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Canon T3i versus Canon SL2

The Canon EOS Rebel T3i (called Canon 650D in some regions) and the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 (labelled Canon 200D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2011 and June 2017. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The T3i has a resolution of 17.9 megapixel, whereas the SL2 provides 24 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon T3i vs Canon SL2

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon T3i and the Canon SL2. 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 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).

Compare Canon T3i vs Canon SL2
Compare T3i versus SL2 top
Compare T3i and SL2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon SL2 is notably smaller (15 percent) than the Canon T3i. Moreover, the SL2 is markedly lighter (21 percent) than the T3i. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the T3i nor the SL2 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.

Concerning battery life, the T3i gets 440 shots out of its LP-E8 battery, while the SL2 can take 650 images on a single charge of its LP-E17 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon T3i» 133 mm 100 mm 80 mm 570 g 440 n Feb 2011 599- i Canon T3i
Canon SL2« 122 mm 93 mm 70 mm 453 g 650 n Jun 2017 549 i i Canon SL2
Canon 77D« » 131 mm 100 mm 76 mm 540 g 600 n Feb 2017 899 i i Canon 77D
Canon M6« » 112 mm 68 mm 45 mm 390 g 295 n Feb 2017 779 i i Canon M6
Canon M100« » 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 302 g 295 n Aug 2017 499 i i Canon M100
Canon M5« » 116 mm 89 mm 61 mm 427 g 295 n Sep 2016 979 i i Canon M5
Canon T6« » 129 mm 101 mm 78 mm 485 g 500 n Mar 2016 449- i Canon T6
Canon T5« » 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449- i Canon T5
Canon SL1« » 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 n Mar 2013 549- i Canon SL1
Canon T5i« » 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
Canon M« » 109 mm 66 mm 32 mm 298 g 230 n Jul 2012 599- i Canon M
Canon T4i« » 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849- i Canon T4i
Canon T3« » 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449- i Canon T3
Canon T2i« » 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699- i Canon T2i
Canon T1i« » 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799- i Canon T1i

Any camera purchase will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SL2 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon T3i vs Canon SL2

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. 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.

Technology-wise, the SL2 uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 7) than the T3i (DIGIC 4), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon T3i and Canon SL2 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the SL2 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 17.9 MP of the T3i. This megapixel advantage translates into a 16 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the SL2 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 4.31μm for the T3i). However, it should be noted that the SL2 is much more recent (by 6 years and 4 months) than the T3i, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The SL2 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in relatively fast and reliable autofocus acquisition during video recording.

T3i versus SL2 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the SL2 offers substantially better image quality than the T3i (overall score 14 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 1.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon T3i» APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.579365Canon T3i
Canon SL2« APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.4104179Canon SL2
Canon 77D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.397178Canon 77D
Canon M6« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Canon M6
Canon M100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278Canon M100
Canon M5« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.412.4126277Canon M5
Canon T6« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p----Canon T6
Canon T5« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463Canon T5
Canon SL1« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363Canon SL1
Canon T5i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161Canon T5i
Canon M« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765Canon M
Canon T4i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262Canon T4i
Canon T3« » APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562Canon T3
Canon T2i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466Canon T2i
Canon T1i« » APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363Canon T1i

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, but the SL2 provides a faster frame rate than the T3i. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the T3i is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon T3i vs Canon SL2

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The T3i and the SL2 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon T3i and Canon SL2 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon T3i»optical n 3.0 1040 swivel n 4000 3.7 Y n Canon T3i
Canon SL2«optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon SL2
Canon 77D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.0 Y n Canon 77D
Canon M6« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n Canon M6
Canon M100« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 6.1 Y n Canon M100
Canon M5« »2360 n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n Canon M5
Canon T6« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon T6
Canon T5« »optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon T5
Canon SL1« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.9 Y n Canon SL1
Canon T5i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon T5i
Canon M« »- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.3 n n Canon M
Canon T4i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon T4i
Canon T3« »optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon T3
Canon T2i« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 3.7 Y n Canon T2i
Canon T1i« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.4 Y n Canon T1i

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The SL2 has a touchscreen, while the T3i has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

Both the T3i and the SL2 write their imaging data to SDXC cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Canon T3i»YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon T3i
Canon SL2«YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon SL2
Canon 77D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon 77D
Canon M6« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon M6
Canon M100« »-stereomono--mini2.0YYYCanon M100
Canon M5« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon M5
Canon T6« »Ymonomono--mini2.0YY-Canon T6
Canon T5« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Canon T5
Canon SL1« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon SL1
Canon T5i« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon T5i
Canon M« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon M
Canon T4i« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon T4i
Canon T3« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Canon T3
Canon T2i« »Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---Canon T2i
Canon T1i« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Canon T1i

The SL2 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the T3i has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the T3i was succeeded by the Canon T4i.

Review summary: Canon T3i vs Canon SL2

So how do things add up? Is the Canon T3i better than the Canon SL2 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel T3i:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2011).


Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel SL2:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 16%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.9 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 7 vs DIGIC 4).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • Better video autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident movie autofocus.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (122x93mm vs 133x100mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 117g or 21 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (650 versus 440) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 4 months of technical progress since the T3i launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL2 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 1 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.

T3i 01:17 SL2

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the T3i or the SL2 handle or 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 table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon T3i»rev77/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599- i Canon T3i
Canon SL2«HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549 i i Canon SL2
Canon 77D« »-82/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 899 i i Canon 77D
Canon M6« »-80/1004/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 779 i i Canon M6
Canon M100« »Rec-4/5-3.5/5 Aug 2017 499 i i Canon M100
Canon M5« »Rec82/1004/54.5/54/5 Sep 2016 979 i i Canon M5
Canon T6« »rev73/1004/53.5/54/5 Mar 2016 449- i Canon T6
Canon T5« »Rec-4/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449- i Canon T5
Canon SL1« »Rec78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549- i Canon SL1
Canon T5i« »-76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
Canon M« »Rec-4/53.5/54/5 Jul 2012 599- i Canon M
Canon T4i« »HiRec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849- i Canon T4i
Canon T3« »80/10069/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449- i Canon T3
Canon T2i« »HiRec77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699- i Canon T2i
Canon T1i« »HiRec74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799- i Canon T1i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

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. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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