By Charlotte Lowrie
Every iteration of Canon’s EOS Rebel is more compelling then the one before, and that’s certainly true of the new Canon EOS RebelT3i/600D. As expected, this camera features Canon’s18-megapixel image sensor, along with the latest version of Canon’s metering system that incorporates color information when making exposure decisions. These features assure excellent image quality and consistently good exposures. While these features are not new, they deliver excellent image quality and spot-on exposures, and those qualities, after all, are the acid test for any camera.
But there are new features that make the EOS T3i a compelling upgrade or first-purchase digital SLR. the T3i/600D adds nice refinements to still-image, video, and flash shooting—refinements that make the Rebel competitive with pricier EOS cameras. What’s important for me as a photographer are camera features that enhance my creative options, and the T3i/600D delivers several new features to enhance creativity. Here are some of my favorite T3i/600D features.
- As video shooting becomes almost as important as still-image shooting, the T3i/600D offers video features not found on other EOS cameras. First, the new Video Snapshot feature is a great way to add creativity to the videos you record. With the Video Snapshot feature, you can record short video clips at 2-, 4-, or 8-second lengths. Then you can save the snapshots (clips) to a video album. It doesn’t take long to think of cool and fun ways to create themed video snapshot albums. The first idea I considered is recording a series of video snapshots at a wedding in which each snapshot features a personal greeting from the parents, grandparents, and friends of the bride and groom. Then it's easy to save all of the individual snapshots in an album, do a little video editing, and you have a unique and wonderful gift for the newly weds.
Speaking of video editing, Canon provides a capable video-editing program on the EOS Digital Solutions Disk that comes with the camera. You can add titles, stills to your movie, and you can convert the movie to black-and-white as well. Also if you need lighting for your video, the affordable new Canon 320EX flash unit features a bright LED light that is suitable for video lighting, and you can use it for up to 3.5 hours of continuous shooting.
- You can now add music to videos in the camera. You can copy the music that Canon provides on the EOS Digital Solution Disk to the memory card using the provided EOS Utility program. Alternately, you can add music from your computer to the memory card, again using the EOS Utility. Then on the camera, you can choose a music selection to play as background music for the video. With the music added, all you need to do is to plug the T3i/600D into a TV, pop some popcorn, and enjoy your HD videos in style.
- For everyday video shooting and for Live View shooting, you’ll love the new articulated 3-inch LCD. You can adjust the LCD to almost any angle, and it gives a 100 percent view of the scene. Thus you can shoot at a variety of angles and still monitor the shooting on the LCD. Plus, with the T3i/600D, you can shoot video in either fully automatic or with manual exposure.
- The T3i/600D is the first camera in the Rebel line to offer built-in wireless flash photography. If you haven’t used wireless flash, you’re in for a treat. With the Integrated Speedlite Transmitter, you can use your Canon Speedlite together with the built-in flash, or fire only the Speedlite, or setup two or three Speedlites to create beautiful, studio-like lighting for your images—all without hassling with cords. To help put this feature in perspective, you’d need to buy the Canon ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter, currently priced at more than $200, to get equivalent functionality. Combined with the new 270EX II Speedlite, you can even control the camera remotely from the 270EX II.
- Speaking of wireless flash, it can be more than a little complicated, but Canon provides an Easy Wireless option in the Built-in flash func. (function) settings that makes setting up basic wireless flash simple and quick. Just be sure that the slave flash unit or units is/are set to the same channel, and shoot away. The camera automatically adjusts the flash settings to provide a good exposure.
- As with it's big sister, the EOS 60D, on the T3i/600D, you can set the highest ISO setting that can be used with Auto ISO. And if you use Auto ISO, be sure to set a limit. I set a maximum of 800, although I rarely use Auto ISO. To set a maximum limit, go to the Shooting 3 menu, and choose ISO Auto. As a tip, you'll also get smaller image sizes at low ISO settings. That's because digital noise is seen as image detail, and it cannot be compressed, thus creating a larger file size.
If you want less digital noise in your images, then begin exposing to the right--biasing the exposure toward the right side of the histogram. Shadow areas--where noise first and most often appears--have a lower signal or less light compared to the inherent digital noise in an electrical system. Biasing exposures to the right maximizes both the amount of light captured and the signal-to-noise ratio. The exposure bias should be toward the right without blowing out highlight detail. Exposing to the right is the common exposure technique for RAW images as well.
- Another new feature on the T3i/600D is the A+ shooting mode that replaces the Full Auto shooting mode found on previous Rebel cameras. A+ shooting mode includes using the new Auto Picture Style. A Picture Style sets the sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color tone aspects of images. The Auto Picture Style evaluates the scene and makes changes to the way the image looks based on its evaluation. Auto Picture Style is available as part of the suite of “auto” settings in A+ mode including auto exposure, white balance, and Auto Lighting Optimizer. All in all, this makes it easy to get great images from the T3i/600D for photographers who want to leave everything to the camera.
Also be sure to check out my book, the
Canon EOS T3i/600D Digital Field Guide.
Related online course: