Best DSLR Camera for Beginning Photographers
Image of T3i DSLR camera by Donald Windley via Flickr

Wondering how to get into DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) photography, but you’re not sure where to begin? If you’re searching for a good DSLR camera to get started with your journey towards more serious photography, then there are few options more appropriate than the Canon T3i (EOS 600D). It’s a solid choice for beginner photographers for its capabilities as both a still and video camera. While it isn’t the latest or most inexpensive offering from Canon, it certainly boasts all the bells and whistles a modern amateur photographer would need.

The T3i is a crop-censor DSLR camera. What this means is that the sensor is smaller than the one you would find in a more expensive full-frame camera. A full-frame sensor measures 35mm x 24mm and is considered to be the digital equivalent to 35mm film, a standard of photography for many years. The T3i has a much lower priced crop-frame sensor with a comparison ratio of 1.6x. This means that every photo you take and every lens you buy is done at a 1.6x zoom when compared to a full-frame camera. You can use Canon’s full range of EF lenses on the T3i, but you should keep this crop ratio in mind when considering how your shot will look through that lens.

Overview of the T3i as a Beginning DSLR Camera

Does a smaller sensor mean poor photo quality? Not by a long shot. The T3i takes incredible images, and comes equipped with a slew of manual and automatic controls allowing you to ease into more advanced photography. You might want to start with an AUTO shooting mode (there are two — with and without flash) and gradually move your way into aperture and shutter priority, and ultimately into program and full manual mode. All of these options are present with the T3i, and with a third-party mod like Magic Lantern, even more options are open to you. For example, you can shoot in HDR (High Dynamic Range) without having to manually step up and down your exposure.


The T3i has an ISO range of 100-6400. Pictures look great at lower ISOs, though you might be displeased with the amount of noise introduced when you crank the ISO up past 2400. You can, if you really need a high ISO to capture low-lit subjects, expand the ISO to 12800. This is most certainly going to result in a grainy photo, but the option is open to you if you need it.

Kit Lens

The T3i usually comes in a kit with an included lens. You can choose between a 18-55mm or 18-135mm option. The kit lens is acceptable, and with an aperture range of 3.5-5.6, it’s not too bad at capturing depth of field, a hallmark of portrait photography. The kit lens also features built-in image stabilization that allows for more steady shots at lower shutter speeds, an important factor when lighting conditions aren’t optimal and you don’t want to feed ISO grain into your image.

Is the T3i a DSLR Camera Worth Buying?

Is the T3i a DSLR camera worth buying? It is, if you’re serious about learning more about photography. There are plenty of other options out there for folks who just want to capture DSLR camera quality images without giving up the portability or ease of use that comes with owning a point-and-shoot. Lower four-thirds cameras, and other mirrorless alternatives, are certainly starting to find their place in the world of advanced photography, and they’re typically strategically priced to compete head-on with the entry-level┬ádigital DSLR camera market.

The T3i is a great camera for anyone getting started in the world of DSLR camera photography. It’s low enough in price thanks to the T4i and T5i being on the market that it falls in line with some mid-level compact camera options, yet it delivers so much more.