

      As to which camera to keep… the 60D does have a better autofocus system and it has a faster frame rate and longer battery life, along with a couple other differences. These may or may not be important to you, though… the decision will ultimately depend on your wife’s photographic interests and shooting style.

      – Matthew

  • Great article, and the Q&A is equally helpful!

    I am purchasing my first DSLR. I am a hobbyist, but have felt limited by my Lumix especially when it comes to leveraging DOF to get better pictures (love the park series of photos in this article!). I do lots of candids, portraits, and nature photography – birds, flowers, and soon, whale watches. I’m pretty sure the 60D is for me – the faster shutter speed will help with whale watches – but can you recommend a set of lenses for this beginner? From the discussions above, I think the 50mm/f1.8 is a must for the portraits, and I am taking to heart your cautions about the lenses with really wide ranges. I rarely use a tripod. Thoughts? I am trying not to overspend at the beginning, but really don’t want to miss those breaching whales!

    Thanks in advance for your help!


    • Hi Deb,

      The 60D is a great camera… and you might also consider the T4i, which is a little smaller and lighter. I prefer a larger camera, but some people prefer something more compact. My general advice is to buy the least expensive camera that will fulfill your needs, and then buy the best lenses that you can afford, since a) the lenses usually play a more important role in your image quality and b) your lenses will stay with you a lot longer than your camera body. (I compared the 60D and T4i here).

      That said, I agree… the 50mm f/1.8 is a great lens for anyone to have, especially for low-light situations. It’s  not as good as the 85mm f/1.8 for portraits, but it’s a lot less expensive, and it’s great for street photography and other candid situations.

      Personally, I like to carry two lenses: one wide angle to mid range, and one mid-range to telephoto. (like an 18-55 and 70-200 or 55-250 or 70-300).

      For distance shooting, like wildlife… the 70-300 IS USM (not the 75-300) is a great lens, for the price. Great optical quality, and a moderately fast USM motor for responsive focusing, and the 300mm end of the zoom range will get you close to the action.

      You can then pair that with the relatively cheap (but optically good) canon kit lens… the 18-55mm, or if you’re looking for a more expensive lens, the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8, which is much better in low-light.

      Alternately, if you’re looking for something more convenient, I think that the new Canon 18-135mm STM lens (not the old model) is a great option. It is optically quite good, and covers the range from wide angle to telephoto very nicely, even if it’s only a moderate telephoto (it’s about the same as a 200mm lens on an old 35mm camera).

      But lens choice is a very personal thing; a lot of it depends on your own taste and shooting style. Hope that gives you some direction, though.

      – Matthew

      • Hello again! I’ve had the 60D for over a year now and I LOVE it!! My primary use of the camera has changed, however, since I first sought your advice. I have a cake decorating business ( and about 95% of my photos are of cakes and cake pops. I have the EFS 18-135 kit lens, and it does a great job most of the time but it’s really limiting in the macro range. I don’t want to overspend and buy more lens than I need, but I don’t want to cheap out and be disappointed, taking into consideration your advice to invest in good lenses. A friend recommended a 50mm prime lens – I think it was a 2.8? – but I was hoping to get your take on a recommendation that might help me step up my game a bit in the macro range.

        Other things to consider – sometimes I’m struggling with low light and horrible backgrounds… I need to get a new tripod to address the low light situation (after all, cakes don’t move that quickly); I bought a cheap one and it’s flimsy and difficult to set up and adjust so I never use it. Control over DOF is important to me to minimize the backgrounds when I’m taking pictures in reception halls.

        Any advice you can provide is appreciated!

        • Hey Deb,

          Allow me to put in my 2 cents (especially since Matt is sleeping at the time of this writing :-)). I haven’t used the EF 50mm f/2.5 macro so I cannot speak to the image quality, but I can talk about the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro. The 60mm macro renders beautifully sharp images and really nice bokeh. I’ve used this lens, not only for macro work, but for portraiture as well. It’s a bit more expensive than the EF 50mm though, but I think you get a better lens. On the other hand, the EF 50mm has the advantage that you can use it on a full-frame camera, should you decide to upgrade to a 6D or a 5D. The EF-S 60mm only fits APS-C cameras like the 60D. You may want to rent both and see how each performs, but if you decide to go with the EF-S 60mm, you won’t be disappointed.

