Canon EOS Rebel T3i: Video and Image Quality

by Jim Keenan Reads (805)
Editor's Rating
8.00

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 8
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Expandability
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 8.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Video Quality
The T3i and the 60D share sensors (at least in resolution, but probably a lot more) and the procedure for video capture is the same. Video restrictions as to clip size are identical, so it probably comes as no surprise that I found video performance pretty much the same. Some of what follows was taken from the 60D review.

The T3i allows 1080 HD video capture and image quality is good. The camera makes use of a CMOS sensor so rolling shutter effect is a consideration, but the effect is well controlled. Video capture involves setting the mode dial to the movie shooting setting, acquiring focus with a half push of the shutter and then initiating capture by pushing the live view shooting/movie shooting button on the camera back.

Like the 60D, the T3i is a bit slow to acquire auto focus for video capture. The best time I ever saw was around two seconds or a bit longer, and trying to acquire on a moving subject can be an exercise in frustration. The T3i captures mono sound with its built-in microphone, but can accept an external microphone to permit stereo recording. There is also the capability for manual exposure. A wind cut feature is available. File size is limited to 4GB or 29 minutes and 59 seconds – videos to the 4GB size at 1080HD run about 11 minutes. The camera may shut off before either the size or time limits are reached due to internal temperature. There is no full-time AF, a feature which is appearing in some competitors.

Download Sample Video

Image Quality
Default still images out of the T3i are pleasing, with good color rendition and acceptable sharpness, although I preferred increasing sharpening in the manual modes. That 18 megapixel resolution sensor produces large files that offer some cropping leeway to get you “closer” to subjects than the kit lens allows. Canon will happily sell you any number of longer lenses to complement the kit glass, but until you opt to add to your lens quiver cropping can give you a bit more telephoto-like punch. Here are two original files and 8 x 12 cropped versions of each shot at about 300 dots per inch for printing purposes.

Canon T3i Sample Image
Original
Canon T3i Sample Image
Cropped
Canon T3i Sample Image
Original
Canon T3i Sample Image
Cropped

The picture style color palette offers an auto setting and six preset color options as well as three user-defined custom settings for creative zone shooters – same as the 60D – and each may be modified for sharpness, contrast, saturation and color tone. Here are the standard, neutral, landscape and faithful versions.

Canon T3i Sample Image
Standard
Canon T3i Sample Image
Neutral
Canon T3i Sample Image
Landscape
Canon T3i Sample Image
Faithful

Auto white balance was used for virtually every shot in this review and did a good job with most light sources, although it shot warm with 3200 degree Kelvin incandescent (tungsten) bulbs. The T3i also offers daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, white fluorescent and flash presets, along with a custom WB setting.

Canon T3i Sample Image
Auto White Balance, 5500k fluorescent light

Evaluative metering is the camera default and does a good job with most lighting conditions, but could lose some highlights in high contrast situations. There are partial, spot and center-weighted exposure metering options as well. The T3i uses “Auto Lighting Optimizer” to expand the camera’s apparent dynamic range – it’s enabled in the automatic and manual modes with a standard setting, but may be disabled or set for low, standard or high levels when shooting with the manual modes. Here are shots in aperture priority with ALO disabled and at the default standard level.

Canon T3i Sample Image
ALO Off
Canon T3i Sample Image
ALO Standard

A few years back Nikon introduced the D300 and the followed up shortly after with the D90, which carried the same sensor and offered the image quality of the D300 at a more budget-friendly price. I don’t know if Canon is using the exact same sensor and processor in the T3i as the 60D, but I have a hard time differentiating noise performance between the two and the 60D did a very credible job for a cropped sensor camera.

ISO 100 and 200 in the T3i are basically indistinguishable from one another, and 400 picks up a slight amount of graininess over 200 but will be hard to tell apart except in big enlargements and perhaps even not then. ISO 800 is a bit grainier than 400 but still holds fine details quite well, and 1600 adds a bit of grain and a few more artifacts here and there, along with a bit of a drop in fine detail.

Canon T3i Sample Image
ISO 100
Canon T3i Sample Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Canon T3i Sample Image
ISO 200
Canon T3i Sample Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Canon T3i Sample Image
ISO 400
Canon T3i Sample Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Canon T3i Sample Image
ISO 800
Canon T3i Sample Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Canon T3i Sample Image
ISO 1600
Canon T3i Sample Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop
Canon T3i Sample Image
ISO 3200
Canon T3i Sample Image
ISO 3200, 100% crop
Canon EOS Rebel T3i
ISO 6400
Canon T3i Sample Image
ISO 6400, 100% crop

ISO 3200 takes the most dramatic drop of any step so far with graininess increasing and fine details beginning to lose ground to smudging. ISO 6400 is by far the biggest drop off, with grain on the increase and fine details beginning to smudge fairly noticeably in some areas.

With the Nikon D300/D90 I didn’t think Nikon had held much back from the D90 in the image quality/noise department to separate it from the D300, and the same appears true for the T3i/60D. At least to my eyes, the entry-level flagship is on equal terms with Canon’s prosumer body in the image and noise arena, and that’s not a bad place at all.

Additional Sample Images

Canon T3i Sample Image Canon T3i Sample Image
Canon T3i Sample Image Canon T3i Sample Image
Canon T3i Sample Image Canon T3i Sample Image


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