Our family camera, a Panasonic Lumix ZS30 (which was not cheap when we bought it), was not working very well. It kept going out of focus. The only way to fix the focus was to turn it off and back on – great for missing “the shot”. It also took pretty crappy low light pictures. We were sure to be disappointed every birthday, with the “blowing out the candles” shots. We were really unhappy with the camera. We needed a new camera.
We did our research and decided it was time to step up to an SLR. We finally decided on a Canon EOS Rebel T3. Yeah, it’s not the latest/greatest T5i model, but the price was right and we didn’t need the gymnastic flip-out and twist rear LCD screen, with wifi and phone-home GPS. Nor would we use this camera for video we already have an incredible JVC GZ-EX210 1080p camcorder, so the 720p video quality was a moot point. We found Amazon at the time had the best price going at $429, and shipping was free with our Prime membership. We even applied for the Amazon’s credit card, since they would give us $50 off with application – free money, why not?! We’ll simply pay off the card and cancel it. The camera included the following: camera body, 18-55mm lens, battery & wall charger. We already had memory cards (I recommend Ultra HC memory cards for their speed).
So what do we think of this camera you ask? Well, we love it! It takes incredibly fast photos, even in low light. We have not missed a single shot because of the camera. Our first real world use of the camera occurred at a mini-golf course. Typically with our point and shoot camera we would take 8 to 10 photos at just such an outing. We ended up taking 68 photos with the Canon! I guess you could say we like using it. The nice thing about it’s speed is that we get to choose from the resulting photos and delete all but the best shots for each “pose”. Before we would have only one or two to choose from for each “pose”, now it’s tough to decide since each shot is nearly perfect. The color and clarity of the photos is quite noticeable. The battery life in incredible, the first charge of the stock Canon battery lasted 580+ photos.
We also purchased the following for the camera:
- Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II Telephoto Zoom Lens
- Polaroid Optics 58mm 3 Piece Filter Set (UV, CPL, FLD)
- Opteka LP-E10 2000mAh Ultra High Capacity Li-ion Battery
- Case Logic SLRC-205 SLR Camera Sling
The 55-250 lens really lets us zoom in on the subject. I highly recommend it if you have children and like to take photos of them at school functions from the back of the room. I also recommend the MKII version, of the lens, it has better MTF (Modulation Transfer Function) numbers than the MKI version.
I also highly recommend lens covers, if just for the simple fact of keeping dirt, dust and fingers off your optics. The Polaroid set we purchased fit the bill, cheap and easy but not junk. They thread on and off with ease, something cheap ones may not afford. A lens cover is easier to clean and/or replace than a lens. The UV filter really doesn’t do much in my estimation, but the polarized cover really cut down on direct sun glare at the beach. I have no idea if and when I’ll ever use the fluorescent filter lens cover.
Having a second battery for me is a must. I hate having a battery die in the middle of the day and not having a backup. We bought a high capacity after market battery, but it works just the same. The batteries need to “talk” to the Canon camera to function properly, this one works just fine.
As for a carrying case, this is a matter of personal preference. We chose one that has a “hammock” style pouch with quick access. I really like the comfort this bag has when strapped over my shoulder. I hardly notice the bag at all.