Canon 7D Mark II Setup Guide with Recommended Settings

In conjunction with my camera guide for the new Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 7D Mark II Experience, I have created a Canon 7D Mark II Setup Guide – a comprehensive spreadsheet with recommended settings for the applicable Menus, Custom Function settings, plus some shooting and exposure settings. It has complete and separate camera setup recommendations for different types of shooting, including:

General / Travel / Street
Landscape / Architecture
Action / Sports
Moving Wildlife / Birds
Studio / Portraits
Concert / Performance

Here is a detail of just a small part of the Setup Guide spreadsheet:

Canon 7D Mark II Experience, Setup Guide Spreadsheet – a detail of the spreadsheet


Excel Version – The direct link to the Excel spreadsheet is:

alternate link:

To print the guide, you may wish to print it across several pages and then tape them together, so that the data is legible:

First, be sure to set the print area, to avoid all the blank pages. Do this by manually selecting all the cells with data in them (drag the cursor from cell A1 to G185 and they will all appear blue.) Then access the menu for File > Print Area > Set Print Area.

Then go to File > Print Preview and select the Setup button,

Then set the page for “Landscape” and “Fit To” 2 pages wide by 3 pages tall. Alternately, you can set for “Adjust to 60% Normal Size.”

Either of those options should result in 6 pages to be printed (as long as you have set the print area first).

Be sure to check the preview to see that the data will print at a reasonable size, and that there are only 6 or so pages that will print.

PDF Version – You can download a PDF version below, which is divided into 2 pages, and can be perhaps more easily navigated on a tablet or phone with some panning and zooming. However for printing it may prove to be too tiny, and you may wish to print the XLS version instead.

Canon 7D Mark II book manual guide setup how to tips tricks spreadsheet menu custom function setting

In the past I have resisted requests for these types of quick-start “cheat sheets,” because I prefer that readers of my Full Stop camera guides read through all of the Menu and Custom Settings options, and determine which settings suit their shooting situations and preferences. This is one of the best ways to really learn the ins-and-outs of one’s new camera, so I still encourage you to do so. But I can appreciate the value and the handy reference features of this type of recommendation guide.

Please know that I am in no way an experienced expert in all of the different photography categories I have included, so take the advice of dedicated Bird or Concert photographers, for example, above mine if it differs! And for further information, explanations, justifications, and caveats for the settings I specify, please have a look at my clear and comprehensive guide Canon 7D Mark II Experience.

Canon 7D Mark II book manual guide setup tips tricks spreadsheet menu custom function setting

Version History
v1.0 – First version released – 2015-12-23

Use this Setup Guide in conjunction with Canon 7D Mark II Experience:

Canon 7D Mark II Experience book manual guide master how to tips tricks learn use setup quick start setting recommend menu custom function

If you have purchased my Canon 7D Mark II Experience e-book guide, be sure to sign up on the updates page, so that I can inform you of any updates made to the guide or to this spreadsheet, and well be able to provide you with a free updated guide, should there be any major updates or corrections.

If you have found this blog helpful and plan to purchase a Canon 7D Mark II or some lenses or accessories for it, please consider using my affiliate links for Amazon or for B and H, found at the left side of this page. Your price will be the same, but they will give me a small referral fee – thanks! And please feel free to spread the word if this blog has been helpful.

Canon 7D Mark II – Tips and Tricks, part 1

By now you may have read several of the reviews and “hands-on” articles about the long-awaited Canon 7D Mark II. The camera’s 65-point autofocus system, combined with its customizable controls and blazingly fast 10 frames per second continuous shooting speed, make it an ideal camera for sports, action, and wildlife. At the same time its Its 20.2 megapixel sensor and high image quality enable it to work great for portraits, landscapes, and more static subjects.


Canon 7D Mark II Experience Mk II book manual guide how to learn tips tricks hands on
Figure 1. Detail of the body and controls of the Canon 7D Mark II.

However, what many reviews and hands-on articles and videos about the 7D Mark II seem to miss is the incredible level of customization one can apply to the controls and features of the camera, in order to have it perform exactly how a user needs or desires, to better accommodate a specific shooting situation or a personal shooting style. These are the kinds of features that really differentiate a pro-sumer camera from a mid-level camera, yet are often overlooked in reviews and comparisons.

And while the original 7D and the full-frame 5D Mark III both offer a high level of customization, the 7DII takes it to an even higher level, adding options and button-combinations not available on previous models. This can allow the user an even more seamless photography experience, enabling you to concentrate on the scene and the subject while quickly changing to the desired settings or making use of certain features, with just a few button taps or dial turns, and often without your eye leaving the Viewfinder.

Canon 7D Mark II example image learn use manual guide how to master dummies tips tricks set up setting recommend
Figure 2. Fall Foliage at Whipple Hill, Lexington, Mass. with the Canon 7D Mark II.

Complete explanation for all of these tips and tricks, and well as clear, comprehensive instruction for the camera, plus descriptions and recommendations for all of the Menu and Custom Function settings, will be found in my camera guide Canon 7D Mark II Experience, which you can learn about and purchase on my Full Stop website. Learn to take control of your 7DII and the images you create with this helpful guide! I have also put together a free, comprehensive Canon 7DII Setup Guide Spreadsheet, which gives recommended settings for all of the Custom Functions and shooting-related Menu items.

1. Make Use of the New AF Area Selection Lever: One of the notable additions to the 7DII is the new AF Area Selection Lever, which surrounds the Multi-Controller thumb-joystick. This lever can be used to quickly change the AF Area Selection mode, such as Single Point, AF Point Expansion, or Zone AF. Do this by first pressing the AF Point Selection Button (at the upper-right on the rear of the camera), then flipping the lever repeatedly as you view the different AF Area configurations in the Viewfinder. Or since you can easily change the AF Area by pressing the AF Point Selection Button then the M-Fn Button, you may wish to customize the new lever to quickly change the ISO setting or the Exposure Compensation amount. In that case, you would turn and hold the lever with your thumb, then turn the top Main Dial to change the assigned setting. Generally you may wish to set it for the ISO option, but when shooting in Manual (M) Mode, for either stills of video, while also making use of Auto ISO, you may wish to set this for the Exposure Compensation option. This configuration will enable you to easily access this new capability of the 7DII, which I will explain below.

2. Take Advantage of Various Autofocus-Related Custom Controls Options: Many of the customization options of the Canon 7D Mark II revolve around the Custom Controls, which can be accessed with the Custom Controls item of the C.Fn3 Menu.

Canon 7D Mark II menu custom setting setup recommend tips tricks
Figure 3. Custom Controls menu item of the Canon 7D Mark II

While previous Canon dSLR models allowed you to assign various exposure and focusing functions to some of the back buttons, or perhaps to quickly switch between One-Shot and AI Servo with the push of a button, the 7DII will allow you to use various buttons to temporarily change the current AF Mode, Area Mode, and AF Case. For example, if you are taking images of a motionless bird using One Shot AF Mode and Single Point AF Area Selection mode, but then the bird takes flight, you can press and hold a button (that you have pre-assigned) and temporarily make use of AI Servo, with 8-Point AF-Point Expansion, and Case 2 AF Configuration for tracking the subject.

