Is the t3i really that much better than the t3?


TPF Noob!
Jun 7, 2013
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Ok I am new to this site and if this question has been asked before I apologize.

I am looking to get my wife a SLR camera for her birthday. She has used my mom and sister-in-laws t3's and loves them. I was looking around at the t3 and the t3i and I know very little about the cameras and such. I was just wondering if there is really almost $200 worth of improvement on the t3i that she would be using. The largest photos that she would print would be mainly 5x7 with an 8x10 once in awhile. she will be doing mainly portrait and landscape shots. Any input is greatly appreciated.
Yes. The T3i is that much better than the T3.

The T3 is Canon's most basic DSLR.

The T3i is several steps above the T3 in capabilities and well worth the additional cost.

I cannot recommend the T3 because it does not have Spot metering mode.
If she really loves the cheaper one, buy the cheaper one!
Spot metering mode? What does that do. lol sorry she's the camera buff not me. I would ask her but she doesnt have a clue she is getting it and want her to be surprised.
Spot metering mode? What does that do. lol sorry she's the camera buff not me. I would ask her but she doesnt have a clue she is getting it and want her to be surprised.

Spot metering mode allows you to point the center focus point at the area of the scene you want to meter for. For example if you wanted to get a proper skin exposure for someone wearing dark clothes, you can aim the center focus point at their face and dial in the exposure that way.
You get extra "hubby points" for the better camera. Get the T3i.
Side by Side Comparison: Digital Photography Review

I think the biggest difference that you'll see between the T3 and the T3i, is that the T3i has an articulating screen. Some people find this very useful, other may not. It's especially nice for video or when shooting on a tripod, but it's certainly not a necessity.

But overall, I agree that at only $200 difference, the T3i is the better choice.
Here is a site that compares the two.Canon T3 vs T3i - Our Analysis

It's simple, but they have a lot of facts about the two. IT seems to me that the T3i has video as its main area of advantage. In some other categories, the lower-priced T3 seems to be a better machine.

As far as spot metering being a make-or-break feature, I find that absolutely ridiculous. No offense intended by the use of the word ridiculous, but for a beginner, spot metering is an accident just waiting to happen. Spot metering can easily lead the novice shooter to many accidentally under-and over-exposed and wildly inconsistent exposures. If a beginner accidentally sets his or her camera to spot metering mode, and is not 100% familiar with the camera, the ensuing pictures will likely be all over the friggen map in terms of exposure; under-exposed by 5,6,7,or even 10 f/stops, or over-exposed by 3,4,5,6 f/stops...just a total NIGHTMARE for the beginner or casual user.

SPOT metering is for expert shooters and advanced shooters. It's largely a relic left over from the late film era, when people shot film. I have spot metering on all my cameras...I never need it...I know how to use the regular meter, and the camera is shooting only one "type" of film--no more color neg, B&W neg, or color slide film, all needing widely different metering types and methods. I can SEE, in a picture, and a graph, exactly how my exposure is, in one second on the back of the d-slr. Ergo, spot metering is a relic.

The T3 does not have a spot meter because it's not needed, or even desirable, on a beginner's camera. It is an accident waiting to happen. It's a lot like saying, "I do not recommend this tricycle because it does not have a 10-speed derailleur gear set." No, of course's a beginner device, for new riders.

Beginners and new camera buyers often become paralyzed by over-analysis. "paralysis by over-analysis". My advice? Just buy her a camera.
The only time I use a spot meter is when the subject is too dark and the background is too bright, or the subject is too bright and the background is too dark.
I have owned and used both cameras, just sold the T3 a few months ago.

I don’t think those ridiculously rigorous technical comparisons some websites (like can provide are of much value to you here, where it seems you simply want to know the real-world differences of the two cameras in general use.

This list might not be exhaustive, but the main things the T3i brings to the table over the T3 are:

  • Articulating screen – not that big of a deal for those who prefer to look through the viewfinder, as I do. Seems to me, it’s just one more thing that can break. But these days, people seem to like the screens, and if so, the ability to move it is handy.
  • More megapixels – this probably isn’t going to make the slightest practical difference
  • Built-in wireless master flash – very nice feature, but useless unless you have fairly pricey Canon speedlights, and know how to use them.
  • Aforementioned spot-metering mode. If your wife is like 99% of consumers, she won’t ever miss this, assuming she even knows what it is. Besides, she can always use partial metering on the T3, which is similar.
  • External microphone input jack for video. If you don’t shoot video, who cares? Even if you do, you’ll probably just use the built-in mic anyway
  • Slightly better “feel” to the camera body. Neither camera is a high end piece, but the T3 does not have any grippy material on the body and as a result has a rather cheap plasticky feel. Probably not a big deal at all, if your wife already likes the camera.

You’re not going to see any differences in “image quality” between the two cameras in real world use.

That’s really it. I upgraded to the T3i because I wanted the master flash capability and the price was so good that it cost me nothing, after recouping the cash by selling the T3.

If you’ve got money to burn, go with the T3i I guess, but unless you see $200 worth of value in my list here, I’d say go T3.
I cannot recommend the T3 because it does not have Spot metering mode.

The lower end Canon bodies usually have "Partial" instead of spot. It works the same way, just that the 'spot' is larger.

I want to say that the coverage area in spot metering is something like 3% (but maybe as little as 1.5%, I can't remember), and something like 10% for partial (percentage of the viewfinder that the 'spot' covers). I find Partial metering to be "good enough" in normal use, but yeah - Spot is obviously better.
Spot metering mode? What does that do. lol sorry she's the camera buff not me. I would ask her but she doesnt have a clue she is getting it and want her to be surprised.

If she is indeed a camera buff and you're unsure what she'd be happy with, you'd better call off the surprise and tell you'd like to buy her a DSLR that she would feel comfortable with.

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