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Box Photo
  • EOS Rebel T1i Body
  • EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens
  • Eyecup Ef
  • C. Wide Strap EW-100DBIII
  • USB Interface Cable IFC-200U
  • AV Cable AVC-DC400
  • Battery Pack LP-E5
  • Battery Charger LC-E
  • EOS Digital Solution Disk and Instruction Manuals
  • 'Great Photography is Easy' Booklet and 'Do More with Macro' Booklet

The T1i has a 15-megapixel 22.3x14.9mm CMOS sensor, with a built in sensor cleaning system that activates when the camera is turned off. If the cleaning doesn't successfully shake loose all the dust particles on the sensor, a photo can be taken of a white background in order for the camera to register the dust location, which can then be removed digitally with the Canon Digital Photo Professional software provided with the camera.

The T1i has an APS-C sized sensor, which is significantly smaller than the 35mm full-frame sensor used on the likes of the Canon 5D Mark II, and slightly smaller than the APS-H format sensor which is found on the Canon 1D line. The smaller sensor creates a 'crop factor,' where you multiply the focal length of a lens by this factor to get the equivalent focal length for a 35mm sensor. With 15 megapixels squeezed into a small sensor, noise levels and dynamic range tend to be worse.

TheT1i viewfinder offers 95% field of view at 0.87x magnification and a diopter range of -3 to +1 m-1. A nice touch on the viewfinder is the small proximity sensor placed right beneath it, which turns off the LCD as you put your face up to the camera.

The T1i comes with a eyecup cover attached to the neck-strap, which is used to cover the viewfinder to prevent light leaks during tripod photography. It's nice that they include this on an entry-level model, but you have to remove the eye-cup to use the cover, which is a pain to remove, and it's something you want to avoid doing frequently.

The T1i uses a 920,000-dot, three inch LCD, which offers excellent sharpness for playback, and makes manually focusing in Live View easier. Nikon's comparable model, the D5000, instead has a lower-resolution LCD (only 230,000-dots) but it is articulated, which means it can be folded out and viewed at different angles.

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By pressing the Set button, the T1i launches into a quick menu, which lets you alter common settings very quickly. The quick menu has a small quirk where if the possible options for a setting extend over more than two rows, you can only use left and right on the four way controller to chose which one you want, but not up and down. So when you open the Picture Style list from the Quick Menu, there are two rows of choices, and you have to keep pressing right at the end of a row to get down to the next one, rather than being able to use up and down.

The LCD can be set to seven brightness levels, and the Quick Menu can be set to one of four color schemes: black on grey, white on brown, white on black or a rather hideous green on black.

The T1i has a built-in pop-up flash, with a range of 43 feet (13 meters) at ISO 100.

The camera can shoot at variable power with EX-series Speedlites, at full power only with EZ/E/EG/ML/TL-series Speedlites and can sync with non-Canon flashes at shutter speeds of 1/200 of a second or slower.

As with many SLRs, the T1i can use its flash for autofocus assist by firing off a quick series of strobes. While this provides a substantial amount of light, it's incredibly distracting when shooting candids.

The flash has a red-eye reduction tool, which will fire two flashes to help prevent crimson pupils from appearing. It can also be set to 2nd curtain, which fires the flash as the exposure is ending rather than right at the start, and makes objects look like they're leaving light trails. Oddly missing is a slow sync function, which is used to properly expose the background of an image in low light.

Flash Photo

The flash, both up and down

There are three ports on the T1i: mini-HDMI (cable sold separately), USB/AV out and a remote control terminal.

The T1i uses a LC-E5 battery, which is rated for approximately 500 shots per charge. However, using Live View will lower this to 190 shots, or an hour of video recording.

Battery Photo

Battery life is good, but lowers in Live View and video modes.

The T1i takes SDHC cards, which are easy to come by, and used in most entry-level SLRs. However, if you want to shoot movies, you need a Class 6 or faster card, to handle the required data transfer speed.

