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Box Photo
  • EOS Rebel T2i Body
  • EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens
  • Eyecup Ef
  • Wide Strap EW-100DBIII
  • USB Interface Cable IFC-130U
  • AV Cable AVC-DC400ST
  • Battery Pack LP-E8
  • Battery Charger LC-E8E
  • EOS Digital Solution Disc and Instruction Manuals
  • 'Great Photography is Easy' Booklet and 'Do More with Macro' Booklet

If your lens causes vignetting in the corners of your photos, the T2i has a Lens Peripheral Illumination Correction tool. This setting uses data from a large variety of Canon lenses to digitally adjust for vignetting, based on the specific lens you're using.

The Canon T2i has a 1.6x apparent magnification factor compared to shooting with a 35mm camera; that is, the 18-55mm kit lens is roughly equivalent to a 29-88mm. The photos below show the framing at three zoom settings, shot from the same spot.

The Canon T2i has an 18-megapixel 22.3 x 14.9mm CMOS sensor — the same size and resolution as the sensor found on last year's excellent Canon 7D. (The 18-megapixel resolution is higher than the 15-megapixel spec on the T1i.) As before, the T2i has a built-in sensor cleaning system that activates when the camera is turned off. You can also activate a sensor cleaning function manually.

If the built-in cleaning doesn't successfully clear the sensor of all dust particles, the included Canon Digital Photo Professional software can remove particles digitally, using a photo of a white background for reference. (In the camera, this is called the 'Dust Delete Data' feature.)

Like its predecessor, the Rebel T2i has an APS-C sensor. The APS-C sensor size is significantly smaller than the 35mm full-frame sensor used on Canon's 5D Mark II, and slightly smaller than the APS-H sensor size of the Canon 1D line. The smaller APS-C sensor means you multiply the focal length of a lens by a 'crop factor' to get the equivalent length for a 35mm sensor (in this case, 1.6x). Packing 18 megapixels into a relatively small sensor tends to negatively impact noise levels, as we saw on the 7D and here on the T2i.

The T2i viewfinder is identical to that of last year's T1i. The viewfinder has a 95% field of view at 0.87x magnification and a diopter range of -3.0 to +1.0 m-1. Beneath the viewfinder is a small proximity sensor, which deactivates the LCD when you put your face up to the viewfinder.

The view through the eyepiece is detailed below:

The T2i ships with an eyepiece cover: a small bit of flexible rubber that can be used to keep light leaking in through the viewfinder from affecting exposure readings during tripod photography. The cover is conveniently attached to the neck-strap, but it inconveniently requires you to remove the eyecup for each use. Sliding that eyecup off is fairly annoying and it makes you feel like you're breaking the camera — not to mention the fact that you could easily misplace the eyecup once it's off. Still, the cover is a nice feature for an entry-level model, even if you only use it occasionally.

Canon has given consumers a slight increase in LCD resolution this year, with the T2i's 1,040,000-dot, 3-inch display. This high-res screen is great for sharp image playback and a more accurate manual focus in Live View. In comparison, the Nikon D5000 LCD is much lower in resolution (only 230,000 pixels), but it is articulated: the user can unfold the LCD and view it at different angles.

This year, Canon recycles the same Quick Control Screen interface seen on the T1i. When the shooting settings are displayed, pressing the Q button will switch the user into Quick Control mode. Though the two modes look nearly identical, in the Quick Control Screen, you can use the directional pad to navigate through the various options. Once you've highlighted a function, the name of that function is displayed at the bottom and you can use the dial to adjust it. If you press the Set button, a more detailed setting display appears.

The screen color option allows you to choose from one of four color schemes for the LCD: black on gray, white on black, white on brown, or green on black. The LCD can also be set to one of seven brightness levels.

Secondary Display

The monochrome LCD panel you'll find on many higher-end SLRs is, understandably, missing from the $900 Rebel T2i.

Secondary Display Photo

The mono LCD display is small and disappointing.

