Canon Debuts EOS Rebel T3i and T3 Digital SLRs (Test Images and Video Posted)

February 7, 2011

By Dan Havlik, PDN's Technology Specialist

Canon launched two entry-level digital SLRs this morning, the 18-megapixel EOS Rebel T3i ($799) and 12.2MP T3 ($599). Both cameras are modest upgrades from previous models and help fill out Canon’s DSLR line for consumers.

The major change on the T3i is that it offers a vari-angle 3-inch, LCD monitor with 1.04 million dots of resolution on back. The flip-out, articulating screen is designed to help you more easily compose over-the-head or low-down shots in Live View on the LCD. (The 18MP T2i, which precedes the T3i, has a fixed 3-inch LCD. It will remain in the Canon lineup until supplies run out.)

Both the Canon Rebel T3i and T3 will ship in March and be offered as a kit with a new EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens which, according to Canon, offers image stabilization that is “four stops better” than the previous model. The new kit lens is also slightly redesigned, adding what Canon describes as a simulated “leather tone texture” to the lens barrel.

Two new entry-level flashes have also been announced by Canon, the 320EX ($249) and 270EX II ($169).

Other than the bump in resolution and the vari-angle screen, the T3i offers only incremental changes from the T2i including a new “video snap shot” mode that automatically captures still images when you’re shooting 1080p HD clips in the DSLR’s video mode. You can also now zoom digitally from 3x to 10x while shooting HD video.

The T3i adds new EOS Scene Detection technology, which automatically senses what type of scene you are shooting and adjusts the camera to fit the conditions. As it was explained to us during a brief demo, the technology will pump up greens and blues when it detects a nature or outdoor scene; adjust brightness to make a face look more natural when it detects a portrait scene; or boost warm tones and oranges if you’re shooting a sunset. As we understand it, the EOS Scene Detection technology only engages when the camera is set to the green AUTO mode on the mode dial.

Other specs and features on the T3i are similar to the T2i including using a DIGIC 4 images processor to capture bursts of up to 3.7 frames per second. The T3i, which uses a APS-C CMOS sensor, also has an ISO range of 100-12,800.

LIke the T2i, the T3i can capture 1080p HD clips at 24, 25, and 30 frames per second. It has a built-in microphone with monaural sounds and an input to add a stereo mic.

The EOS Rebel T3 is Canon’s newest budget DSLR and will replace the Rebel XSi. It has a fixed 2.7-inch LCD with 230,000 dots of resolution. It can capture 720p HD video clips at 25 and 30fps.

We had a chance to very briefly shoot both still images and HD video with a pre-production model of the Canon EOS Rebel T3i Below is an HD video sample and some still images. (Please note that testing conditions — a snowy rooftop of a building in lower Manhattan — were less than optimal but we hope these samples will give you some idea of what this camera is capable of.)

ISO 1600; f/8; 1/60 (click to enlarge)

ISO 1600, f/20, 1/1000 (click to enlarge)

ISO 100, f/8, 1/500 (click to enlarge)

ISO 100; f/8; 1/400 (click to enlarge)