Only ten months after hitting the market with the EOS Rebel T1i as the "flagship" of Canon's entry-level DSLR line, it has given the flag to the newly-introduced Canon EOS Rebel T2i. Apart from a strong physical resemblance and seemingly identical 9 point AF systems, the newer camera seems to offer incremental changes in many areas compared to its older sibling, which remains on Canon's website as of this writing.
Resolution has jumped to 18 megapixels on the same size APS-C CMOS sensor that gives the T2i a 1.6x crop factor (35mm equivalent). The processor is a Digic 4, same as the T1i, but nominal ISO sensitivity range has gone to 100-6400 (expandable to 12,800) while the older camera was 100-3200 (expandable to 6400 and 12,800). An "improved" HD video function offers manual exposure control and a movie crop function.
The metering system uses an "enhanced" 63 zone iFCL (intelligent focus, color and luminance) dual-layer sensor and the 3.0-inch LCD monitor has had its resolution increased about 9%. In addition to SD/SDHC memory media, the T2i is also compatible with SDXC. The camera can be had as a body-only and is offered in "kit" form paired with Canon's EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens. Our review unit was the kit camera and here's what that lens focal length looks like:
The T2i lens mount is Canon's EF, which makes both EF and EF-S lenses fully compatible. Canon includes an eyecup, camera strap, USB and AV cables, battery pack and charger, and CD-ROM software with each camera. By adding the T2i to its lineup, Canon boasts entry level offerings at 10, 12, 15 and 18 megapixel resolutions. Come aboard as we set sail with the new Rebel flagship.
BUILD AND DESIGN
The T2i is identical to the T1i, with a similar control layout and slight increases in exterior dimensions and weight. The camera picks up a "quick control" button where the live view/movie shooting button used to reside on the camera back.
The live view button is now located adjacent to the camera's diopter adjustment knob. Round buttons of the T1i camera back have largely given way to more irregular-shaped control pads and the product badging on the front is changed a bit, but that's about it. The camera body is a composite and fit and finish are comparable to the competition in its class.
Ergonomics and Controls
The T2i with kit lens is relatively small and lightweight. The deeply sculpted handgrip has a fairly tacky material wrapping around from the right side of the body to the channel between the grip and the lens mount, which gives a secure-feeling hold. The shooting finger of the right hand falls naturally to the shutter button and, for my hand at least, the pinky folds under the camera body and sort of locks the camera into the hand. It felt secure enough for me to produce the following "bird in hand is closer than one in the bush" shot. A lorikeet feeds from a nectar cup in my left hand while I take the shot with my right. And here's a two-handed shot of another fellow in a nearby shrub.
The addition of a quick control button, which first appeared on the 7D, brings up a screen that displays the shooting mode and its various adjustable settings without having to use internal menus. For example, in aperture priority, you can change lens aperture, ISO, exposure compensation, picture style, white balance, image size, auto lighting optimizer, AF mode, metering method and single or continuous shooting rate. Portrait mode by comparison offers only continuous shooting and image size settings.
Menus and Modes
The T2i's menus are relatively simple and generally intuitive. Depending on the shooting mode, you can access either all or only part of the menu selection. The custom functions menu (available in P, Av, Tv or M shooting modes) has 12 sub-menus covering exposure, image noise, autofocus and drive settings, and four "operation/other" settings; overall, it's a complex menu. When I first shot the T2i with flash, it fired when the shutter button was pressed. I checked the camera in several different modes with various settings and then came back to flash, which at this point was firing a pre-flash, then the flash, then holding the shutter open for an extended period. Fortunately, the manual's troubleshooting guide listed a flash problem that seemed to describe my situation, and setting the flash synch speed to 1/200th of a second in the custom functions menu got the flash back where I wanted. The T2i may be an entry level product, but it still throws a curve if you get some inappropriate setting(s) dialed in by mistake.
In this case, flash synch got set to "auto" at some point in my experimentation.
And while it's intricate enough to satisfy manual exposure fans who delight in dialing up a custom brew of camera settings to adjust performance, the T2i hasn't forgotten it's still technically an entry-level camera. The full manual exposure controls that are the hallmark of many DSLRs are joined by auto, creative auto and six additional scene shooting modes that establish practically all settings for image capture, along with a movie shooting component.
The 3.0-inch LCD monitor has increased in composition to 1,040,000 dots (up from 920,000 in the T1i) and is adjustable for seven levels of brightness. Even so, using the monitor for image composition and capture is sometimes difficult in bright outdoor light. Coverage is about 100%.
The T2i viewfinder offers about 95% coverage in both the horizontal and vertical axes, so there will be some additional area recorded at the edges of the image that does not appear in the viewfinder at the moment of capture. Diopter adjustment for visual acuity is available.
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