Memory Photo

You'll need a class 6 SDHC card to handle video

We were disappointed by the T1i's sharpness performance, across the entire gamut of focal lengths and apertures. Where most cameras will have a maximum line widths per picture height result of over 1500, the T1i peaked at 1360, with an average of only 868 line widths, and a minimum of around 550. This is much lower than we normally see. We suspected the poor results might be due to a hardware problem and asked Canon to supply us with a second camera that the company had tested to insure it was performing up to spec. In our retesting, though, the sharpness results didn’t improve. More on how we test sharpness.

The T1i uses lens-based image stabilization, and shooting with the 18-55mm kit lens, we experienced mixed results. When it improved the resolution of captured photos it did so quite well, but is was a bit of a crapshoot as to when it that improvement would take place. Also, the T1i's overall sharpness problem meant that a relatively minor improvement resulting from image stabilization could be interpreted as a significant percentage improvement in our testing.

To test the capabilities of the image stabilization system, we shoot a slanted-line target at a number of shutter speeds, with Image Stabilization on and off, testing separately for horizontal and vertical stabilization. Our specially designed rig has two levels of vibration, a high shake setting that approximates the shake you’d find when shooting with one hand or when moving, and the low shake setting that’s close to what you would experience when standing still and holding the camera securely.

The Canon Rebel T1i was very accurate, especially with greens, oranges and flesh tones. Canon cameras in general tend to have excellent color reproduction, and the T1i is no exception, scoring above every camera in our comparison group except the Rebel XS.

To test color accuracy, we first determine which is the most accurate of the camera's color modes (in this case, Faithful), and then photograph the X-Rite ColorChecker chart under fixed 3000 lux illumination. We then run analyses on these pictures using Imatest software, which measures the recorded photo's variance from the known colors of the chart. Keep in mind that this test isn't looking at the most dynamic or exciting color, but rather which is the closest to the actual values. More on how we test color.

NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.

The T1i outperformed all the other camera in the group bar the Rebel XS (though only barely pipping the Nikons). In Faithful shooting mode, you can expect images that have color very close to what you saw through the viewfinder, with realistic hue and saturation.

The T1i has five 'Picture Styles' (Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral and Faithful) as well as monochrome, and three user definable settings. The customized entries are controlled by taking a supplied Picture Style and altering its settings for sharpness, contrast, saturation and color tone (this last one will make skin tones more red or yellow along an axis). If the custom setting is based off monochrome, the saturation and color tone can't be altered, but instead filter effect and toning effects can be added. The filter effects mimic adding a colored filter film (yellow, orange, red or green) to black and white and toning effects add a color wash to the image (sepia, blue, purple or green)./o:p>

Of the color modes, Standard was slightly oversaturated, and was quite inaccurate in reproducing pinks and red, though blues and greens came out well. Portrait was significantly oversaturated, and was far from the known values for dark greens and reds. Landscape mode exaggerated blues and reds massively, and produced noticeable changes in oranges and greens in an effort to to make exciting skies and foliage. Neutral and Faithful were both very close to the ideal color values, though neutral was slightly less accurate on pinks and reds.

In white balance accuracy, the T1i performed below expectations, both in automatic and custom modes. The camera's automatic WB performance was hindered by significant trouble handling incandescent illumination, and with custom white balance, it didn't measure up to our high expectations for this feature.

We test white balance using the X-Rite Judge II, a device that produces light of the same color temperature as sunlight, compact white fluorescent bulbs and incandescent/tungsten bulbs. We photograph the X-Rite ColorChecker chart under these light sources using both automatic and custom white balance settings, and measure the deviance from pure white/gray.

Automatic White Balance ()

All cameras struggle with incandescent light sources, but the Rebel T1i seems to do have more trouble than most. It accurately adjusted for compact white fluorescent and dealt with daylight well enough, but the poor handling of incandescent illumination dragged down its score in this section.

Custom White Balance ()

Taking a reading off a gray card allows for much greater white balance accuracy, so we score much more aggressively in this section, demanding a high degree of color accuracy.

Compared to other tested cameras, the T1i was cooler than most with daylight illumination, leaving a slight blue shift in the image.

Even though all white balance systems struggle with incandescent light sources, the T1i was especially bad, with a color error of over 2800K.

