Journal of a new Canon T3i

The camera's first day.
The camera’s first day.

Index located at end of the Journal.

Latest entry:  June 29 re Zeiko tripod.

2013

June 14, Friday:  I placed an order with Amazon.com for a new Canon EOS Rebel T3i 600 D, paying $641.83 with a credit card.  The order included an EF-S 18-55 mm lens.  It is a big upgrade from the other digital, a Canon Powershot SX 20 IS, purchased 3 1/2 years ago, also from Amazon. And it’s costing about $300 more than the old camera which was adequate.  I paid $22 extra for 2-day delivery.  Why change cameras?  Mainly I wanted more versatility.  Like being able to use different lenses and capability to manipulate the shutter with a remote release.  Also I like the T3i’s higher resolution, rated about 18 pixels compared to the old camera’s 12.  Consumer’s Report ranks this camera near the top of DSLRs.

First image I shot.  Not pretty but pretty detailed.
First image I shot. Not pretty but pretty detailed.

June 18, Tuesday:  Camera arrived at the house via UPS at 5:01 pm.   The large package amazed me.  The box ran 21 1/4″ x 14″ x 7 1/4″.  Then I remembered Amazon included more than just the camera kit.  In doing the inventory, I found among the many “extras” a cheap Zeiko 59″ tripod and a camera bag.  In a small box only 8 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ came the T3i kit that of course included the camera body and the lens.  A genius had managed to cram into this small box:  Battery pack, battery charger, 2 cables, a power cord for the charger, a 1 1/2″ strap, 2 DVDs, a pair of instruction manuals (English and Spanish) and 3 booklets (“Macro Photos Made Easy”, “Flash Classroom” and “Using Image Stabilizer Lenses for Better Results”).

Ares, god of war, my 2nd subject.
Ares, god of war, my 2nd subject.

Outside the kit, I found a 16 GB memory card, 2 memory card wallets, a backup LP-E8 battery, a 5-pc lens cleaning kit, a screen protector, a memory card reader/writer, a 6′ HDMI cable and a DVD, “Digital SLR Photography in A Snap.”  I have two other items coming. One is a wireless remote for the shutter release, the other a “rose-petal” shading for the lens.   Made computer notes on the inventory and filed them.  Set Up.  Followed the Quick Start Guide in the Instruction Manual, first inserting the battery pack, LP-E8, despite is having a low charge.  This is quite a change from the old camera and its four AA batteries.  Next I inserted the memory card in its slot, attached the zoom lens, set the lens focus mode switch to AF (Auto-Focus), turned the power switch to On with the Mode Dial at Scene Intelligent Auto, punched in the correct date and time (“1904”) and shot two photos, first via the viewfinder and then using the LCD monitor.  Thought the photo quality of my bare feet and the young cat, Ares, sharp and nicely exposed.  Differences from the old Canon seem largely button locations.  For instance the review and erase buttons are on the bottom-right, not on the right shoulder like the SX 20.  The other obvious difference is zooming.  No lever now.  I must rotate a ring on the lens.  And bringing up the photo image on the swivel monitor requires pushing a button at the top center.  To turn the camera ON/OFF requires moving a lever, not pushing down a button.   The mode dial, shutter button, viewfinder, monitor and set-button circle are located in similar spots as the old camera.  So not everything is new.  But it’s going to take time to use this camera effectively.

June 19, Wednesday:  Dislike.  No light to indicate the camera is turned ON or OFF.  The Access Lamp (back, lower right corner) flickers red and dies out immediately after switching the camera to ON.  Consequently, without a light, I left the camera running by accident for several hours last night and drained the battery.  On my old SX 20, the ON light stayed orange until the camera was turned off. The T3i must be for Mr. Perfect who never makes a mistake.

The LP-E8 battery pack that came with camera.
The LP-E8 battery pack that came with camera.

