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Canon T3i versus Canon SL1

The Canon EOS Rebel T3i (called Canon 650D in some regions) and the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (labelled Canon 100D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2011 and March 2013. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 17.9 megapixel.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon T3i and the Canon SL1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the T3i – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Canon T3i vs Canon SL1 front
T3i versus SL1 top view
T3i and SL1 rear side
Body view (T3i on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon SL1 is notably smaller (20 percent) than the Canon T3i. Moreover, the SL1 is markedly lighter (29 percent) than the T3i. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the T3i nor the SL1 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 find an overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon T3i (⇒ rgt) 133 mm 100 mm 80 mm 570 g 440 no 2011 599discont. check
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft) 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 no 2013 549discont. check
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 122 mm 93 mm 70 mm 453 g 650 no 2017 549 latest check
Canon M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 301 g 255 no 2015 499discont. check
Canon T5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 no 2014 449discont. check
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 no 2013 649discont. check
Canon G16 (⇒ lft | rgt) 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 no 2013 549 latest check
Canon M (⇒ lft | rgt) 109 mm 66 mm 32 mm 298 g 230 no 2012 599discont. check
Canon T4i (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 no 2012 849discont. check
Canon T3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 no 2011 449discont. check
Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 no 2010 699discont. check
Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 no 2009 799discont. check
Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt) 122 mm 85 mm 71 mm 390 g 340 no 2013 599discont. check

The listed 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. 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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.

Canon T3i and Canon SL1 sensor measures
Sensor size

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 17.9 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the T3i and the SL1 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.

T3i versus SL1 MP
Sensor resolution

For most 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 image quality. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon T3i (⇒ rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.1 11.5 793 65
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.8 11.3 843 63
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.6 13.4 1041 79
Canon M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.2 11.4 753 65
Canon T5 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.9 11.3 724 63
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.7 11.2 681 61
Canon G16 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1/1.7 12.0 4000 3000 1080/60p 21.0 11.7 230 54
Canon M (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.1 11.2 827 65
Canon T4i (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.7 11.2 722 62
Canon T3 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 12.2 4272 2848 720/30p 21.9 11.0 755 62
Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.1 11.5 784 66
Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 15.1 4752 3168 1080/20p 21.7 11.5 663 63
Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/60p 21.3 11.5 639 61

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).

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The T3i and the SL1 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon T3i and Canon SL1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon T3i (⇒ rgt) optical no 3 1040 swivel no 4000 3.7 YES no
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft) optical no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 4000 4.9 9.4 no
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 9.8 no
Canon M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 4.6 5 no
Canon T5 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3 460 fixed no 4000 3.0 YES no
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 13 no
Canon G16 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 922 fixed no 4000 2.2 7 no
Canon M (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 4000 4.3 no no
Canon T4i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 YES no
Canon T3 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 230 fixed no 4000 3.0 YES no
Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 3.7 YES no
Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 920 fixed no 4000 3.4 YES no
Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 no 3.0 1036 swivel YES 4000 7.0 10.5 no

Both the T3i and the SL1 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.

Summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon T3i better than the Canon SL1 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel T3i:

  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (440 versus 380) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2011).

Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel SL1:

  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • 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 will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 163g or 29 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 1 month of technical progress since the T3i launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL1 emerges as the winner of the match-up (5 : 3 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.

T3i 03:05 SL1

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the T3i or the SL1. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon T3i (⇒ rgt) reviewed 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2011 599discont. check
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft) Rec 78/100 Gold 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 549discont. check
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 - 4.5/5 2017 549 latest check
Canon M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - reviewed 4/5 2015 499discont. check
Canon T5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4/5 - 4/5 4/5 4.5/5 2014 449discont. check
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) - 76/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 649discont. check
Canon G16 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 549 latest check
Canon M (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4/5 3.5/5 4/5 2012 599discont. check
Canon T4i (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 849discont. check
Canon T3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 80/100 69/100 4/5 4/5 4.5/5 2011 449discont. check
Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec 77/100 Gold 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 699discont. check
Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec 74/100 HiRec 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 799discont. check
Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec - 5/5 - 4.5/5 2013 599discont. check

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Other comparisons

If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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