Whether you're new to the world of DSLRs, or are a seasoned photographer who wants to try your luck at video, the Canon Rebel T2i is perfect. I've had nothing but great experiences with it so far, and highly recommend to everyone.
Other than the T2i, I own (and primarily shoot with) the Rebel XS (1000D), and also have extensive experience with the Canon 50D. While my XS still serves me very well, I wanted to get an SLR with video capabilities since the release of the T1i. After finally saving up enough for the T1i, I really lucked out that Canon announced the T2i, which has even better features! I am lucky enough to finally have it, and want to share my experiences, and how they compare to my expectations
The camera is very small and light. It is not weather-sealed or as durable as some of the more expensive SLRs, but it doesn't "feel cheap" in my opinion. It features a 3-inch LCD (compared to the Rebel XS's 2.5 inch screen), which also has a very high resolution. It looks lovely! Auto-focus is fast, and I've been very pleased with the quality of the pictures and videos I've taken so far.
IMAGE QUALITY: I feared that cramming so many megapixels onto this sensor, there would be a lot of image 'noise' (the megapixel myth). This thankfully hasn't been an issue, and I've been very pleased with the pictures taken with this camera! Aside from White Balance issues (see below, Cons), image quality is pretty good!
VIDEO: Some people have disparagingly said that Video on DSLRs is just a gimmick. I disagree. Based on sample clips I'd seen on YouTube, I was excited about getting an HDSLR, and while videos are sometimes shaky if you don't have very steady hands, a tripod eliminates those concerns. Audio quality on the T1i was criticized by many, but the T2i has a microphone input jack, which allows you to connect a mic. I don't yet own one so can't comment on that feature, but will update this review if and when I save enough to try this feature out. Additionally, this offers improved recording options, including higher fps (frames per second) than the T1i, which technically offered "true HD" recording of 1080, but only at a choppy 20 fps.
LOW-LIGHT PERFORMANCE: I am much more impressed than I expected. My Rebel XS could go up to ISO 1600, but would perform pretty poorly there. This not only can go up to a significantly higher ISO level, but performs much better. Less image noise means you have to waste less time editing your pics, and many more keepers!
SDXC SUPPORT: Only own SDHC cards up until now, but it's great to know that this supports the next generation of flash storage, which means you'll in the future be able to hold many more pictures than currently available.
NOT A FULL-FRAME SLR: This is not a full-frame SLR like the Canon 5D Mark II, and the APS-C sized sensor results in a crop factor (1.6x), and doesn't necessarily provide the same image quality as the larger, full-frame sensor does. Still, at less than half the cost of the Mark II, I think this is a trade-off that's well worth it for most users.
Crop factor means that this camera, like other Canon DSLRs that have the APS-C size image sensor, will not be true to the lens's designation. A 50mm lens will produce an image more in line with 50mm x 1.6, or 80mm on a full-frame. This not only makes a difference for those who want to do landscape photography (which usually benefits from wide-angle views), but for those with unsteady hands. The general logic is that to ensure a steady shot, you need to shoot at the reciprocal of your focal length. So for a 50mm focal length, you should be shooting at a speed faster than 1/50 second for a steady shot. Keeping the crop factor in mind, you really should be shooting at a speed faster than 1/80 a second.
Crop factors are common for most digital SLRs, as full-frame sensors jack up the cost of production, which are then passed on to the consumer in the form of very expensive cameras. So it's not so much a shortcoming of the Rebel T2i, but just a note to keep in the back of your mind.
DIFFERENT BATTERY: This is more of a hassle for those who owned spare batteries than for those whose first SLR would be the T2i, but Canon changed the battery. Again, not such a big deal, but might be a hassle for some who find out that their old batteries can't be used on this model.
WHITE BALANCE: I found that the 'Auto' White-Balance setting was wildly inaccurate on my Rebel XS (often giving indoor shots a yellow tint unless I changed the WB to the 'Incandescent Light' mode), and I feel that the WB settings on this model still aren't as accurate as they should be. If you want truly accurate WB, you can use a gray card, or an alternative would be to simply try digitally editing the photos on your computer after shooting.
NO ARTICULATING SCREEN: No articulating screen, but this is a rare feature in DSLR's in general, so it's not a shortcoming of the T2i. Since most of your shots will probably be composed using the viewfinder, not a big deal, although it would have been convenient! If you absolutely must have an articulating screen on an HDSLR, look into the Nikon D5000.
A NOTE ABOUT THE KIT LENS
The lens that comes with this is the standard 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 that comes with the other Rebels. It's a very good all-around lens, but you more likely than not will want to at some point upgrade your lens for either (a) better image quality, or (b) better performance in low-light conditions.
This lens is very good, but for pros or those who pay incredibly close attention to detail, the optical quality of Canon's higher-end lenses is superior than to the kit lens. For most users, I don't think image quality will be a huge issue.
More likely, the aperture size will be the reason people want to upgrade their lens over time. A lens with a wider aperture allows more light to reach the sensor in less time than a lens with a narrower aperture. That means you can employ a faster shutter speed, which allows you to snap the shot faster, reducing the likelihood of a blurry picture. Outdoors on a sunny day, this aperture range of this lens won't be a limiting factor; inside a poorly-lit gym, however, you'll notice some blurry shots (see below for a recommended alternative for low-light shooting).
Still, this is a pretty good all-around lens that can result in some great shots!
1. An external flash: This will come in very handy. With the built-in flash, your photos often come out harshly lit. Bouncing an external flash off the wall makes a huge difference in image quality. I personally use the Speedlite 580EX II, but there are cheaper alternatives that are very good. Some higher-end cameras (i.e. Canon 5D Mark II) don't even have a built-in flash, which goes to show something about how high-level photographers view the lighting provided by internal flashes.
2. 50mm f/1.8 II lens - At around one hundred dollars, this lens is relatively cheap when compared to others on the market. Despite its low price, it offers great image quality. While it lacks IS (image stabilization) like some other Canon lenses (including the kit lens), with a wide aperture of f/1.8, enough light usually comes in to ensure a fast shutter speed, which in turn minimizes camera shake. Keep in mind that as a 'prime' lens, your feet will have to do the zooming in and out. This is not as convenient as an everyday walk-around lens like the 18-55 kit lens which gives a good zoom range, but is a great lens for portraits. Also would ideally be a good option for poorly-lit places where the aperture of the kit-lens isn't wide enough to ensure a steady shot.
From my list of 4 pros and 4 cons, you might wonder why I'm giving this product 5 stars?... It's because considering the great performance - and low price - of the T2i, the 'cons' I list really aren't that big of a deal. Just because some cameras offer the aforementioned features the T2i lacks, it doesn't mean the T2i isn't a solid performer. On the contrary, I have been completely satisfied with this camera's image and video quality, performance, features, AND PRICE, and would recommend the T2i to anyone looking for an affordable way to capture memories!
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