          In regards to tripod…yes, get a nice sturdy on that allows flexibility with positioning (to get to hard to reach places, etc). You will spend a few hundred dollars, but you can be sure that your camera will not fall off of these. In general, you’ll be buying a “tripod system”: the tripod legs and attacheable head. These are usually sold separately since you can interchange heads for different functions. I have the Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod with the 496RC2 compact ball head with quick release.

          Hope this helps a bit,


          Alfred Lopez

        • Hi Deb,

          As Alfred mentioned, the Canon 50mm f/2.5 and the Canon 60mm f/2.8 are both great macro lenses… you’ll be able to capture every tiny detail that you want. The 50mm has a couple of advantages: 1) it only costs $299 and 2) it will fit on a full-frame camera body if you ever decide to buy a 5D or 6D. However, it’s a much much older lens design, a bit slow to focus, and the resolution isn’t quite as high as a more modern lens (though this might only be laboratory relevant). I agree that you’d be happy with the Canon 60mm, but you’d also do well with the Sigma 50mm f/2.8 Macro (which is much newer than the Canon 50mm and optimized for digital rather than film).

          The f/2.8 aperture on any of these will help you get some nicely out-of-focus backgrounds, especially when you’re close to your subject, but remember that there are two factors that will give you a shallower DOF:  1) large aperture and 2) long focal length… so, a 100mm Macro lens at f/2.8 will give you a much more blurry background than a 50mm lens will at f/2.8. However, you’ll know from using your current zoom lens that at 100mm, you may have to stand a good distance away to be able to frame the image how you want. If you decide to go for a 100mm, though, the Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS Macro is awesome, and so is the Sigma 105mm Macro. They’re both substantially more expensive than the shorter lenses mentioned before.

          A good tripod is hard to find, and will really come down to a matter of preferences. I like to work with a carbon fiber tripod because they’re light, and I like flip-lock legs rather than twist lock. I also prefer a 3-section leg rather than a 4-section because it’s fewer locks to play with while setting up and tends to be more sturdy… even though a 4 section may fold up smaller.  This Manfrotto fits my specs perfectly, and this Giottos is not far behind. A much cheaper aluminum option would be the Manfrotto 190XB.

          Whatever legs you choose, a good ball-head will make your life a lot easier, with just one knob to twist and lock down to re-frame your image. There are a million to choose from, but Vanguard makes heads that are relatively cheap and great quality. I own this one, and it’s great: the Vanguard 250 (but the smaller Vanguard 100 would probably be just as good).

          Good luck! Let me know if you have any more questions… I might be able to help you narrow things down :)

          – Matthew

  • Hello Mathew,
    I am an amature photographer and skateboard filmer. I have been directed to the 60D and T3i countless times and now that i am looking into getting a new camera/ video camera i decided that I should get the T3i because of its better video features. After reading this I’m not sure if I really should. It seems the 60D would be a better choice especially because i take a lot of pictures and plus its video capabilities are not far off from the T3i too.

    I was also looking into getting a newer version of the Sony Handycam instead of one of these since I have been using a Nikon D5000 for a while and could continue using it for pictures only.

    I would really like your opinion on this matter.
    Thanks in advance!


    • Hi Alex,

      I hate to make the decision more difficult for you, but two days ago, the Canon T4i was announced, and it’s significantly improved over the T3i; it has a better auto-focus system, faster shooting, and perhaps most importantly, it has hybrid phase detect auto-focus while shooting video. With the T3i (and other Canon cameras), you really have to rely on manual focus while shooting video… and most serious film makers like to do that anyway, but the AF is too slow to be worth using for anything except still subjects. The T4i changes that; and although I haven’t used on yet, the promise is that we’ll see something like SLR focusing speed for video.