Or making use of another option, you can assign a button to temporarily change many of the subject-tracking settings (as you press and hold the button), such as the Tracking sensitivity, the AF point auto-switching setting, and the AI-Servo 2nd image priority. These changes are made, for example, by accessing the AF-ON Button option in the Custom Controls menu, selecting Metering and AF Start, and then pressing the INFO Button to make these further customizations (see Figure 4 – left). Or you can access the DOF Preview Button, select the Switch to registered AF function option, and press the INFO Button to set the desired AF tracking parameters (see Figure 4 – right).

While many users may not generally have the need for a sudden switch of autofocusing parameters, it can be incredibly useful for dedicated wildlife or sports photographers who can encounter dramatic changes in a scene or in the subject movement.

Canon 7D Mark II AF autofocus case customize button control tips tricks setting set up
Figure 4. Two of the different Custom Controls options for assigning various AF settings and operations to one of the camera buttons. Left: Details for the “Metering and AF Start” option of the AF-ON Button. Right: Details of the “Switch to registered AF function” option of the DOF Preview Button.

There is also the option to use a button to immediately switch to a different set of shooting settings in addition to the AF settings, including the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, metering mode, exposure compensation. This is shown in Figure 5, where the AF-ON Button is set to the Register/recall shooting function option, and then the INFO Button is pressed to set the specific parameters. As you can see, you can select which shooting settings will be included by adding the check-mark, and then you can set the desired setting or amount for each item, such as 3200 for the ISO Speed. Then when shooting, you can press and hold the AF-ON Button to immediately recall all those settings.

Canon 7D MArk II af autofocus button control custom customize setup setting tips tricks how to recommend
Figure 5. Assigning the AF-ON Button to the Register/recall shooting function option, then pressing the INFO Button to set the desired parameters.

3. Make Use of the Q Button and INFO Button to Quickly Change Shooting Settings: These buttons will also allow you to quickly access and change various camera settings and functions, rather than having to dig into the menus to find what you are looking for. The Q Button will access the Quick Control Screen (Figure 6 – left), which you can navigate using the Multi-Controller, and then either change the settings directly on the screen by turning one of the dials, or press the SET Button to view all the options and to select your desired setting. One handy new addition to this screen is the memory card selection icons. While you can press the SET Button here (or use the menus) to specify how the two cards are used (for example overflow, JPEG/RAW, or backup), you can highlight these icons and then turn one of the dials to directly and immediately choose which card is the the current primary card being used for recording and playback. This is especially handy during playback when you are looking for a specific image on one of the inserted memory cards, but then realize it is on the other inserted card, yet the 7DII will only playback the images from one card at a time.

Canon 7D Mark II menu custom function setting setup recommend guide how to tips tricks
Figure 6. Left: The Quick Control Screen, accessed with the Q Button, for quickly changing settings. Right: If you press the INFO Button and access the Shooting Function screen, and then press any of the top camera buttons, you can quickly view and change those settings using the rear LCD monitor.

If you first press the INFO Button a couple times and and access the Shooting Function Settings screen (which resembles the Q screen of Figure 6 – left), you can press any of the top camera buttons and quickly view and change those settings on the rear LCD Monitor. This will allow you to more easily view the settings than the smaller top screen, while also allowing you to see all the available options. For example, Figure 6 – right shows the INFO screen for the AF/Drive button, which allows you to see all the available options in both word and icon format, and also indicates which dial to turn to change which setting (the top Main Dial indicated by the half-circle, or the rear Quick Control Dial).

4. Take Advantage of the Creative Photo, Rate, and M-Fn Buttons: The Creative Photo Button, located at the upper-left of the rear of the camera, will allow you to quickly access the Picture Style settings, Multiple Exposure, and HDR Shooting, rather than having to go into the menus to find those features. The Rate Button, also on the left side of the rear of the camera, will enable you to quickly rate an image during image playback. You can choose from one to five stars, or if you find that you typically only use 1 star, 3 star, and 5 star ratings, a menu item will allow you to limit the selection to just those options (Setup 3 > Rate Button Function, then press Q to limit the ratings). So, for example, you would only need to press the button 3 times to cycle from 1 star, to 3 star, to 5 star, without wasting those precious seconds and button pushes for the 2 star and 4 star ratings you never use! If you prefer the Rate Button to act as the Protect Button, you can use the Rate Button Function menu item to instead assign it to that function.

Canon 7D Mark II button customize custom setting setup recommend quick start control tips tricks
Figure 7. Customize the M-Fn Button to shoot simultaneous RAW plus JPEG, or to cycle through the top button settings.

The M-Fn (Multi-Function) Button, located on the top of the camera near the Shutter Button, is used in conjunction with first pressing the AF Point Selection Button in order to select the desired AF Area Selection Mode. However, when simply pressed by itself, if is used for Flash Exposure Lock. If you don’t need it for that function, you can perhaps change it to one of the RAW+JPEG settings, so that you can temporarily or permanently switch to capturing images in both file formats. Or a handy option is to set it for the Cycle option, which allows you to cycle through the various top button settings such as White Balance, ISO, and Drive Mode, as you view the settings on the top LCD screen (see Figure 7). This can perhaps be quicker and easier than slowing down to first look and see which tiny button is used to access which setting. Press it one time and the WB/ Metering Mode options will be active on the top screen and available for you to change, as if you pressed the WB/Meter Button. Press it again and the Drive Mode/ AF Modes will be active, etc.

Canon 7D Mark II body controls buttons tips tricks how to learn use manual guide tutorial recommend setting set up quick start
Figure 8. Detail of the top controls of the Canon 7D Mark II.

5. Use Manual (M) Shooting Mode with Auto ISO plus Exposure Compensation: The Canon 7D Mark II allows you to perform a function which, if I recall correctly, cannot be done with the original 7D, 5DIII, or 70D – which is to simultaneously use M shooting mode (for either still photography or movie shooting) along with Auto ISO, while also making use of Exposure Compensation. This is a very powerful option for those shooting in Manual. Using Auto ISO with Manual Mode allows you to set your desired shutter speed and aperture settings, and the camera will then select the appropriate ISO setting in order to obtain the proper exposure. If you suddenly move to a brighter or darker settings, you can retain the same exposure settings, and the camera will automatically adjust the ISO setting to maintain the proper exposure. This allows you to concentrate on your subject and composition without having to worry about or adjust the exposure settings. It can also be incredibly useful during movie shooting in order to maintain a consistent exposure even if the scene or lighting levels change. However, if you are unhappy with the exposure results that the camera has determined, the 7DII now allows you to also apply Exposure Compensation in this situation, in order to make the subsequent images darker or lighter, to better suit your intentions or desires.

