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Canon T3i Experience
Canon T3i Experience
The Still Photographer’s Guide to
Operation and Image Creation
With the Canon Rebel T3i / EOS 600D
by
Douglas J. Klostermann
Full Stop. good writing for better photography
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Canon T3i Experience
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Copyright 2012 Douglas J. Klostermann
Cover design and photograph by the author.
Canon T3i Experience
The Still Photographer’s Guide to Operation and Image Creation
With the Canon Rebel T3i / EOS 600D
by: Douglas J. Klostermann
ISBN: 978-1-4524-0381-6
Version 2.1a
February 2012
Author’s website: www.dojoklo.com
Author’s blog: http://blog.dojoklo.com
Published by Full Stop. good writing for better photography
A division of Douglas J. Klostermann Photography
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
http://www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/
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Canon T3i Experience
CONTENTS
1. INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................... 4
2. MENUS and CUSTOM FUNCTIONS ........................................................................... 9
2.1 Menu Settings.......................................................................................................... 9
2.2 My Menu ................................................................................................................ 17
2.3 Movie Shooting Mode Menus ................................................................................ 18
2.4 Custom Functions Menus...................................................................................... 20
3. CAMERA OPERATION .............................................................................................. 24
3.1 Camera Controls ................................................................................................... 24
3.2 JPEG vs. RAW ...................................................................................................... 28
3.3 Focusing ................................................................................................................ 30
3.3a Using Autofocus............................................................................................... 30
3.3b Focus Modes ................................................................................................... 32
3.3c Live View and Movie Autofocus Modes ........................................................... 37
3.3d Back Button Focusing ...................................................................................... 38
3.4 Drive Modes........................................................................................................... 39
3.5 Exposure................................................................................................................ 40
3.5a Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.................................................................... 41
3.5b Aperture Priority Mode (Av) and Shutter Priority Mode (Tv)............................ 43
3.5c Full Stops ......................................................................................................... 46
3.5d Manual Exposure Mode (M) ............................................................................ 47
3.6 Metering Modes ..................................................................................................... 48
3.6a Evaluative Metering ......................................................................................... 48
3.6b Partial Metering................................................................................................ 49
3.6c Spot Metering ................................................................................................... 50
3.6d Center-Weighted Average Metering ................................................................ 52
3.6e Manual Metering .............................................................................................. 53
3.6f Metering Modes and Exposure......................................................................... 55
3.6g Exposure Lock ................................................................................................. 56
3.7 Histograms............................................................................................................. 58
3.8 Exposure Compensation ....................................................................................... 59
3.9 Auto Exposure Bracketing ..................................................................................... 60
3.10 Highlight Tone Priority and Auto Lighting Optimizer ........................................... 62
3.11 White Balance ..................................................................................................... 62
3.12 Picture Styles....................................................................................................... 64
3.13 Flash .................................................................................................................... 65
3.14 Sensor Cleaning .................................................................................................. 66
4. THE IMAGE TAKING PROCESS............................................................................... 67
5. COMPOSITION........................................................................................................... 69
6. LENSES ...................................................................................................................... 76
6.1 Lens Notations....................................................................................................... 76
6.2 Which Lens to Buy Next ........................................................................................ 79
7. VIDEO - AN INTRODUCTION .................................................................................... 80
8. PHOTOGRAPHY ACCESSORIES............................................................................. 82
9. CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................ 86
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Canon T3i Experience
1. INTRODUCTION
With the introduction of the Rebel T3i (also known as the EOS 600D) Canon has
continued its well respected line of powerful, affordable, and easy to operate digital SLR
cameras. Boasting features such as its 18 megapixel sensor, 63-zone dual-layer
exposure metering system, high ISO performance expandable up to 12800, and Digic 4
image processor, the T3i shares many of the capabilities of Canon’s semi-professional
models. And with its 3.7 frames per second shooting speed, articulating high resolution
rear LCD Monitor, and customization options it has the ability to meet most enthusiast
photographers’ needs. The Canon Rebel T3i / EOS 600D is a powerful, advanced tool
for digital photography and is fully capable of capturing professional quality images in
most any situation you wish to use it. But it is merely a tool.