      So, I’d throw the T3i out of contention here (unless money is an issue… it’s price has dropped with the announcement of the T4i). For still, the 60D is still slightly better but not much. The video differences between the 60D and T3i are minimal (mostly just the “digital zoom” on the T3i).

      Keep in mind… I don’t do a whole lot with video, myself. If you get a Handycam, though, you’ll find it easier to work with than an SLR, but you won’t get the Cinema Style footage with shallow depth of field, etc… the sensor will just be too small… so it really just depends on what you’re going for. The T4i seems like a good compromise between the two, and it should be available in a couple weeks: Canon T4i PreOrder

      – Matt

      • YES! Thanks a lot! The T4i seems to be exactly what i wanted. It is a little pricey though, so I’m probably going to have to wait a bit to get it. I actually have a very old Handycam, but the options are very limited and i hate that. So i am trying to avoid another one if possible.

        Well thanks a bunch Mathew! It looks like the T4i would be the way to go

  • Matthew

    Thanks for a great website…it’s been bookmarked. :)

    Anyway, I’m looking to upgrade to my very first DSLR. I bought a Panasonic Lumix FZ35 a few years back….I like a lot of ZOOM. I’m a hunter and enjoy taking wildlife photos, landscapes, DIY projects and SOME video. I was looking at the T3i but then began wondering if I should go ahead and invest the extra couple hundred bucks in the 60D. The slower shooting speed of the T3i concerns me but I also get hung up that it is considered superior (video-wise) over the 60D.

    We are going on an Alaskan cruise this August. This has really gotten me kicked into high gear for a camera purchase. I’m also hung up on which lense(s) to buy. I was looking at the Tamron 18-270 Piezo drive lense for an all around walking lense. I also would like something with some reach, possibly the 200-500mm Tamron….its just a tad on the expensive side for me. Do these sound like wise choices for the type of photography I enjoy?


    • Hi Donnie,

      There are lots of great SLRs out there these days; I personally find that the 60D is worth the extra little bit of money for the shooting speed and superior auto-focus system. The only real advantage that the T3i has (when it comes to video) is that it has “digital zoom”. If you think you’d use it, it’s worth considering.

      As a general rule, I do not recommend “all in one” type lenses. The more zoom range that a single lens has, the harder it is to get great image quality at any particular point in that range… so usually, an 18-55 and 55-250 lens will give you much better image quality than an 18-250 lens.

      Obviously, for some people, slightly lower image quality is acceptable, give the convenience of only having to carry a single lens, but that’s a matter of personal priorities.

      Specifically, the Tamron 18-270 has mediocre (at best) resolution at the long end of the zoom, and very heavy barrel distortion at the wide-angle end of it. I suspect that you’d be disappointed with the image quality, especially for wildlife photos. The Canon 70-300mm IS USM (not the 75-300) might be a better choice for that range.

      Off topic a bit… there’s a new camera, the Pentax K-30 that you might also want to consider. It’s fast and has a great sensor, but the body is also weather sealed; it can take a pretty serious dunking in water, in fact. If you spend a lot of time in the field hunting/fishing/hiking, it’s worth considering as well, and it’s not too expensive: $850. The downside is that you won’t have all of the lens choices that you would have for a Canon or Nikon.

      – Matthew

      • Matthew

        Thanks for your quick response. I just checked out the Pentak K-30 and she’s a beaut but won’t be available until sometime in July. I leave mid-August and want at least a couple months worth of practice with my very first DSLR. Basically, I don’t want to have to solely rely on AUTO mode while in Alaska. But thanks for the recommendation…that would have fit my needs exactly. I’ll just continue to be cautious with my camera equipment near H2O. :)

        I’m really at a loss if I should buy the 60D or T3i….I keep going back and forth. Would the T3i be a good camera for capturing birds in flight? Seems like I’m looking for reasons NOT to buy the 60D….maybe it was because I had my heart set on it before I looked into the 60D.

        Would that 70-300mm be sufficient as an “all around” lense for Alaska? I’d like a lense that I can reach out and get pics of whales but also close up shots of myself or my wife while on the boat (fish poses etc) .


