While Canon's pro body lineup turns over in a more leisurely fashion, the entry-level lineup now has six offerings including the T3i "flagship" that replaces the former flagship T2i after only a year on the market. To be sure, there are features that differentiate the two, notably the full HD video capability and an articulating monitor. But with recent experience using the 60D, I was struck more by the similarities between the performance of the Canon prosumer body and that manufacturer's new entry-level leader - much the same as when the Nikon D90 showed up with image quality and noise performance like my still-new (and more expensive) D300.
The T3i is perfectly content to fire away all day in full auto, or a handful of scene modes for those folks who want to do nothing more than frame and shoot, yet offers all the versatility of any DSLR for more advanced users. Image quality and noise performance mimic the prosumer 60D, and if you don't need the extra 1.5 fps continuous shooting speed (for JPEGS) of big brother, you'll probably not lose any sleep over shutter lag being a paltry 0.02 seconds longer. All bets are off for RAW shooters, however, as the T3i has a fairly limited buffer capacity for RAW or RAW/JPEGS shot in continuous mode.
Unfortunately, video auto focus times also mimic the 60D, so the T3i takes a while to get you set for movie capture. And, as an entry-level model geared toward folks transitioning from compacts and used to image composition with a monitor instead of a viewfinder, battery life for live view shooting is low.
Having seen firsthand the noise performance and image quality of the T3i and 60D, Canon could have easily called the T3i "60D Light" - as in, light on your wallet but heavy on image quality.
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