Dealing with a compact white fluorescent bulb, the Rebel T1i handled marginally better, but cooler than most.

The T1i was surprisingly inaccurate in its custom white balance performance. While only a demanding photographer is likely to notice the difference, other tested cameras, even those sold at lower prices, deliver significantly more accurate results. Overall, the T1i scored poorly in this test, as trouble with incandescent dragged down the automatic white balance results, and custom white balance was not as accurate as competing models.

Canon uses a cumbersome custom white balance system that requires you to take a reading from a stored image, instead of directly from a white or gray card.

The white balance presets can be adjusted along both amber/blue and green/magenta axes, in ±9 steps in each direction. Each step is the equivalent of five mireds (a unit that measures shift in color temperature).

The camera can bracket white balance along either amber/blue or green/magenta axes, with ±1, ±2 or ±3 steps over three shots.

The long exposure test looks at both color accuracy and image noise at reduced light levels. The T1i performed slightly below average in this category, only beating the Pentax K2000, which had really struggled on this test.

This test looks at color accuracy and image noise at light levels of 20 lux or below, at exposures ranging from one to 30 seconds. We also compare how these factors are influenced by long exposure noise reduction. This feature takes a second exposure after the first, but with the lens shut, then takes the noise data from the second and subtracts it from the first. In our experience, it does almost nothing. More on how we test long exposure.

The T1i struggles a little with color error in long exposure, especially towards the 10 and 15 second margin. The noise reduction doesn't have much of an effect.

The noise levels stay a hair below one percent in this test, once again a little poorer than most other cameras in our test group, but not horrible. The noise reduction system actually boosted measured image noise at most shutter speeds, and doubles the amount of time it takes to shoot a photo. The chart below shows that the T1i scored lower than most other cameras, but by a relatively small margin.

With noise reduction turned off, the noise levels were a bit on the high side, hitting just over 2% at ISO 3200, though this is brought down to 1% if you crank the noise reduction all the way up. If any level of noise reduction is used, the noise is kept below 1% up to ISO 800, which is respectable.

We look at the different levels of noise between red, green, blue and luma (gray). Usually, these are very tightly grouped together; the T1i is unusual in having lower yellow and green noise levels than other types. More on how we test noise.

The official ISO range on the Rebel T1i runs from 100 to 3200, but has an extended range that reaches up to ISO 12,800.

The T1i was decidedly lackluster in the dynamic range test, showing a marked decline after ISO 200, which gave it the lowest score among our comparison cameras. Dynamic range is a measure of a camera's ability to capture detail in both bright and dark areas of the same photo, so that detail is not lost into the shadows.

We test dynamic range by photographing a Kodak Stepchart at all available ISOs, and use Imatest to analyze the range of gray steps the camera captures.

The Rebel T1i had a dynamic range of nearly seven stops at ISOs 100 and 200, but then it dropped off rapidly at the higher sensitivities.

The Rebel T1i also has a d-range optimizer function called 'Highlight Tone Priority'which will improve dynamic range, but may result in higher image noise. More on how we test dynamic range.

Compared to other cameras at ISO 200, the T1i did worse than any of the others except the Pentax K2000, which in turn performed much better at higher ISOs. Overall, this is a disappointing result, and rightly puts the T1i at the bottom of the pack for this test.

With noise reduction turned off, the noise levels were a bit on the high side, hitting just over 2% at ISO 3200, though this is brought down to 1% if you crank the noise reduction all the way up. If any level of noise reduction is used, the noise is kept below 1% up to ISO 800, which is respectable.

We look at the different levels of noise between red, green, blue and luma (gray). Usually, these are very tightly grouped together; the T1i is unusual in having lower yellow and green noise levels than other types. More on how we test noise.

The official ISO range on the Rebel T1i runs from 100 to 3200, but has an extended range that reaches up to ISO 12,800.

The T1i has nine autofocus points, arranged with eight as a rhombus, and one in the middle. The focusing generally feels fast, though it slows down a bit in low light. Even then, it generally does an admirable job of finding the right point in a timely manner. The focusing motor isn't too loud, though when if you autofocus while recording shooting video, its proximity to the microphone gives leads to a plainly audible, a very loud grinding noise in the recording.