The T2i comes equipped with a built-in pop-up flash. The built-in flash has a range of 43 feet (13 meters) at ISO 100. The T2i can also be used in conjunction with a large variety of external flashes. Canon's EX-series of Speedlites is fully compatible with the T2i, allowing for variable flash power. The EZ/E/EG/ML/TL-series Speedlites are also compatible, but only at full power. Finally, non-Canon flashes can sync with the T2i, but only at shutter speeds of 1/200 of a second or slower — and not while in Live View mode.

The flash has the usual red-eye reduction tool, which fires two flashes to help keep your photos free of evil red pupils. It can also be set to 2nd curtain sync, which causes the flash to fire at the end of the exposure rather than the beginning. This can help you create artistic light trails with moving subjects. Strangely absent is the option for slow sync, which cameras often employ in order to properly expose the background of a low-light image.

As we see with many SLRs, users can use the T2i's built-in flash as an autofocus assist tool: a quick series of strobes will activate in order to give the camera more light for an accurate autofocus. This is definitely a handy tool for low light portraiture, but it can be distracting — if not disorienting — when shooting candid photos.

Flash Photo

The flash emitter pops up from the top of the body via a mechanical release.

In addition to the SDHC card slot and battery compartment, there is a sizable port cavity on the left side of the Canon T2i. Beneath a flexible rubber casing lie four ports: microphone, remote control, AV out, and mini-HDMI. The former is a brand new addition for the T2i, giving the camera a bit more flexibility as a video recording device. This mini-mic port is the same as the port found on Canon's camcorder lineup.

The mini-HDMI port is a standard size; the camera does not ship with an HDMI cable, but any standard mini-HDMI cable will work. The A/V output, on the other hand, is compatible only with the proprietary cables that ship with the T2i or are available through Canon.

The Rebel T2i uses the LP-E8 Lithium ion rechargeable battery, which is rated for approximately 550 shots per charge (using the viewfinder only). Naturally, the battery life is severely limited by use of Live View, providing only 200 shots or 1 hour 40 minutes of video recording.

Battery Photo

The T2i records both still photos and video footage to SD/SDHC memory cards, and Canon is also supporting the new high-capacity SDXC format, which is likely to gain popularity once card prices come down. If you want to shoot video, you'll need a Class 6 (or faster) SDHC card to handle the required data transfer speed.

One thing we love about the memory card slot on the Canon T2i: it's mounted on the side of the camera, separate from the battery cavity. That means you should have no trouble accessing the memory card, even when the T2i is mounted on a tripod.

Memory Photo

The K2000 accepts inexpensive, easy to find SD cards.

Media Photo

`We were impressed by the sharpness of the T2i, especially compared to the results measured on several competitors' cameras. The T2i was tested in Standard mode, which has a minimal amount of in-camera sharpening. The resulting images turned out to be quite good, with the best results coming in at the 18mm focal length: 2124 lw/ph horizontal resolution and 2279 lw/ph vertical resolution. More on how we test sharpness.

The optical image stabilization built into the T2i's kit lens did not do much to improve the camera's performance. In the best case scenario (1/60 second shutter speed at low shake), there was a moderate improvement in sharpness. In other cases, however, the stabilization either did nothing or made matters worse.

The Canon Rebel T2i was very accurate in our color testing, improving upon the excellent performance of last year's Rebel T1i. The camera was most impressive in reproducing orange, green, and flesh tones. This performance comes as no surprise, given Canon's history of excellent color reproduction. The T2i scored above every model in our comparison group.

To test color accuracy, we first determine which is the most accurate of the camera's color modes — in this case, Faithful. In this mode, we photograph the X-Rite ColorChecker chart under an even 3000 lux illumination. Running these images through Imatest software, we determine the recorded photo's variance from the known color values of the chart. This test only measures how accurately the colors are portrayed; you may prefer more or less saturated colors for your own photography. 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 T2i outperformed its predecessor (the T1i) and every other camera in this group, including the excellent Canon 7D and Nikon D5000. This score is based upon the Faithful setting, which proved to be the most accurate of the T2i's shooting modes. If you would like images to be very close in color to what you see through the viewfinder, Faithful shooting on the T2i will get you precisely that.