        • The 60D would be better for catching birds in flight, but the 7D would be a significant improvement over the 60D. The T3i is not really ideal for that sort of work, but it will work most of the time.

          As for the 70-300… I’m not really sure how to answer the question. The truth is, no matter what lens you have, you’ll sometimes want a longer one. If you’re shooting with a 200 you’ll want a 400, if you have a 400, you’ll want a 600mm, etc. The 70-300 is not a wide angle lens at all; so you’d probably also need something to cover that range (the 18-55mm kit lens is actually quite good). It does cover a pretty good, long zoom range, though, and all of it with really good optical quality.  A 100-400 or 150-500 (etc) would obviously give you more zoom, but you’d really need to shoot from a tripod or monopod most of the time to get decent image quality… and it sounds like that’s not really going to fit your shooting style.

          – Matt

          • Thanks again for the reply.

            I’ve encountered another dilemma. What is your opinion of the Sony A57 when compared with the Canon 60D? It seems to be a better camera. Only thing I don’t like is the EVF but I’ve yet to see it up close.

            • It certainly has its advantages. You might take a look at my comparison of the T3i and the a55; at least, it’s frame rate is higher, and it does have the advantages of the pellicle mirror system.

              There are a few considerations to keep in mind. First, you’ve mentioned the EVF. I don’t actually mind looking at an EVF rather that an optical viewfinder as much as I thought, but the major drawback is the battery drain. The EVF itself actually consumes more power than the LCD on the back of the camera… and I’m sure you understand how quickly batteries are drained by something like that. It’s fine if you’re shooting a lot of pictures in a short period of time, but if you’re shooting pictures over a longer period, battery drain is a significant issue.

              The autofocus systems are actually pretty comparable, with the edge going to the 60D probably. Only 3 of the AF points in the Sony are cross type, while all 9 in the Canon are. A cross type AF point is twice as likely to pull focus, especially in difficult conditions.

              You’ll also want to consider lens availability. Sony does have a line of Zeiss lenses that are quite good, but in general, Canon lenses have a better reputation than the Konica/Minolta/Sony lenses. Of course, many 3rd party lenses are available for Sony, and it has the advantage of in-camera image stabilization, so you don’t need to pay for it in the lens.

              I see that the Sony a57 is a bit less expensive ($699) than the 60D, which will allow you to spend a bit more on lenses, which is always an advantage. I’d recommend either one, depending on your shooting style.  You might also consider the Sony a65, which is the mid-line model (replacing the a55), and about the same price as the 60D.

              – Matthew

              • Researching takes one helluva burden on me. Its so frustrating trying to buy something that will serve me well.

                I think the Canon 60D will suit me just fine. I went to a shop today and held both the 60D and Nikon 7000 just to give each a fair comparison. I’m a little dissappointed the Nikon shot a little faster than the 60D especially since I’m so set on buying a Canon.

                You make a good point about lens availability. Would a future firmware update make the 60D shoot faster? I have no clue.

              • Hey Donnie,

                I  know what you mean about the research taking its toll :) Keep in mind, though, that any of the cameras that you’ve mentioned will be great purchases… it’s much more important to get familiar with the camera and the basics of photography and exposure than to pick the camera with the perfect specs. Most of the perceived differences are really just not very important.

                That said, if you’ve seen my article here comparing the 60D and the Nikon D7000, you’ve seen that I’d lean towards the D7000. It’s a great camera, and the sensor noise is slightly less of a problem than on the Canons we’ve talked about.

                – Matthew

    • I’ve checked out the Nikon 7000 but still tend to favor the Canon. Important factors for me are the articulating screen and video.

      Checked out the Sony A57 today. Man, that thing is FAST!!! Didn’t like the EVF or the screen that only folds down and not off to the side.

      One more question regarding the 60D. Is it silly for me to purchase a camera that was released going on 2 years now? Is it worth waiting for something else? However, the whole point is my Alaska trip. It just seems the camera is a tad bit out-dated.