It is up to you to make use of its features and capabilities to create the images you
envision. While the camera’s manual can tell you about the settings and controls and
how they function, this guide will build upon that and tell you when and why you want to
use them. Every button, menu item, and Custom Function setting of the T3i is there for
a reason: to help you capture the images you want. Some of them are more useful to
different types of photographers and shooting situations and you don’t need to learn and
use them all immediately, but this guide should help to give you the knowledge to
confidently use the ones that turn your Canon Rebel T3i into an image capturing tool
that works best for you.
Figure 1 - Detail of the Canon T3i
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Canon T3i Experience
Take Control of Your Camera
Since the camera is a tool to take the images you want to take, you can’t always allow
the camera to make decisions for you. You have to take control of the camera to
ensure that you capture exactly the images you intend - by autofocusing where you
want, setting the aperture or shutter speed that you want, and obtaining the exposure
you want. While the T3i is an intelligent camera, it cannot read your mind and your
intentions and does not know that you wish to focus on and properly expose the small
blossoms in the foreground, while making the background appear out of focus, and the
branches to be caught still and not be blurred from the motion of the wind, on this bright,
sunny day (see Figure 2). You have to tell the camera to do all of this, through the
various controls and settings, such as the autofocus AF Mode (focus on the blossoms),
the Exposure Metering Mode (properly expose the blossoms), the Aperture setting (the
out-of-focus background), the Shutter Speed (freezing the motion of the branches), the
ISO (bright day) and the White Balance (sunny day).
Figure 2 - Japanese Garden, Brooklyn, NY - Autofocus, exposure metering mode,
aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance all considered in creating this image.
Shutter speed 1/125, aperture f/6.3, ISO 200
One has to think about all this stuff for every photo? Well, yes, that is what digital SLR
photography is all about. At least if you wish to consistently create dramatic and
compelling images. That is why the T3i has all these controls and features for you to
make use of. You’re not in the realm of point-and-shoots anymore!
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Canon T3i Experience
Learning to use and get the most out of a versatile dSLR camera like the T3i takes time,
practice, patience, mistakes, and experimentation. If you are not yet familiar with all the
controls of a dSLR and the exposure concepts of digital photography, don’t expect to
just pick it all up at once, in one or two readings of a single book. (In fact, you wouldn’t
want to, as the never ending task of learning and mastering photography is a big part of
what it’s all about!) Try not to become frustrated when you don’t quite understand
something or aren’t yet getting the results you desire. Instead learn the controls,
functions, settings, and concepts bit by bit, try them out in real life shooting situations,
and return to this guide, the manual, and other photography books to address questions
and problems you encounter. Continue to learn and to photograph often and it should
all begin to come together, sometimes slowly and sometimes in rapid spurts of
discovery and understanding.
If you have upgraded from an older dSLR to the T3i, you should find that many of the
basic controls and features are similar. And its additional features and capabilities will
more easily help you to capture images and photographs that you may have been
limited in consistently attaining before. If you are new to dSLR photography, this book
will help guide you through its features, controls, and capabilities. Be sure to take it
slowly and patiently and start with the basic features and concepts that I will explain.
With practice and experience you will soon be shooting with confidence and can begin
to take advantage of the camera’s more advanced functions.
Using This Guide
There are many different ways to use a digital SLR camera and its controls to capture
images, and many diverse situations in which photographers work. I’m going to
concentrate on the techniques that I believe are the most practical, useful, and effective
for the majority of intermediate and dedicated photographers. The settings and controls
I discuss can apply to various types of photography including everyday general
photography, action, and travel photography. Once you have a firm grasp of the
controls, settings, and basic techniques you will have the tools and knowledge to
address different issues and challenging situations, and I encourage you to experiment
and continue to learn.
Since this guide is intended to help you get the most out of your T3i, it will not go into
detail about all of the automatic features. The Canon T3i is a sophisticated tool that
deserves to be used to its full potential, and that involves taking control of the camera
and its functions, which means taking it off Auto, off Program, off automatically selected
auto-focus points, off Auto ISO. While this may be more challenging at first, these are
the techniques that are necessary to take full advantage of the capabilities of any dSLR
including the T3i, and will lead you to having more control and consistency over your
image making. Hopefully this will inevitably lead to better images!
