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New Rebel t3i


I just purchased a Rebel t3i from amazon and it will be here around the end of the month. I was wondering if there was anything I need to know about the camera or dSLR's in general, because this is my first digital camera since a point-and-shoot Kodak in 2007.



O YES! to start with you'll no longer be holding it at arm's reach & looking at the LCD to take a photo. You will need to use the view finder, hold it against your face, & learn the proper stance to get the best out of it. Tomorrow I'll add the suggestions I made for my daughter & her husband when I gave them my 20D years ago. The document is on a different computer but I think it's very relevant for any new DSLR buyer.

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

I'm excited to see what your suggestions are, cicopo!

Elleck, since you will no longer have control of the photo hidden from you by a point and shoot, its crucial to learn what factors create what image you will be capturing.  Here's two websites that each explain these essentials/basics:

Oh my goodness!  THANK YOU so much for links to basics for using the Rebel T3.  


Looking for anyone having difficulty with the shutter button locking or "freezing" when trying to take pictures.  Happens haphazardly, no clear pattern in the two weeks I've been using the camera.  


Your problem may be that the AF hasn't locked onto something in the scene. That can happen due to many things because it needs to see a contrast betwwen things in the scence to establish how far it is from the camera. Check your manual to see if your camera has an AF confirmation light that shows up in the viewfinder (green dot on my cameras). If the light isn't on the AF hasn't locked onto your subject & the camera won't take the photo.

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

The reason for this may depend on what mode you're shooting in (Av, Tv, M, P etc). If your in one of the semi-auto modes (Av, Tv) where the camera is making some of the decisions for you, it could be that you've chosen a setting that requires an extremely long exposure - 1 second or more - giving you the feeling that its locked up.


In low light situations this may happen often - and you'll need to adjust one of the three settings (shutter speed, aperture or ISO) to get a proper exposure.


Again, depending on what mode your using, both the problem and the solution may be different.





Is it possible that you are getting a blink redlight beside the number 6 when this happens?


Put the camera in AV mode or Tv mode as soon as possible. Use the green box mode when you first use it to get used to using it, but going to one of the modes that give you more control is essential to learning.


Understand the exposure triangle (Ap, shutter(Tv), ISO) and what they effect as well as the benefit and drawback of each setting. There are a ton of tutorials/videos on YouTube that will help you learn too.


Realize that it may be confusing or even intimidating at first, but you didn't get a DSLR for a quick fix, you got it to take control of your images instead of the camera doing it. So you don't need to rush your learning process or get immensely frustrated.


Do a 365 project!! I had my first DSLR for about 2 months and still wasn't very clear on its functions until I saw a video that said to do a project. So I picked my camera up every day, put it in Av, Tv, or M and took a picture of something (usually my cat) and tried to figure out why the picture looked like it did and what I did wrong (the true power of learning in M mode 😉 ). Around day 60 I was curious about off camera flash because I was completely comfortable with the camera and understanding exposure.



Your manual is your friend & because this was wrote a few years ago some may not apply in the same way due to control differences. I have no idea whethor or not my daughter took the time to learn it all but she gets GREAT images with it still, and amaxingly the original batteries still give good service.


Camera Instruction summary.

These are in order of importance, once you have one so that you can usually do it without thinking or having the manual close by, then start on the next one.

DON’T USE “Auto” mode, it makes poor choices in camera settings, USE THE “P” mode (program) until you have learned the next few things.

You need to learn how to run through the menu system, but not that often, but it isn’t that difficult.

First setting to learn is “exposure compensation” which you use to change how over or under exposed you want a picture to look after taking it at the base setting you started with. Once you take a photo look at the LCD, (or better yet the Histogram on the LCD) which you can set to always display after each shot. If it’s overexposed (washed out, too bright etc) then you need to reduce the exposure & shoot another shot. If it’s too dark, then you need to set the exposure for a brighter image. The needle moves to the left for less exposure, & to the right for a brighter exposure.

Next “Flash Exposure Compensation” which is the same as above but needed when using the flash. Generally that camera ALWAYS needs some extra help with a setting to the right of about 1 or higher.

Auto Focus point selection. I generally prefer to use just the centre point, focus, and then reframe rather than all of the points possible, but it’s good to learn how to change it & decide what you like.

ONE SHOT / AI SERVO.  You can change how the AF works, in ONE SHOT it assumes that you are shooting a stationary target, and once the AF locks onto the target it doesn’t change if the target moves. You see the little red light which indicated focus lock & where.
AI SERVO is for things which keep moving, and the AF tracks the movement, but you will not see the red dot light up. YOU CAN USE THIS ALL THE TIME, but it isn’t as useful for reframing as the focus point may not work as well as the ONE SHOT mode.

YOU can learn this but don’t worry about it for now, just get an idea of what I am talking about.
Tv mode = Time Value, or SHUTTER SPEED, important for fast moving things, a fast shutter speed freezes what otherwise would have motion blur. Needs good light to work properly, the brighter the better.
Av mode = Apetrure value, which is a lens setting that is hard to explain in simple terms but has the following effect. Apertures are measured in “stops” and the reference to lenses is that a “fast” lens will have a lower F stop number. F2.8 is faster than F 4.0 etc.
This becomes important for 2 reasons, low light, or to control Depth Of Field (DOF) which is an important thing in certain uses. The DOF at F 2.8 is about half of what it would be at F 4.0, therefore things that are a bit closer & a bit farther than where you lock the focus on will be out of focus, and as they get closer or further from the focal point they become just a blur. This is VERY useful where you only want the main object in the photo to be what draws your attention, leaving most everything else out of focus. This type of FAST refers to the fact that you can use a fast shutter speed, the lens is letting lots of light
Flash photos usually force a camera to use a wide open aperture, so indoor shots have a shallow DOF, but you might not notice it at print size, but blown up on a computer screen it shows.

The original camera language will always refer to “stops” which is a ratio thing, and when a camera has a P mode it uses a pre wrote internal program to pick both the Tv & Av.
Stops work like this Every lens has a F value which relates to how much light can pass through it at the widest F stop (faster lenses cost big bucks, hard to build, require top quality lens glass & are larger in diameter). If you close a lens by 1 stop you must select a slower shutter speed to make up for there being exactly ½ the light. An example (numbers only to help understand it)
If a lens was at F2.8 and according to the cameras light meter you need a shutter speed of 1/500 second then a change to F 4.0 requires 1/250 second.

WHY DOES IT MATTER???? The rule of photography is to always keep shutter speed higher than lens length when hand holding to eliminate blur caused by our motion of pressing the shutter, jitters etc. The 20D is known as a “CROP” body, and that means that lens length in it’s case is 1.6 times longer than the numbers (mm) so the 18-200 lens acts like a 28-320 mm lens, so the slowest shutter speed should exceed 1/320 sec when zoomed to the max.

CAMERA CONTROLS   The ON / OFF switch can be left on all the time, it has a setting to put it into sleep mode that you can change using the menu, but it should be OK the way I have it set. A simple touch of the shutter button wakes it up instantly & it’s ready to shoot immediately.
IF at some time you can’t change a setting such as Exposure Compensation etc MAKE SURE the On / Off switch is fully on, It can still take photos with it a bit less than in the fully on position, but won’t allow changes. I HAVE RUN INTO THIS MORE THAN ONCE, AND WAS TOTALLY BAFFLED for a while, even the second & third time due to how seldom it happens. .   

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."


My goodness, you guys are so great. I am saving this page to my favorites to revisit any time I need any help, I really appreciate the overwhelming amount of help. The links are really useful as well. I am most definately going to try to become more active on this forum now haha.