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Canon T3 Digital Camera Review$599.99
The noise reduction on the Canon T3 is more subtle than it is with other cameras, but it doesn't need to be aggressive with this camera. With noise reduction disabled, the camera shows just 0.52% noise at the minimum ISO speed of 100, rising to just 2.14% average noise at ISO 6400. Compare that to the maximum noise reduction setting, which returned 0.44% noise at ISO 100, and 1.02% noise at 6400. Those aren't major swings, and really the low and medium noise reduction settings are fine enough. The major culprit with the T3 is noise in the red channel, which spikes to over 3% luminance noise and 2.5% color noise at ISO 6400. On average, however, noise is not a major concern. More on how we test noise.
The Canon T3 offers ISO options ranging from 100-6400, with an option to cap the maximum ISO at any of the full stops from 400-6400 through the menu. The ISO can quickly be changed by pressing the dedicated ISO button, which is also the up key on the four-way controller. In live view, you must first press the "Q" button to access the live menu, and navigate down to the ISO option to adjust sensitivity.
The T3's phase detection autofocus system works well, with nine cross-type AF points. The center point is cross type at f/5.6, so it will work very well, even with the kit lens. The camera by default makes use of contrast detection AF when in live view or recording video, which is frustratingly inaccurate and slow. It's typical of entry-level DSLRs, however, so it's no worse than the other cameras in this class. The menu does include a face detection mode as well as the "Quick AF" function, which will allow you to compose in live view and then, by holding the shutter button halfway down, swings the mirror back down to make full use of the phase detection autofocus system. It's far faster to use Quick AF, though the screen goes blank while focusing and the mirror must return up with focus achieved before the photo can be taken, so your subject may move in the interim.
The T3 performed very well in long exposure testing, better than the rest of our comparison group. It was able to put up good results at speeds as short as one second and generally was consistent, returning results that did not degrade appreciably as we extended the shutter to thirty seconds. The results were not quite as good as during shorter shutter speeds—color accuracy and saturation took a small hit—but this is common for DSLRs. More on how we test long exposure.
The T3 was able to keep noise to an absolute minimum in long exposure testing, with noise never rising above 0.7% even in exposures reaching 30 seconds. There was also less of a spike in color error on long exposures than with other cameras, with a minimum color error of 2.88 and a maximum of only 3.15. Saturation hung firm right at 105% of the ideal across the shutter speed range as well, though this was a slight uptick from our dedicated color testing.
The consistency with which the T3 returned solid results across the testing range earned it top marks in our comparison group. The T3 outperformed all the others by a solid margin, including more expensive models from Nikon and Canon themselves. The Sony A33 was the worst of the lot, while the Canon T3i, Nikon D5100, and Pentax K-r all had decent, if unspectacular results in long exposure testing.
Video: Low Light Sensitivity
The Canon T3 required 12 lux of light to record an image that registered 50 IRE on a waveform monitor. This isn't particularly sensitive, but it's a low enough amount of light that in most practical situations that don't involve the inside of a dark bar, you'll be able to record usable images.