      • The 60D is a couple years old, but it performs well… and it’s still going to perform well in a few years. There are always going to be minor improvements and features added to new cameras; I suspect that the Canon T4i will have a touch-screen, for example… but the differences that are critical to your photography will mostly be minor. The newer sensors may have better high-ISO performance, and I suspect that the new Canons will have something like the Nikon D7000’s ability to focus continuously while shooting video.

        But you’ll always be able to wait and get something better in the future; it’s MUCH more important to get familiar with your camera and (most importantly) practice and learn the fundamentals of photography. A good camera doesn’t take good pictures in the hands of a novice photographer… it’s the photographer that really matters.

        – Matt


        • Matthew

          I apologize for posting this here in the 60D vs T3i article but wanted to get your valued opinion. I’ve changed my mind again. You can delete this if you feel necessary.

          I’m an up and coming hobbyist photographer. I want to master the camera controls and not have to rely on AUTO mode. I’m looking to upgrade from my Lumix FZ35. I am a hunter and enjoy taking photos of the animals I pursue. One thing I like about the Lumix is that I have room to fit into my hunting pack. BUT I need something faster and with better image quality.
          As of yesterday, I had finally decided on the Canon 60D and was planning to buy tomorrow. Then I looked into the mirrorless systems and became intrigued by their smaller size and comparable IQ. AND here we go again. I’m tired of the research but now I have even more ahead of me since I hadn’t considered a Micro 4/3rd / mirrorless.
          The main reason for this upgrade is our upcoming Alaskan cruise. Got to thinking that I would probably get tired of lugging around that big 60D. Also, I wouldn’t have room for it in my hunting pack and therefore it would be useless to me.
          Things I need in my new camera
          1. DSLR-like quality photos
          2. Interchangeable lenses
          3. Smaller size
          4. Fast continuous shooting speed
          5. Availability of Tele- zoom lens for wildlife photography ( was going to buy a 70-300mm when I considered a DSLR)
          6. Quiet operation (I take a lot of photos within 10-20 yards of deer, turkey, etc from a treestand)
          7. Good low light operation
          8. HD video
          9. Weatherproofing would be a bonus but I can sacrifice this since it will limit my choices.

          Thanks in advance for the help.

          • Hi Donnie,

            Micro 4/3 cameras are a good intermediate between standard point-and-shoots and larger SLRs; and some of them are good, fast cameras.

            Keep in mind that the sensor on micro 4/3 cameras is significantly smaller than on a typical APS-C SLR (my article about the Canon G1 X has a sensor size comparison), and that’s going to affect the image quality in a couple of ways: it will make it harder to get shallow depth of field, and it will usually make the high-ISO performance a little worse.

            There are also compact cameras with SLR sized sensors, like the Sony Nex-5N ($599) and Sony Nex-7($1199). The camera body is quite small, in comparison to an SLR, and the lenses are smaller than SLR lenses. They are capable of VERY fast shooting (10fps) and are quiet because they have no moving mirror parts, good high-ISO performance, etc. They are designed for ease of use, but also offer manual control for people who want to get into that sort of thing.

            A good option, if you don’t mind going micro 4/3rds, would be the new Olympus OM-D E5. It looks a lot like an SLR, actually, but it’s smaller, claims to have the fastest auto-focus of any comparable camera, can shoot up to 9 fps (depending on the focus mode), and it’s weather sealed. The body costs about $999 , but it’s new and is back-ordered from all the dealers right now.

            If you go with a Sony, I think the longest telephoto lens available will be somewhere around 200mm, but you can buy an adapter for the camera and use ANY Sony SLR compatible lens, which opens up your options quite a bit… at the expense of size.

            300mm lenses shouldn’t be too hard to find for micro 4/3, but I’m not sure what your options would be beyond that.Adapters may be available.

            – Matthew

  • A friend of mine has just purchased a 60D, this is his upgrade from an XTi. He received it yesterday and has noticed that the noise when he takes a picture is extremely loud compared to his XTi. Is this normal? He says it is at least 10 times louder. Is is possible his new camera would in fact be defective? Any help is appreciated.

  • Any recommendations on a good, yet easy to use photoshop program to enhance my T3i photos? I wanted to get your opinion before I invested in any particular one. Thanks!

