DigitalCameraReview.com
Canon releases Rebel T1i with HD video capture
by DCR Staff -  3/25/2009

By J.R. Nelson and David Rasnake

While rumors have been hinting at a new Canon DSLR the past few days, Canon's just now gone and made it official.

The Canon Rebel T1i brings a 15.1 megapixel sensor and full HD video recording for less than a thousand dollars. It's clear that Canon is telling Nikon they'd better watch out.

A high-res Rebel
In terms of hardware, the Rebel T1i is speced with the latest technologies from Canon's advanced 50D and 5D models.

An APS-C size 15.1 megapixel CMOS imager is at the heart of the new system, providing high-res still captures alongside the ability to support both full HD and SD video recording. Out back, a 3.0 Clear View LCD offers 920,000 dots of resolution for crisp review images with highly defined detail.

Canon's current DIGIC IV processor fulfills processing requests, supporting the manufacturer's latest live view technologies and Canon's simplified Creative Auto mode and Auto Lighting Optimizer system as well. Fourteen-bit analog-to-digital conversion allows the camera to shoot video at up to 1920x1080. The T1i can also capture up to 170 highest-quality JPEG stills at 3.4 fps.

Trickle-down technology
Canon's trademark expanded sensitivity modes also trickle down to the new budget-friendly T1i. A stock sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 3200 can be expanded at the upper end, allowing the new model to shoot at the equivalent of up to ISO 12,800.

The T1i uses Canon's latest EF-compatible lens mount as well as a nine-point auto focus system that provides expanded-cross type sensitivity at the center point when shooting through lenses with f/2.8 or faster maximum apertures. Like Canon's Rebel XSi, the sibling T1i also features the manufacturer's latest live view implementation, with support for functions like face detection and contrast-detection AF.

HD movies for under a grand
Of course, the big news around the T1i is Canon's decision to bring 1080p (1920x1080) video to its consumer-focused Rebel line. As noted, the new model shoots 1920x1080 clips in .MOV format at 20 fps, or 1280x720 HD video at 30 fps. The interface is, from all indications, similar to the 5D Mark II's video mode, functioning as a subset of the camera's live view system, and provides full support for many of the camera's processing functions – including its Picture Style modes.

The one limitation that may stand out for some users, however, is clip length: 4GB is the maximum recording size, meaning that with the T1i's MPEG-4 compression, 1080p clips top out around 12 minutes, while the camera can shoot 18 minutes of 720p video or 24 minutes of SD movies.

Pricing and availability
When it comes to price, Canon is really pushing the envelope with the T1i. Expect to see a body-only variant of the new model hit stores in early May around the $800 mark, while the kit version with Canon's 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom should run approximately $100 more.