Canon T3i Rebel Best Price Ever

by nightowl

I just bought the Canon T3i camera kit in an incredible package deal. If all goes as planned it will cost me around $300. See how I did it - step by step.

I'm a bit of a sucker for SLRs. Not that I'm a particularly adept photographer, it's just that I've had my Canon AE-1 since I received it for my 16th birthday in 1980. It's my baby, but of course, film cameras have become all but obsolete in the last couple of years. I wanted a digital SLR for years, but just couldn't justify the cost.

I've been going through "point 'n shoot" digicams at the rate of 1 every 2 years or so, but was never quite happy with the quality of my pictures. I'm a Canon fan, but their SLRs were just out of reach. With the current Canon promotion going on at Amazon however, I was beginning to see some daylight. My personal budget for a dSLR is somewhere around $300, and here is how I'm going to make it happen. YMMV, as they say, but I'm fairly confident you could achieve a similar price if you want it badly enough. Just follow my lead...

Canon T3i Bundle Deal on Amazon

Update: November 2012

If you missed one of the previous deals during the summer here's good news! The special price promotion for Canon EOS cameras has been extended. The following models are eligible for rebates: Canon Rebel T3, T3i and EOS 60D, although I will focus on the T3i for the purpose of this article. Plus, it is the most popular Canon model at this time, and the one I bought myself.

Read on for all the juicy details...

First Step: Buy the Canon T3i Rebel and (free) Accessories

Important: Prices change daily. Check individual products for latest price. MAKE SURE ALL ITEMS ARE SOLD DIRECTLY BY AMAZON LLC, not other vendors!
Canon EOS Rebel T3i 18 MP CMOS Digita...Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telepho...Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II T...
Transcend 16GB Class 10 SDHC Flash Me...AmazonBasics Backpack for SLR Cameras...

After adding all items to your cart, the total should come to about $1,045. Once you reach the checkout page however, you will find all the deductions for ongoing promotions:

  • $18.32 (current price for SanDisk card, varies)
  • $150 for the 55-250 lens promo
  • $150 for the 75-300 lens promo
  • $29 for the Camera Backpack
  • shipping cost

If you're not seeing either of these, chances are you did not order directly from Amazon. Go back to the item page(s) and be sure to select Amazon.com as your seller.

The total before tax should now be something in the area of $670, more or less. Prices tend to fluctuate constantly, so this may vary a bit.

Additional Goodies

  • With your purchase, you currently also get a nice 2% cash back in the form of future Amazon credit.
  • You will also receive $2 credit towards MP3 downloads from Amazon.
  • If you have the Amazon Store Card, your purchase may be eligible for up to 12 months interest free financing. This alone can save you a handsome amount if you would otherwise finance your new Canon camera.

T3i Popularity 2012

Increase of Canon T3i Usage on Flickr This Year
Increase of Canon T3i Usage on Flickr...

Free Financing or Amazon Visa Points

Let's not forget the little extras

If you have an Amazon store card you can get this camera financed interest free for one whole year. Or, if you have the Amazon Visa card you can count on 3% of the original purchase price in cash back points.

Initial Order Totals for the Rebel T3i plus Lenses and Printer

Let's get to work!

Please note: The following calculation was from an earlier promotion. It is left here only for reference purposes. 

After you place all items in your cart, the subtotal should come out to something like $1,089, depending on the current prices (which may be slightly different than at the time of my writing). The instant discounts will be shown in the cart. You should see an instant deduction of $150 for each of the lenses. And a promotional credit for the entire cost of the memory card, and the Camera Bag.

Also, you need to make sure to check "Free SuperSaver Shipping", if you're not a member of Amazon Prime. If you don't see the "Promotion applied" discounts then either you did not buy directly from Amazon, or the promotion has ended.

 

Canon Bundle Deal in Cart
Canon Bundle Deal in Cart
Amazon.com

Still a far cry from my goal of $300, but we're only getting started. We will need to get that $400 back via mail-in rebate, and then we will need to get rid of some accessories we can do without.

