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First Look: Canon EOS Rebel T2i
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First Look: Canon EOS Rebel T2i

4:53 /

A great follow-up to the T1i, if you want the best photo and video quality in a dSLR for less than $1,000, the Canon EOS Rebel T2i is hard to beat.

[ Background music ] >> Lori Grunin: Hi I'm Lori Grunin Senior Editor with CNET and this is the Canon EOS Rebel T2i. Instead of competing with younger, sprier sub $700 models from Nikon, Sony and Pentax in that extremely popular price segment, Canon instead chose to release an update to its more expensive T1i in the less competitive $800-1000 range. Included in the T2i, which is dubbed the EOS 55D over Cs, are some notable enhancements to the video capabilities. An updated metering scheme inherited from the 7D, an enhanced LCD, and a jump to 18 megapixels. And while there are nits to pick with individual aspects of the camera and areas where even cheaper models outpace it, as an overall package the T2i narrowly takes the place at the head of the pack of consumer DSLRs. The T2is body weights the same pound or so and looks extremely similar to the T1i. It's got a very comfortable grip, textured and rubberized in all the places your fingers touch, and workable for single handed shooting. The control layout is almost identical to the T1i but Canon has redesigned one of the buttons. They're flatter and a tad harder to feel. Now there's a dedicated button for jumping into the quick control panel. Other than that the control layout is the same as it's been for many generations and the layout pretty much works. However, I'd rather have the ISO button in place of the picture styles, rather than on top of the camera. That's where most point and shoot upgraders would expect to be and it would consolidate all the shooting controls in one spot. I will make the same complaints I brought up with the T1i. There are no custom settings and the poor placement of the movie mode on the dial. The ladder is really cumbersome in part because the dial doesn't spin 360 degrees, so jumping between movie capture and still shooting capture is seriously annoying. I also still dislike the view finder which Canon carries over several generations from the old SXi. It offers the same 90% coverage as its competitors, but at a lower magnification than some and it uses the same annoying, tiny little focus points. The new display is high resolution and really nice, but you do need to crank up the brightness to view it in direct sunlight, which can mess with your judgment when you're shooting video or trying to figure out if your metering a scene correctly. Given Canon's focus on staying ahead of the field for video implementations and DSLRs, on surprisingly the most wizzy new feature of the T2is support for 1080 P video at 30 frames per second. This one is 24 P and pal friendly 25 P as well as 720 P at 60 frames per second or 50 frames per second if you're overseas. There's also jack for an external microphone. It lacks common perks Sony, Pentax and Olympus include in their cameras like in body mechanical image stabilization and a wireless flash controller built in, which is a feature I occasionally find quite useful. The inclusion of an image stabilizing kit lens doesn't quite compensate, since additional optically stabilized lenses tend to cost more in the long run. The T2i is exceptionally fast in ways including best in class shot lag under optimal conditions and it's among the best in dim light. The same goes for its shot to shot times. The only comparative disappointment is its 3.4 frames per second burst rate. Both the autofocus system and the image processing are certainly fast enough to handle the action shooting needs of a typical personal or hobbyist photographer, but there are a bunch of faster models out there. Overall, I think the T2i delivers the best image quality in its class with great color and dynamic range outweighing it's marginally weaker noise results. Unlike Pentax and Sony's competing models, Canon takes a light touch with its default color settings and in fact has more defaults that deliver accurate color than any other. While its standard picture style does boost contrast to touch it doesn't cause whole sale hue shifts the way the others do. Also, for the money Canon delivers an excellent noise profile on the T2i. Photos look clean up to and including ISO 800 but ISO 1600 they begin to lose a bit of detail. Usability beyond that depends upon scene content and lighting. The camera also delivers the best video capture quality I've seen in a sub 1000 dollar DSLR. Subject of course to the inescapable limitations of the technology like usable auto focus and it provides good exposure, sharpness, minimal artifacts and excellent audio. Now it aint perfect and they never seem to be. I think the Canon EOS Rebel T2i is a crowd pleaser of an inexpensive DLSR. I could list individual aspects where competitors surpass it including burst performance, high ISO sensitivity numbers, control layout and view finder, but overall the camera is fast with great photo quality and relatively standout video that help put it over the top. I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Canon EOS Rebel T2I.

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