The T2i brings back the 'Picture Styles' that we saw on last year's T1i: Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, and Faithful. There's also an option for monochrome, plus three user definable settings. These three customizable settings can be created by selecting one of the pre-determined styles, then tweaking it for sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color tone. If you choose to base your custom setting on the monochrome style, the saturation and color tone options are replaced by filter effects and toning effects. Filter effects work like virtual colored filters (yellow, orange, red, or green), while toning will add a color wash (sepia, blue, purple, or green).

Neutral and Faithful were the two most accurate modes on the T2i. Both produced values quite close to those of the actual X-Rite chart, though Neutral mode tended to skew blue and pink hues more. Standard mode was a more saturated version of Neutral, with far less accurate reds, yellows, and blues. Portrait mode was also oversaturated and was the least accurate in reproducing greens. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Portrait mode actually altered skin tones — a trait that will be more or less desirable, depending on personal preference. Finally, there's Landscape mode: a setting designed to emphasize bold skies and foliage. Landscape certainly lives up to its promise, with almost terrifying blues and substantial shifts in green and red as well.

The following chart shows same-size crops from our test shooting in each color mode, for each color patch on the X-Rite color chart. The color names are those used by X-Rite.

The Canon Rebel T2i performed below expectations — both in automatic and custom modes. Its poor performance under incandescent lighting is unsurprising, but the ineffective manual white balance was a huge disappointment. This feature typically produces highly accurate readings, particularly in SLRs. On the T2i, however, custom white balance left photographs looking cooler under multiple types of lighting.

Automatic White Balance ()

As with many cameras, the T2i had trouble producing accurate colors under incandescent light. It was just below average when it came to fluorescent lights and daylight. The Samsung NX10 was the only one of our comparison cameras that did consistently worse than the T2i in our automatic white balance testing.

Custom White Balance ()

With a custom white balance, the T2i was able to capture much more accurate results. Unfortunately, there is still a significantly cool shift under all the light sources we tested. We witnessed similar trouble on last year's T1i, but the skewing was not quite this dramatic.

Across the board, the T2i was a disappointment in white balance performance. Only the Samsung NX10 scored lower, with particular problems with auto white balance. The Nikon D5000 did particularly well in this area, producing especially accurate results after a custom white balance.

The Rebel T2i offers seven white balance presets, plus an automatic setting and the option to take a manual white balance reading.

The custom white balance system is a bit cumbersome on the T2i, as it is with all Canon SLRs. Most cameras allow you to point the camera at a white or gray card surface and push a button to calculate the custom white balance. Canon cameras, however, require you to take a photo of a white or gray surface, then select that stored image as the basis for the custom white balance setting.

Under the WB Shift option in the menu, your current white balance setting can be adjusted along both amber/blue and green/magenta axes. The T2i gives you ±9 steps in each direction; each step is the equivalent of five mireds (a unit that measures color temperature shift). This same option in the menu sets the camera up to bracket white balance along either amber/blue or green/magenta axes: you can take three shots, with a ±1, ±2, or ±3 step difference between each shot.

The long exposure test is designed to examine color accuracy and noise at reduced lighting levels. Like its predecessor, the Rebel T2i fared poorly in this category, producing less accurate colors and noisier images than many competing models. More on how we test long exposure.

In our test, the noise reduction setting consistently resulted in less accurate colors. The T2i really struggled across all shutter speeds in this test.

Noisewise, the T2i generally kept noise levels below one percent. This isn't a horrible performance, but it is worse than the numbers turned in by most SLRs. Fortunately, the noise reduction system does seem to reduce the noise levels at each shutter speed, if only by a small margin.

Compared to similar models, the Rebel T2i fared rather poorly in our long exposure tests.

With noise reduction turned off, the T2i had noise levels above 2% at ISO 3200. That's more noise than registered in any of the competitors' models. Fortunately, the 'Normal' and 'High' levels of noise reduction were fairly effective, with normal noise reduction keeping noise to just under 1% at ISO 800.

The T2i is fairly unusual in having significantly lower noise in the yellow spectrum. The T1i registered similar results. More on how we test noise.

The official ISO range on the Rebel T2i is 100 to 3200, but the camera also boasts an 'extended range' that opens up additional options: ISO 6400 and 'H' (approximately ISO 12800).

The table below contains same-size crops taken from still life photos shot with each of the comparison cameras at all standard ISO settings.