All Canon EOS Cameras Eligible for Canon Bundle Savings

If you've been on the fence, this is the time to buy!
Canon EOS Rebel T3 12.2 MP CMOS Digit...Canon EOS Rebel T3i 18 MP CMOS APS-C ...Canon EOS 60D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR ...

Details of the Canon Promotion on Amazon

These are all the applicable discounts and rebates I used in securing this deal:

  1. Save $100 via instant rebate on the T3, D60 or T3i digital SLR cameras. Simply add the product to your cart, the discount is already reflected in the price.

  2. Save an additional $150 when you purchase the camera with a Canon EF-S 55-250mm lens and/or $150 if you purchase the EF-S 75-300mm lens. To take advantage of this bundle offer, simply add both items to your cart and the savings will be applied at checkout. (current promotional discount for lenses ends Sep. 1. Check for updated promos after this date)

  3. Get a $300 American Express Reward Card via mail-in rebate with the combined purchase of a qualifying Canon digital SLR camera and a Canon PIXMA Pro photo printer and Photo Paper. Direct link to Rebate form. (Ends Sep. 30, 2012)

  4. Free Tiffen Filter with Purchase: Simply add both qualifying products to your Shopping Cart, savings will be applied at checkout.

All rebates and promotions will bring the effective price of the Canon Rebel T3i including 2 lenses, 2 filters, a Canon Pixma photo printer with free paper, plus a sling backpack, down to about $690. That's about the same price you would pay for the camera kit alone in most "regular" B&M stores.

Preliminary Calculation: How much lower can it get?

Ok, the first part was easy. We bought the entire package worth more than $1,500 for about $870. So far so good, but now comes the elbow grease and YMMV part. I will have to sell some of my equipment to get into my desired budget zone.

A quick research over at eBay makes me confident I could make about $500 back from the sale of one of the telephoto lenses, the printer, and my current camera.

I will keep you posted on my progress. Feel free to share your own experiences in the comment section.

Extra Tip!

Get a check instead of the Amex gift card

I wanted to put the $400 rebate towards the payments for the camera, instead of having a gift card. The Amex card arrived after a couple of weeks, and I noticed in the fine print that you can request a check for the remaining balance at any time. So I called their friendly customer service, and they were happy to send me a check instead. Bingo!

Selling the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III

Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Zoom Lens f/ EOS Rebel T3 T2 XSi...

Time left: 2 weeks, 6 days
Current bid: $109.99

Canon EF 75-300 mm F/4-5.6 III Lens

Time left: 12 hours, 52 minutes
Current bid: $96.00
Something's Gotta Give

This is where the major YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) comes in. Depending whether you have a good camera and whether you even want to sell it at all. I just bought the Canon PowerShot about 2 years ago, and although it is a nice little camera it still is not the same as a dSLR. Since it was a pricey little bugger with a fairly high resale value I am going to sell it to finance my new Canon Rebel and bring the total cost down even more.

Update: I am still debating with myself whether I should sell my G11. It's a tough decision as I really love this little camera. I was afraid this would happen...

Update: My new Canon T3i arrived

Shipping took exactly one week

Woo-hoo! Exciting news!

The camera and extra lenses arrived last night. This was one of the longest weeks I've had to suffer through! Unfortunately, the 75-300mm lens was in a ripped box and the packaging was missing. Amazon customer support however came through without problems and I can return it for a full refund. Let's hope this works out as promised.

The printer had arrived the day before so now my order is complete. Just need to file for my $400 rebate now and then I can proceed to list it on eBay. It's a really nice printer and I'd love to keep it, but I have no real need for it and must remember my quest to lower my out of pocket expense for this camera indulgence.

But for now, here are a few of my very first shots with the new camera. I did some cropping and edited the picture of my son with a simple "auto levels" filter of my image processing program.

My Canon T3i Rebel Order Confirmation

Canon T3i Rebel Order Confirmation
Canon T3i Rebel Order Confirmation

First Shots with my new Canon EOS T3i

I have no clue yet what I'm doing... Just point 'n' shoot random stuff
Closeup of a fly | First shots with my new Canon T3i
Closeup of a fly | ...
Canon EOS T3i with ...
Zoom on my yawning dog Suki, cropped
Zoom on my yawning ...
Canon EOS T3i with ...
Fading light, post-processing w/ auto-levels, cropped
Fading light, post-...
Canon EOS T3i with ...
Zoom on pink Oleander blossom
Zoom on pink Oleand...
Canon EOS T3i with ...

