08-05-2014 04:21 PM
T3i (600D) or T5i (700D), both good cameras (Truthfully even the ones before that are fine cameras for a beginner).
The T5i is the latest, and offers a few small improvements in features. THe primary differences are specific to video, not still photography. If money is a concern I'd save a bit and get a T3i. Canon has them refurbished, with a 1 year warranty, for cheap, but it looks like they're currently out of stock. Check often, they go quick:
08-05-2014 04:27 PM
Relative to what? In what shooting conditions? With what lens?
THe image quality between the T5i and T3i are pretty much identical. I shot with an XSi (450D) for many years, and sold enough photos of high end architectural photography to buy a new camera and a bunch of lenses and lights. So, if you know what you're doing the image quality is quite good.
08-05-2014 08:05 PM
Canon DSLR cameras can be grouped into a few categories.
They have an entry-level category in which all of the camera bodies plus one lens can be purchased for less than $1000 -- these are the "Rebel" bodies.
But within the Rebel line, you can divide it into two more categories... those with a trailing letter "i" in the model ... and those without. E.g. there is a "T3" and a "T3i" as well as a "T5" and "T5i". The suffix is important.
Those without the "i" are the low end of the entry-level category. Those cameras are traditionally very close to a $500-550 price point (with one lens).
Those with the "i" suffix are at the high end of the entry-level category.
Outside the "Rebel" line are some mid-range offerings as well as some pro-level cameras. They have a higher price point and I'll ignore those for purposes of your question.
Canon generally releases some new entry-level body about once per year. I used to own a T1i. The following year they released a T2i, then a T3i, and so on. When they got to the T5i (having previously released the T4i) there was very little difference between the cameras. Canon opted to discontinue the T4i but did continue to sell the T3i because there was enough of a difference to make it worthwhile to offer both.
The imaging sensors on the T3i and T5i both have the same resolution and roughly identical performance. The main difference is in the body features. The T5i, for example... has a capacitive "touch screen" display, whereas the T3i does not.
There is one difference in the focusing systems....
Typically when we take photographs with DSLR cameras, we put our eye to the viewfinder and look through the camera to frame and shoot. This is because while you can put the camera into a mode to use the "live view" (rear LCD screen), when you do that the camera is forced to use the same focusing system as is used on point & shoot cameras -- which tends to be a rather slow system. The fastest focusing and shooting is possible when you use the viewfinder (which uses a different focus system.) Since the camera has to use a reflex mirror to bounce the light up into the viewfinder, it's ALSO able to bounce some light into a dedciated focusing sensor which is much faster than using the imaging sensor for focus.
These sensors put the light through a tiny prism to split the light into "phases" which will converge if an image is in sharp focus, but will be "out of phase" if the image is not focused. The camera can detect if the camera is focused on the subject, and if not... it can tell if the focus is too close or too far... and by exactly how much. This means the camera does not "guess" it's way to better focus (which is what a point & shoot camera does). It samples the focus, and immediately adjusts to a nice sharply focused image and this happens very quickly.
On both the T3i and T5i, when you look through the viewfinder you sill see 9 focusing points. One point is in the center of the image. There are 8 more points in a diamond shape around that center point.
Though the points look identical, they are not the same. On the T3i, the center point is a "cross type" point. All the other 8 points are single-axis points. It turns out some subjects can be tricky to focus for a single-axis focus sensor. If my camera splits the the light along a vertical axis but the subject I am shooting is in a vertical orientation (such as a picket fence) then my camera might have a difficult time determine if the focus is correct. BUT... if my single-axis focus sensor were arranged horizontally, then it would easily detect when a vertically oriented subject (the fence) is out of focus because the top and bottom halves of the pickets would not line up.
It turns out it's possible to make a focus sensor which is dual-axis (horizontal and vertical at the same time... or even "X" shaped). The center point on the T3i is such a focus sensor. It is more difficult to fool that sensor into missing focus.
On the T5i, the focus system got an upgrade (actually they introduced this with the T4i). All 9 AF points are "cross type" -- they are all dual-axis.
That means the T5i has a better focusing system which tends to be more difficult to fool into missing focus.
So while the image quality will be largely the same... some camera features and a bit nicer on the T5i model.
All of these cameras can be used for all-around general purpose photography. Canon does have some cameras optimized for sports and fast action photography. The Rebel offerings are not optimized for sports but certainly can be used (and are often used) for this. For example, the 7D has a 19 point auto-focus sytem (instead of 9 points) and all 19 points are "cross type"... but the 7D can shoot at 8 frames per second (fairly quick) and has a larger internal memory buffer so you can shoot more frames while you wait for your images to be saved to the memory card (typically the memory card is a performance bottleneck because you are limited by the card as to how fast you can save data to it.)
The cameras can be used in fully automaitc mode, but you get more out of the camera if you learn the basics of exposure. This allows you to become more creative. The Rebel bodies do have some user-friendly modes where you set the mode to indicate what type of shooting you plan to do (portraits, landscapes, action, night, etc.) and the camera adjusts auto-exposure controls to favor those conditions. But once YOU learn what settings favor those conditions you'll find you can do even better.
The cameras can be purchased as "body only" or as a "kit" in which a single lens is included. This is almost always an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens which offers just a little bit of a wide angle and a tiny bit of telephoto... but nothing extreme in either direction. Lens selection can greatly influence the creativity of the photography ... as can lighting. The beauty of the DSLR is that the lenses can be swapped for different lenses so the camera you get on day 1 is just the start of a "system".
08-06-2014 06:22 AM