Three focus modes are available: One Shot, AI Servo (AKA Continuous), and AI Focus, which switches between One Shot and Servo

The long exposure test looks at both color accuracy and image noise at reduced light levels. The T1i performed slightly below average in this category, only beating the Pentax K2000, which had really struggled on this test.

This test looks at color accuracy and image noise at light levels of 20 lux or below, at exposures ranging from one to 30 seconds. We also compare how these factors are influenced by long exposure noise reduction. This feature takes a second exposure after the first, but with the lens shut, then takes the noise data from the second and subtracts it from the first. In our experience, it does almost nothing. More on how we test long exposure.

The T1i struggles a little with color error in long exposure, especially towards the 10 and 15 second margin. The noise reduction doesn't have much of an effect.

The noise levels stay a hair below one percent in this test, once again a little poorer than most other cameras in our test group, but not horrible. The noise reduction system actually boosted measured image noise at most shutter speeds, and doubles the amount of time it takes to shoot a photo. The chart below shows that the T1i scored lower than most other cameras, but by a relatively small margin.

The Canon T1i had a surprisingly difficult time with low light sensitivity and the numbers weren't pretty—the camera required 26 lux of light to reach 50 IRE on our waveform monitor. This is more than twice the amount of light than the Nikon D5000 required (11 lux) and it is significantly worse than your average HD camcorder. Keep in mind, however, that all our video testing on the T1i was done with its kit lens, which has a maximum aperture of f/3.5. Using a faster lens with a wider aperture setting will likely produce better low light sensitivity results.

The chromatic aberration wasn't bad though, generally on par with what we see on most inexpensive kit lenses.

At 18mm, the lens was at its sharpest, dead center with an aperture of f/3.5, though f/9 wasn't bad either. At this focal length, the sharpness tends to drop off the further from the center of the lens we tested. We saw the maximum chromatic aberration at this focal length at f/3.5, which was significantly higher than at any other setting. This patch of trouble occurred midway between the center and edge of the lens.

At 37mm, f/29 the image is decidedly on the soft side, never topping 700 line widths per picture height, but as the aperture opens, the overall sharpness improves. At this focal length the chromatic aberration isn't too bad; again, the f/29 setting causes the most trouble.

Once at the widest focal length, the really narrow apertures (in this case f/36) produce the absolute lowest sharpness we've seen, bottoming at a miserable 540 line widths per picture height. At this focal length, the chromatic aberration results are some of the lowest seen on this camera.

The distortion wasn't bad for this lens, floating below half a percent pin-cushioning at 37mm and 55mm. At 18mm it was significantly more noticeable, and a little on the high side at 2.8% barreling.

The Canon T1i does not offer the traditional frame rates you'd find on a regular HD camcorder. For recording full 1080p HD, the camera only has one frame rate—20 frames per second. 20p is such an unusual frame rate that we can't think of a single consumer camcorder that has it as an option. What you will commonly see are options for 30p and 24p, along with the standard 60i recording. The T1i does have a 30p record setting, but it only works with the camera's 1280 x 720 video resolution (or the standard definition VGA setting). The camera does not offer a 24p frame rate.

We found the 20p frame rate to produce very slow footage and the video looked as if it was captured using a slow-motion setting. Now, some people may like this aesthetic, but we can't imagine it would really catch on with most people. A 24p mode would have been a much better choice for Canon to include, as it closely resembles the speed of cinematic film. Other than its odd inclusion of a 20p frame rate, however, the Canon T1i produced very good motion. Its footage was somewhat smoother than the Nikon D5000 and it had less artifacting and frequency interference. If only Canon had implemented a 24p setting on the T1i instead of 20p—maybe then it would have been able to compete more closely with a dedicated HD camcorder.

