Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Canon EOS Rebel T2i Verdict

The Verdict? I am astonished at Canon for cramming so many features in such a little camera body. Some predicted the new T2i would be the next "baby 7D" but does it cut the mustard when it comes to the 7D and other video enabled Canon cameras? Read and find out.

No, this is not a FoodBlog. When I evaluate DSLRS I test them in realistic settings. Not everybody shoots in controlled studio environments. I shoot pictures out in the field with all the bad florescent and mixed lighting one would encounter in normal everyday situations. Hence, the bacon and cheese Steakburger with fries in the above picture. Yes, the burger was delicious and the florescent lighting was not ideal for pictures. My family went to dinner and I brought the T2i.

My purpose was not to photograph food but to test ISO image quality and especially skin detail.

The T2i is a several notches ahead the T1i when it comes to skin detail. As you notice in the T1i
gallery, the skin completely lacks any fine detail. It looks like mush, as if I painted skin on my kid's faces. Horrible. The T2i is a vast improvement in the skin detail department. If you enlarge the pictures in the T2i gallery, the skin looks like skin. All the little wrinkles and fine hair. Just like it should be. Check out the picture above to see for yourself. Do not be fooled. The skin detail of a 1D Mark IV and the 5D Mark II gives better and more realistic skin reproduction, by far. Those cameras do not come cheap either.

So, is the $800 T2i equivalent to the high dollar professional DSLR's? NO, but it sure comes close considering the lower price. The T2i is an extremely great value. As I mentioned before, it is less the half the price of the 7D. The 7D ergonomically reigns supreme in button placement for going back and forth in video capture to still picture taking. The T2i button placement is an improvement but not better. I do not expect it to be for the price. To achieve movie mode in the T2i, you have to completely rotate the Mode dial almost a full rotation to the video camera icon. Only then you can press the dedicated record button to capture HD video in any resolution and frame rate you desire. This is not quick or easy when you shooting stills and video at an event. The 7D has a rotating switch with a built in record button by your right thumb for easy access.

The ISO verdict? I have come to the conclusion the T2i can shoot ISO 3200 all day without horrible results. It is an one ISO step improvement over the T1i. In the T2i gallery, I systematically shot the same picture with incremental ISO's. Starting at ISO 1600 to 3200 to 6400 and finally 12,800. ISO 1600 is excellent. ISO 3200 is definitely acceptable. ISO 6400 is questionable but should be used sparingly. ISO 12800 is worthless and is only there for Nikon marketing purposes.

This concludes my informal review of the Canon EOS Rebel T2i. My overall conclusion gives the T2i high regards for value compared to its big brothers. Kudos to Canon for listening to consumer demand in regards to full manual video control and separate audio input. I predict this camera will be the entry level HD DSLR "game changer" in the industry. Every time I travel to Disney Theme Parks, I see struggling families juggle two cameras around their neck. In one hand taking pictures and the other hand shooting video. Not very practical.
I almost forgot about the included Canon Digital Photo Professional 3.8 software. This raw to Jpeg processor finally includes a rotation adjustment in the cropping tool.
The evolution of still and video cameras are quickly emerging in the market only becoming better and less expensive by the minute.


  1. Chad, thanks for the review. I must conclude that the quality of this camera is amazing, I was happy when I got my hand on one over the weekend.

  2. You are welcome! I have to say the IQ of the T2i is equal to or better than the 7D.

  3. Chad, thanks! I am eagerly awaiting the T2i. The other half of the purchase will be a new computer and software to handle the HD video the camera produces. I'm just wondering what has worked for you, thanks!

  4. What would you recommend for stabilization?

  5. trdn1, the T2i is a great purchase. Your next computer purchase should definitely be an Apple iMac 21.5inch computer. For $1200, you get a 1080p LED monitor with 500gb hard drive,intel core duo 2 3.06ghz proc and 4gb of ram included. What a bargain! This is more than ample power to process the intensive h264 files. As an added bonus, the included movie software, iMovie'09 handles the T2i video files natively. So just drag the video files straight from your memory card into iMovie'09 and start editing away! It could not be easier than that. My video tests are put together with iMovie'09 and Final Cut Pro. Good Luck and keep watching my blog for the latest still and video tests.

  6. Ko-Nation, What I recommend for stabilization is a good tripod with a fluid head. I use a bogen 501 HDV head with 3221wn legs. As for handheld, I currently do not own any stabilizing rigs because it keeps your hands off the camera for focusing and pressing the record button. I use a combination of IS lenses and limiting the movement when possible. It is a workaround but the video quality sure makes up for the drawbacks. These HD dslr's do not replace the versatile video camcorders and I do not expect them too. When the stabilizing contraptions lower in price, I may purchase one to try out. Just keep watching my blog for the latest tests. Thanks!

