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Field Review: Canon T2i (Night 2)

by Chris Gampat on 04/26/2010

The Canon T2i was used recently as part of the field review doing something that many Rebel users do: shoot parties and get-togethers. Go to nearly any restaurant or party in NYC and you will see people using their Canon Rebel cameras as they steadily are replacing point-and-shoots as the cameras of choice. A complete gallery, as well as full analysis after the jump.

To begin, let me first explain that the opening image of this story was edited in Lightroom Beta 3. So was another one (and the only one actually) of me. More on this later on.

Equipment Used

Canon T2i

Canon 24-105mm F4 L IS

Canon 430 EX II

Canon 50mm F1.8 II

Quick Points

All images shot in this night were in RAW. They quickly filled up my 2GB SD card so it is already highly recommended that you buy a larger one. If anything, go for the Eye-Fi Pro cards as they have wireless sending abilities.

Also, let me explain that I understand that almost no one packs this much gear when they casually go out. First off, my friends and I are all not only camera freaks, but tech geeks. Like many of you, we love new gear and so I always love hearing another person’s experience with the gear as well. One of my friends has a Canon XSi and also got to try the T2i. He loved it: the images, the performance, etc.

To those just starting out in photography that are shooting parties with Rebels, this isn’t a bad choice of gear to bring along with you. It will all be quite a great investment for you down the line.

The entire night was shot in manual mode.

Camera in Use

What one may notice first off is that the Canon T2i’s autofocus system isn’t that great by itself. In fact, it seems worse than the XSi’s. I previously spent a month with that camera and all I did was manually focus.

When trying to autofocus, the deja vu feeling came over me.

To be honest and fair, it is accurate, but it isn’t smart like the system in the other cameras. The 7D‘s blows this away and the 5D Mk II’s center focus point is perhaps the best. This isn’t the case in great natural light though and with stagnant objects.

Couple the camera with the 430 EX II and the autofocus will significantly improve. This is important when shooting very low light parties with lighting that will be a nightmare to any amateur photographer.

Also consider the fact that different lenses also have different autofocus abilities. The 50mm F1.8 II doesn’t always focus accurately except in great lighting. The 24-105mm F4 L IS is better, as is to be expected from an L lens. Also be sure to watch your composition as the focus points are the same as previous Rebels. In this case, one may even want to use spot-focusing.

Users of this camera can expect to be cranking the ISO settings up to ISO 800 and above for low light, even with fast lenses. That is fine as ISO 3200 looks wonderful and 6400 requires some editing but out of camera will make for very nice black and white images. Either way, ISO 6400 on this camera is still better than many of its competitors like the EPL-1.

Also keep in mind that if you’re shooting parties or get-togethers with this camera that your clients will most likely not be pixel-peeping. If they are, you should upgrade. Therefore, keep in mind that this camera, when paired with the correct items will be more than enough of what you need for a while to come.

The annoying part: the need to upgrade your software. Unless you are totally fine with using the supplied DPP software, you should be content. Otherwise, Photoshop Elements 6 and Lightroom 2 do not support the RAW files. Instead, Lightroom Beta 3 was used. The files render very well in Lightroom and one can see that the dynamic range on them is greater than that of any Rebel made so far. They really are very lovely and when the white balance, contrast, vibrance and tonal curve meter are messed with as well one can get some images that really pop.

JPEG files weren’t tested with this camera yet, but will be soon.

Handling on this camera is very good. While one needs to keep in mind that it is a Rebel and that Rebels aren’t known to be the toughest cameras out there, it does feel very sturdy in hand.

The buttons are a bit quirky and require some getting used to from previous Canon users. The Av button in particular is what one needs to look out for. While it was always in a similar position, it is now a bit harder to hit as it is so close to the screen. Additionally, the white balance button is on the top of the back circle.

The dedicate Live View button is very useful, and it may even encourage total newbies to this camera to just use it like a giant point and shoot.

The viewfinder isn’t that great. However, this is standard on the Rebel line. If you use the depth of field button the viewfinder will only become darker and harder to see what one is shooting. Keep this in mind when you put different lenses on.

More to come soon: like a full test of the video features and more shooting results.

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