This guide is intended to be used with the camera in your hands. That is the best way
to directly follow and understand the controls, functions, and settings as they are being
explained. It is also intended to be used in conjunction with and in addition to the
camera’s manual, not to completely replace it, so every bit of information in the Canon
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Canon T3i Experience
Shooting 2 menu
Exposure compensation/AEB
You can use the [Av+/-] Button and Main Dial for quickly changing exposure
compensation rather than using this menu item, but you need to access this item for
Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB). More about Exposure Compensation and Auto
Exposure Bracketing later. Put this in My Menu (discussed in upcoming Section 2.2)
if you bracket often, such as for High Dynamic Range (HDR) shooting.
Auto Lighting Optimizer
This setting is fully addressed in the Highlight Tone Priority and Auto Lighting
Optimizer section. Once you start to take control of your camera and your exposures,
you may want to Disable this setting so that the camera isn't doing something with your
exposures without you having control over it. After reading this guide you will know how
to meter, read your histogram, and use Exposure Compensation to make proper or
desired exposures.
Metering Mode
Metering modes will be discussed in detail in the Metering Modes section of this guide.
For now, leave it on the default, Evaluative Metering. Put this item in My Menu in order
to access it easily, or else you can access and change Metering Modes using the Q
Button and the Quick Control Screen.
Custom White Balance
This is for setting a custom white balance rather than using one of the standard White
Balance (WB) settings like Auto, Cloudy, or Fluorescent. For advanced users.
Particularly handy for studio work where the lighting will remain constant or in a situation
with difficult mixed lighting. This will be covered in the White Balance section.
WB Shift/BKT
This is White Balance Shift and White Balance Bracketing and is used for adjusting to a
very precise WB, or bracketing exposures using different WB settings. Also for
advanced users. This will be covered in the White Balance section.
Color Space
Most users can safely leave this on sRGB. You can read the various blogs, forums and
books that endlessly debate sRGB vs. AdobeRGB, then continue to leave it on sRGB.
sRGB is a slightly smaller color space than AdobeRGB, but will display properly on
computer screens and printers. AdobeRGB is intended for uses like commercial
printing. Unless you are calibrating your monitor, printing with a printer that has 5 or
more ink cartridges, shooting for a commercially printed publication, and well versed in
using color spaces and profiles in Photoshop and printing, you will never miss the
difference and AdobeRGB images will possibly not display or print properly. If you are
doing all these things, then use AdobeRGB.
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Canon T3i Experience
Note that when you enable this, the camera will disable Auto Lighting Optimizer and will
limit your ISO range to 200-6400. This will be discussed a little bit more in the
Highlight Tone Priority and Auto Lighting Optimizer section.
recommend: 0 - but put in My Menu
C.Fn III: Autofocus/ Drive
C.Fn III-7 - AF-Assist Beam Firing
This setting is to enable or disable the autofocus assist beam, which is a flash of light
emitted from the internal or external flash to help the camera focus on the subject. I
suggest enabling it, setting 0, unless you are in a situation where it is too distracting in
some way. If you never use the internal flash and just a Speedlite, set it on 2: Enable
external flash only or 3: IR AF assist beam only which will only use the infrared AFassist beam and not the series of small flashes of light. Make sure the Speedlite's
custom functions have it turned on too.
recommend: 0
C.Fn III-8 - Mirror Lockup
This is the mirror lockup that you might have read about from landscape and macro
photographers. By enabling it you reduce that extra little bit of vibration that may cause
slight blurring with a long lens or a macro lens. It is only worth using in conjunction with
a remote shutter release or the self timer, and a tripod. You definitely don't want to use
it all the time, so disable it, and put it in your My Menu if you need it sometimes. This is
not the feature to use to raise your mirror for manual sensor cleaning. That feature is
under Sensor Cleaning in the Set-up 2 menu. More about Sensor Cleaning later.