Since the dials are being used for the shutter speed and aperture settings when working in M shooting mode, they cannot be used for Exposure Compensation (EC), so you will need to access the Quick Control Screen to change the EC setting. However, as mentioned above, you can assign the AF Area Selection Lever to the Exposure Compensation option, and then you will simply need to hold the lever and turn the top Main Dial to change the EC amount, while viewing the setting in the Viewfinder or top Control Panel.

Canon 7D Mark II Manual Mode exposure compensation Auto ISO tips tricks how to use set up setting
Figure 9. Making use of Manual (M) Mode with Auto ISO and Exposure Compensation.

These tips will be continued in Part 2, coming soon!

Don’t forget about my free, comprehensive Canon 7D Mark II Setup Guide Spreadsheet, which provides recommended settings for all of the Custom Functions and shooting-related Menu items of the 7DII!

To learn more about using and taking control of your Canon 7D Mark II, please have a look at Canon 7D Mark II Experience, which you can learn about and purchase on my Full Stop website here. It not only covers the buttons, controls, menus, features, and functions of the camera, but more importantly explains when, why, and how to make use of them in your photography!

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And if you have enjoyed this post but have not yet purchased your 7DII, please use my affiliate links to make your purchase. Your price will be the same, and they will give me a small referral bonus – thanks! You can use the links below to go to Amazon, or the links at the side of the page for Amazon UK or Amazon Canada, or for B and H Photo.

Canon 7D Mark II body only – Amazon

Canon 7D Mark II with 18-135mm IS STM lens – Amazon

New Canon Autofocus System

I wrote about the introduction of the new Canon flagship EOS 1D X digital SLR a couple weeks ago.  As I mentioned, I don’t typically discuss $6,000 professional cameras on this site – if someone is trying to decide if they need a 1D, well, they probably don’t need a 1D!  If you need one, you already know that you need one…

Anyway, I think it is well worth looking at the new autofocus system that the 1D X introduces as it will eventually find its way, in some form, into the pr0-sumer cameras such as the Canon 7D Mark II and hopefully the 5D Mk III.  While those cameras won’t offer the 61 AF points and huge variety of customization options, they may incorporated the increased precision, low light sensitivity, better tracking speed, and the new algorithms that coordinate with the exposure system to detect and better track a subject by brightness, color, and even facial recognition (yes, even pros can use face-detection now!).

canon autofocus af system
Screenshot from Canon 1D X video (link below) explaining new autofocus system – image by Canon Europe

What will will certainly see in the newer cameras is the redesign of the menus, incorporating an Autofocus tab and AF tracking presets!  These are highly desirable features, as anyone who has attempted to fully take advantage of the 7D AF system knows how challenging it is to go between the AF menus and the Custom Functions to change to the desired settings while trying to decipher the cryptic C.Fn option names.

The EOS 1D X has a single AF tab in the menu, containing 5 AF sub-menus.  One of the most helpful sub-menus is going to be the AF Config Tool menu that contains the “Case Study” AF presets.  Instead of trying to recall how to set each Custom Function such as AI Servo Tracking Sensitivity and AI Servo AF Tracking Method to best track a subject and respond to loss of the subject or interference of an object between the camera and subject, one can now choose from preset options with helpful descriptions such as “Continuous shooting, ignore obstructions,” “Subjects that accelerate or decelerate quickly,” and “Instantly refocus suddenly with obstructions.”

The 1D X offers six AF “Case studies” presets, and there is no reason not to include all of these with the 7D replacement, since it too is a camera designed for sports and motion.

If you intend to purchase the 7D Mk II or whatever it will be called, it is worth your time to have a look at this page and video from Canon and begin to become familiar with what you will want to learn and take advantage of in the near future with the likely-to-be-improved 7D AF system and menus:

New Canon EOS 1D X Announced

Canon has just announced their latest, high-end professional model, the EOS 1D X.  I don’t normally discuss the top of the line pro models (as this one is listed at $6,800) but instead concentrate on the consumer and pro-sumer level dSLR cameras.  However I would like to look at some of the new feature of the flagship Canon 1D X that will – sooner or later – make their way down to the more affordable models.

Canon EOS 1D X
Canon EOS 1D X – image courtesy of Canon USA
(If you do plan to purchase a 1D X, please use one of my referral links to Amazon, B and H, Canon,or Adorama!!)

In the past we have seen some of the advanced features of the high end cameras later introduced into the consumer models in one form or another, including faster processors and shooting speeds, more sophisticated autofocus system features, and advanced custom functions that allow the user to modify the functions and controls to operate in a specific desired manner.  And since the replacement for the 5D Mk II is imminent (Mk III? 6D?), and the 7D Mk II probably around the same time (Feb 2012?) we are likely to see variations of some of these refinements soon in the consumer and pro-sumer models.

Some of the new advanced features of the Canon 1D X that we will eventually see in the replacements to the 5D Mk II, 7D, 60D, and perhaps even the Rebel line:

