If you are looking for a camera and can only spend about $200 for the body, does the Canon T3i make sense to pick up in 2020? In June of 2019, I answered the question in this video with a “Kinda, maybe.”
But as time moves on, change is inevitable. With newer cameras coming in out, it’s natural that the older ones would become cheaper and cheaper. But it doesn’t mean that the older cheaper cameras are now no longer good. There some amazing cameras that hold up incredibly well for their age and I’m just not talking cinema cameras like Red and Arri. So today, while I will be going over the cameras strengths and weaknesses, I’ll also be going over how you can overcome it’s weaknesses to help get a quality image.
If you’re interested in getting a Canon T3i for yourself off of eBay, click here. Note: It is an affiliate link, meaning if you use it to make a purchase, I’ll recieve a comission at no additional cost to you.
I want to start with the weaknesses since they happen to be the most apperant with the camera. Not only from my using it, but from being on a production last year that used the canon T3i. The video noise. Now, video noise comes with any camera and some cameras have an easier time making it less apparant when at isos of 100 or 200. This is true with the canon t3i as well. However, for a wedding I shot last year, even with my fastest lens (Canon 50mm F1.4), I still had to shoot in iso 400 and the video noise was pretty appearant. I only have the free version of Davinci Resolve, so trying to denoise the image in post was not an option. Luckily, there wasn’t any kind color shifting, which can happen when you shoot at too high of an iso. The project I was a part of last shot with the T3i at iso of 800, luckily there isn’t any color shift there either, but I still wouldn’t push it. Just to give an idea of what I’m talking about. Here is a still taken for some video I shot of my cat with the same caemra settings.
Admitting, the image of my Cat is a bit cleaner then the wedding footage I shot and there is because of one other reason. The codec. The codec is a really compressed .h264 Mov which isn’t really that good for any kind of color grading. Now I don’t expect cinema quality for a consumer grade camera, just be really careful when color correcting or color grading the image. You’re best off getting the look in camera as much as you can, then very minor tweaks in post.
If either of those sound like problems to you. Well, here are the solutions. Lighting. This is a trailer for a feature film I helped out with a few years ago called Ice Patrol. It was shot on the Canon T3i.
Now, something you may have noticed is how clean the image is. Heres the secret: Iso was no higher than 200 through the whole production and all cause of proper lighting for the scenes. It wasn’t even like they were using high end lighting either. The production team used work lights, cheap photography lights and light reflectors. That helped make the image turn out as great as it does and acutally hold up on a decent sized screen.
Now I could easily give the same speech as some other people do and say “Camera doesn’t matter, story does.” then turn around, use Blackmagic cameras, and brag about how I did for nothing. First off, I’ve never used a Blackmagic camera, but I want to. But to the main point, I’ve been working on a few projects while it seems that the whole world is on fire. When that fire gets extinguished, I’m planning on shooting a new short film. But this time, I’ll be shooting it on my Canon T3i. When that time comes, I’ll be making a proper announcement on the Thorndike Productions Facebook Page and on my Youtube Channel so make sure you’re following one of those (or Both) to stay updated.