My first month with the Canon T3i

About 6 years ago my mom gave me her Canon Digital Rebel (EOS 300D) and I loved it. Prior to that I’d only used point-and-shoots and the quality of pictures I got with the DSLR was amazing.

After a few years I realized I really wasn’t able to take the photos I envisioned in my mind. This was certainly due to having now idea how to use the camera and just relying on full auto to take pictures. Finally, this past winter, I decided to try and teach myself how to take good photos, or at least ones that were closer to what I pictured in my mind. A few people told me, “take a class!” But who has time for a class? I decided to use my good friend YouTube. A couple of 10-minute videos were extremely helpful: this one on aperture:

And this one on shutter speed:

Those two videos taught me enough to realize that the kit lens on my Canon Digital Rebel, the original 18-55mm f/4-5.6, was kind of a piece of crap. I agonized for weeks over what kind of lens I should get, with the decision made for me by my wife getting me the Canon 55-250mm IS lens, which I wanted for taking photos of my son’s soccer games, for Christmas.

While the 55-250mm lens is fantastic, it’s really situational – not really useful for everyday shots. I ordered the other one I wanted, the Canon 50mm f/1.8, a few days later. After playing with the 50mm for a few days I regretted having waited so long to buy it. It made taking photos a joy. Being able to do have actual depth of field and interesting-looking photos with such an inexpensive lens was fantastic.

The Rebel was still showing its age, however. Some of the major annoyances with it were its lack of USB 2.0 (which made copying photos off it very slow) and use of CF rather than SD card (which meant I couldn’t stick the memory card directly into the computer to copy them off). I have a card reader, but it was still very inconvenience. It also had a fairly long interval between taking photos.

After complaining about my camera for (literally) years, my lovely wife and my mom got me the Canon T3i body for my birthday this year. I can say without reservation that it is the best gift I have ever received. With the T3i and the new lenses I’ve been able to take some amazing photos. While I still take plenty of lousy ones, I have been able to take some gems. Some of my favorites from the past month or so are below. I’m still a total amateur but the camera and lenses make it easy to take great shots. None of these are edited except for some cropping on some of them.

https://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

Based on reviews on Amazon and Newegg, I opted for the Wintec FileMate 16 GB SD card. I have a 32 GB Class 10 Transcend card that I use in my Kodak Zx3 movie camera and I’ve tried both in the T3i and the Wintec card is significantly faster than the Transcend, despite both being labeled as Class 10. I can hold the shutter button down on the camera and take 30-40 shots at maximum resolution & JPEG quality without any buffering/lag. Really a great card at a great price.

Now the proud owner of an awesome camera and 3 different lenses, I figured it was time to get a decent bag to hold it all. After some more weeks of agonizing, I settled on the Case Logic SLRC-202 and so far I really like it. It has a nifty “hammock” to support the camera body itself and two compartments for lenses. I managed to cram the charger, USB cable and driver CD in as well, so I have everything I need all the time.

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