  • 18 Megapixel full frame CMOS sensor.  The high-end cameras have less megapixel than the consumer cameras because they are extremely high quality sensors and can deliver high image quality with a lower number of larger pixels.  The 7D and 5D replacements, however, are bound to boast 21 to 26 MP or so.
  • Refinements to the controls and their layout.  This includes user-configurable buttons on the front of the camera, which has already been seen with the 7D to an extent, but will definitely be incorporated into the 5D Mk III (or 6D or whatever it may be called).
  • A 61 point AF system with 41 cross-type AF points and five dual cross-type points for extra precision.  The 7D and 5D replacements won’t have this many AF points, but perhaps will increase upon the 19 AF points of the current 7D.
  • Zone, Spot, and AF Expansion autofocus Area Modes including 4 point and 8 point expansion.  The 7D currently offers these as well (4 point expansion only, not 8), and the new 5D is certain to have these capabilities.  Perhaps the 8 point expansion will be added to the 7D replacement.
  • Refinements to the autofocus system, including a simplification of the complex AF related Custom Functions that are so difficult to explain and differentiate even with the 7D.  With the new 1D X the changes include a new AF menu tab to easily access and change the AF options, and presets such as “Continuous shooting, ignore obstructions,” “Subjects that accelerate or decelerate quickly,” and “Instantly refocus suddenly with obstructions.”  While specific combinations of the AF Mode, AF Area Mode and AF related Custom Function settings of the 7D already allows for these types of settings, these new, easy to access presents are a welcome change from the previous difficult-to-decipher (much less remember) Custom Functions such as AI Servo Tracking Sensitivity and AI Servo AF Tracking Method.
  • Additional changes to the AF system include “Intelligent Tracking and Recognition” which incorporates color and face detection in order to more easily assist the photographer on focusing on a subject’s face when tracking a moving subject, such as a dancer or sports player, rather than perhaps focusing on a closer hand, racquet, or jersey.  Now even the pros will be using face detection!  And focusing is improved in even very low light.
  • 12 frames per second continuous shooting speed with full autofocus and metering, plus up to 14fps possible with the mirror locked up when shooting JPEGs.  While the 1D X offers 12 and 14 frames per second shooting, it is unlikely that the 7D and 5D replacements will be capable of more than 8 or 10fps, though any increase is sorely needed for the 5D.
  • Higher ISO capability.  The ISO performance increases with just about every new sensor, so any of the new cameras are bound to have improved high ISO performance – probably not as incredible as the 1D X, but improved from the current models.
  • Faster start-up time and shutter lag.  This is always a welcome improvement.
  • Easy one-touch 100% zoom during image playback to the area of the image where the active autofocus point is located, in order to quickly check for sharp focus in the area of the image that should display the sharpest focus.
  • Dual DIGIC 5+ image / data processors.  The 7D has dual Digic 4 processors, and the new 7D and 5D are certain to have improved processors, which assist with overall camera speed including continuous shooting speeds, multiple exposures, and writing files to the CF memory card.  A processor also assists with metering and autofocus.
  • Multiple exposures between two and nine shots with various options for combining the frames, plus chromatic aberration correction and peripheral illumination correction.  HDR shooters and those wanting to shoot multiple exposures will appreciate a new 7D or 5D with these in-camera capabilities, and the chromatic aberration correction may also find its way to the lower level cameras.
  • The 1D X “deploys a 100,000-pixel RGB metering sensor and a new metering algorithm. The sensor is used to detect a subject’s brightness, color and face and based on this evaluative metering or evaluative flash metering is executed. This data is also communicated to the AF system to assist with subject tracking.”  New models typically bring an improvement in the metering system, and while the new 5D and 7D won’t have this level system with 253 zones over the previous 63, they will certainly have these same types of improvements made to their current systems.
  • Plus / minus 5 stops of exposure compensation.  This is already a feature of the 7D and will be a welcome addition to the 5D replacement, especially for those shooting HDR.
  • Various video improvements, including longer shooting times, manual audio level control and adjustable live level meters, some compression and timecode features.  There are several features that videographers will appreciate and many will definitely find their way into the new 7D and 5D, which are already extremely popular cameras for dedicated videographers.
  • 3.2-inch (diagonal), 1,040,000-dot rear LCD screen with “ClearView II” technology and extremely durable glass screen.  This is slightly lager than the 3″ screen of most of Canon’s dSLRs, but I’m not sure if a new 7D or 5D will see much of a size increase here.
  • Built in LAN Ethernet port.  This is a new feature for a Canon.  While most of them allow for an optional wireless transmitter, this wired version is built right in.  I don’t see this being added to other cameras quite yet.
  • Twin CF memory card slots, which can be used in various configurations.  Some heavy shooters and videographers might like to see this on a new 7D or 5D, to (I’m speculating here) separately save stills and video, or JPEG and RAW, or use the second card for overflow, or save dual copies of all files.
  • Canon’s second generation self-cleaning sensor unit, which uses “carrier wave technology” to better coax the small dust particles gently down the surface of the (filter in front of the) sensor to the collecting adhesive strip at the base.
  • New EOS System Monitor screen showing total shutter actuations, serial number, and firmware version.  This would be a welcomed addition to the 7D and 5D, though it always seems Canon is hesitant to make it easy to see shutter actuations on a consumer camera.

There are a variety of other additions and improvements to the EOS 1D X, but these are the features that are likely to be incorporated into the more affordable consumer and pro-sumer models.  Some I am certain we will see in the following months when the new versions of the 7D and 5D are released, and some will eventually make their way into the 60D replacement and perhaps, in time, even into the Rebel models.

Canon 5D Mark II vs 5D Mk III

As I recently noted in my post about the eventual release of the 7D Mk II, as an e-book camera guide author, I have to attempt to plan my life and writing schedule around the release of the latest dSLR cameras. And since major camera companies typically give little-to-no advance notice for the announcement then release of a new model, this involves lots of speculation and following of online rumors. And then I subject myself to a few weeks of intense, non-stop research and writing when it is finally announced.

The Canon 5D Mark III has been rumored for imminent release numerous times, including most recently Feb 2011, November 2011, first quarter of 2012, and “any minute now.”  This speculation occurs with every expected new model, so as you can see, there is no telling when it will suddenly be announced.  But based on Canon’s history of model releases, it is sometimes pretty easy to narrow the range down.  For example, the original 5D reigned for 3 years, and then was replaced by the 5D Mark II, which was announced on September 17, 2008.  Add three years to that, and you get an announcement of the Canon 5D Mk III expected in September 2011.  Not so difficult, really.  Except one has to take into account the disruptions to manufacturing and supply caused by the earthquake in Japan, so that could cause a delay of a month or three.  As equally fascinating is the speculation for what features the 5D Mark III will have. Most interestingly, some have wildly suggested that the line will be split in two with a stills version and a video version.  Not likely.  So what is there to improve on this amazing camera?  Well, several of its features can easily be improved, and hopefully there will be a few surprises added.

canon 6d canon 5d mk iii mkiii mk 3 mark 3 mark ii vs compare which one
The Canon 5D Mk II, patiently awaiting its successor, the Canon 5D Mk III – or is it the Canon 6D…

Currently the Canon 5D Mk II offers:

  • 21 MP Full Frame sensor
  • DIGIC 4 processor
  • Full HD video
  • 3.9 frames per second continuous shooting
  • ISO 100 to 6400 (expandable to 25,600)
  • 3” high resolution LCD screen – non-articulating
  • 9 point autofocus system, all cross-type plus 6 assist points
  • 35 zone exposure metering system
  • Magnesium alloy body with weather sealing

Much of this can easily be improved upon, and in fact the current 7D already boasts several upgrades to these features.  The 5D Mark III will obviously take the best of the 7D and improve upon it in some areas.

Canon EOS 5D Mk III predictions:

  • 26 to 28 MP Full Frame sensor
  • Single or Dual DIGIC 5 processors
  • Full HD video at all the frame rates – plus many additional video features and options that videographers have been waiting for or use 3rd party firmware to obtain, but that I don’t know much about since I have yet to enter the video world.  But I can assure you that the 5D Mk III is going to be a videographers dream, perhaps with RAW video.  Perhaps it will even be able to autofocus full time in video mode.
  • 7 frames per second high speed continuous shooting.  I’m not sure of the mechanics of it but it seems that the large mirror flipping up and down is an impediment to a super fast fps, but Canon has done it both on previous film cameras and in the 1D line.  So hopefully it will be significantly higher than the current 3.9fps.  It will definitely boast an improved maximum burst rate (more JPEG or RAW frames captured before the camera pauses to digest them).
  • Ability to customize Continuous Low and High settings so that you can choose your own rates. Please, please, please.
  • ISO 100 to 12,800 or more, and then expandable – while the ISO performance of the 5D MkII is already stellar, the new one will boast even more improved high ISO performance (less noise at high ISOs)
  • 3” very-high resolution LCD screen – Non-articulating?  Articulating?  Touch screen?  It seems that an articulating screen is the way to go for any camera now, but will Canon hold off with putting this on their higher end models?  Touch screen is definitely coming to dSLRs, but will it be on this one?  …maybe, probably not.
  • 19 point (or more) autofocus system, all cross-type, with numerous configurations and customization options, as taken from the 7D – this desperately needs to be improved in the 5D, and the technology is already there in the 7D.  Canon will definitely add the new Autofocus menu system of the new 1D X to make configuring and taking full advantage of the AF system much easier – as opposed to the autofocus menu and C.Fn options on the 7D which make it a bit complicated.
  • Improved 63 zone+ exposure metering system – it will definitely boast an upgraded exposure metering system, perhaps the current 63 zone system, but probably even a bit improved.
  • Magnesium allow body with weather sealing – already has this, not much improvement required.