With the video resolution limited to 1280 x 720, the Canon T1i can record 30p video. The speed of this 30p video is far more natural than that of the 20p footage captured at 1920 x 1080. Still, the 1280 x 720 image is not full HD video and the 30p frame rate is a bit of an awkward choice. Canon should have included a 24p option here as well. The Canon Rebel T1i also had a major problem with its rolling shutter. The rolling shutter, which also plagued the Nikon D5000, gives footage a Jell-O-like wobble whenever the camera is quickly panned or jerked back and forth. We have yet to test a video-capable DSLR camera that did not have this issue. More on how CamcorderInfo tests motion.

The Nikon D5000 isn't a real winner when it comes to motion either. Yes, it records all video using a 24p frame rate, but it runs into a lot of problems when capturing motion. The camera produced quite a bit of artifacting in its recorded video. The footage was also quite choppy and showed some strange frequency interference on the grayscale pinwheel. The black lines on the pinwheel appeared crooked and jagged rather than straight. In our book, the Canon T1i offers better motion—as long as you can deal with not having a 24p frame rate.

We included the Canon HF S100 as a comparison here because it offers a 24p and 30p frame rate in addition to its regular 60i setting.The HF S100's alternate frame rates aren't natively progressive, however, and they are really 60i frame rates that have gone through a conversion process inside the camcorder. This is in contrast to the 20p and 30p modes on the Canon T1i and 24p mode on the Nikon D5000 which are natively progressive and are recorded as such. Casual videographers probably wouldn't notice much of a difference between a native 24p mode and the downconverted one featured on the HF S100, but for professionals the discrepancy can be huge (specifically if the footage is being edited using a non-linear editing program).

Most HD camcorders capture video using a 60i frame rate, as we discussed above. The Sanyo VPC-HD2000, however, has a natively progressive 60p record mode. This gives the VPC-HD2000 smoother video while at the same time offering natural motion and speed. The HD2000 also has a 60i mode and a 30p record mode, all of which are available in full HD. Overall, we saw a bit less artifacting on the Sanyo VPC-HD2000 and Canon HF S100 than we did on the Canon Rebel T1i. The two camcorders also were able to capture smoother, more natural motion than their DSLR counterparts.

The Canon Rebel T1i did a good job in our video sharpness test. Testing the camera using its 1080/20p mode, it measured a horizontal sharpness of 650 lw/ph and a vertical sharpness of 775 lw/ph. This is far better than the Nikon D5000 was capable of, although that camera has a maximum video resolution of only 1280 x 720. When we tested the Canon T1i with its 720/30p setting it didn't do nearly as well with video sharpness. In fact, it scored 600 lw/ph horizontal and 500 lw/ph vertical, which are slightly worse overall measurements than the Nikon D5000 (575 lw/ph horizontal, 625 lw/ph vertical).

The T1i's video sharpness in 1080/20p mode is very good, and it's the first DSLR camera we've tested that has been able to compete with the sharpness of a high-end consumer HD camcorder. The Canon HF S100 still put up slightly better results, but the Canon T1i was a very strong competitor in this test. Remember, however, that the T1i was only able to achieve this level of sharpness when using its 1080p mode that records video at 20 frames per second. More on how CamcorderInfo tests video sharpness.

The Canon T1i had a surprisingly difficult time with low light sensitivity and the numbers weren't pretty—the camera required 26 lux of light to reach 50 IRE on our waveform monitor. This is more than twice the amount of light than the Nikon D5000 required (11 lux) and it is significantly worse than your average HD camcorder. Keep in mind, however, that all our video testing on the T1i was done with its kit lens, which has a maximum aperture of f/3.5. Using a faster lens with a wider aperture setting will likely produce better low light sensitivity results.

For those familiar with last year's Rebel XS, the Rebel T1i's button layout will hold few surprises. It's practically identical, with a single control wheel and most buttons serving double duty.

On some entry-level SLRs, including the recently reviewed Pentax K2000 and Olympus E-620 , you'll find a number of interesting filters and effects you can apply to the image. The Canon Rebel T1i has nothing so obvious, but offers more subtle image controls. The Picture Style controls allow for sharpness, saturation and contrast to be adjusted while shooting. If you're shooting black and white, color filters and tones can be added to the image. The camera also has a custom function called 'auto lighting optimizer' which tweaks exposure and contrast, and can be set to standard, low or strong when it is enabled.

