It may seem odd to be reviewing a camera such as the Canon EOS Rebel T3 in 2019. There are so many other newer entry-level DSLRs on the market, but buying into an older camera does have its benefits.
The Canon Rebel series for many are the first steps into the DSLR world and a way to wrap your head around the advantages of this format. The usual progression is to learn the ropes on the Rebel, then buy into a higher grade model with more advanced features.
The older models can still produce fantastic images and can be picked up for not much money. Strapping on a good quality, but cheap 50mm f/1.8 lens can finish the package and you will have a great starter kit for not much money. In this respect, let’s have a look at what the T3 has to offer.
The Canon EOS Rebel T3 has the very familiar Rebel series body. Basically, a simplified version of the higher-end DSLRs such as the 5D Mark II. The T3 is wrapped around a 12.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, a DIGIC 4 processor, a nine-point autofocus(AF), and 100-6400 ISO sensitivity range.
Video capabilities are 1280 x 720 HD video, a 63 zone dual-layer metering system and on the rear a 2.7-inch LCD screen. The camera is also able to shoot in RAW or JPEG formats.
The body itself is made out of durable hard plastic, which is not weather-sealed but feels relatively solid and sturdy in the hand. There’s also a substantial grip on the camera, covered in a rubberized material for better traction. This may feel a little small for larger hands but is substantial enough for most users.
On the top of the camera is a straightforward mode dial for semiautomatic modes, fully manual or preset modes. The back of the camera has a familiar Canon layout with buttons for video playback, menu display, ISO, white balance, AF mode, and drive mode. A dedicated video button is also in place.
The automatic shooting modes are a straightforward way to shoot with easy settings such as vivid, soft, warm, intense, cool, brighter and monochrome. Straight out of the camera, there are shooting modes for different scenes. Portrait, landscape, close-up, sports, night portrait, A-Dep, program auto, aperture priority, shutter priority manual, and movie. After playing with the auto modes for some time, you’ll quickly progress onto the semi automatic modes for more control.
The 2.7-inch LCD screen is fixed and although not the largest on the market, it’s sufficiently clear and bright enough to be viewed in everything but very sunny conditions.
The camera also features lots of control over how your images turn out. Maybe lacking all the finer levels of higher end DSLRs, but enough here for the beginner to slowly progress onto fully manual shooting.
Canon Eos Rebel T3 in Use
You cannot fault the Canon EOS Rebel T3 for its lightweight dimensions at only 495g. With a small prime lens attached, it feels a joy to carry around all day. The continuous shooting mode is only three frames per second but does have a maximum burst of 830 JPEG images if you need that many. RAW files are only in bursts of five and only one for RAW/JPEG.
There are only nine AF points, with the center point the primary point for both single-point autofocus and AI Servo. This may take more focus and recompose methods, but you’re also looking at the AF point count of the time of manufacturer for comparisons.
As for shooting with the rear LCD screen or Live View, this really slows down shooting and the 800 shots of battery life when using the viewfinder dropped considerably to 240 with the rear screen. The built-in flash has a 30 feet range, which in reality is good enough for candid images. There’s also a hotshoe for an external flash. Highly recommended to buy a good quality, third-party unit.
As for image quality, the picture styles provide good color options out-of-the-box, with a reasonable amount of sharpness, saturation, and contrast. White balance is also reasonable depending on the settings, looking quite naturally in faithful mode. Evaluative metering favors more details in the shadows, which is no bad thing.
As for noise in ISO levels, it starts to become noticeable around ISO 800. ISO 1600 and above starts to become quite grainy, which means you wouldn’t use the camera without a flash of some sorts in low light conditions unless you are doing some heavy cleanup in postprocessing. This is also the same for RAW images, which have much more leeway in post-editing, but produce very pleasing results if the ISO is kept low.
The HD 720p video quality is reasonable and has some basic settings with the ability to shoot either with AF or manually. You can’t use continuous AF in the middle of shooting, but you can use autofocus. You are also limited to the inbuilt microphone, which means the video output is more for candid footage, but at least it will give you a taste of what is capable.
How Does It Compare?
The Canon EOS Rebel T3i is a close comparison to the T3. Slightly better pixel count, slightly better video….. basically, slightly better in most ways. As they are both older units, you can pick up both for a reasonable price these days, with either producing good quality images and a nice feature set.
|Canon EOS Rebel T3||EOS Rebel T3i|
|Sensor||12.2MP CMOS||18 MP CMOS|
There’s plenty to like about the T3. Plenty of features to occupy the beginner photographer for some time, good quality images in both RAW and JPEG format, and a reasonable ISO performance.
It’s not the flashiest camera on the market by today’s standards, but that isn’t the point. Capturing good quality images is what the camera does very well considering the price you can pick these up for. This means that the Canon EOS Rebel T3 is definitely worth looking into as your first entry into the DSLR market.