The T2i was slightly below average in the dynamic range department. It performed quite well at the lower ISOs (i.e. ISO 100 through ISO 400), but it suffered a sharp decline at ISO 1600 and higher. This is an improvement over last year's Rebel T1i, which proved to have good dynamic range only at ISO 100 and 200.

The Rebel T2i has a dynamic range optimizer function called 'Highlight Tone Priority.' This function which will improve dynamic range, but may result in higher image noise. As such, we do not test or score based on this mode.

The Rebel T2i had a dynamic range of six to seven stops at most ISO settings, dropping to 4.70 at ISO 1600. More on how we test dynamic range.

The Canon T2i has a narrower dynamic range than the competition, but not by a wide margin. Still, though the T2i performed fairly well, it was below average compared to the competition. The Nikon D5000 and the Sony A550 both had a wider dynamic range. Unsurprisingly, the T2i's high-end cousin, the Canon 7D, performed much better in this test.

With noise reduction turned off, the T2i had noise levels above 2% at ISO 3200. That's more noise than registered in any of the competitors' models. Fortunately, the 'Normal' and 'High' levels of noise reduction were fairly effective, with normal noise reduction keeping noise to just under 1% at ISO 800.

The T2i is fairly unusual in having significantly lower noise in the yellow spectrum. The T1i registered similar results. More on how we test noise.

The official ISO range on the Rebel T2i is 100 to 3200, but the camera also boasts an 'extended range' that opens up additional options: ISO 6400 and 'H' (approximately ISO 12800).

The table below contains same-size crops taken from still life photos shot with each of the comparison cameras at all standard ISO settings.

The Rebel T2i has the same nine-point autofocus system as most Canon DSLRs. Eight points are arranged in a rhombus, with one central point in the middle. You can either focus manually, allow the camera to focus automatically with all nine focal points, or select one of the nine specific points to use for autofocus.

The focus generally feels fast, though it slows down a bit in low light. Even in low light, however, we found that the T2i autofocus system is responsive and accurate. The focusing motor isn't too loud, but when you're recording video, its proximity to the microphone definitely provides an audible grinding noise in the background. This is a problem with most SLRs. You can read more about it in the Audio section of the Video Features portion of the review.

There is an 'autofocus assist beam,' though it's associated with the built-in flash, which will fire a short series of bursts in order to help the T2i autofocus in low light. There is no dedicated infrared focus assist beam. If you prefer to use only IR focus assist, you can purchase an external flash with this feature and set the camera to activate focus assist only when the infrared beam is available.

The T2i has three choices for focus modes: One Shot, AI Servo (AKA Continuous), and AI Focus, which switches between the two other focus modes, depending on whether the subject is in motion or not.

The long exposure test is designed to examine color accuracy and noise at reduced lighting levels. Like its predecessor, the Rebel T2i fared poorly in this category, producing less accurate colors and noisier images than many competing models. More on how we test long exposure.

In our test, the noise reduction setting consistently resulted in less accurate colors. The T2i really struggled across all shutter speeds in this test.

Noisewise, the T2i generally kept noise levels below one percent. This isn't a horrible performance, but it is worse than the numbers turned in by most SLRs. Fortunately, the noise reduction system does seem to reduce the noise levels at each shutter speed, if only by a small margin.

Compared to similar models, the Rebel T2i fared rather poorly in our long exposure tests.

The Canon T2i required 11 lux of light to reach 50 IRE on our waveform monitor, which is a decent score for a camera of its class. Much like we saw with the Canon 7D, the T2i didn't have much difference between its low light sensitivity when shooting 24p or 30p video.

Chromatic aberration is the presence of color imperfections, caused when a camera is unable to focus different light wavelengths precisely. As was the case with last year's T1i, the T2i fared well in this department — about on par with most lenses in this price range. There were no real surprises with the testing results; chromatic aberration was most apparent at the edges of the image, when shooting at the widest angle settings.

At 18mm, the lens was sharpest at an aperture of f/9. At this focal length, the sharpness tends to be best right in the center of the lens, with gradually decreasing results further from the center. Chromatic aberration was generally worse on the edges as well; the lens turned in its poorest performance on the edges of the f/22 photos.

