canon rebel t3i camera

Basic setup

The Canon Rebel T3i is a digital single lens reflex (SLR) camera, which means it has removable lenses and it uses a mirror shutter mechanism to take pictures. But unlike most other SLR still cameras, the Canon Rebel T3i can also shoot video and has a live preview mode for displaying the image on the back LCD screen in real-time, similar to many consumer digital cameras.

Inserting the battery

The Canon Rebel T3i uses an LP-E8 battery. The battery is gray with a small notch on one end where the battery make contact with the device. It is important to insert the battery with the notch pointed inward, and facing toward the front of the camera.

Canon Rebel LP-E8 battery being inserted into camera

The chart below shows the approximate number of shots you will be able to take with a fully charged LP-E8 battery, according to the user manual. Notice that the life of the battery decreases at lower temperatures (this is true of most lithium-ion rechargeable batteries). Also battery life significantly decreases when using live view mode, movie mode or the built-in flash.

Taken at 73° F Taken at 32° F
Approx. 550 shots with no Flash Approx. 470 shots with no Flash
Approx. 440 shots with some Flash Approx. 400 shots with some Flash


Inserting the memory card

The Canon Rebel T3i takes only Secure Digital (SD), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) or Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC) types of memory cards. In order to shoot movies, it is recommended to have a memory card of Class 4 or higher speed rating.

To insert the memory card, slide the side door toward the back of the camera. Insert the card with card-face pointed toward the back of the camera as shown below.

Inserting an SDHC memory card into the Canon Rebel T3i camera

The number of shots that will fit on a memory card depends on a number of factors including what quality settings are chosen, the ISO (sensitivity) used when taking each picture, and the complexity of each image (complexity defined by the amount of detail and number of different colors.)

One easy way to tell how many images you can capture on a card is to insert the card and turn the camera on. On the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, the camera will display the approximate number of images that can be stored on the camera based on the current quality settings. This number is an approximation and may change as you take pictures, as some pictures are larger file sizes than others.

Number of pictures left shown on LCD of Canon Rebel T3i


Setting picture size and quality

To change the quality of your photos, press the menu button in the upper left hand corner of the camera. Next, use the cross keys to navigate among the different menu options. Press left and right keys to move between the different menu tabs, and press the set button to make a selection.

Main menu on the Canon Rebel T3i

Note: The options presented in the menu, and the number of tabs displayed, will depend on which mode you are in on the main mode dial on the top of the camera. The more advanced modes will display more options.

To change the quality, select the first menu, scroll to the Quality setting and push the set button.

Setting the quality for the Canon T3i

The settings for resolution/megapixels, which concern the file size of a photo, are presented as large (L), medium (M), small (S1-3) and RAW (the largest setting). The Canon T3i is an 18 megapixel camera. At the largest setting, images will be shot at 5184x3456 pixel dimensions, which equates to a 11x17 inch photograph printed at 300 dpi. 

The settings for compression are displayed next to each size as icons for smooth or blocky curves: The smooth curve means higher quality, and the blocky curve means lower quality. The quality is defined by the amount of compression that is performed on the photo. Lower quality photos that are highly compressed are smaller in size. This will allow you to store more photos on a memory card.

Quality Resolution (megapixels) File size (MB) Possible Shots with 4gb card
L (smooth) 5184x2456 (18mp) 6.4mb 570
L (blocky) 3.2mb 1120
M (smooth) 3456x2304 (8mp) 3.4mb 1070
M (blocky) 1.7mb 2100
S1 (smooth) 2592x1728 (4.5mp) 2.2mb 1670
S1 (blocky) 1.1mb 3180


If you are shooting photos only for the Web, it is recommended to shoot at M smooth. Eight megapixels is generally considered more than enough for web photos (in fact it's a bit large) but still allows flexibility to crop and adjust photos as needed.