  • I have a Canon EOS Rebel T3i but am in the beginnings of playing with this thing. The main reason for getting the camera was for pics of the kids and family and my daughters senoir pics, also my husband Drag races, I don’t know camera settings lingo and in the most simple terms could someone help me with setting my camera up for drag racing daytime and drag racing night time and depth of field for outdoor settings? Would love to also know how (if you can?) and how you can save certain settings so that you don’t have to reset every time you begin to take pics? Also video?

    • Hi Tina,

      Daytime pictures of action (drag racing for example) will be easier than night time.  If you want to get a good shot of the car coming off the line, (front wheels in the air, etc.) you’ll probably want to use a fast shutter speed.  Start by putting the camera in Shutter Priority mode (Tv on your T3i) and rolling the dial at the top until you are at 1/500th or faster (1/1000, etc.).  Take a picture and see if it turns out ok (bright enough).  If so, you’ve found your starting point.  If there is some motion blur, increase the shutter speed one click and try again.  Practice taking pictures of other cars first so you’ll know what settings to use when your husband is on the line.

      For another neat effect, you could try panning.  Lower your shutter speed to around 1/60th and move the camera horizontally as his car drives by.  Take the picture when he’s directly in front of you on the track, but don’t stop panning sideways when you take the picture, keep moving the camera until the shot is totally done.  Done correctly (with a little practice) the car will be in focus, but the background will be blurred to give the feeling of motion.

      Nighttime action shots require fast shutter speeds just like daytime ones, but they require a fast lens (f/1.2, f/1.8, f/2.0, etc.) to let additional light in.  If you are using the lens that came with your camera, you may be disappointed.  Those lenses aren’t usually fast enough to get decent low light action shots.  Luckily, most drag strips aren’t really that dark.  They are often lit up fairly well, but if the one you are at isn’t, and it is fairly dark, you may have to use a flash…one that you buy separately.

      You’ll have to provide a little more information on the depth of field question.  Are you wanting a shallow DoF, where the subject is nice and sharp, but the background is blurred?  If so, that requires that same type of “fast” lens with a wide aperture (f/1.2, f/1.8, f/2.0, etc.).  An inexpensive way of dipping your foot in that pool is the 50mm f/1.8 for just over $100.  It’s a favorite among the Canon crowd who love that “Bokeh” effect.


    • Hi Tina,

      That’s a pretty tall order, but Bill has summed up a few strategies pretty nicely.

      I shoot action a little differently. Instead of using shutter priority during the day, I use Aperture Priority (almost all of the time)… that’s “Av” on your mode dial. If you set that to the lowest number possible (with your lenses, that will probably be 3.5 or 5.6, depending whether your lenses are zoomed out all the way or not).

      When you do that, your camera will then automatically set the shutter-speed to the fastest setting possible that will correctly expose the picture. When you turn your mode dial away from Av, those settings will be saved, too.

      As long as you’re on the site, you might want to take a look at my article “The Three Basics of Photography“, which will help you a lot more than I can is a reply like this :)

      – Matthew


      • Hey Matthew – quick question.  Using the Av method, with it set as wide as possible, to get the fastest shutter speed, would you want to set a high ISO, or leave it on Auto?  On Auto, would the camera possibly try a mix of both settings, causing a slower shutter speed?

      • Thanks for reminding me, Bill :) My method for shooting in Av mode will give you the fastest shutter speed and correct exposure for a given ISO setting.

        I don’t use auto ISO, though a lot of people like it. For my method of shooting in Av mode, I set the ISO to 200 on a bright, sunny day, and I set it higher at night… I usually don’t go higher than 1600, though.