Additional features:

It will certainly have a several new menu and custom function settings, hopefully including some additional control over Spot, Center-weighted, and Partial metering, like the ability to change the size of the area metered and the ability to link it to the active AF point.  Plus the new Autofocus menu system similar to the 1D X.

Oh yes, and the HDR fans would appreciate more latitude in auto exposure bracketing, such as perhaps 5 exposures over 5 to 9 stops. And maybe some more fluorescent white balance options like Nikon offers.

It will likely and hopefully retain the CF card and the LP-E6 battery.

Built-in GPS or wi-fi?  This will eventually be in all cameras, and maybe this one will have these features.

So, there are my best guesses. Be sure to follow the rumors at Canon Rumors to find out when the 5D Mk III may come out, particularly the 5D Mk III category. And learn about my Canon 7D Mk II predictions in this previous post.

Canon EOS 7D vs. Canon 7D Mk II

As an e-book camera guide author, I have to attempt to plan my life and writing schedule around the release of the latest dSLR cameras.  And since major camera companies typically give little-to-no advance notice for the announcement then release of a new model, this involves lots of speculation and following of online rumors.   And then a few weeks of intense, non-stop research and writing when it is finally announced.

The Canon 7D Mark II has been rumored for imminent release numerous times including Feb 2011, May 2011, November 2011, early 2012, etc.  So as you can see, there is no telling when it will suddenly appear.  The camera was originally announced September 2009, so Sept. 2011 is my best current guess.  Except one has to take into account the disruptions to manufacturing and supply caused by the earthquake in Japan, so that could cause a delay of a month or three.  As equally annoying but fascinating is the speculation for what features the 7D Mark II will have.  Most amusingly, some have wildly suggested that it will be a full frame camera (not likely…but then again, full frame is bound to creep down into the the pro-sumer line at some point, so why not now, why not with the 7D Mk II?).  So what is there to improve on this amazing camera?  (Why is it so amazing?  See my previous post of Why the Canon 7D is a Super Awesome Camera.)

canon 7d mk ii mkii mk 2 mark 2 mark ii vs compare which one
The Canon 7D, patiently awaiting its replacement the EOS 7D Mark II

Currently the Canon 7D offers:

  • 18 MP APS-C sensor
  • Dual DIGIC 4 processors
  • Full HD video at all the frame rates
  • 8 frames per second and 3fps continuous shooting
  • ISO 100 to 6400 (plus 12,800)
  • 3” high resolution LCD screen – non-articulating
  • 19 point autofocus system, all cross-type, with numerous configurations and customization options
  • 63 zone exposure metering system
  • Built in remote flash triggering
  • Magnesium alloy body with weather sealing

While little of this actually needs improvement, Canon is not going to release an new model without some significant improvements (though they have done that before…).  I predict many of the above features will have a small to significant upgrade.

Canon EOS 7D Mk II predictions:

  • 21 to 24 MP APS-C sensor – I’m not sure if Canon can affordably bring together 8fps and a full frame sensor at the same time yet, and if they did, wouldn’t that be the 5D Mk III?
  • Dual DIGIC 5 processors – or perhaps a single powerful processor
  • Full HD video at all the frame rates – plus many additional video features, menus, and options like those currently offered in the 60D, plus some other stuff that videographers like but I don’t know much about since I haven’t entered the video world yet.  Perhaps it will even be able to competently autofocus full time in video mode.
  • 8 frames per second and 3 fps continuous shooting with slightly improved maximum burst rate (more JPEG or RAW frames captured before the camera pauses to digest them) – the high speed of 8fps really doesn’t need to be improved, but the problem is 8fps is often overkill and 3 fps is too slow.  What is needed is a 5 fps option, or better yet, the ability to customize Continuous Low and High settings so that you can choose your own rates.  Please, please, please.
  • ISO 100 to 12,800 or more, and then some – and improved high ISO performance (less noise at high ISOs)
  • 3” high resolution LCD screen – non-articulating – touch screen? While many might want an articulating screen, it would really mess up the great button layout on the rear of the camera.  Maybe they will come up with a new type of articulation that maintains the basic button layout.  Touch screen is definitely coming to dSLRs, but will it be on this one…maybe, but Canon barely uses touch screens with its point and shoots yet so they may hold off for a bit and introduce it in their T3i successor.
  • 19 point autofocus system, all cross-type, with numerous configurations and customization options – this doesn’t really need to be improved, though they could always add a few more AF points and perhaps some additional manners of customizing their use.
  • Improved exposure metering system – it will likely boast an upgraded exposure metering system from the current 63 zone system
  • Built in remote flash triggering – already pretty full-featured
  • Magnesium allow body with weather sealing – already about the best it could be

Additional features:

It will certainly have a couple new menu and custom function settings, hopefully including some additional control over Spot, Center-weighted, and Partial metering, like the ability to change the size of the area metered and the ability to link it to the active AF point.

Oh yes, and the HDR fans would appreciate more latitude in auto exposure bracketing, such as perhaps 5 exposures over 5 to 7 stops.  And maybe some more fluorescent white balance options like Nikon offers.

It will likely and hopefully retain the CF card and the LP-E6 battery.

So, there are my best guesses.  Have a look at the Canon 7D on Amazon here.

As mentioned above, I have written an e-book user’s guide to the 7D called Canon 7D Experience.  It will help you take control of this powerful and customizable camera and the images you create!  You can learn much more about it here.
Canon 7D EOS book e book ebook guide manual tutorial how to instruction for dummies 7d mark i mk i

Be sure to follow the rumors at Canon Rumors to find out when the 7D Mk II may come out, particularly the 7D Mk II and 5D Mk III categories (where some of the 7D MkII news is hidden).  And learn about my Canon 5D Mk III predictions in this post.

Canon T3i / 600D vs T2i vs 60D vs 7D vs 5D MkII

Since several of the current Canon dSLR cameras – such as the T4i/650D (and T3i/600D), 60D, and 7D – share similar features and an 18 megapixel sensor, it can make it difficult and confusing to decide which one is best for you.  But each one is designed for different levels of photographers with specific needs, and there are significant differences that may or may not be important to how and what you photograph.

