Canon 550D vs T3i
The Canon EOS 550D (called Canon T2i in some regions) and the Canon EOS Rebel T3i (labelled Canon 600D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2010 and February 2011. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 17.9 megapixels.
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 550D 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 550D and the Canon T3i is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth 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 larger (5 percent) than the Canon 550D. Moreover, the T3i is markedly heavier (8 percent) than the 550D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 550D 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 want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|2.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|3.||Canon 4000D||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon 750D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|5.||Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|6.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|7.||Canon 1200D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|8.||Canon 700D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|9.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|10.||Canon 650D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|11.||Canon M||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599|
|12.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|13.||Canon 600D||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|14.||Canon 1100D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|15.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|16.||Canon 500D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|17.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|Notes: 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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The T3i was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 14 percent) than the 550D, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 17.9 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the 550D and the T3i have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the T3i is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the 550D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.
The Canon EOS 550D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The Canon EOS Rebel T3i offers exactly the same ISO settings.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 550D 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 550D has a higher magnification than the one of the T3i (0.54x 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 550D and Canon T3i along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 550D and the T3i write their files to 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 550D and Canon EOS Rebel T3i and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
Both the 550D and the T3i have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 550D was replaced by the Canon 600D, 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 how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 550D or the Canon T3i – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 550D:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.54x vs 0.53x).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2010).
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel T3i:
- 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 affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (14 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the T3i emerges as the winner of the match-up (4 : 2 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 550D 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 550D or the T3i perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 550D||..||+ +||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|2.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|3.||Canon 4000D||..||o||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon 750D||5/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|5.||Canon 760D||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|6.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|7.||Canon 1200D||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|8.||Canon 700D||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|9.||Canon T5i||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|10.||Canon 650D||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|11.||Canon M||3/5||+||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2012||599|
|12.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|13.||Canon 600D||3/5||o||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|14.||Canon 1100D||..||80/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|15.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|16.||Canon 500D||..||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|17.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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 550D 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 550D||Canon T3i|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2010||February 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 550D||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||17.9 Megapixels||17.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||5184 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||4.31 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||5.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||DIGIC 4|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||65|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||11.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||784||793|
|Screen Specs||Canon 550D||Canon T3i|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 550D||Canon T3i|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.7 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||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 550D||Canon T3i|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 550D||Canon T3i|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||440 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
133 x 100 x 80 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||530 g (18.7 oz)||570 g (20.1 oz)|
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