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Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Review

Joshua Waller puts the latest Canon DSLR, the EOS 600D through a series of tests with real world photographs.

| Canon EOS 600D (Rebel T3i) in Digital SLRs
BUY NOW CANON EOS 600D (Rebel T3i)

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Review:

The Canon EOS 600D is Canon's latest Digital SLR and updates the popular 550D and is the latest in a line of DSLRs dating back to the 300D. No longer the entry level SLR in Canon's line up, it is now a step up from that, as that role has been filled by the new 1100D, the 1100D being an update to the 1000D introduced last year.

The Canon EOS 600D is also know as the Canon Rebel T3i (US) and the Canon EOS Kiss X5 (Japan)

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Review:

Canon EOS 600D Features

  • 18mp CMOS sensor
  • 3.0 inch live view swivel screen, 1040k dots
  • Full HD video, with digital zoom (3-10x)
  • 3.7fps continuous shooting
  • 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1 aspect ratios
  • ISO100-6400, Extendable to 12,800
  • Wide-area 9-point AF system
  • 63-zone iFCL exposure metering
  • Use with all EF and EF-S lenses
How does the Canon EOS 600D improve on the 550D, or 500D? Here's a helpful table showing the main differences between the models, at a quick glance.

Table Key: Highlighted in green are new, improved or best, while amber shows a worse feature.

Canon EOS 500D Canon EOS 550D Canon EOS 600D
15.1mp CMOS 18mp 18mp
3.0" screen, 920k 3.0" screen, 1040k 3.0inch vari-angle screen, 1040k
3.4fps 3.7fps 3.7fps
1080p 20fps Video, 29min 1080p 30/25/24fps video, 29min 1080p 30/25/24fps video, 29min
9 point AF 9 point AF 9 point AF
Auto shooting Auto shooting Scene intelligent auto mode, Basic+ (Shoot by ambience selection, Shoot by lighting or scene type), Creative filters (Grainy B/W, Soft focus, Toy camera, Miniature effect, Fish-eye) - during image Playback only, Photo rating
Pentamirror 95% coverage, 0.87x magnification Pentamirror 95% coverage, 0.87x magnification Pentamirror 95% coverage, 0.85x magnification
Eye-detecting sensor Eye-detecting sensor No eye sensor (use disp button instead)
3:2 aspect ratio 3:2 aspect ratio Aspect ratios 3:2, 4:3, 1:1, 16:9
- - Compatible with Eye-Fi cards
- - Integrated Speedlite Transmitter, wireless flash support
SD, SDHC SD card, SDHC card or SDXC card SD card, SDHC card or SDXC card
Battery rating: Approx. 400 shots Battery rating: Approx. 440 shots Battery rating: Approx. 440 shots
128.8 x 97.5 x 61.9mm 128.8 x 97.3 x 62mm 133.1 x 99.5 x 79.7mm
480g 530g (inc battery, memory) 570g (inc battery, memory)

Not much has changed since the 550D and 600D apart from the swivel screen, redesign controls on the back of the camera, an additional DISP/Info button, and a few new features such as aspect ratio selection, creative filters, and new auto-scene selector. To see the differences between the 600D and 1100D, see our Canon EOS 1100D review.
Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Review:
Canon EOS 600D - back screen closed.

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Review:
Canon EOS 600D - sceen twisted around and placed back in the camera.

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Review:
Canon EOS 600D Battery, and battery compartment.

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Review:
Canon EOS 600D - The Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS II is an updated version of the earlier IS lens, however the changes appear to be cosmetic only.

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Review:
Canon EOS 600D Lens off - you can see the 9 focusing points, and ample rubber grips.

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Review:
Canon EOS 600D Memory card compartment - easy to access on the side.

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Review:
Canon EOS 600D - external mic socket, remote, A/V out / Digital, HDMI. Flash button and depth-of-field preview button.

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Review:
Canon EOS 600D top view.

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Review:
Canon EOS 600D pop-up flash.

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Review:
Canon EOS 600D top view - showing the command dial, DISP, ISO buttons, mode dial, on-off switch, flash hot-shoe, and strap loops.