Since the camera lacks few dedicated buttons for shooting options, they are instead accessed from the T1i's menu interface. Fortunately, the menus are easy to read, and fairly simple to navigate. Each tab has only a single page of options, saving you from scrolling in order to see all a given menu's choices.

The T1i manual is written well, has very clear diagrams, and explains difficult terminology quite simply. However, the entire book is organized in order of least complex to most, which means that similar settings aren't lumped together, but can be scattered across the entire book. This means if you find a setting you want to know more about, you can't just read the pages around it, instead having to dig deeper and deeper in a seemingly random order. The index references the rest of the manual well, and looking for topics in it doesn't leave you feeling like anything is missing. While the table of contents is lengthy and mentions each sub-section, the problematic layout of the manual makes looking for subjects in it more difficult than it should be.

Canon also includes two additional booklets, one about macro photography, the other on image stabilization. The image stabilization is mostly advertorial, extolling the virtues of the Canon IS lenses. The macro booklet is actually pretty good, and includes some useful information and suggestions about how to shoot close-up.

Canon also offers a tutorial-based website, the Digital Learning Center, and while the lessons pertinent to the T1i are a bit thin right now, there are plenty for older Rebel models which are still applicable.

The handling of the T1i is very similar to that of the other Rebel models, like the XS and XSi. The weight feels slightly more evenly distributed, and the grip a tiny bit bigger, but barely. The button layout is identical to models past, and this camera is definitely on the light side of things. This makes it a breeze to carry, but at the same time it lacks the solidity of a weightier body. Whether this is a good or bad thing is a matter of personal preference, and some people like the lightness of this sort of camera. We prefer one that has a bit more heft, as a camera as light as this can feel unstable due to its low weight.

Handling Photo 1

The T1i is light, some might even think too much so.

Handling Photo 2

For those familiar with last year's Rebel XS, the Rebel T1i's button layout will hold few surprises. It's practically identical, with a single control wheel and most buttons serving double duty.

Buttons Photo 1
Buttons Photo 2

The T1i uses a 920,000-dot, three inch LCD, which offers excellent sharpness for playback, and makes manually focusing in Live View easier. Nikon's comparable model, the D5000, instead has a lower-resolution LCD (only 230,000-dots) but it is articulated, which means it can be folded out and viewed at different angles.

By pressing the Set button, the T1i launches into a quick menu, which lets you alter common settings very quickly. The quick menu has a small quirk where if the possible options for a setting extend over more than two rows, you can only use left and right on the four way controller to chose which one you want, but not up and down. So when you open the Picture Style list from the Quick Menu, there are two rows of choices, and you have to keep pressing right at the end of a row to get down to the next one, rather than being able to use up and down.

The LCD can be set to seven brightness levels, and the Quick Menu can be set to one of four color schemes: black on grey, white on brown, white on black or a rather hideous green on black.

TheT1i viewfinder offers 95% field of view at 0.87x magnification and a diopter range of -3 to +1 m-1. A nice touch on the viewfinder is the small proximity sensor placed right beneath it, which turns off the LCD as you put your face up to the camera.

The T1i comes with a eyecup cover attached to the neck-strap, which is used to cover the viewfinder to prevent light leaks during tripod photography. It's nice that they include this on an entry-level model, but you have to remove the eye-cup to use the cover, which is a pain to remove, and it's something you want to avoid doing frequently.

The T1i uses lens-based image stabilization, and shooting with the 18-55mm kit lens, we experienced mixed results. When it improved the resolution of captured photos it did so quite well, but is was a bit of a crapshoot as to when it that improvement would take place. Also, the T1i's overall sharpness problem meant that a relatively minor improvement resulting from image stabilization could be interpreted as a significant percentage improvement in our testing.

To test the capabilities of the image stabilization system, we shoot a slanted-line target at a number of shutter speeds, with Image Stabilization on and off, testing separately for horizontal and vertical stabilization. Our specially designed rig has two levels of vibration, a high shake setting that approximates the shake you’d find when shooting with one hand or when moving, and the low shake setting that’s close to what you would experience when standing still and holding the camera securely.

