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Canon T2i Review

Highs

  • Accurate colors
  • Quick response of 3.7 fps
  • Good control layout
  • Noise under control up to ISO 1600

Rating

Our Score 7.5
User Score 10

Lows

  • AF Assist lamp not on body
  • Kit lens is weak
  • Problematic videos
The T2i delivers accurate colors and decent noise control, but it's hard to overlook its unreliable video performance.

What’s In the Box

The camera, battery, plug-in charger, strap, USB and stereo A/V cables and a 260-page owner’s manual. You’ll also get the lens if purchase a kit. Two CD-ROMs have the imaging software and software manual. The programs feature updates of the stuff Canon’s supplied for years: Digital Photo Professional ver. 3.8, ZoomBrowser EX ver. 6.5, EOS Utility 2.8, PhotoStitch ver. 3.1, Picture Style Editor 1.7 and WFT Utility 3.5. With the battery charged and 4-gig Class 6 card in place, it was time to fire away.

Performance and Use

Canon shooters will feel right at home using the T2i since the control layout and menu system is very similar to the company’s previously-introduced DSLRs. Newbies will have no problems with it as well but they should read the manual to understand its hidden mysteries. There really aren’t any “mysteries” but most folks shoot in Auto with the default parameters. Nothing wrong with that but going beyond photographic baby steps why you buy a DSLR in the first place. The camera feels right and the bulk and weight really weren’t an issue. We had the T2i for several weeks, shooting stills and videos. For the most part, we took full-resolution JPEGs in Auto, then moved to options on the mode dial (especially macro for all the blooming flowers). Movies were captured in Full HD, 1920×1080 at 30 fps. We used the 18-55mm kit lens and a Canon 18-135mm EF-S zoom. Multiply the figures by 1.6x and you get the true focal lengths.

The T2i is a very responsive camera and quickly grabbed focus (it uses a 9-point AF system). Shooting at close to 4 frames per second really separates this type of camera from the vast majority of digicams other than the new class using Sony’s CMOS chip which captures 10 fps. After using the T2i we closely examined photos on a monitor (100% plus), made 8×10 prints with default settings and viewed the videos on a 50-inch plasma HDTV.

Since video is top of mind for many DSLR buyers—funny we thought they were cameras—we reviewed our 1080p movies via a direct mini HDMI connection. Sorry but we’re not evangelists for DSLR video even with higher resolution and frame rates. You still have issues with focus and although manual focusing is not impossible in this point-and-shoot world, it’s really asking consumers for too much effort. And there’s the “jelly” effect as some scenes literally wobble. It was noticeable with even gentle panning. Ouch. If video is important for you, please buy a camcorder. You don’t have to buy a Canon Vixia HF S20, but any AVCHD Full HD model blows the T2i or any other DSLR away. A quick scene is all right but anything longer will mean disappointment.

We weren’t disappointed with color quality of the T2i. They were very accurate in the default mode and have the pop we like so much from Canon cameras. Images of a blooming weeping cherry were just spectacular. Exposures were also on target. Sharpness is another issue to be aware of. As noted earlier, the AF Assist lamp is in the flash assembly so remember to keep it open at all times. Defeat the flash if you want to shoot in available light. With the high-resolution chip you see every flaw when you enlarge the files. That’s why we recommend opting for the body only and purchasing a quality lens if the T2i is on your shopping list. It’ll be a very worthwhile investment.

The T2i does a good job holding noise under control. As you’d expect, there were speckles galore at 12,800 but it wasn’t a disaster. We hardly saw any noise up to 800 and even 1600 was solid—you wouldn’t notice much on your prints. From 3200 and up, things proceeded quickly down hill but this is not surprising for an APS-C size sensor.

Conclusion

Reflecting on the Canon EOS Rebel T2i we feel a bit like Randy Jackson, a judge on American Idol: “Dog, we’re not digging it.” Yes, the DSLR delivers very accurate colors and noise remains under control up to ISO 1600. As a camera—with a caveat of using good glass—you’ll be satisfied with this new DSLR, especially if you keep the flash open. Yet the issue of video quality is hard to overcome. If it were our money—and movies were a non-issue—the Nikon D5000 is the pick.

Highs:

  • Accurate colors
  • Quick response of 3.7 fps
  • Good control layout
  • Noise under control up to ISO 1600

Lows:

  • AF Assist lamp not on body
  • Kit lens is weak
  • Problematic videos

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