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First Look: Canon EOS Rebel T3

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First Look: Canon EOS Rebel T3

3:37 /

The Canon EOS Rebel T3 a perfectly fine entry-level camera, but there are better options for the money.

Hi! I'm Lori Grunin, Senior Editor for CNET and this is the Cannon EOS Rebel T3. Rather than introduce new dSLR models at bargain-basement prices like Pentax and Sony tend to do, Canon traditionally lets its slightly higher-end models gradually fall in price until they're the de facto entry-level models. But its current starter, the EOS Rebel XS, which the Canon T3 replaces, has been around since the summer of 2008. So Canon spruced up its low-end models a little with the latest imaging and metering systems-- and somehow managed to produce a camera that still feels 3 years old. Though it's not the heaviest camera in its class, the T3's body is rather clunky. And while I like the rubberized grip, the whole camera feels very cheap and plasticky. The control layout is straightforward and functional and it's typical of most digital cameras, but all of the buttons are flat with little tactile feedback. The only buttons with any sort of travel are the exposure lock and AF point selector buttons, but they managed to feel mushy. Lots of people don't mind them, but I dislike the low-end Canon viewfinders. This one in particular is one of the most claustrophobic I've seen in a long time; it's also got the lowest magnification of any Canon camera in the past few years. The LCD also feels small. Since it's not a 16:9 aspect, the 2.7-inch LCD isn't as small as it sounds, but it's just another thing that makes the camera feel old. As I've often complained before, I hate it that you have to use a specific movie mode in order to shoot video, and I really hate that it's on the opposite side of the mode dial from the manual modes. And for the T3, Canon moved the flash button and made it flat. Finally, you'd think there'd be plenty of room for an SD card slot in this huge grip. Instead, Canon moved it to the bottom, in the battery compartment-- that's a really popular but annoying location. The one bow to modernity seems to be the Feature Guide, which pops up a description of the option in the Shooting Settings display. Creative Auto Mode which allows you to change aperture and they call it "background blur", as well as drive mode, flash, and color "ambience"-- is the closest thing Canon offers to a newbie mode. Despite that, the T3 isn't bad. In fact, the photo quality is quite good for the price. It has excellent midrange sensitivity performance. JPEGs gonna get bit grainy, but remain very usable, up through ISO 800, and start to get soft at about ISO 1600. At ISO 3200, the JPEG photos don't look terrible, but you can see some color noise and images develop hot pixels. The camera has excellent color reproduction along with solid metering and exposure. The T3's video capture is pretty limited. It supports 720p and you only have exposure compensation and no autofocus. That said, the quality is fine; it's suitable for capturing random clips. For the most part, the T3 performs just like the rest of the budget dSLRs, although its burst speed is worse than the 3-year-old XSi and pretty much at the bottom of its class. In practice, that's just fast enough to capture kids and pets, but only if they're moving predictably, and with the knowledge that you may occasionally not get the shot. And the Live Mode autofocus is as slow as you'd expect. If you're willing to fork over about 100 dollars more, you open yourself up to so much better options including Canon's own T1i. It's old, but it offers better performance, comparable photo quality, a nicerview finder and a similar feature set. I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Canon EOS Rebel T3.

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