The Good Unsurprisingly, the Canon EOS Rebel T3 delivers excellent photo quality.
The Bad Average performance, a nothing-but-the-basics feature set and claustrophobic viewfinder leave the camera an uninspiring shooter.
The Bottom Line Though it's a perfectly fine entry-level camera, there are better options for the money than the Canon EOS Rebel T3.
Canon EOS Rebel T3
Rather than introduce new dSLR models at bargain-basement prices as 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 EOS Rebel T3 replaces, has been around since the summer of 2008 and even Canon must think it's looking a bit dowdy compared with competitors that, though old, aren't quite that old. 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.
That's not to say that the T3 is bad; it's not. In fact, the photo quality is quite good for the price, as we've come to expect from Canon. It has excellent midrange (ISO 400-3,200) sensitivity performance. JPEGs get a bit grainy, but remain very usable, up through ISO 800, and start to get soft at ISO 1,600. At ISO 3,200, the JPEG photos don't look terrible, but you can see some color noise and images develop hot pixels. As usual, Canon's JPEG processing is pretty good. I couldn't get much better results from processing the raw versions--I could get different results, but only by trading off dynamic range for color and grain.
Overall, the T3 delivers excellent color reproduction, though in shadowed areas the white balance gets a little too cool. The default Standard Picture Style pushes the saturation and sharpness a bit more than I like, but there are no wholesale hue shifts and the Neutral style works out well if you prefer. Metering and exposure are solid.