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Field Review: Canon T2i (Day 1)

by Chris Gampat on 04/23/2010

The Canon T2i has been sent to me for a little while for a field review. As the latest entry into the Canon Rebel line of camera, the T2i is one powerful little camera in a small package. First impressions are after the jump.

Tech Specs

The Canon T2i has an 18MP CMOS sensor, one DIGIC IV processor, can shoot up to ISO 6400, has full 1080p HD video mode in 30p and 24p in addition to 720p HD video in 60p and the ability to shoot in standard definition and a cropped movie mode.

The camera shoots 3.7 frames per second, which is enough for the audience that this camera is aimed towards. This audience will also appreciate the sensor cleaning of this camera in addition to the 3″ LCD monitor and the ability to use SDXC cards.

Ergonomics

This is perhaps the most comfortable Rebel I’ve ever held. It isn’t a 7D or a 5D Mk II, but I wouldn’t mind shooting an entire gig with this camera if needed. It feels a tad bit larger than the XSi, a camera much loved by those that bought it. It also feels a tad bit tougher than the T1i.

Previous Rebel users may have to get used to the new location of the Av (aperture) button. It is now right next to the LCD on the top right hand corner. This can make aperture adjustment on the fly a bit clumsy until the muscle memory kicks in. For 7D and 5D Mk II users, you will miss your beloved back dial quite a bit. This applies not only to adjustment of your aperture in manual mode, but also in terms to scrolling through your images, quickly deleting your images, and the loads of other functions that we are used to doing with it. To be fair, if you’re shooting something like a pillow fight it will be harder for someone to knock your settings out of line.

There is also a dedicated Live View button which records video when the camera is switched into video mode. This becomes very useful and as readers will see in the upcoming days, it really helps with the ergonomics when filming: especially with a 50mm F1.8 II.

The mode dial is long and lengthy. The most commonly used features so far have been manual and video, both places at totally opposite ends of the dial. Switching requires going from one end to the other, and can be quite annoying. As a recommendation, it may be smarter to put it closer to the Creative Auto mode as users of this camera will either go full auto, video, or use the more professional settings.

Autofocus

It’s a Rebel, so you shouldn’t expect anything stellar. In fact, it really isn’t that great at except in great lighting and with stagnant subjects. At the time of writing this posting, this is perhaps the most disappointing problem with the otherwise stellar camera.

To be fair, when the camera is paired with the 430 EX II, the autofocus greatly improves. The camera was able to focus in near darkness when paired with it.

Outstanding Features

One of the best things about this camera is the HD video capabilities in addition to the addition of a microphone port. This is a great feature to use for cinematographers or even people that want video in the DSLR cameras.

On the still side of things, the 18MP sensor coupled with the DIGIC IV processor is excellent. Just for reference, the 5D Mk II uses the same processor (but just one of them) and achieves great image quality with little to no noise at high ISOs. To be fair, it is also a full frame camera.

Ruggedness

Don’t expect anything too fascinating, as it is a Rebel. The Rebel line hasn’t been known to be able to take the abuse that the higher end does, nor has it been designed to do so.

Image Quality

Stellar, breath taking, and excellent. To be honest, I never thought a Rebel could achieve some of the image quality that I’ve so far seen come out of this camera. This goes for both with external flash and without a flash. The onboard flash wasn’t used very much so far at the time of writing this.

The only downer is that it requires you to have the latest Adobe suites to do excessive editing besides using the supplied software. Any image editing was done with Adobe Lightroom 3 Beta, an amazing program so far that will most likely be purchased as soon as it comes out.

One only really starts to see lots of image noise at ISO 6400 and some at 3200.

Additionally, the camera has so far been used the the kit lens, 50mm F1.8 II, and the 24-105mm F4 L IS. The reasons for this are because I have a whole bag of Canon gear.

In the days to come, expect to see the T2i in use in the filming of a podcast, used at a party, used in a restaurant, and much more.

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