Obviously as you pay more, you get more, and this article will explain what that “more” is and help you decide if you need it.  If you are new to dSLR cameras, know that things like 9 cross-type AF points and dual Digic IV processors aren’t feature-bloated “bells and whistles” or marketing hype, but are important features for how advanced photographers work and they provide the capabilities that some demand from their equipment.  If your needs don’t demand them, don’t be swayed to invest more in a camera that provides far more than you require.  It won’t help you take better photos, and in fact may cause you to take worse photos until you figure out how to properly take control of a more advanced camera!

This comparison post has grown organically as new models have been released, so please be sure to look through the entire post to find the section that best applies to you, such as T2i vs T3i, or 60D vs 50D, the Canon 5D Mk II, or the overall Canon EOS 7D vs. 60D vs. 600D / Rebel T3i comparison which is the main point of this post.  Don’t miss the Which Canon dSLR is Right for You summary at the end of this article!

Rather than add the T4i into this post, I have written a new post to introduce and explain the features of the latest Rebel, the T4i – Introduction to the Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650D. The additional features of the T4i make the decision between the T4i vs. 60D more challenging than ever, and so I wrote more about that in Canon Rebel T4i vs EOS 60D.

I know there is a lot to read, but you are preparing to spend a lot of money, and this post will thoroughly explain the differences of these cameras and help you decide which one if right for you! Even if some of these models become outdated, the majority of the information and comparison factors remain similar, and it is still worthwhile to read this article before heading over to the T4i articles.

If you haven’t yet committed to Canon and are interested in comparing the Canon 60D vs. Nikon D7000 , or the Canon T3i vs Nikon D5100, or the entire Nikon line-up, have a look at those posts next.

Canon Rebel T3i EOS 600D book guide manual tutorial how to instruction
The new Canon Rebel T3i / 600D (all photos by the author, some equipment courtesy of Newtonville Camera)

Review / Comparison of Canon EOS 7D vs. 60D vs. 600D / Rebel T3i:

Sensor and Image Quality: As I said above, all three cameras share a very similar sensor with 18 megapixels, and so their image quality and low light performance will be virtually the same. All are capable of taking professional quality images.

Exposure Metering: The threecameras all share the latest 63-zone, dual-layer exposure metering system and 4 metering modes. That means they will all determine the exposure virtually identically and enable you to take properly exposed photos in most every situation, including difficult back-lit scenes. The size of the areas metered for Partial and Spot metering vary slightly between the cameras, but that isn’t anything critical.

Autofocus: The 60D shares a similar autofocus system to the T3i and the previous 50D, with 9 focus points and three auto focusing modes. However the 9 AF points of the 60D are more sensitive/ accurate than those of the T3i: all are cross-type in the 60D, only the center is cross-type in the T3i. This means that the outer focus points of the 60D will do a better job, in difficult focusing situations, of quickly and accurately focusing on the subject.  This may include, for example, lower light situations or tracking moving subjects.  The T3i does a stellar job of focusing, but if you are highly demanding or are going to be primarily shooting action and motion, this is an important difference to consider.

The 60D autofocus system in turn is much less complex than the sophisticated AF system of the 7D with its 19 AF point system and its additional Zone, Spot, and Expansion area modes.  If you shoot serious sports, action, birds, wildlife, etc., then you are going to want to consider the highly capable autofocus system of the 7D.  With its additional AF points and the ability to group them in various ways (Autofocus Area Modes), as well as the multiple Custom Functions that allow you to customize exactly how the AF system works, it is ideal for sports and action.  These Custom Functions can dictate how it tracks subjects, how it deals with objects that come between you and your initial subject, how quickly it responds to these changes of possible subjects that are at different distances from you, etc.   The entire AF system of the 7D is a bit complex, and will take some studying and experimentation if you wish to fully understand and take advantage of it.  However, if you are not an avid sports photographer, a wildlife shooter, or someone who understands, needs, and will use the elaborate features of the 7D AF system, then this shouldn’t dissuade you from the 60D.

I have written an additional post about Taking Control of Your Canon Autofocus System.

Canon EOS 7D compare 60D T3i
Detail of the Canon 7D

Construction: As you can probably figure out from the prices, each camera is not built the same. The 60D has relatively strong construction of an aluminum frame and polycarbonate body. It is better built than the stainless steel frame with polycarbonate body of the T3i/ 600D but not as strong as the 7D’s magnesium alloy construction. The 60D also has some amount of weather sealing – more than the 600D/T3i, less than the 7D. But for most users, including even those using the camera daily or in travel situations, the construction of any of these cameras is far more than good enough, strong enough, and durable enough.  But if you are going to be working extensively in dusty or moisture-heavy areas or situations, you will want to seriously consider the extensive weather sealing of the 7D.  While the strong magnesium construction of the 7D is impressive, that is not really needed by many people other than pros who intensively use their cameras in photo-journalist or constant-travel type situations.

ISO: Since they all share a very similar sensor, the ISO sensitivity and performance at high ISO settings is virtually the same for these three cameras. But don’t take my word for it, don’t be swayed by pixel peepers on forums, instead check out the camera sensor tests at dxomark to verify this. As you can see, they all share the exact same overall score, and show very similar performance.

Controls: As with construction, the buttons and controls vary significantly with these cameras. Unlike the T3i, the more advanced 60D and 7D have nearly every control an advanced photographer needs on the exterior of the camera and they also have the top LCD panel and rear Quick Control Dial that are not on the 600D/T3i. Do you find yourself constantly changing the ISO, the metering mode, or the autofocus mode to adapt to changing situations?  Then you will want direct access to these controls and the ability to more easily monitor them on the top LCD panel.  Or do you generally work in one of the more automatic modes and not need to deal with these settings?  With all the cameras, any controls can also be easily accessed with the Q button and Q menu or in the other menus on the rear LCD monitor. The top buttons of the 60D set only one setting each, so this is less complicated (but thus less versatile) than the multiple-setting buttons of the 7D. Canon has removed the white balance (WB) button on the 60D that the 7D and 50D have, but that isn’t a big deal – use the Q Menu. Another change on the 60D is that the Multi-controller has been moved from the thumb joystick like the 7D and 50D and placed in the middle of the rear Quick-control dial. This doesn’t change how it functions, and should just be a matter of getting used to the difference. (Unfortunately, I still really do prefer the old design and location, though I find it is easier to quickly and accurately click on the diagonal directions with the new 60D Multi-controller design).  If you plan on using your camera on Auto or Program most of the time, then the controls of the T3i are more than sufficient for your needs. If you work in Av, Tv, or M modes and need quicker and more direct access to your controls and the additional top LCD screen to view and change your current settings, then you need to look at the 60D or 7D over the T3i.

