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Canon T3i vs XSi

The Canon EOS Rebel T3i (called Canon 600D in some regions) and the Canon EOS Rebel XSi (labelled Canon 450D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2011 and January 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The T3i has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the XSi provides 12.2 MP.

As their names suggest, both the Canon EOS Rebel T3i and the Canon EOS Rebel XSi 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 T3i and Canon XSi. Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon T3i   Canon XSi
Canon T3i Canon XSi
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
17.9 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-6400 (100-12800) ISO 100-1600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD, 1040k dots 3.0" LCD, 230k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.7 shutter flaps per second 3.5 shutter flaps per second
440 shots per battery charge500 shots per battery charge
133 x 100 x 80 mm, 570 g 129 x 98 x 62 mm, 524 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel T3i and the Canon EOS Rebel XSi? 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.

Body comparison: Canon T3i vs XSi

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon T3i and the Canon XSi. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon T3i vs Canon XSi
Compare T3i versus XSi top
Comparison T3i or XSi rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon XSi is notably smaller (5 percent) than the Canon T3i. Moreover, the XSi is markedly lighter (8 percent) than the T3i. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the T3i nor the XSi 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.

Concerning battery life, the T3i gets 440 shots out of its LP-E8 battery, while the XSi can take 500 images on a single charge of its LP-E5 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras 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» 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.1 oz 440 n Feb 2011 599- i Canon T3i
 
Canon XSi« 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.5 oz 500 n Jan 2008 799- i Canon XSi
 
Canon SL2« » 4.8 in 3.7 in 2.8 in 16.0 oz 650 n Jun 2017 549- i Canon SL2
 
Canon T6s« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 n Feb 2015 649- i Canon T6s
 
Canon T5« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 16.9 oz 500 n Feb 2014 449- i Canon T5
 
Canon SL1« » 4.6 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 14.4 oz 380 n Mar 2013 549- i Canon SL1
 
Canon T5i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 n Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
 
Canon M« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.3 in 10.5 oz 230 n Jul 2012 599- i Canon M
 
Canon T4i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.3 oz 440 n Jun 2012 849- i Canon T4i
 
Canon T3« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 17.5 oz 700 n Feb 2011 449- i Canon T3
 
Canon T2i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.7 oz 440 n Feb 2010 699- i Canon T2i
 
Canon T1i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799- i Canon T1i
 
Canon 40D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
 
Canon XTi« » 5.0 in 3.3 in 2.6 in 19.6 oz 370 n Aug 2006 799- i Canon XTi
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision 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 T3i was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the XSi, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon T3i vs XSi

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the XSi is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of chip-set technology, the T3i uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 4) than the XSi (DIGIC 3), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon T3i and Canon XSi sensor measures

With 17.9MP, the T3i offers a higher resolution than the XSi (12.2MP), but the T3i has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 5.19μm for the XSi). However, the T3i is a much more recent model (by 3 years) than the XSi, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The resolution advantage of the Canon T3i implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the T3i for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 17.3 inch or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inch or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inch or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon XSi are 21.4 x 14.2 inch or 54.3 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.1 x 11.4 inch or 43.4 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.5 inch or 36.2 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS Rebel T3i has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS Rebel XSi are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

T3i versus XSi MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the T3i has a notably higher overall DXO score than the XSi (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.2 bits higher color depth, 0.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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 XSi« APS-C 12.2 4272 2848-21.910.869261Canon XSi
 
Canon SL2« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.4104179Canon SL2
 
Canon T6s« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570Canon T6s
 
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
 
Canon 40D« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.370364Canon 40D
 
Canon XTi« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.066462Canon XTi

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The T3i indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the XSi does not. The highest resolution format that the T3i can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon T3i vs XSi

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The T3i and the XSi 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 XSi 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon T3i and Canon XSi in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Canon T3i»optical n 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n Canon T3i
 
Canon XSi«optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n Canon XSi
 
Canon SL2« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Canon SL2
 
Canon T6s« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Canon T6s
 
Canon T5« »optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Canon T5
 
Canon SL1« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9 Y n Canon SL1
 
Canon T5i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Canon T5i
 
Canon M« »- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.3 n n Canon M
 
Canon T4i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Canon T4i
 
Canon T3« »optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Canon T3
 
Canon T2i« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n Canon T2i
 
Canon T1i« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n Canon T1i
 
Canon 40D« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n Canon 40D
 
Canon XTi« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Canon XTi
The T3i has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the XSi does not have a selfie-screen.

The T3i writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the XSi uses SDHC cards.

 

Connectivity comparison: Canon T3i vs XSi

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 T3i and Canon EOS Rebel XSi and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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 XSi«Y----mini2.0---Canon XSi
 
Canon SL2« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon SL2
 
Canon T6s« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Canon T6s
 
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
 
Canon 40D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 40D
 
Canon XTi« »Y-----2.0---Canon XTi

Both the T3i and the XSi have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XSi was replaced by the Canon T1i, 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.


Review summary: Canon T3i vs XSi

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon T3i or the Canon XSi – 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 Rebel T3i:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 12.2MP) with a 21% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 4 vs DIGIC 3).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has 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 introduced into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the XSi launch.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel XSi:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.54x vs 0.53x).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (500 versus 440) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in January 2008).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the T3i is the clear winner of the match-up (10 : 3 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

T3i 10:03 XSi

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon T3i and the Canon XSi 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the T3i and the XSi in practical situations. 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.

Expert reviews: Canon T3i vs XSi

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.

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»o77/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599- i Canon T3i
 
Canon XSi«+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799- i Canon XSi
 
Canon SL2« »+ +78/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549- i Canon SL2
 
Canon T6s« »+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649- i Canon T6s
 
Canon T5« »+-4/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449- i Canon T5
 
Canon SL1« »+78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549- i Canon SL1
 
Canon T5i« »-76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
 
Canon M« »+-4/53.5/54/5 Jul 2012 599- i Canon M
 
Canon T4i« »+ +77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849- i Canon T4i
 
Canon T3« »80/10069/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449- i Canon T3
 
Canon T2i« »+ +77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699- i Canon T2i
 
Canon T1i« »+ +74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799- i Canon T1i
 
Canon 40D« »+ ++ +4.5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
 
Canon XTi« »+ ++ +o4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799- i Canon XTi
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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.

Canon T3i:
Check Ebay offers
Canon XSi:
Check Ebay offers

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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon T3i vs Canon XSi

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Canon T3i Canon XSi
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2011 January 2008
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Canon T3i Canon XSi
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 22.2 x 14.8 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 328.56 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 26.7 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.6x
    Sensor Resolution 17.9 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3456 pixels 4272 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.31 μm 5.19 μm
    Pixel Density 5.39 MP/cm2 3.70 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100-6400 ISO 100-1600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100-12800 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 3
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 65 61
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 21.9
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.5 10.8
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 793 692
    Screen Specs Canon T3i Canon XSi
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.54x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon T3i Canon XSi
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.7 shutter flaps/s 3.5 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon T3i Canon XSi
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon T3i Canon XSi
    Battery Type LP-E8 power pack LP-E5 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)440 shots per charge500 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 133 x 100 x 80 mm
    (5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
    129 x 98 x 62 mm
    (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
    Camera Weight 570 g (20.1 oz) 524 g (18.5 oz)

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