Canon EOS 600D Handling

Feel and build quality: Rubberised grips for thumb, right hand and left hand, metal mode dial (compared to the plastic dial on the 1100D). Very solid feeling camera with a large amount of rubberised hand grips makes this a re-assuringly solid feeling camera to use.

Ease of use: The live view button stands out from the rest of the buttons, the flash button is next to the flash where you would expect it, which is all good. However the ISO button is next to the command dial making it difficult to scroll through the ISO settings whilst trying to simultaneously hold down the ISO button and scroll the wheel at the same time. Shutter release slightly further forward than other SLRs, doesn't fall to hand instantly and can take a little while to get used to (especially noticeable when you ask someone to take a photo for you).

Menu systems:  Canon has a logical and well laid out menu system, allowing you to change additional settings and options, however I found I rarely had to enter the menus as the large number of buttons on the camera meant I was able to change settings quickly without entering the menus. The menus are colour coded, with the shooting menus red, playback menus are blue, setup orange, and "my menu" is green. The "my menu" allows you to customise the options onto one page, so that you can quickly access your favourite settings. The menu system is easy to use, however, the good thing about the camera's design is that you shouldn't need to access the menus too often anyway.

Battery life: The camera's battery life is rated at 440 shots according to CIPA standards. I took over 580 shots, surpassing the expected battery life, however the camera gives very little warning about the remaining battery life, and as soon as the battery is nearly empty, a red battery warning will appear and you will then only be able to take another two or three shots.

Speed: We tested the Canon EOS 600D and compared it to the Canon EOS 1100D to see how the cameras compare. We took a number of shots and calculated the average to ensure consistent results.

  Canon EOS 1100D Canon EOS 600D
Shutter response (SLR, Live) 0.1 0.1
Focus - wide, shutter response 0.2 0.2
Focus - telephoto, shutter response 0.25 0.25
Focus - live view (wide) 1.3-1.5* 1.3-1.5*
Switch on time - taking photo 0.3 0.35
Shot to shot - without flash 0.5 0.4-0.5
Shot to shot - with flash 0.6-0.7 0.6-0.7
Continuous shooting - JPEG 3.1fps 4fps (unlimited?)
Continuous shooting - JPEG with Flash 2fps 0.6-0.7 between shots
Continuous shooting - RAW 2fps 3fps (6 shots)

Testing on JPEG, Review off, live view off, flash off, unless otherwise stated. Thankfully the shutter response is still very quick in live view mode even though the focusing is much slower.

*These were the average results assuming the camera locked focus on the first attempt, if it failed, then it could easily add another second to the focusing time.

Canon EOS 600D Performance

Here are a series of sample photos taken both inside and outside under a variety of lighting conditions, with real world example shots, simply click to view the full size sample photos.

Exposure: examples are shown below, click to view the sample photos full size.

Wide Telephoto

Focusing: examples are shown below, click to view the sample photos full size.

Group shot - Indoor with flash Grey Ferrari California 2010

More examples:

Thoresby Hall Fountain Thoresby Hall Water Spout

Resolution: examples are shown below, click to view the sample photos full size.

Landscape (Snakes Pass) London

The size of JPEGs range from 3mb to 17mb depending on the content, with RAW files ranging from 13mb to 36mb so it's important to invest in a large memory card if you plan on taking a lot of RAW or detailed JPEG shots.

Noise: examples are shown below, click to view full size.

ISO100 ISO200 ISO400 ISO800
ISO1600 ISO3200 ISO6400  

The ISO range starts at ISO100, up to ISO6400. ISO100 results, as expected, are very smooth, with very low levels of noise. ISO800 results are good although slight grain becomes visible. ISO1600 is when noise becomes noticeable. At ISO3200 the noise increases with white dots and some colour loss. ISO6400 noise becomes much more dominant with white and black dots and noticeable colour loss.

Photo Features - Auto lighting optimizer: examples are shown below, click to view the sample photos full size.
Off Low
Mid Strong
Subtle but noticeable difference to images - noticeable more so when the main subject is more silhouetted etc...
Features - creative filters: These are available in playback only, and examples can be seen below:
Standard Black and white (high) Soft
Toycam (Warm) Fisheye Miniature
White balance examples: examples are shown below, click to view the sample photos full size.