        So maybe this isn’t the simplest way to work, but it gives good results. Of course, if you want the simplest way to shoot, just set the camera to the “Sports” mode on the dial :)

    • Thank ya’ll so much. This helps more than you know. I refer back to your comments all the time when taking photos.
      And any new thoughts on this are very much appreciated.
      For other explanations….
      I do have the original lens that came with the camera. I do want to buy a new lens but not really sure which lens to get for the range of photos I am taking. Mainly the drag racing.
      The night time shots are the hardest for me with the original lens, I can’t seem to find a happy medium. There is good light at the drag strip but maybe too much light. My camera focus’s on the light sometimes. Its the blurring the cars. I am trying to work around it.
      If you have a facebook you can add me (Tina Scott in Blossom, Texas and The Paris Drag Strip in Paris, Texas) and see the photos that I have been taking and maybe give me some tips.
      I also want to take some senior and graduation photos and family photos in the coming days for some friends and family, any tips would be great. All will be outdoors.
      I really appreciate all the help, it has made this learning experience so much better. Thank you soo much!

  • This artical has been very helpful. But I was expecting more on video shooting. I am planning to buy a DSLR 80% for shooting video. I have read that the Canon 7D shoots film like video… can’t afford so it gonna be th 60D or T3i. Which should I get for shooting film like videos and what lens is best for shooting videos?
    thanks in advance.

    • Hi Kirk,

      The 7D, 60D, and T3i all use the same sensor and shoot video at the same resolutions and frame rates; for video, they are identical when it comes to image quality. None of them have an auto-focus system that is worth using while shooting video.

      The T3i has the advantage of being able to shoot video with a special type of digital zoom. The camera will shoot using the same capture resolution, but using a smaller part of the large sensor, so it is effectively zooming in.

      Beyond that, the cameras are very similar for video. Check out the MagicLantern firmware sidecar options to see if there’s anything that you’ll need, too.

  • I currently have a Canon Digital Rebel xti and am looking to purchase either a T3i or T2i. I mostly want to take pictures of my kids. Getting close up/portraits is a desire as well as general action pics of kids. The shooting video is nice and as I understand both cameras have that capablity with the t3i having digital zoom. What is the advantage of the digital zoom exactly? Also I read that the t3i can act as a control module for off camera ettl flash and the t2i can’t. What exactly is the importance of that? Would that make a better portrait pic. I’m not a professional photographer and would like to know the differences of those two capablilties that the t3i has over the t2i before purchasing. I don’t want to buy the t3i if the t2i will do. Thanks!

    • Digital zoom allows you to use a smaller part of the camera’s sensor for shooting video, so basically, it just enlarges everything…. it makes it appear that you’re closer to the subject. Traditionally, digital zoom simply cropped off the edges of the video frames and enlarged what was there to fill the frame, so you’d be seeing a lower resolution image at a larger size. With the digital zoom on the T3i, though, the camera captures the video at the same resolution, just from a smaller part of the sensor (full HD video is only 2 megapixels, and the sensor on the camera is 18 megapixels, so it has some room to play around with where it wants to draw those pixels from). There is still some loss of quality with the T3i’s digital zoom, but not as much as you’d expect with traditional digital zoom.

      Using off-camera flash is very important for portraiture. Moving the flash off of the camera allows you to sculpt the light and shadow on your subject, instead of just getting that blast of light (that is the reason most people don’t like flash photography). Think about where the shadow of a person’s nose falls when you shoot a picture with the flash on the camera… since the light is straigh-on, there’s hardly any shadow at all. If you move that flash to one side a few feet, the shadow will be cast to the opposite side of the face, and the far side of the face will also have some shading… both of which provide shape to the image of the face.

      The wireless eTTL system isn’t necessary for using off camera flash, but it’s one of the easiest ways, and it’s an inexpensive option. There are a variety of other triggering systems available, but any system that provides the same eTTL functionality will cost $200-400. Of course, you’d still need a secondary flash unit too, like a 430ex or 580ex.

      – Matthew

  • Hi Matthew, Alfred
    I joined this community for two reasons.
    1) I just bought a t3i and its my first DSLR
    2) After reading all the above discussions, I am very disappointed with my purchase.

    Is t3i worth a buy ? I can still return it and get an upgrade.
    You guys do a great job, in the way you have managed this forum, please suggest me.

    I like capturing cars passing by and also kids in action, and i do understand that it’s the person holding the camera which restricts the camera capabilities. But still what should i opt ( t3i or 60D ) ? and what lenses will be the best.

