Canon 60D vs. T3i

Posted by Gary Ramey on July 7th, 2011
My Take: This isn’t a bad comparison of the two cameras but I don’t think that digital zoom is a useful feature. It degrades quality and should not be used.

When you think about the Canon EOS 60D vs Canon EOS Rebel T3i, you may ask if there are enough feature differences to substantiate the production of two digital SLRs in the mid-level DSLR market, especially when they are produced by the same company. It is definitely a gutsy move by Canon to release both these cameras. From outward appearances, they seem to be targeting the same group of buyers, entry-level and photo enthusiasts.

Upon further consideration, you will note that there are now three digital SLRs in the Canon stable with the same 18-megapixel image sensor, the third being the Canon 7D. What’s up with this?

Suffice it to say that the 7D is in a whole other category in spite of the image sensor similarity. The 7D is more of a semi-pro to pro level camera, which is proven by the market and buyers that are attracted to it. We will shelve that discussion for another article and concentrate on the two cameras in question here.

The Canon Rebel T3i is a legitimate upgrade of the T2i in that it inherits or improves upon all the hardware and software in that model. However, there is quite a bit of controversy among pixel peepers about the legitimacy of the Canon 60D being called an “upgrade” because of the fact that it does not improve on all the hardware and software of the 50D.

Well, “it is what it is,” as they say when something can’t be explained. The “upgrade” question has nothing to do with how these two models compare to each other. In fact, it is a moot point when you consider the way buyers are scooping up these two cameras.

The question now at hand is, “Which one is right for you?”

While both use the exact same 18-megapixel sensor and Digic 4 processor, as well as having the same polycarbonate plastic material over a magnesium alloy frame for the body construction, there are a few differences that may be deal makers or breakers.

Let’s take these changes in a kind of random order since there is no way of knowing which one will make the big difference for you.

Body construction – yes, the material is the same, but the Canon 60D is environmentally sealed while the Rebel is not.

Shutter speed – the T3i’s fastest shutter is 1/4000 which is only half the speed of the other camera, plus it has a sync shutter speed for flash of 1/200 sec compared to 1/250 sec. These two shutter speed differences can be significant depending upon the lighting of a particular shot.

Continuous Shooting Rate – again the Rebel does not match up here at only 3.7 fps with a buffer of up to 34 JPEG images vs 5.3 fps with a buffer of 58 JPEGs. This is quite significant if you are shooting action shots.

Focus – Both models have a 9-point auto focus system, however the system is not the same. In the 60D all 9 points are cross-type auto focus points. Not so with the T2i in which only the center point is a cross-type focus point. This can make a big difference in the way each camera handles auto-focus.

Video – there is one thing that the Canon Rebel T3i has which the other camera does not. It is a digital zoom feature that allows 5x or 10x zooming while making movies. This means a 50mm lens can act like a 500mm lens without degrading the quality.

There are some other differences between these two digital SLR cameras, including differences in size and weight, viewfinder magnification, and battery life. Oh, and price. Price could also be a determining factor. It usually is.

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