recommend: 0
C.Fn IV: Operation/ Others
C.Fn IV-9 - Shutter/AE Lock Button
This is used to change the function assigned to the Shutter Button when it is pressed
half-way and the AE Lock Button (the one with *). The default setting, 0, is for locking
both focus and exposure when you press the Shutter Button halfway (when using
Evaluative Metering Mode). You then recompose if necessary and fully press the
Shutter Button to take your photo. The problem with this is that if you recompose, the
correct exposure may change due to your new framing, and the photo may be slightly or
possibly greatly under- or over-exposed because you locked in a different exposure. To
prevent this, you can use the AE Lock Button (exposure lock button, [*]) to lock in the
exposure of your desired framing. This is the default setting, 0. Exposure lock will be
covered later in the Exposure section. The other following settings are for advanced
users, and can be returned to later after reading about Back Button Focusing.
Setting 1 separates the exposure lock and the autofocus to 2 different buttons.
Pressing the shutter button half-way will lock in exposure but not focus. The [*] button is
used to autofocus, and letting go of it will stop AF and lock in focus at that distance. It is
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Canon T3i Experience
some situations the exposure that the camera determines may not be the exposure you
desire. This may happen when photographing scenes with very bright and/ or dark
areas, or some other type of dramatic lighting. Since dramatic and interesting lighting
can make for compelling images, you will need to know how to deal with this. In these
situations you can make use of either Exposure Compensation, Exposure Lock (AE
Lock), or one of the other Metering Modes below. Of more likely, a combination of
these three solutions.
3.6b Partial Metering
This mode meters a small central area, about 9% of the viewfinder area of the T3i. The
area is approximately a circle that is larger than the spot metering circle you see in the
viewfinder, and reaches to about the inside edges of the nearest focus points (see
Figure 14).
Figure 14 - Harbor, Gloucester, Mass. - Partial and Spot Metering Areas of the T3i Partial Metering Mode evaluates only the area under the superimposed grey circle to
determine the exposure settings. Spot Metering Mode evaluates only the area inside
the black circle seen in the viewfinder to determine the exposure setting. Shutter speed
1/400, aperture f/4.0, ISO 100
This mode is useful where there is a dramatic difference in lighting between the
foreground or subject and the background. For example, when your subject is backlit maybe standing in front of a bright window or the sun - and consequently their face is in
shadow. I know I said evaluative mode can often handle this type of situation, but if you
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Canon T3i Experience
want the face or the subject to be properly exposed and not risk blowing the shot, it is
worth it to use Partial Metering mode. Another time to use this is when there is a wide
range of light in your scene, from bright sunlight to deep shadows. You will need to
determine and lock the exposure settings of a critical area of the scene - a face or a
middle tone in the area you want properly exposed (see Figure 15). Remember, this
mode is not linked to your focus point. The partial area that is metered is always in the
center, so meter on a face or middle tone in the part of the scene that is most critical
and that you want properly exposed, using the central area of the viewfinder. Lock in
that exposure using Exposure Lock (explained below), then focus, recompose and
take the shot.
Figure 15 - Lion Sculpture in Museum - Partial Metering used to properly expose for the
subject, then focus and exposure locked, and framing recomposed to place subject off
center. (Very carefully hand-held at very slow shutter speed.) Shutter speed 1/13,
aperture f/4.0, ISO 800
3.6c Spot Metering
This mode meters a smaller center area, approximately 4% of the viewfinder area. This
area is indicated by the small circle in the center of the viewfinder (see Figure 14). So
when do you want to use Spot metering? This, again, is useful for scenes with great
variation in light and shadow, or in very critical situations. It is used like Partial
Metering, but when the critical area that you are metering is even smaller and more
precise. One of the most common ways to use it is when metering for proper exposure
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Canon T3i Experience
on a dramatically lit face or subject, where the proper exposure of that part of the image
is critical (see Figure 16).