In addition to the standard priority and manual modes, the T1i also has A-Dep (auto depth of field), Creative Auto and full auto modes.

The T1i has nine autofocus points, arranged with eight as a rhombus, and one in the middle. The focusing generally feels fast, though it slows down a bit in low light. Even then, it generally does an admirable job of finding the right point in a timely manner. The focusing motor isn't too loud, though when if you autofocus while recording shooting video, its proximity to the microphone gives leads to a plainly audible, a very loud grinding noise in the recording.

Three focus modes are available: One Shot, AI Servo (AKA Continuous), and AI Focus, which switches between One Shot and Servo

The T1i can shoot images in RAW, JPEG or both. JPEGs can be set to high or low quality settings in the three sizes listed below.

There's only one speed for continuous mode, the aforementioned 3.4 frames per second, but if you use the flash or have high ISO noise reduction cranked all the way up, it will slow down. There is no limit to the number of photos that can be taken in this mode. While photographing in RAW, the camera maintains full burst speed for about five shots before slowing down.

Canon states the T1i can get 3.4 frames per second in continuous shutter mode, which is precisely we what we found in our timing test. This is a shade faster than the Rebel XS, and while it isn't the fastest camera we've seen, it's by no means the slowest.

The T1i supports three self timers: 10-second/Remote Control, 2 Second, and Continuous, where you choose anywhere between 2 and 10 photos, which are then taken after a 10-second delay.

The T1i has nine autofocus points, arranged with eight as a rhombus, and one in the middle. The focusing generally feels fast, though it slows down a bit in low light. Even then, it generally does an admirable job of finding the right point in a timely manner. The focusing motor isn't too loud, though when if you autofocus while recording shooting video, its proximity to the microphone gives leads to a plainly audible, a very loud grinding noise in the recording.

Three focus modes are available: One Shot, AI Servo (AKA Continuous), and AI Focus, which switches between One Shot and Servo

On some entry-level SLRs, including the recently reviewed Pentax K2000 and Olympus E-620 , you'll find a number of interesting filters and effects you can apply to the image. The Canon Rebel T1i has nothing so obvious, but offers more subtle image controls. The Picture Style controls allow for sharpness, saturation and contrast to be adjusted while shooting. If you're shooting black and white, color filters and tones can be added to the image. The camera also has a custom function called 'auto lighting optimizer' which tweaks exposure and contrast, and can be set to standard, low or strong when it is enabled.

The Canon T1i compresses video using the H.264 codec and video files are saved in the MOV file format. This compression system is similar to the various MPEG-4 codecs (including AVCHD) that are used by many camcorder manufacturers. It is also a more advanced codec than the Motion JPEG system utilized by the Nikon D5000. The fact that the camera saves videos in the MOV file format is good news for people who edit with Final Cut Pro or use QuickTime. The MOV files can be dragged and dropped right from the camera and they can easily be imported to FCP for editing.

The camera has a maximum video resolution of 1920 x 1080, which is full HD, but video recorded at this size is limited to a 20p frame rate. When shooting with the smaller video resolutions of 1280 x 720 or the standard definition 640 x 480 the camera records using a 30p frame rate.

Record times vary, obviously depending on what size SD/SDHC card is being used and the resolution settings, ranging from 12 minutes of 1080/20p video on a 4GB SD card, to 99 minutes of 480/30p video on a 16GB SDHC card. Single video files are limited to a maximum size of 4GB. Once a clip reaches that size recording automatically stops, but it can be started up again (as a new clip) by hitting the record button.

The video below was taken at Niagara Falls, and shows some of the strengths and weaknesses of the camera. While the center of the frame is very sharp, there is significant artifacting in the lower right corner, and along the skyline.

Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content

The Canon T1i doesn't offer much in the way of manual controls in video mode. The big absence is a lack of aperture control, which means you can't play around with depth of field very well. This is alarming because one of the strong selling points of video-capable DSLRs is their ability to control depth of field. There is also no manual control over shutter speed or ISO in video mode.