    I currently have basic kit lens , and 55-250 mm lens.
    I’ll be eagerly waiting for your reply .

    • Hi Anky,

      First of all, welcome :)

      Before anything else, what is it particularly that you’re disappointed about with the T3i? Is there something that you’ve experienced with the camera that bothers you?

      Camera choice is really a personal preference in many way; I happen to like the larger size of the 60D, while some photographers prefer the fact that the T3i is more compact and lightweight. Currently, the T3i is about $230 cheaper than the 60D, too, which is significant… so I don’t think there’s a simple answer.

      – Matthew

      • Thanks a lot Matthew for your prompt and quick response. ( you rock )
        Yeah few things bothers me at the moment,
        1) Captured few moving objects, as in cars on freeway, The result to my surprise was a blurred image.. again may be its just me or this has got to do with fps ? ( i do need photography classes in the earlier case )
        2) Night shots are significantly noisy(ISO 6400, exposure levels etc). I don’t know its just me or the limitation with camera.
        3) To be honest, one major factor is that I got my deal (t3i + 18-55mm + 55-200 , 8gb class 10 SDHC card + lowerpro case) for $1005, Which is equivalent to EOS 60d + 18-135mm deal online.

        I can understand that, My 3rd point drags the topic somewhere else, which is not relevant to this thread, but all this really bothers me. Thanks again :)

        • Hi Anky,

          Photos that appear “blurry” can be caused by 3 main things: 1) the subject is moving too fast for the shutter speed you’re using 2) there was too much camera shake for the shutter speed you’re using or 3) the camera was out-of-focus. There are usually differences, but it’s too much to explain here…If you’d like to email me one of your photos, I can help you tell what’s going on. However, if it’s one of the first two reasons, it’s not the camera’s fault… and even if it’s the 3rd (the 60D does have a somewhat better AF system), it still may be the lens or the selected AF mode that’s to blame rather than the camera.

          No matter what camera you buy, shots at ISO6400 are going to be noisy; some cameras are better than others (but the 60D is not better than the T3i), but it’s still going to be the lesser of two evils. To get better performance, you’ll probably need lenses that let in more light. In fact, better lenses will probably help you with the issue of blurred images, too. Compare your 18-55mm lens (at 55mm) to a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, for example. At 55mm, your lens’ maximum aperture is f/5.6. An f/1.8 lens lets in more than 8-times as much light (3 f-stops).

          I can certainly understand the disappointment in finding a good deal online after you’ve already purchased something.

          If you haven’t already… you might want to read my article: 3 Basics of Photography.

          – Matt

        • Hi Anky,

          Take your T3i outside today and put it in Tv mode which is shutter priority mode. That means you get to set the shutter speed, and the camera will adjust the aperture and ISO as necessary. Set your ISO to auto, and set your shutter speed (by rolling the wheel near the shutter button) until the shutter speed is 1/250th of a second.

          That should be fast enough to stop motion and still low enough that it won’t take a crazy aperture mode to compensate for the lack of light. If it’s a sunny day, the ISO shouldn’t go too high which will keep noise in the photo to a minimum. That also means you could use a higher/faster shutter speed like 1/500th or higher to really stop those speeding cars!

          Let us know if you still see blurry shots with a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second.


      • Yes, camera choice can be very personal. I’m a female, and on the very short side of female. Even the t3i is very large for my hands. It simply isn’t an option for me to go any larger on the camera size, I would never carry it around.

        So something for those with small hands to think about. the 60d is significantly weightier and larger for those with small hands.

        • Hi Selin,

          Thanks for the input :) I find that the T3i is actually a little more comfortable in my hands than the T2i was, incidentally, even though they’re the same size… probably due to slightly modified ergonomics.

          For those who are looking for something quite compact, I’m very impressed with the new Canon PowerShot G1 X, which has large sensor (about the same size as the T3i’s), but it’s truly a pocket camera. Of course, it’s not an SLR, but it looks like it will be a good second camera.

  • Super helpful…thanks so much! I’m going for the Canon 60D. I’ve had a ‘rebel’ for the last so many years and am ready for a bit more.

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