Canon SL1 vs T3i
The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (called Canon 100D 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 March 2013 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.
As their names suggest, both the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 and the Canon EOS Rebel T3i belong to Canon's Rebel line of DSLR cameras. This range of APS-C cameras, which started out with the Canon EOS Digital Rebel in 2003, has been a big commercial success and the backbone of Canon's dominance in the digital camera market. The popularity of the Rebel cameras is the result of them inheriting much of the sensor and shooting technology from earlier released professional DSLRs, while being sold at a much more budget-friendly price point. The strong brand reputation of Canon and the comprehensive EOS system of compatible lenses and accessories further contributes to the appeal of the Rebel cams, including the Canon SL1 and Canon T3i. 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 Rebel SL1 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon SL1 and the Canon T3i are illustrated 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.
The SL1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the T3i is only available in black.
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 (25 percent) than the Canon SL1. Moreover, the T3i is substantially heavier (40 percent) than the SL1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SL1 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. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|2.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|3.||Canon T100||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon SL2||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|5.||Canon T6||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||485 g||500||n||Mar 2016||449|
|6.||Canon M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499|
|7.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|8.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|9.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|10.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|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 T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SL1 was somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the T3i at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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.
In terms of chip-set technology, the SL1 uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 5) than the T3i (DIGIC 4), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
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 SL1 and the T3i have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the SL1 is much more recent (by 2 years and 1 month) than the T3i, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time.
The SL1 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. 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 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 have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The SL1 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 SL1 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SL1, the Canon T3i, and comparable cameras.
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The SL1 has a touchscreen, while the T3i has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.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 SL1 does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SL1 and the T3i write their files to SDXC cards. The SL1 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the T3i cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 Rebel SL1 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 SL1 and the T3i have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The T3i was replaced by the Canon T4i, while the SL1 was followed by the Canon SL2. 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 conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SL1 and the Canon T3i? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel SL1:
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 5 vs DIGIC 4).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.54x vs 0.53x).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.9 vs 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (117x91mm vs 133x100mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 163g or 29 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 1 month of technical progress since the T3i launch.
Reasons to prefer 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.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (440 versus 380) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2011).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL1 is the clear winner of the match-up (9 : 4 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 SL1 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SL1 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 SL1||4/5||+||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|2.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|3.||Canon T100||..||o||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon SL2||4/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|5.||Canon T6||4/5||o||73/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2016||449|
|6.||Canon M10||..||..||..||..||4/5||Oct 2015||499|
|7.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|8.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|9.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|10.||Canon T5i||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|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 T2i||..||+ +||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon SL1 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 SL1||Canon T3i|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2013||February 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 549||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SL1||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 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5||DIGIC 4|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||65|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.8||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||11.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||843||793|
|Screen Specs||Canon SL1||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|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SL1||Canon T3i|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4.9 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||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SL1||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 SL1||Canon T3i|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||380 shots per charge||440 shots per charge|
117 x 91 x 69 mm
(4.6 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
133 x 100 x 80 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||407 g (14.4 oz)||570 g (20.1 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.