Brief commercial interruption:  I want to mention that I have written e-book user’s guides for the Canon 7D, Canon 60D, Canon Rebel T3i, and Rebel T2i. After spending so much time studying, experimenting, writing about, comparing, and discussing these cameras, I decided to put all that knowledge into e-book form! Each of these user’s guides cover all the features, settings, and controls – but more importantly when and why to use them in your photography.  This includes metering modes, aperture and shutter priority modes (Av and Tv), advanced autofocus use, and more.  They also describe all the Menu settings and Custom Function settings – with recommended settings.  Take control of your camera and the images you create!  Canon 7D Experience, Canon T3i Experience, Your World 60D and T2i Experience. Learn more about the e-books by clicking on their titles or on the covers below.

canon eos 7d book ebook firmware 2 2.0 how to manual dummies field guide instruction Canon T3i book Canon 600D book Canon T3i Experience book guide manual tutorial how to instruction by Douglas Klostermann

Canon 60D book Your World 60D by Douglas Klostermann Canon T2i book Canon 550D book T2i Experience by Douglas Klostermann

Menus and Custom Functions: These allow for greater control over customizing how the camera functions. The 60D has many more Menu and Custom Function options than the 600D/T3i and nearly as many as the 7D. These settings enable you to customize the operation, function, and controls to work how you want them to, including things like exposure increments, peripheral illuminations correction for lenses (fixes dark corners), tweaking how the autofocus system operates, setting more precise white balance settings, and customizing which button does what. These settings are very important to advanced users who wish to customize their camera to work exactly how they need it too, but aren’t nearly as critical to others who don’t have such intensive demands.  (Since many of the Menu and Custom Function settings can be complicated and confusing, my e-books on the 60D, the 7D, and on the T3i/600D cover all of these options along with my recommended settings to get you up and running quickly!)

Wireless Flash: Like the 7D, the 60D and the T3i both incorporate wireless flash triggering. It allows you to trigger multiple off camera flashes at different output levels. The  older 550D/T2i does not have this feature.

Articulating LCD Screen: The big new feature that the 60D and T3i have that the 7D and T2i do not is the articulating rear LCD screen. This may prove useful for videographers, as well as for setting up compositions while the camera is on a tripod, for macro use, or for using it from unusually low or high vantage points. Some users will be able to avoid buying an expensive angle finder because of this feature. There is also an electronic level in the 7D and 60D, visible in the viewfinder, rear LCD, or top LCD.

Viewfinder: The 60D has a large, bright pentaprism viewfinder with 96% coverage of the actual resulting image, better than the pentamirror and 95% coverage of the 600D/T3i, but not quite as nice as the nearly 100% view of the 7D pentaprism.

The 60D shares the same Digic 4 processor as the 600D/T3i. The 7D has dual Digic 4 processors. However, if you don’t need to shoot dozens of continuous images, you probably won’t notice any processing speed issues.

Continuous Shooting Speed: The 7D can shoot a blazing 8 frames per second, in which the photos barely change from frame to frame. The 60D can shoot a respectable 5.3 fps which is actually a more useful rate, and is a higher rate than the 600D/T3i rate of 3.7 fps. If you need the extremely high fps for sports, wildlife, or other action shooting, consider the 7D. If not, don’t be swayed by this excessive feature that is designed for people like pro sports or dedicated wildlife shooters.  However, if you are shooting any type of sports, action, birds, dance, etc., the 5.3 fps of the 60D is much more useful than the slower T3i.

Canon EOS 7D compare vs 60D T3i
Detail of the Canon 7D

Memory Card: The 60D uses the SD memory card like the 600D/T3i, not the CF card of the 7D and 50D.  This doesn’t really mean too much other than the CF cards are larger and more rugged, yet prone to bending the camera’s internal connection pins.  Handle either of them with care and it shouldn’t make much of a difference.

Battery: The 60D uses the LP-E6 battery like the 7D and 5D, which is a nice feature as this battery can often last through a full day of shooting. The T3i and T2i use the smaller LP-E8 battery with less capacity.  In any case you should have an extra battery or two.

Size and Weight:
The T3i is smaller and lighter (18.2 oz/515 g) than the 60D (23.8 oz/675 g), which in turn is smaller and lighter than the 7D (28.9 oz/820 g). Go to the store and hold them to get a better feel for their size and weight. HOWEVER, please know that the size and weight of these bodies is a result of their build, features, and capabilities.  Those are the criteria that should be compared first, not the resulting size and weight.  (Also be sure to read this post of Why How it “Feels” is not a valid Criterion for Choosing an dSLR.)  But, I do realize that size and weight is important to some, perhaps many, due to physical limitations or just simple comfort and enjoyment.  So take my dramatic proclamation with a grain of salt!  The 60D and 7D “feel” like the more substantial cameras that they are. A nice improvement of the T3i is that its hand grip area has been modified, and has a different feel than that of the T2i – the area where the thumb rests is contoured differently and has a nice channel for the thumb, which allows for a much more secure one-hand-grip of the camera.

AF Microadjustment: The 7D has this feature, the 60D and T3i and T2i do not. Many are disappointed that the 60D does not include the ability to micro-adjust the focus so that each of your lenses focuses extremely accurately. However, if you have a major focus issue, send your camera and/ or lenses to Canon while under warranty and ask them to calibrate them. Bad bodies and lenses are rare, but they do exist.  Doing AF microadjustment yourself is often a maddening undertaking. You may make a good calibration under controlled conditions, but this really doesn’t replicate real life shooting.  And due to manufacturing tolerances of both cameras and lenses, there is a relatively wide range of what is considered acceptable.  If you need your camera and lens to be perfectly sharp, you are going to need to buy a $6000 pro body and a $1500 lens.  See this article This Lens is Soft and Other Myths, its follow up article, and the follow up controlled tests to learn more about this.

Locking Mode Dial: This is a new feature for a Canon dSLR, only on the 60D, that keeps the Mode dial from accidentally rotating. A nice touch, and not at all difficult to change quickly with one hand, as some people have claimed: just push the center button with your left index finger, rotate dial with thumb and middle finger.  I actually wish my 50D had this. If you wish to retrofit your 7D or 5D Mk II with this feature, Canon will do it for $100.

Full HD video: Of course they all offer this capability. Note that this is not video for your kids’ parties and soccer games. It does not have continuous autofocus while shooting, as a camcorder does. It is not designed for that kind of use, but rather for serious videographers who typically manually focus. You can adjust autofocus while shooting by pressing the shutter button or the AF button, but it may have a less than desired looking result and unless you are using an external microphone, the autofocusing sound will be picked up. The T3i has the digital zoom feature in video, which allows for nice smooth zooms while filming.

Flash Sync: A Note to Strobists -the 60D and T3i do not have a PC sync flash socket to plug in PC sync cords. The 7D has this.

Ease of operation: While beginners may find all the buttons, controls, and menus of any dSLR difficult and confusing at first, the additional controls and menus of the 7D and 60D are all quite intelligently designed, intuitive, and straightforward for the more advanced user. The menus and controls of the T3i and T2i are also pretty basic and simple to learn.  There is certainly a “price of admission” to learning and getting the most from any dSLR, and you will need to invest time and effort into both reading and using/ experimenting with your camera.  Start with the manual, then perhaps have a look at my e-book camera guides, then practice, practice, practice!

