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Field Review: Canon T2i (Day 3)

by Chris Gampat on 05/03/2010

Users of the Canon T2i will most likely carry the camera with them on vacations and sightseeing as it is on our list of recommended cameras for travel. As part of the field review, the Canon T2i was tested for just such a thing out in Long Island, New York. For what it’s worth, the camera did hold up well. However, it does have some quirks.

Equipment Used

Canon T2i with Kit Lens

Canon 85mm F1.8

Autofocus Issues

The T2i’s autofocus isn’t exactly the greatest and shooting items while in a moving car is not recommended unless you are manually focusing and have a smaller aperture. Even when looking at stagnant objects, it can take a little while for it to actually focus on what you’d like it to. As a photojournalism student in college, this is how you’re trained to shoot because autofocus systems haven’t been highly developed. With the advent of the 7D, D3s and others, that has changed. Going from the higher end line to the consumer level really shows its colors. Because of this, users may not really want to use this camera for sports photography.

The T2i’s system isn’t very smart either: by that I mean that the 7D and D3s will actually focus on what you want when the focusing mode is in full auto selection. The T2i’s just can’t keep up. Understandably though, it is on the lower end of the spectrum. Perhaps Canon can improve this with later releases.

JPEG Quality

All JPEG images were shot at small/fine quality. Out of camera JPEGs aren’t that great. In fact, the Olympus EPL-1 has a slight edge over this camera in terms of out of camera JPEG image quality using kit lenses. Put a prime lens on this camera though and image quality will greatly improve. In contrast, the RAW image output is wonderful and the files contain lots of information that will allow for lots of manipulation in post-processing.

To be fair, the quality might have improved if I were shooting at a higher quality file and different settings were dialed into the camera in terms of contrast, saturation, etc.

When shooting, you also want to ensure that you are using a faster SD card as the buffer/write speed can be slow at times. This kept plaguing me when trying to shoot images for High Dynamic Range processing in Photoshop and Lightroom. Because of this experience when out in the field and where the potential of capturing a fantastic image comes about, it is highly recommended that you have enough memory.

Kit Lens

When shooting JPEG images, the image quality was disappointing. The opposite is true with shooting RAWs, however.

When shooting JPEG images with prime lenses or other higher grade lenses, the image quality improves. This is true of most cameras though as buyers are often recommended to buy a lower end camera, obtain better lenses and then purchase a higher end camera.

Ergonomics

At first, the ergonomics were a bit quirky but I did get used to them. Then I took up my old Olympus E-510, now owned by a friend of mine. Compared to the older, competing model, I preferred the feel of the Olympus more. The reason why was because of the further distance between then grip and the lens, lighter feel, lighter lenses with more zoom range, and the position of the wheel dial. It actually felt a bit like a rangefinder or one of the older metal SLRs before the EOS line came about.

In contrast, Canon screens and button placement are much better. It also allows for being able to shoot with your eye not leaving the viewfinder while manipulating a broader range of settings. That’s not saying that it isn’t possible with the Olympus, it’s just much more intuitive with the Canon line.

My hope is that both companies continue to further develop their lines and strive towards perfection as they both have major strengths going for them.

Full Round Up of the review will come along with further thoughts.

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