  7. Chad, thanks for you review. One question I don't seem to find the answer to is what happens if you shoot longer than 12 minutes (4GB). Assuming you are equipped with an SDHC card larger than 4Gb, does the camera automatically create the next clip once it gets to the 4Gb limit? And once you put the 2 clips together in iMovie, do they match timecode (if timecode on clip A ends in 23:15, does the timecode for clip B start with 23:16)? I really appreciate you taking the time to respond, and thank you again for your great reviews.

  8. Thanks for the compliment! As for shooting longer than 12 minutes or 4gbs, the camera will just stop recording. To continue recording, just press the record button again to capture video for another 12 minutes or 4gbs. The 4gb limit is the technical limitation of the flash memory file format, FAT32. When you put two back to back separately captured clips in iMovie'09,it does not match the timecode as you explained. There will be a gap between clips because you can only stop and start recording your next clip so fast. This is one of many drawbacks to HD Dslr video recording. The other major drawback is no auto focus.

  9. Hey Chad,

    I have an XSI and am looking to upgrade to either the T2i or 60d. My primary focus is on low lighting photography indoors at home and in gynasiums. I don't believe I need the 5.X framerate of the 60d, as my XSI with it's 3.7 framerate has been fine. My question is do you think the 60d will focus more accuately than a t2i? Do you recommend the T2i over the 60d for consumer pics of their family and indoor sporting events like basketball?

  10. James,
    I found no difference in the AF system in the 60D and the T2i other than the quicker fps. The major factor in your 60D/T2i decision is the bigger and brighter viewfinder of the 60D. The 60D has a pentaprism viewfinder versus the pentamirror viewfinder of the T2i. The 60D does not have the enlarged images with tunnel vision like the T2i. If you have not seen already my 60D review with a photo and video gallery, you check out my PhotoBlog post here...

    thanks, I hope that helps.

  11. Thanks Chad, that does help. I am fully accustomed to my viewfinder on my XSI so I don't see an issue with it on the T2i.

    Is there some great benefit to the pentaprism besides a couple more % of viewable area and the tunnel vision thing?

    Since you say that the A/F worked the same in both models, I'll probably just pocket the $300 towards a nice superzoom lens, since I already have two primes (50 1.8 & 85 1.8).
    Thanks again!

  12. James,
    If you are already accustomed to the XSi viewfinder, save the $300 towards a nice lens. Have you tried the EF 35mm f/2 prime? I have the EF 35mm f/1.4L and it is wonderful on a crop sensor camera such as the T2i.

  13. I will keep that lens in mind. Since the only zoom I have is the kit lens, my next purchase will probably be a superzoom 18-200 or so.

    I want a 70-200 2.8, but that's not possible for awhile:)

    Thanks again for your advice.

  14. James,
    I previously owned the Canon EF-S 18-200 and you will not be happy with the color out of that lens. Lens is sharp and the focus is fast for such a compact superzoom but the optics does not lend itself to good color for some reason. I tried and tested the Tamron superzoom 18-270 VC. The color is great and it is very sharp. The only drawback is the lens droop but there is a zoom lock switch to counteract the creeping. A good alternative to the 70-200 2.8 is the 70-200 f/4L non-IS. Great color and an inexpensive L lens.

    Good luck with your choices.

  15. Thanks for the review, the great pics and video! I'm looking to purchase this for Christmas and this review was just what I needed to "seal the deal".

  16. Shaun,
    You are very welcome. I am glad I could help out in your decision for your special gift for the holidays. If you have any pressing issues with your new T2i, you can post questions on my PhotoBlog Facebook Fan page.

    Take care and have a good rest of your holiday.

  17. Hello, please excuse my ignorance, a couple people i know use this camera for music videos, which im looking for also, but one said its not worth it if you dont have a additional and better lens, i can afford the as is price for T2i, will the lens that comes with it be good enough for quality like this?

    thanx for your time

  18. DJ Monstalung,

    You are on the right track with your camera choice but your colleagues are correct about quality lenses. Your best bet is to skip the kit lens and buy the body only. Spend the $100 saved on the purchase of the EF 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. For around $100 you have an 85mm equivalent lens from the 1.6x crop factor with the desired "out of focus" background. For a high production look, you should invest in a fluid video head with stable tripod legs for stable shots.

  19. Chad,
    thank you for your insight, extremely helpful.

  20. I am looking at purchasing but I have a question when it comes to video. Reading the manual you need to focus first then shoot the video, what happens if what you are videoing moves out of focus, do you need to manually adjust?

  21. MikeMac4498,
    Yes, you are correct. You have to manually adjust focus on the lens for the moving subject. Unfortunately, the T2i is not like a conventional camcorder when it comes to continuous focus during video capture. Using a focusing tool such as the Zacuto Z Finder Pro or an equivalent loupe on the LCD viewfinder to aid in critical focus is very helpful.