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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 announced, 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. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth 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 – the T3i – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon T3i vs Canon SL2
T3i versus SL2 top view
T3i and SL2 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 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 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 camera 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 SL2 (⇒ lft) 122 mm 93 mm 70 mm 453 g 650 no 2017 549 latest check
Canon T7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 101 mm 78 mm 475 g 500 no 2018 449 latest check
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 206 g 235 no 2017 529 latest check
Canon T7i (⇒ lft | rgt) 131 mm 100 mm 76 mm 532 g 600 no 2017 749 latest check
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 116 mm 89 mm 61 mm 427 g 295 no 2016 979 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 SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 no 2013 549discont. 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
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 no 2016 499 latest check

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.


Sensor comparison: Canon T3i vs Canon SL2

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.

Canon T3i and Canon SL2 sensor measures
Sensor size

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.

T3i versus SL2 MP
Sensor resolution

For most 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. 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 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 SL2 (⇒ lft) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.6 13.4 1041 79
Canon T7 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/30p .. .. .. ..
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 21.9 12.5 522 65
Canon T7i (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p .. .. .. ..
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.4 12.4 1262 77
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 SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.8 11.3 843 63
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
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.8 13.9 1192 86

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon T3i, the Canon SL2, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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 3.0 1040 swivel no 4000 3.7 13 no
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 9.8 no
Canon T7 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 920 fixed no 4000 3.0 9.2 no
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 2000 8.2 6 YES
Canon T7i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 6.0 12 no
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.2 1620 tilting YES 4000 9.0 5 no
Canon M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 4.6 5 no
Canon T5 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 460 fixed no 4000 3.0 9.2 no
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 13 no
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 4000 4.9 9.4 no
Canon M (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 4000 4.3 no no
Canon T4i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 13 no
Canon T3 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 230 fixed no 4000 3.0 9.2 no
Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 3.7 13 no
Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 920 fixed no 4000 3.4 13 no
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 5.0 7 no

The SL2 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. 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? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel T3i:

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

Arguments in favor 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 video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • 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.
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 4 months of technical progress since the T3i launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL2 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 1 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

T3i 01:12 SL2

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
.com
dp
review
.com
ephoto
zine
.com
imaging
resource
.com
photography
blog
.com
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 SL2 (⇒ lft) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2017 549 latest check
Canon T7 (⇒ lft | rgt) reviewed .. 3.5/5 .. 3.5/5 2018 449 latest check
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) .. 75/100 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2017 529 latest check
Canon T7i (⇒ lft | rgt) .. 80/100 Gold 4.5/5 4/5 4/5 2017 749 latest check
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4/5 2016 979 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 SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 78/100 Gold 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 549discont. 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
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 76/100 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 499 latest check

The above review scores should be interpreted 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. 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. 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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