Auto White Balance - Tungsten light Tungsten preset - Tungsten light
 Auto White Balance - Fluorescent lighting  Fluorescent preset - Fluoresent lighting

Impressive results, although tungsten lighting is quite yellow, and the 1100D seemed to produce more neutral conditions.

Macro / Close up shots: examples are shown below, click to view the sample photos full size.

Aston Martin Red
Bokeh Aston Martin DB9

The kit lens provides a good level of macro ability when used at the telephoto end, and can produce especially detailed shots with nicely blurred backgrounds. Colour reproduction is extremely pleasing and makes photos pop.

Shooting in various lighting conditions: examples are shown below, click to view the sample photos full size.

Shooting into the sun Macro flower - impressive detail
Low light candle, bokeh Red London bus


Full HD video example, shown above, image quality is very good, and the camera allows you to take photos while recording. Sound quality appears to be good but is only recorded in mono unless you add an external mic. The camera can re-focus when shooting if needed, however, this is the same as live view focusing and can be quite slow.

Lens: We tested the camera with the IS kit lens, the Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS II, with built in optical image stabilisation. The lens has AF-MF and Stabilizer ON/OFF switches on the side, a large rubberised zoom grip, and mechanical focusing ring at the front.

Value for Money
The Canon EOS 600D is £739 with IS kit lens, this is especially good value for money compared to the introductory price of the 550D (was £899 with IS lens at introduction), and even more so compared to the 500D (was £969 with kit lens). Compared to the Nikon D5100 priced at £779 with VR kit lens, the 600D offers better value for money, and a higher resolution sensor. The cheapest Digital SLR with full HD video is the Nikon D3100. The Pentax K-r does not offer full HD video, while the Pentax K-5 does, it is considerably more expensive, although it does come with weather sealing. The Sony Alpha a33 and a55 both offer full HD video, and high speed shooting, although lack an optical viewfinder. The Olympus E-5 offers only 720p video. Panasonic offers the GH2 with full HD video, and is priced at around £833 with 14-42mm kit lens and is one of the smaller SLRs available thanks to the lack of optical viewfinder.

Canon EOS 600D Verdict

Feels good, looks good, takes stunning photos. What more could you want? Sure it would be nice if there was more warning about the battery giving up, and it would be nice if the continuous shooting mode was a little quicker, but these are minor niggles compared to a camera that delivers an excellent all round package, and offers good value for money as well. 

The 600D is fully featured with full HD video recording at 30/25/24fps, a high quality, high resolution screen that swivels to any angle, and simply looks gorgeous. Optical image stabilisation comes with the kit lens, and continuous shooting speed is quite decent at 3.7fps, slowing to 3fps when shooting RAW. Noise is very good, rarely visible until you start using ISO3200 and above. Live view focusing could be quicker, and put me off using the feature, which is a shame considering the swivel screen.

The design of the camera is very good, with ample rubberised areas, and a large hand grip. However I found some of the button locations slightly awkward, particularly the ISO button, although the rest were good. The Canon menus are easy to use and logically laid out as you would expect with a Canon camera. The battery life was better than expected, although there is little warning about when the battery is finally going to give up on you.

Overall what really counts, is the image quality, and this is an area that Canon has got very right. Photos straight from the camera come out looking great, with brilliant levels of detail thanks to the 18 megapixel sensor. Colour is a strong point with excellent skin tones, rich vibrant reds and blues, and excellent flash performance. As a whole this camera scores very highly and is a camera that should be very high on your list, and is Highly Recommended! 

Canon EOS 600D Digital SLR Review:
The Canon EOS 600D delivers stunning image quality and is a joy to use.