Update 2: Rebates and Sales Proceeds

Big Leaps towards my goal - and a (slight) change of plan

I have received my $400 mail-in rebate and sold some of the extra equipment. I was able to return the 75-300mm telephoto lens for a full refund (see above), and I sold the printer for a net profit of $180 (after shipping and sales commission).

New breakdown of total cost (rounded):

Initial purchase: $1,270
MIR: -$ 400
75-300mm lens: -$ 136
printer sale: -$ 180
Final purchase price:  $ 554


$554 for the Canon T3i body plus EF-S 55-250mm, EF-S 18-55mm, Tiffen UV-Filter

I did adjust my plan of selling the Canon G11, and decided to keep it after all. Even though its not exactly a pocket camera, there are times when I still don't want to tote the big photo bag around. If I would have had the heart to sell it, I'm pretty confident I could have gotten around $300 for it. Once I made the decision to hang on to the G11 I felt much better about the whole deal. I'm happy!

Wishlist for Canon EOS Rebel T3i Must-Have Accessories

As soon as I got my hands on the new camera I realized I already have a wish list for accessories and upgrades. Must.Use.Self-Restraint! Will try to work my way down the list in the next couple of weeks.
Learning more about the Canon EOS Rebel T3i: From Snapshots to Great Shots

It's already clear that I need a book that will teach me how to make the most of my new camera. After reading all the reviews of the available guides, this one gets my vote.

$24.99  $13.68
Replacement Battery For Canon LP-E8

I hate to have my battery die on me at the most inopportune moments. At least one spare battery is good to have. This one is cheap, has good ratings, and comes with screen protectors plus cleaning cloth. Deal!

$39.95  $9.95
Lens Cap Cover with String For 58mm Lenses

Without the little tether the lens cap easily gets lost. I also like the fact that you don't need a pocket to store your lens cap while shooting. This one is cheap enough and has acceptable ratings. I don't dig the "peel and stick" lens cap tethers.

$5.49  $0.01
Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

The built-in pop up flash works fine for many casual situations, but for quality images you're going to want a better flash with more control and speed.

$299.00  $249.00
Tiffen 58mm UV Protection Filter

A protective filter is a must for any lens! Protects your camera or camcorder lens against dust, moisture, fingerprints, scratches and damage. This filter can be kept on your camera at all times. Most popular protection f...

$20.59  $3.95
Updated: on 04/28/2013, nightowl
 
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The Canon Rebel T3i - A good deal?


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BrendaReeves on 01/24/2012

That's a lot of work, but it's a great savings. I own a PowerShot A630, but would like to get a SLR.

Sheri_Oz on 01/19/2012

Don't sell your G11. I love this camera. I wrote a review about it on squidoo. I'm discovering each day another of the joys of digital photography - I used to develop and print b&w in a darkroom. I do miss that, but digital is so much fun too.

bizilady on 11/04/2011

I've had my eye on this camera for some time.
My camera wouldn't fetch enough to justify the cost.
Good shooting!

Marylol on 09/15/2011

I love photography so knowing that finding a bargain when buying a camera is possible is very exciting ^_^ and... those pics are great!

TilenHrovatic on 09/08/2011

awesome guide :) I might use it :) thanks a lot for sharing!

Hans on 08/17/2011

Now I am waiting for a "Best Of" Rebel T3i photo page :-)

Deb on 08/16/2011

FABULOUS PICS! I just know you'll be having a wonderful time playing/working with your new camera!

Guest on 08/09/2011

Looking forward to the pictures :)

Jimmie on 08/09/2011

I enjoyed reading your step by step guide to a great bargain!

nightowl on 08/09/2011

Thanks for the vote of confidence. I can't wait for the camera to arrive so I can take it out for a spin.




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