The Canon T1i has a video mode setting right on its mode dial and the dial must be set to this in order to shoot video with the camera. This means none of the scene modes are available in video mode. As with all DSLRs that shoot video so far, you must use the LCD screen while recording and the optical viewfinder does not function in video mode.

Auto Controls

In video mode, the camera maintains an entirely automated system of control—with the exception of continual autofocus. Exposure is adjusted automatically as you shift from light to dark, as is ISO and shutter speed. There is also an auto exposure lock option, which can be engaged by pressing the ISO button on the camera. When this button is pressed, the current exposure settings are locked for a period of time. The length of which this lock lasts can be set at 4 seconds, 16 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 10 minutes, or 30 minutes.

One of the big drawbacks of DSLR cameras that record video is the lack of an autofocus capability while recording. You can autofocus with the T1i while recording video, but the feature isn't anything like the autofocus on a regular camcorder and its implementation makes it effectively useless. You have to press a button (the asterisk button on the camera's right side) for the camera to focus and doing so severely disrupts your footage. Focusing can take up to 3-4 seconds and exposure often changes for a second or two while the autofocus system begins to work. This means you'll probably end up having to edit out these 'focus moments' in post production. There is no live autofocus adjustment like you'd find on even the most basic of camcorders.

The video clip below demonstrates some of the difficulty of the autofocus capabilities in video mode:

Zoom

Zoom on the T1i is entirely dependent on what lens is connected to the camera. The camera's kit lens is an EF-S 18-55mm lens, which offers a small zoom range. The zoom is controlled by rotating the large ring that makes its way around the entirety of the lens. If you want more zoom than this, or a different range, the T1i is compatible with any EF or EF-S series of lenses.

Focus

On the T1i's kit lens, manual focus can be adjusted by rotating the outer lens ring near the tip of the lens. Of course, the feel and position of the lens ring will change depending on what lens is used with the camera. There is also a 5x and 10x focus assist zoom option that can be activated in Live View mode.

Exposure Controls

Exposure can be adjusted in the T1i's video mode and it can even be controlled while you are shooting. The camera offers an exposure range of -2 to +2 with increments of 1/3. There is also the exposure lock option that is discussed in the Auto Mode section a few paragraphs back. Direct control over shutter speed and aperture are not available on the camera. This is highly disappointing, especially the lack of aperture control, as it severely limits the ability to control depth of field.

Other Controls

ISO options are not available in video mode, but you are presented with the same white balance presets that are available for photos. The white balance shift option, however, cannot be used in video mode. Picture controls can be set in video mode with Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, and Monochrome being the options. There are also three User Defined picture settings, which allow you to specifically adjust sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color tone in an effort to make your own picture style.

Grid lines can be used while shooting video to help you frame your shot and still photos can be captured while video is being shot. Strangely, when you take a photo while shooting video, the photo is of the entire frame—including the gray bars at the top and bottom of the LCD that establish the 16:9 aspect ratio.

The Canon T1i has the same bare-bones audio features that are found on the Nikon D5000. All the camera has is a built-in, monaural microphone that is located on the front of the camera, just above the EOS logo. There are no external audio inputs and the camera cannot record stereo sound. The worst thing about the internal mic on the T1i is the fact that it picks up camera noise constantly. If you focus the lens, use the zoom, change the exposure, or press any button on the camera, the mic is certain to pick up the sound. This, essentially, makes the internal microphone useless for anything less than simple audio notes or reference sounds. If you want to pick up good audio in conjunction with the Canon T1i, you'll have to use a separate audio recording device entirely.

Mic Photo

The built-in mic isn't very useful.

Box Photo
  • EOS Rebel T1i Body
  • EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens
  • Eyecup Ef
  • C. Wide Strap EW-100DBIII
  • USB Interface Cable IFC-200U
  • AV Cable AVC-DC400
  • Battery Pack LP-E5
  • Battery Charger LC-E
  • EOS Digital Solution Disk and Instruction Manuals
  • 'Great Photography is Easy' Booklet and 'Do More with Macro' Booklet

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Tim Barribeau

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