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Canon Rebel T3i

The perfect tool for learning the in’s & outs of photography

Ariel and I both got our start in photography using the Canon Rebel series cameras and we feel it is an excellent tool for learning. We even shot part of our first wedding season with T1s before moving into the pro Camera 5D Mark II. For the price point it really does deliver an excellent range of features and functions that should be mastered prior to making the leap to full-frame. When I was a child my mother would always insist that I start with an inexpensive “starter” and make sure that I truly loved whatever it was that I was doing before making the real investment.

This is sound advice to consider before second mortgaging your house for camera gear! This is not to say the Rebel camera is a toy, it in fact is a very serious camera with functions many semi-pro’s have yet to fully utilize. With the ability to function in manual, aperture priority, shutter priority and other advanced functions this camera is very usable and in many ways replicates the pro series cameras up the line from it. This makes it a great investment to start with as moving up the Canon line of cameras merely adds functions, but retains the menus, look and feel you are accustomed to.

In the day of the DSLR the full frame chip is considered to be the pro setup while the crop sensor is more geared towards the amateur to semi-pro. This is mainly due to the cost and slight improvement in image quality. But in actuality incredible pictures can be made using this camera by incorporating the right lens, light and composition. The Rebel is an awesome camera system and gives the photographer the tools to create the images they imagine. Ultimately this is what we need from our cameras, and this camera can get it done.

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Rebel for wedding photography

Can you use the Canon Rebel for wedding photography? Of course you can! In fact we did for three months of our first season and it worked out well for the price point we marketed to at that time. We love the Canon look for weddings and portraits and feel that Canon is better for rendering skin tones than the competitors. They also support an arsenal of lenses to create the ethereal wedding look that we love so dearly. If you are getting started in wedding photography the Canon system makes a lot of sense, and the Rebel is simply the EOS entrance.

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To Kit Lens or Not to Kit Lens

If you are a portrait or wedding photographer we recommend steering clear of the 18-55mm kit lens that can often be packaged with the Rebel camera. Instead if you are on a very tight budget consider picking up the 50mm 1.8, affectionally referred to by photogs as the nifty fifty. This is a great lens for creating shallow depth of field with it’s f1.8 aperture. With it’s incredible price point it’s continually a top seller. This setup, in our opinion, will get you the best pro look for the lowest dollar and should be a no brainer if you are on a tight budget.

We also recommend purchasing lenses that are compatible with both crop and full frame so that later you can use your existing lens collection, should you make the upgrade to full frame. In the Canon lens lineup, lenses labeled EF-S are only compatible with the crop sensors and are rendered useless on a full frame. If you are looking for more information about lenses, we have created a wedding lenses resource page just for you!

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Focusing & Metering Modes

We typically shoot the focus & recompose method so the rudimentary 9-point focusing system in the Rebel is very similar to what we use on the Canon 6D, which is our studio’s preferred camera. The Rebel does lack an advanced AF system that some photographers might prefer. For wedding photography most of the day moves at a slow enough pace that this simpler focusing system works well – we don’t required the complicated focusing systems for our weddings, but some might.

Unfortunately the focusing screen is static and can not be replaced for the T1i/T2i/T3i/etc. Therefore seeing true depth of field at fast f/2 aperture becomes more difficult and attaining truly sharp shots becomes almost impossible in low light situations at these apertures. It does however, support advanced ETTL (electronic through the lens) and spot metering modes that we use constantly on a wedding day to get the lighting correct for the scenes. These are essential needs and the Rebel is up to the task.

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ISO & Shutter

The Rebel T1i/T2i/T3i/etc has some limitations in ISO compared to it’s siblings. It simply offers the standard ISO speeds we are accustomed to 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, and 6400. However, it does not offer the digital pull such as 320, 640, 1250, etc that have Canon’s special sauce to clean up noise. This simply equates to more post work to clean ISO noise in Lightroom if it bothers you. The shutter is noisy in a completely different way. Like literally, it’s loud. Especially in a silent church while two people are exchanging their vows. This is something to take great care with. The shutter does however cover all the same speeds as it’s big brothers which is a big plus!

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Getting Serious About Photography?

At some point you will outgrow this camera if you mean for photography to become your life’s ambition. For us, knowing that better image quality could be had from better a camera was certainly our driving force from upgrading to a full frame. However, that was not the only benefit that was to be had from making the upgrade. With a pro camera comes other great benefits, like weather proofing, aluminum bodies, buttons that don’t fall off and the ability to survive years of regular use and abuse. If you are a working photographer this matters and the upgrade to a pro series camera makes a ton of sense when the need arrises.

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Final Thoughts

This camera makes good sense for a lot of photographers. If you are a weekend warrior wedding photographer, or an occasional family & portrait photographer this camera is just what the doctor ordered. If you are a student or an amateur just discovering your love for photography this camera is perfect in that it will give you the tools to enable you to create your vision without breaking the bank.

If you are looking to setup a full time business this might not be the setup for you longterm. However, everyone starts somewhere and starting with this camera will give you the toolset that will challenge you to learn and eventually graduate into the pro setup needed to take your business to the next level. The DSLR has brought pro photography to the masses and the Rebel has certainly stood out from the crowd for a reason. Maybe it’s the right choice for this part of your photography journey too!

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More Resources

Are you interested in learning more about this camera?  There are lots of great, useful resources all over the web to help us photographers achieve our photographic dreams!  We have included some of the articles and resources that were helpful for us when researching our own gear purchase.

Canon – Canon Tech Specs

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