Review: Canon EOS Rebel T3 (EOS 1100D)

Recently I have taken the plunge and shelled out $500 ($536.50 inc tax) for Digital SLR camera to replace my aging Fuji Finepix S5500 digital camera. The model of choice is the Canon EOS Rebel T3 (or EOS 1100D as it’s known in Europe), I did my research before purchasing this DSLR camera and the Rebel T3 came top in many lists of cameras in the $400 – $600 price bracket and thusfar I have no real complaints about my purchase, a huge improvement over the Fuji it replaced!

Test photo of my daughter AlyaI was amazed how easy it was to pick up and start taking photos; the full auto mode allows you to start snapping great pictures immediately, it worked out what type of photo I wanted and produced the goods in the first couple of shots, a picture of my daughter on the playground, produced nice tones and set the aperture perfectly to blur the background while keeping sharp focus on the subject. The Rebel T3 has a host of semi-automatic modes for just about every type of shot, incl landscape, portrait, close up, sports, night portrait and video mode, which records upto 720p HD resolution. The camera also has a creative auto mode, which allows you to change settings such as whether you want an in-focus or blurred background behind your subject, continuous shooting, whether you want to the flash to fire or not and ambiance settings, including monochrome, sepia and blue, which can produce great results.

There are even more semi-manual modes to play with, Program AE allows automatic setting of focus and aperture, while allowing for all other settings to be tweaked. Shutter Priority AE allows for adjustment of shutter speed to create the feeling of movement or for use in low light situations, although a tripod is advised to avoid camera shake, all settings expect aperture are changeable in this mode. Aperture Priority AE does the same as Shutter Priority AE, except that Aperture is changeable, setting how blurred you want the background, basically setting the depth of focus. Auto depth of field AE makes it easy to set a blurred background/foreground or both, having a subject in the middle with items in the foreground and background blurred. And of course there is a full manual mode which allows you to make an infinite amount of changes to the settings!

Overall, I would say that the Canon EOS Rebel T3 is a great camera for the money, producing much better results with very little effort than a point and shoot camera and for not too much more money than a high end point and shoot camera. It can produce upto 12.2 megapixel photographs (4272 x 2848) which should be more than enough for most. The supplied lens is an 18mm – 55mm telephoto lens, but the focal range isn’t very long so don’t expect to be taking close up photos of distance objects. You’ll need to upgrade to a longer focal length lens, which can be costly. The lens does come as standard with image stabilisation and auto/manual focus switches, so it’s a decent starter lens but focal length will disappoint some, just be aware of this when you buy!

I do have one criticism; the viewfinder, I find it a little too recessed to be able to use comfortably, you need to have your face pressed hard against the camera body to be able to see the whole of the image in the viewfinder, which is a problem if like myself you wear eyeglasses. You can use ‘live view’ which displays the viewfinder image on the 2.7in screen on the rear on the camera, but that kinda takes away the fun of owning a SLR camera, but that’s a minor gripe!

Update [July 31, 2012]: This might be an isolated incident but I will document my experience with the Canon T3, and let the readers decide if it’s a problem. Yesterday I took my Rebel T3 out of the case, where it has sat for four weeks with the lens attached and lens cap on, took a few shots of the moon and the photos had dark blotches all over them. Took it to a Molar’s Camera shop and they cleaned the sensor for a very reasonable $20, but I find it worrying that much dirt and dust managed to get inside the workings of the camera while stored with the lens attached!
Update [August 8, 2012]: A week after the last issue (see immediately above), another bigger issue has arisen. The focusing screen, just above the mirror and two metal plates have become dislodged and fallen out of the camera when I removed the lens to see what the rattling sound was. So tomorrow, the camera body is being sent off to Canon for repair, it’s still under warranty so I hope they’ll fix it for free, I’m not paying the $190 basic charge I was quoted over the phone by the rep. To say that I am not impressed with the build quality is an understatement, I don’t think I’ll buy another Canon, very disappointed with it, although the CSR I talked to was nice!
Update [August 21, 2012]: I got my T3 back today, just 12 days after I sent it off to Canon for repair, impressive given the five shipping days and two weekends. Canon has replaced the focus screen, mirror and all mountings and the camera came back in mint condition, the same condition as it left in, but with focus screen replaced. I had read horror stories about cameras coming back from Canon Repair scuffed and scratched, so I am relieved to see it come back in perfect condition. So overall, top marks to Canon for fixing the issues free of charge with quick turn-around, just a shame it broke in the first place after just over three months of ownership.

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