Remember that all of these comparisons and features are relative. Of course the fact that the 7D can take 126 consecutive photos at the rate of 8 frames per second makes it “better” than the other models.  Advanced features like that differentiate it from the other cameras and are also why it costs more. But is it actually “better” for you and how you plan to photograph?  Do you ever need to take 15.75 seconds of continuous photos? Ever? (Look at your watch for 15.75 seconds right now and act like you are taking continuous photos. Now what are you going to do with all those nearly identical 126 imaginary photos?!)

Purchasing:  If you plan to purchase any of these cameras, please see the Purchasing section below.


Canon Rebel T3i EOS 600D book guide manual tutorial how to instruction
Mode dial of the Canon Rebel T3i

T3i vs T2i

Review / Comparison of Canon Rebel T3i vs T2i (600D vs 550D):  If you are trying to decide between the Canon T2i or T3i, the previous model, the T2i, already shared many important features with the 60D (and even features of the semi-pro 7D) including the 18 MP sensor, 63-zone exposure metering system, high ISO performance, HD movie capabilities, and Digic 4 image processor. Now with the addition of the vari-angle articulating rear LCD screen (aka rotating screen), remote flash capabilities, creative filters, additional movie options, and in-camera image processing features, the new Canon T3i is even closer in specifications to the 60D, which may make your choice harder. But there are some important differences, and this post will hopefully help you decide which features are important to you and the way you photograph, which ones may be unnecessary, and thus which model fits you best. As I’ve said before, you need to choose which camera is best for you based on your needs and experience as a photographer and based on how the advanced features, controls, and customization options fit those needs and serve the way you work – not the other way around where you look at the new features and speculate if you really need or will use them.

The Rebel T3i is replacing the T2i at the entry level end of the Canon line-up. (There is also the T3 in the most basic, entry level position.)  The differences are minor but possibly significant depending on your needs. Since both cameras share the same 18 megapixel sensor and Digic 4 processor, both the T2i and T3i will create images with exactly the same image quality, produce the same low light-high ISO performance, shoot at 3.7 frames per second, and have nearly the same size and build quality. They are both offered with the same 18-55mm kit lens (with some minor cosmetic differences on the new T3i kit lens). The T3i is very slightly larger and heavier due to the addition of the rotating rear LCD monitor. And that is one of the biggest differences between the two cameras: do you want and need a vari-angle rear screen or not? The other major difference is the ability of the T3i to remotely control multiple off-camera flashes. Like the 60D and 7D, you can use the built-in flash of the T3i to trigger other Canon Speedlites. This could be an important reason for choosing the T3i. However, if you don’t use or plan to use one or more off-camera flashes, this shouldn’t be important to you.

Some other minor additions to the T3i include the Scene Intelligent Auto Mode, which is a feature borrowed from point and shoot cameras. When in Auto mode, the T3i will make a determination of what type of scene you are shooting – close-up, portrait, landscape, etc. – and automatically configure the camera settings accordingly. However, if you want to use a powerful and costly digital SLR as a point and shoot, you should probably save the money and just buy a nice, high quality point and shoot like the Canon S95. Other additional but not very important upgrades include the in-camera processing Creative Filters like Grainy Black and White or Fisheye, and the ability to choose different image size ratios and to rate your images. However, this type of processing is best done on your computer with software like Photoshop or even Photoshop Elements. There is also a marginally helpful Feature Guide which gives brief descriptions of various settings and some additional video features like digital video zoom (for nice smooth zooms) and Video Snapshot, which you can use to shoot short video clips that are automatically joined together into a video, with music. Again, this is pretty easily done on your computer, and with much more control, with basic video editing software.

So if you need any of these new features, get the Canon Rebel T3i / 600D. If not, buy whichever one if offered at a cheaper price. However, if you still wish to compare the Rebel T3i to the 60D and 7D, see below. If you wish to compare the Canon T3i to the Nikon D5100, check out this post Nikon D5100 vs. Canon T3i.

see the Canon EOS Rebel T3i (Body Only) on Amazon
see the Canon EOS Rebel T3i with 18-55mm Lens on Amazon


Review of Canon EOS 60D vs. 50D: Since the Canon EOS 60D basically replaces the Canon 50D (well, replacement isn’t exactly the right word because the 60D doesn’t really follow the 20D to 50D progression of improvements…), the 60D or 50D decision is an easy one. The 50D shouldn’t really be considered anymore. While the Canon 50D does hold a couple interesting advantages over the 60D (faster frame per second (fps) burst rate in continuous mode, stronger construction, more comprehensive buttons and controls, complete lack of fun filters like “grainy black and white”), the sensor and exposure metering system have been greatly improved in all the newer cameras (such as the 7D or 60D or 600D/ T3i or 500D/ T2i) and I feel these features, along with the increase in megapixels, outweigh any other 50D advantages. I would definitely choose a 60D instead of a 50D. This is coming from experience, as I use a 50D professionally and on a weekly basis. Or choose a 7D instead of a 50D if your needs require it and budget allows it. (Find out below if your needs require it!) If you still wish to learn more about the differences of these two models, I write in more detail about the 50D vs. 60D comparison here from a camera features and operation point of view.

Canon Rebel T3i EOS 600D vs Canon 60D
Canon Rebel T3i / 600D and the Canon 60D


Purchasing: If you plan to purchase cameras, photo equipment, books, or anything else from the retailers below I encourage you to do so through these referral links. While your price will be the same, they will give me a little something for the referral, which helps to support my blog and my work – thanks!  I appreciate your support!


If you are in the UK, please click here for the UK Amazon referral link.

And if you are in Canada, please click here to use my Canada referral link.

For those interested in purchasing through B&H Photo, Adorama, or directly from Canon, I have set up affiliate links with them as well. Just click on the logos below to start shopping:
BandH Photo   

These are all retailers that I have purchased equipment from (excluding Amazon UK/Canada), and I recommend them based on my good experiences, their extensive selection, competitive prices, great customer service and responsiveness, and fair return policies.

or use one of these direct links to Amazon:

See and buy the Canon EOS Rebel T3i (Body Only) on Amazon
See and buy the Canon EOS Rebel T3i with 18-55mm Lens on Amazon

See and buy the T2i on Amazon.

See and buy the 60D on Amazon.
See and buy the 7D on Amazon.
See and buy the Canon 5D MkII on Amazon

Canon Rebel T3i EOS 600D vs 60D vs 7D vs T2i
Canon Rebel T2i, T3i, 60D, and 7D – photo by author at Newtonville Camera


Which Canon dSLR is Right for You?

This section of the article, which can help you decide on a camera based on your photography experience and needs (and also includes the discussion of the Canon 5D Mk II),  has been moved to its own post here:



Related Posts:

Comparing and Choosing Canon Lenses
Equipment for Digital Photography
Essential Books for Digital Photography

As I said above, when you are trying to determine which camera to purchase or upgrade to, you need to first consider and determine your needs, and then see which camera fills those needs. Not the other way around. Here is a post I wrote which discusses this, titled

How to Choose a New dSLR Camera


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