Canon 20D vs T3i
The Canon EOS 20D and the Canon EOS Rebel T3i (labelled Canon 600D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2004 and February 2011. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 20D has a resolution of 8.2 megapixels, whereas the T3i provides 17.9 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 20D and the Canon EOS Rebel T3i? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 20D and the Canon T3i is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon T3i is notably smaller (13 percent) than the Canon 20D. Moreover, the T3i is markedly lighter (26 percent) than the 20D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 20D nor the T3i are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon 20D||144 mm||106 mm||72 mm||770 g||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499||ebay.com|
|2.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon T6||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||485 g||500||n||Mar 2016||449||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 7D II||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299||ebay.com|
|13.||Canon 30D||144 mm||106 mm||74 mm||785 g||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399||ebay.com|
|14.||Canon 350D||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899||ebay.com|
|15.||Canon 10D||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||850 g||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999||ebay.com|
|16.||Canon 300D||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899||ebay.com|
|17.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The T3i was launched at a markedly lower price (by 60 percent) than the 20D, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the T3i is 2 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, the T3i uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 4) than the 20D (DIGIC 2), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the T3i offers a higher resolution of 17.9 megapixels, compared with 8.2 MP of the 20D. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 6.42μm for the 20D). However, it should be noted that the T3i is much more recent (by 6 years and 5 months) than the 20D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Canon T3i implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the T3i for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 20D are 17.5 x 11.7 inches or 44.5 x 29.7 cm for good quality, 14 x 9.3 inches or 35.6 x 23.7 cm for very good quality, and 11.7 x 7.8 inches or 29.7 x 19.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 20D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS Rebel T3i are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-12800.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|5.||Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The T3i indeed provides for movie recording, while the 20D does not. The highest resolution format that the T3i can use is 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 20D and the T3i are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the 20D has a higher magnification than the one of the T3i (0.56x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 20D and Canon T3i along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon 20D||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Canon T3i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon T6||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon T6s||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Canon T5i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Canon T4i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon 60D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.3/s||Y||n|
|9.||Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|10.||Canon 7D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Canon 50D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.3/s||Y||n|
|12.||Canon 40D||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.5/s||Y||n|
|13.||Canon 30D||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Canon 350D||optical||n||1.8 / 115||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Canon 10D||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Canon 300D||optical||n||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|17.||Nikon D200||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that is present on the 20D, but is missing on the T3i is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The T3i has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the 20D does not have a selfie-screen.
The 20D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the T3i uses SDXC cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 20D and Canon EOS Rebel T3i and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 20D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|2.||Canon T3i||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon T6||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon T6s||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon 7D II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon T5i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon T4i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 60D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon T2i||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 7D||Y||mono / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 50D||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon 40D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Canon 30D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Canon 350D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Canon 10D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|16.||Canon 300D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|17.||Nikon D200||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 20D (unlike the T3i) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 20D and the T3i have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 20D was replaced by the Canon 30D, while the T3i was followed by the Canon T4i. Further information on the features and operation of the 20D and T3i can be found, respectively, in the Canon 20D Manual (free pdf) or the online Canon T3i Manual.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 20D or the Canon T3i – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 20D:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.56x vs 0.53x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (700 versus 440) on a single battery charge.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2004).
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel T3i:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (17.9 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 48%.
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 4 vs DIGIC 2).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 118k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (133x100mm vs 144x106mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 200g or 26 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (60 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 5 months of technical progress since the 20D launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the T3i is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 7 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 20D and the Canon T3i place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 20D or the T3i perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 20D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2004||1,499||ebay.com|
|2.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon T6||4/5||o||4/5||73/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2016||449||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 7D II||4.5/5||+||3.5/5||84/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon T5i||..||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 50D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon 40D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299||ebay.com|
|13.||Canon 30D||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2006||1,399||ebay.com|
|14.||Canon 350D||..||80/100||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899||ebay.com|
|15.||Canon 10D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2003||1,999||ebay.com|
|16.||Canon 300D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899||ebay.com|
|17.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Canon 20D vs Canon T3i
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 20D||Canon T3i|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2004||February 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 1,499||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 20D||Canon T3i|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.5 x 15.0 mm||22.3 x 14.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||337.5 mm2||332.27 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27 mm||26.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||8.2 Megapixels||17.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3504 x 2336 pixels||5184 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.42 μm||4.31 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.43 MP/cm2||5.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 2||DIGIC 4|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||62||65|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.9||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.0||11.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||721||793|
|Screen Specs||Canon 20D||Canon T3i|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||1.8inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||118k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 20D||Canon T3i|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||3.7 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||50 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 20D||Canon T3i|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 1.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 20D||Canon T3i|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||700 shots per charge||440 shots per charge|
144 x 106 x 72 mm
(5.7 x 4.2 x 2.8 in)
133 x 100 x 80 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||770 g (27.2 oz)||570 g (20.1 oz)|
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