Canon EOS 600D Pros:
Canon EOS 600D Gorgeous 3" 1040k dot screen
Canon EOS 600D Excellent image quality
Canon EOS 600D Brilliant colour reproduction
Canon EOS 600D Solid body with great rubber grips
Canon EOS 600D Low noise upto ISO3200
Canon EOS 600D Better than expected battery life

Canon EOS 600D Cons:
Canon EOS 600D Mono mic
Canon EOS 600D Little battery warning
Canon EOS 600D Slow live view focusing


Canon EOS 600D: Specification

Price £739 with Canon 18-55mm EF-S IS II kit lens
Resolution 18.2mp
Sensor size APS-C
Sensor type CMOS
Max image size 5184 x 3456
Aspect ratio 3:2, 4:3, 1:1, 16:9
Focusing system TTL-CT-SIR with a CMOS sensor
Focus points 9 focus points
Focus type AI Focus
One Shot
AI Servo
Crop factor 1.6x
Lens mount EF, EF-S lenses
File types JPEG, RAW
ISO sensitivity ISO100-6400, extendable to ISO12800
Metering system 63-zone iFCL exposure metering
Metering types TTL full aperture metering with 63-zone SPC
(1) Evaluative metering (linked to all AF points)
(2) Partial metering at center (approx. 10% of viewfinder)
(3) Center weighted average metering
White Balance AWB, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, White Fluorescent light, Flash, Custom.
White Balance Compensation 1. Blue/Amber +/-9, 2. Magenta/Green +/-9, Bracketing: +/-3 levels in single level increments, 3 bracketed images per shutter release. Selectable Blue/Amber bias or Magenta/ Green bias
Exposure compensation +/-5 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments (can be combined with AEB), AEB 3 shots +/- 2 EV, 1/2 or 1/3-stop increments
Shutter speed range 30-1/4000 sec (1/2 or 1/3 stop increments), Bulb (Total shutter speed range. Available range varies by shooting mode)
Frames-per-second 3.7fps JPEG, 3fps RAW
Flash sync speed 1/200sec
Image stabilisation No - Lens based IS Image Stabilisation
Movie Mode 1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25, 23.976 fps), 1280 x 720 (59.94, 50 fps), 640 x 480 (30, 25 fps), MOV (Video: H.264, Sound: Linear PCM), Max duration 29min, Max file size 4GB
LiveView Yes, 30fps
Viewfinder Pentamirror, approx 95% coverage, 0.85x magnification
Monitor Vari angle 7.7cm 3.0" 3:2 Clear View TFT, approx. 1040K dots
Media type SD card, SDHC card or SDXC card
Interface Hi-Speed USB, Video output (PAL/ NTSC) (integrated with USB terminal), HDMI mini output (HDMI-CEC compatible), External microphone (3.5mm Stereo mini jack)
Power 1 x Rechargeable Li-ion Battery LP-E8
Box contents Canon EOS 600D with eyecup and body cap, Battery pack LP-E8, Battery charger, Wide strap, Interface cable, Stereo AV cable, EOS Software CD-ROM, Instruction Manual CD-ROM, Camera intruction manual (printed).
Size Approx. 133.1 x 99.5 x 79.7 mm
Weight Approx. 570g including battery and memory card

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Photographs taken using the Canon EOS 600D (Rebel T3i)

Aldingham ReflectionsAldingham GroynesVia The Atlantic To Rochester.Students.Street Brushing.DurbrovnikMale White Faced DarterThe joy of summer.DubrovnikSmartphone Smurf's.Brightening A Dull Day.At JuJu Couture.

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I've just taken delivery of the 600d and love it. It is my first dslr having just upgraded from a fugi s6500fd. I find the camera very easy to use especially for a newbie into the world of dslr's. I'm looking forward to getting out and taking some pictures.
I would highly recommend this to beginners and more the advanced.
Is this camera weather proof?

Quote:Is this camera weather proof?

MattK 11 63 United Kingdom
A really good review. Some fair comments about the battery life warning as it doesn't warn you until 3-4 shots left!!.

I have recently purchased a 600D and I absolutely love it. It is packed with great features and the buttons are well laid out. I have had some great results with it.

The explanations given within the menu as to what each setting does are extremely helpful to an amateur photographer like myself. The kit lens is actually pretty good and the camera takes some great photos.

I would recommend purchasing a large memory card if shooting in RAW and if you need a good budget zoom lens then the Tamron 70-300mm Di is fantastic.

I would definitely recommend this camera to anyone especially amateur and enthusiast level photographers. It will keep most photographers happy for some time.

Well done Canon!!

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