Canon T3i vs Sony A99
The Canon EOS Rebel T3i (called Canon 600D in some regions) and the Sony Alpha SLT-A99 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2011 and September 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (T3i) and a full frame (A99) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.
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 T3i and the Sony Alpha SLT-A99? 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 T3i and the Sony A99 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A99 is notably larger (23 percent) than the Canon T3i. Moreover, the A99 is substantially heavier (42 percent) than the T3i. It is noteworthy in this context that the A99 is splash and dust-proof, while the T3i does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|2.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|3.||Canon SL2||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|4.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|6.||Canon SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|7.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|8.||Canon M||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599|
|9.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|10.||Canon T3||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|11.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|12.||Canon T1i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|13.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|14.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|15.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|16.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|17.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The T3i was launched at a markedly lower price (by 79 percent) than the A99, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.
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. 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon T3i features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A99 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A99 is 157 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 24MP, the A99 offers a higher resolution than the T3i (17.9MP), but the A99 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.96μm versus 4.31μm for the T3i) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A99 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 7 months) than the T3i, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A99 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A99 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon T3i are 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 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 Sony Alpha SLT-A99 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
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 A99 offers substantially better image quality than the T3i (overall score 24 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.9 bits higher color depth, 2.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 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.
|2.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|13.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|14.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|16.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|17.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A99 provides a faster frame rate than the T3i. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A99 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the T3i has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the A99 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the T3i (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the A99 has a higher magnification (0.71x 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 T3i, the Sony A99, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon T3i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|2.||Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon SL2||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon T6s||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon T5||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Canon SL1||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.9/s||Y||n|
|7.||Canon T5i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon M||none||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.3/s||n||n|
|9.||Canon T4i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Canon T3||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|12.||Canon T1i||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4/s||Y||n|
|13.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||20.0/s||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0 / 921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A850||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A900||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The T3i has one, while the A99 does not. While the built-in flash of the T3i is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
The T3i writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A99 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A99 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the T3i only has one slot. The A99 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 T3i and Sony Alpha SLT-A99 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon T3i||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony A99||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon SL2||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon T6s||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon T5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon SL1||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon T5i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon M||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon T4i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon T3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon T2i||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon T1i||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A77||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony A850||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony A900||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the A99 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The T3i lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A99 (unlike the T3i) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the A99 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the T3i and the A99 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The T3i was replaced by the Canon T4i, while the A99 was followed by the Sony A99 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon T3i and the Sony A99? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel T3i:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- More compact: Is smaller (133x100mm vs 147x111mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 242g or 30 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (79 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2011).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha SLT-A99:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 16%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (24 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.9 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.5 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.53x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1040k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (500 versus 440) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 7 months) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A99 is the clear winner of the contest (22 : 6 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. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 T3i and the Sony A99 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 T3i or the A99. 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 summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 T3i||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|2.||Sony A99||5/5||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|3.||Canon SL2||4/5||+ +||4/5||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|4.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|6.||Canon SL1||4/5||+||..||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|7.||Canon T5i||..||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|8.||Canon M||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2012||599|
|9.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|10.||Canon T3||..||80/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|11.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|12.||Canon T1i||..||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|13.||Sony A9 II||..||..||5/5||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|14.||Sony A99 II||..||..||4.5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|15.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||..||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|16.||Sony A850||3/5||..||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|17.||Sony A900||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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 camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Canon T3i
- Canon 650D vs Canon T3i
- Canon G16 vs Sony A99
- Canon T3i vs Fujifilm GFX 100
- Canon T3i vs Leica M-E Typ 240
- Canon T3i vs Nikon D1X
- Canon T3i vs Nikon P7800
- Fujifilm X-T10 vs Sony A99
- Fujifilm X-T30 vs Sony A99
- Fujifilm XP130 vs Sony A99
- Panasonic L10 vs Sony A99
- Sony A99 vs Sony NEX-5R
Specifications: Canon T3i vs Sony A99
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 T3i||Sony A99|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2011||September 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 2,799|
|Sensor Specs||Canon T3i||Sony A99|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||35.8 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||852.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||43 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||5.96 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||2.82 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||65||89|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||25.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||14.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||793||1555|
|Screen Specs||Canon T3i||Sony A99|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon T3i||Sony A99|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3.7 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon T3i||Sony A99|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon T3i||Sony A99|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||500 shots per charge|
133 x 100 x 80 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
147 x 111 x 78 mm
(5.8 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||570 g (20.1 oz)||812 g (28.6 oz)|
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