Figure 16 - Singer - Use Partial Metering or Spot Metering in high-contrast situations to
meter for the area you want properly exposed (such as an area of skin tone here), then
lock exposure, focus, and recompose for the final image. Shutter speed 1/60, aperture
f/4.5, ISO 1600
Or for advanced users, Spot Metering is used to determine the exposure values of
several important parts of the scene, and then the desired exposure is determined and
manually set using Manual Exposure Mode. If you have ever read about a
photographer metering different elements of a scene in order to determine their
relationships and place them in exposure “zones,” that is related to this technique. In
this way Spot Metering Mode is used to turn your camera into a light meter, as a tool to
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Canon T3i Experience
determine proper exposure of a subject or scene before switching the camera to Manual
Mode for a controlled studio shot, a critical shot, or a series of shots where the lighting
is not going to change.
3.6d Center-Weighted Average Metering
This metering mode can be thought of as a combination of Evaluative and Partial
Metering. It acknowledges that the subject is in the center and requires special
metering attention, but it also takes into account all the other exposure metering zones.
This mode is useful where there is a difference in lighting between the foreground or
subject and the background, but unlike Spot or Partial Metering you still wish for the
camera to take both subject and background exposure into consideration (see Figure
17).
As with Spot or Partial Metering, this might be used when your subject is backlit, or
when a nicely lit subject is in front of a darker or lighter background. Another time to
use this is when there is a wide range of light in your scene, such as bright sunlight to
deep shadows. Determine the proper exposure by metering on the subject using the
center of the viewfinder, and lock in that exposure (see Exposure Lock below).
Again, this is not linked to the active autofocus AF point, but always to the center, so if
your subject is off center - which it typically should be for a more dynamic image - you
need to lock the exposure on your subject and then recompose. If you are finding that
Evaluative Metering is not giving you the exposures you desire because you are always
seeking out and using unusual, dramatic, or difficult lighting, and your exposures are
consistently slightly too dark or too light, try using Partial Metering or Center-Weighted
Average Metering in conjunction with Exposure Lock.
Or use Exposure
Compensation, discussed below.
Center-Weighted, Partial, or Spot?
To decide between Center-Weighted Metering and Partial Metering: use Partial
Metering in a high-contrast situation where you want to properly meter on the subject
but don’t want an extremely bright or dark background to influence the exposure (see
Figure 15). Use Center-Weighted Metering in a situation where you want to ensure the
subject is properly metered, but the background or other areas of the image are also
somewhat important for the metering system to consider, and aren’t so light or dark
compared to the subject that they will throw off the exposure (see Figure 17). Use Spot
in a similar manner to Partial, except that you need to meter on even a smaller area for
more precision (see Figure 16).
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Canon T3i Experience
What Readers are Saying About Canon T3i Experience:
A Must-Have Accessory - What a great addition to my bag. This is a well written, full body of
work that explains, in plain English, how to get the most out my new camera. Doug provides the
knowledge and experience to bring you to the next level. I look forward to learning more every
time I open the book.
-Steven
Definitely reduces the slope of the learning curve to an easy gradient - I found that it was easy
to read and understand, full of important hints and suggestions and allowed me to get to grips
with the tools available in the camera in a very short time indeed. Excellent value!
-O.B.
Great for New T3i Owners - This is an excellent resource for new T3i owners. In my case, I was
upgrading from a Rebel XT so I appreciated the "just the facts" point of view. Overall, a great
resource - highly recommended!
S. Wheeler
Quite a Helpful Book - It is a great foundational teaching on the camera and was a lot of help in
getting me comfortable with the controls. I also found the personal experiences and thoughts
shared by the author to be quite helpful. I have recommended and will continue to do so.
-J.S.B.
It really made using the Canon Rebel T3i very simple - I also liked the fact that it is in pdf
format, which means I can keep it on my iPhone or iPad while I'm out in the field. The price is
right, the product is sound and most of all, the information is useful.
-Michael M.
Excellent T3i Learning Jump Start - The book and author do not disappoint. There are so
many helpful and practical tips shared and in terms I can understand as a novice.
-Cathryn C.
Amazing! - Great and easy to understand and very complete. Very highly recommended. The
guy really knows what he's talking about.
-P.M.
Awesome Book - Bought this book right after I got the camera - was the best decision I made. It
shows the key points of setting up and taking images with the Canon T3i. I am a novice when it
comes to DSLR's and I still felt this book helped me a ton. Would highly recommend it to
anyone.
-Sean S.
Purchase Canon T3i Experience at:
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