June 20, Thursday.  Battery.  Very easy to see how the ol’ battery’s doing.  Turn camera to ON and open up the Monitor.  There, on the bottom left of the screen, is the battery icon with two diagonal lines through it.  If all white, battery’s OK.  Shows three other levels:  low but operable (first diagonal), low and near exhausted (second diagonal and blinking) and empty (all white).  After an afternoon of use yesterday, the icon is still as white as can be.  But I’m a little concerned about battery life.  The manual says the LP-E8 should last for about 550 shots with no flash and 73 F.  And about 440 shots with 50% lash.  I’ve read this camera’s batteries can be a problem.  The LP-E8 is expensive.  Canon lists it at $53.50 but it can be purchased for less.  And a lot less if you choose a generic “replacement” battery.  Saw one on Amazon for $13.  The LP-E8 is a lithium-ion battery, 2″ x 1 1/2″ and a half-inch thick.  Despite its bulk, this battery is much easier to snap into place than the four AA batteries in my old camera.  The compartment door on the bottom does not jam like the SX 20 did.  The “LP” is said to be the most advanced (lighter and higher capacity) than the other three ranges of EOS batteries (NP, BP and NB).  The “E8” category is designed to fit Canon’s 550 D cameras and above.  The battery is suppSo now I drink, a sip of coffee, to a long, happy battery life. . . . Last shipments arrive.  The last two items of my camera purchase arrived in separate packages:  A wireless remote (Neewer IR, $3.83) and a Tulip Flower lens hood (Vivitar 58 mm, $5.89), all at a “discount” and part of the original package price of $641.  The lens hood came with two unexpected items.  A Zeiko’s 3-pc cleaning kit and a lens cap “keeper” that attaches to the camera body.  More on these products later.

June 21, Friday:  Zooming in on Playback.  Until today I was annoyed with the Playback (image review).  I couldn’t zoom-in and shift around on the image.  For instance?  Yesterday I captured an image of a Gambel’s quail.  The quail as it appeared in Playback was too small, almost lost among its surroundings.  I wanted to blow up the image so I could see if the bird was in focus and positioned properly.  If not, I would have to take another shot. But I didn’t know how to zoom in.  I returned home relying on luck that everything would turn out OK.  (And it did).   My old SX 20 had a spring lever toward the front of the camera that would enlarge the image quickly, often too quickly.  Dithering about this morning, I found two unexamined buttons on the right shoulder of the T3i.  A small one on the right for enlarging the image and a larger one on the left for reducing it.  Although not as quick to manipulate as the SX 20’s zoom, this zoom is one is more precise.  Every time you tap a button, it goes up or down a notch.  Problem solved.

June 23, Sunday:   Photo quality is very good.  And I think my photography will improve as I become accustomed to the camera.  The trick for me is to take my time when shooting, find a focal point and press the shutter button steadily.  Too often I press the shutter quickly and camera movement occurs, spoiling the shot.  And I need to use the tripod more.

June 24, Monday:  Continuous shooting v. single shots.  This camera can reel off 3.7 photos in a second, even when you don’t want them.  Yesterday, while shooting in North Mountain Park, I pressed the shutter down and before I knew it, I had shot 4-5 photos of the same thing.  I didn’t realize at the time that in Portrait or Sports mode the default is continuous shooting.  I should’ve been in Landscape with the “single-shot” default, but was probably in Portrait.  Must pay better attention to the Mode Dial on top-R.  You can shoot single-shot from default in Portrait and Sports but your shutter finger has to be quick to release.

June 29, Saturday:  Tripod.  Unboxed the Zeiko Pro Series 59″ tripod that came as part of the camera package.  Sells for $30 on Amazon, so I wasn’t expecting much.  And I was right.  It is not nearly as sturdy as my old Slik and to connect tripod screw to camera is problematic.  If extended from the packaged 21 inches to 59, it is shaky.  I’ll stay with the Slik.

INDEX

Battery:   LP-E8.  Life expectancy, price to replace, ease of changing, (June 20).

Cleaning kit:  A 5-pc “extra” that comes with Amazon package,  (June 18).  Unexpected arrival of a second kit, a Zeiko’s 3 pc, (June 20).

Comparison:  Why change cameras? (June 14).  Differences from old Canon SX 20, (June 18).

Continuous shooting:  It’s default in Portrait and Sports modes. Shots per second, (June 24).  To prevent several shots of the same subject, check Mode Dial, (June 24).

Dislikes:  See also Likes.  No ON light indicator, (June 19).

Inventory: Camera kit and extras, (June 18).

Lens:   Tulip-flower lens hood arrives, (June 20).  Arrival of “keeper” string that attaches lens cap to camera body, (June 20).

Likes:  See also Dislikes.  Ease of changing battery, (June 20).  Quality of photo, (June 24).

Modes, Portrait:   Caution, default is Continuous Shooting, (June 24).

Modes, Sports:  Caution, default is Continuous Shooting, (June 24).

Photos:   Canon EOS Rebel T3i (June 14).  Battery pack LP-E8, (June 20).  First photos, (June 20).  Quality, (June 23).

Playback:  (Image-review feature).  Zooming in on an image, (June 21).

Price:  At Amazon.com compared to old SX 20,  (June 14).

Set up:  Using Quick Start Guide, (June 18).

Shutter:  See also Wireless Remote.

Tripod:  Zeiko Pro Series 59″, (June 29).

Wireless Remote:  Arrival of wireless remote release, (June 20).

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