Canon 50D vs T3i
The Canon EOS 50D 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 2008 and February 2011. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 50D has a resolution of 15.1 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.
|Canon 50D||Canon T3i|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|15.1 MP, APS-C Sensor||17.9 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO 100-3200 (100-12800)||ISO 100-6400 (100-12800)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 920k dots||3.0" LCD, 1040k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|6.3 shutter flaps per second||3.7 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||Not weather sealed|
|800 shots per battery charge||440 shots per battery charge|
|146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g||133 x 100 x 80 mm, 570 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 50D 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 50D 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 width, height and depth measures 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 (16 percent) than the Canon 50D. Moreover, the T3i is markedly lighter (31 percent) than the 50D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 50D is splash and dust resistant, while the T3i does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Canon 50D»||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.9 in||29.0 oz||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299||Canon 50D|
|Canon T3i«||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.1 oz||440||n||Feb 2011||599||Canon T3i|
|Canon 90D« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||24.7 oz||1300||Y||Aug 2019||1,199||Canon 90D|
|Canon 80D« »||5.5 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||25.8 oz||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199||Canon 80D|
|Canon T6s« »||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.9 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||649||Canon T6s|
|Canon 7D II« »||5.9 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||32.1 oz||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799||Canon 7D II|
|Canon 70D« »||5.5 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199||Canon 70D|
|Canon T5i« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.5 oz||440||n||Mar 2013||649||Canon T5i|
|Canon M« »||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||10.5 oz||230||n||Jul 2012||599||Canon M|
|Canon T4i« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.3 oz||440||n||Jun 2012||849||Canon T4i|
|Canon 60D« »||5.7 in||4.2 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399||Canon 60D|
|Canon T2i« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.7 oz||440||n||Feb 2010||699||Canon T2i|
|Canon 7D« »||5.8 in||4.4 in||2.9 in||30.3 oz||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699||Canon 7D|
|Canon T1i« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.3 oz||400||n||Mar 2009||799||Canon T1i|
|Canon 40D« »||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.9 in||29.0 oz||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299||Canon 40D|
|Canon 30D« »||5.7 in||4.2 in||2.9 in||27.7 oz||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399||Canon 30D|
|Canon 20D« »||5.7 in||4.2 in||2.8 in||27.2 oz||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499||Canon 20D|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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 54 percent) than the 50D, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the T3i offers a higher resolution of 17.9 megapixels, compared with 15.1 MP of the 50D. This megapixels advantage translates into a 9 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the T3i has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 4.69μm for the 50D). However, it should be noted that the T3i is much more recent (by 2 years and 5 months) than the 50D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.
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 inch or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inch or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inch or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 50D are 23.8 x 15.8 inch or 60.4 x 40.2 cm for good quality, 19 x 12.7 inch or 48.3 x 32.2 cm for very good quality, and 15.8 x 10.6 inch or 40.2 x 26.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 50D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. 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.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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.
|Canon 50D||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||none||21.8||11.4||696||63||Canon 50D|
|Canon T3i||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||793||65||Canon T3i|
|Canon 90D||APS-C||32.3||6960||4640||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Canon 90D|
|Canon 80D||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.6||13.2||1135||79||Canon 80D|
|Canon T6s||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/30p||22.6||12.0||915||70||Canon T6s|
|Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70||Canon 7D II|
|Canon 70D||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||22.5||11.6||926||68||Canon 70D|
|Canon T5i||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||681||61||Canon T5i|
|Canon M||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.2||827||65||Canon M|
|Canon T4i||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||722||62||Canon T4i|
|Canon 60D||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.2||11.5||813||66||Canon 60D|
|Canon T2i||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66||Canon T2i|
|Canon 7D||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.0||11.7||854||66||Canon 7D|
|Canon T1i||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||1080/20p||21.7||11.5||663||63||Canon T1i|
|Canon 40D||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.1||11.3||703||64||Canon 40D|
|Canon 30D||APS-C||8.2||3504||2336||none||21.5||10.8||736||59||Canon 30D|
|Canon 20D||APS-C||8.2||3504||2336||none||21.9||11.0||721||62||Canon 20D|
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 50D does not. The highest resolution format that the T3i can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 50D 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 50D has a higher magnification than the one of the T3i (0.59x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 50D, the Canon T3i, and comparable cameras.
|Canon 50D||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.3||Y||n||Canon 50D|
|Canon T3i||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon T3i|
|Canon 90D||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||11.0||Y||n||Canon 90D|
|Canon 80D||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n||Canon 80D|
|Canon T6s||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon T6s|
|Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||Y||n||Canon 7D II|
|Canon 70D||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n||Canon 70D|
|Canon T5i||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon T5i|
|Canon M||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.3||n||n||Canon M|
|Canon T4i||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon T4i|
|Canon 60D||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.3||Y||n||Canon 60D|
|Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon T2i|
|Canon 7D||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n||Canon 7D|
|Canon T1i||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4||Y||n||Canon T1i|
|Canon 40D||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.5||Y||n||Canon 40D|
|Canon 30D||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 30D|
|Canon 20D||optical||Y||1.8||118||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 20D|
One feature that is present on the 50D, 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 50D does not have a selfie-screen.
The 50D 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 50D and Canon EOS Rebel T3i and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon 50D||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 50D|
|Canon T3i||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T3i|
|Canon 90D||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||Y||Canon 90D|
|Canon 80D||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon 80D|
|Canon T6s||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon T6s|
|Canon 7D II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Canon 7D II|
|Canon 70D||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Canon 70D|
|Canon T5i||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T5i|
|Canon M||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon M|
|Canon T4i||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T4i|
|Canon 60D||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 60D|
|Canon T2i||Y||stereo||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T2i|
|Canon 7D||Y||mono||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 7D|
|Canon T1i||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T1i|
|Canon 40D||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 40D|
|Canon 30D||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 30D|
|Canon 20D||Y||none||none||-||-||none||1.1||-||-||-||Canon 20D|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 50D (unlike the T3i) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 50D and the T3i have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 50D was replaced by the Canon 60D, while the T3i was followed by the Canon T4i. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 50D better than the Canon T3i or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 50D:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.59x 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 (6.3 vs 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (800 versus 440) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- 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 2008).
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel T3i:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (17.9 vs 15.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 9%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 920k 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 146x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 252g or 31 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (54 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 5 months of technical progress since the 50D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the T3i comes out slightly ahead of the 50D (9 : 8 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 50D 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 50D or the T3i. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon 50D 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 50D||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 2008||February 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 1299||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 50D||Canon T3i|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||22.3 x 14.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||332.27 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||26.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.1 Megapixels||17.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4752 x 3168 pixels||5184 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.69 μm||4.31 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.53 MP/cm2||5.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-3200 ISO||100-6400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-12800 ISO||100-12800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||DIGIC 4|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||65|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.8||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.4||11.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||696||793|
|Screen Specs||Canon 50D||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||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 50D||Canon T3i|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||6.3 shutter flaps/s||3.7 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 50D||Canon T3i|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 50D||Canon T3i|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||800 shots per charge||440 shots per charge|
146 x 108 x 74 mm
(5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
133 x 100 x 80 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||822 g (29.0 oz)||570 g (20.1 oz)|
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