At 37mm, the lens demonstrated excellent sharpness at both f/4.5 and f/11. At an aperture of f/29, however, the sharpness was greatly diminished, even in the center of the image. Chromatic aberration was also worst at f/29, as you can see from the blue fringing in the crops.

The best sharpness at 55mm easily belonged to those photos taken at the f/14 aperture. Though slightly softer than the images captured at the 18mm and 37mm focal lengths, these 55mm f/14 photos are still impressively sharp. At the f/5.6 and f/36 aperture settings, the lens simply couldn't keep up. Chromatic aberration was also at its worst in these two focal lengths.

As we mentioned above, distortion was not used to calculate the T2i's resolution score: it's entirely a product of the lens, which many users will swap in and out on a regular basis. However, the kit lens of the T2i fared well compared to other cameras' kit lenses, measuring barely any distortion at the middle of the zoom range or even at the telephoto end.

The Canon Rebel T2i showed similar results to the Canon 7D in our motion test, but we found the 7D rendered motion a bit better overall. The two cameras offer the same frame rates for recording 1080p video: 24p and 30p. These options resulted in motion that looked quite smooth without too much trailing — something that couldn't be said for last year's Canon T1i (which utilized an unusual 20p frame rate for recording 1920 x 1080 video). More on how CamcorderInfo tests motion.

The T2i showed slightly more artifacting than the 7D, which was the main difference between the cameras. We also saw a bit more interference and blur on the T2i, particularly in the black and white pinwheels. In addition to the 24p and 30p modes on the T2i, the camera also can shoot 720/60p HD video (and 640 x 480 standard definition video). Since the T2i is an actual DSLR its videos are prone to having a rolling shutter effect (we also saw this on the 7D and Nikon D5000). The rolling shutter adds a significant amount of wobble to any quickly panned footage (sometimes it is called a jell-o effect).

As we noted above, the Canon 7D had a very similar motion performance to the Canon T2i. It shoots with the same frame rates and it captured a decently smooth image overall. Both cameras had minimal artifacting in our motion test, but the 7D managed to show slightly less than the T2i.

The D500 was not a strong performer in our motion test. The camera's motion video had lots of artifacting and numerous straight lines were rendered with jagged edging. The camera also had a major problem with its rolling shutter effect, which is something we also noticed on the two Canon DSLRs in this testing set. The Nikon D5000 records 720p video using a 24p frame rate.

The Samsung NX10 didn't produce loads of artifacting in our motion video, but it did show lots of trailing and blur. The camera's 720/30p recording option also didn't produce very smooth motion and we even saw signs of a rolling shutter effect — something we usually don't see from a mirrorless camera like the NX10 (the problem usually only exists on full-fledged video-capable DSLRs).

We expected some strong results in this test for the Canon Rebel T2i because it is one of the few video-capable DSLRs that can capture a Full HD 1920 x 1080 video image. The camera did not disappoint, as it managed a horizontal sharpness of 600 lw/ph and a vertical sharpness of 700 lw/ph. While these are very good scores for a video-capable DSLR, we have seen significantly higher numbers from many high-end HD camcorders (including models from Canon like the HF S21). Of course, some aspects of obtaining a sharp image depend on the quality of lens you are using, so it is probable that you could get sharper video from the T2i if you mount a better lens on the camera. More on how CamcorderInfo tests video sharpness.

The Canon T2i required 11 lux of light to reach 50 IRE on our waveform monitor, which is a decent score for a camera of its class. Much like we saw with the Canon 7D, the T2i didn't have much difference between its low light sensitivity when shooting 24p or 30p video.

One of the advantages of an entry-level DSLR is in its sparse button design, which can be less intimidating to first-time users. Controls on the T2i fit nicely into this category. The buttons are all sensibly laid out and the most important features get their own buttons here on the body of the camera. (You'll have to plumb the depths of the menus for everything else.)

There are a couple new design elements this year, including the dedicated Live View / video record button up near the viewfinder. Most beginners won't know that this symbol is Canon's universal language for Live View, but once you know it's there, you'll appreciate its convenient location. There's also a button for the Quick Controls screen; the new button is much more obvious than pressing down the Set button, as you were required to do with the T1i.

On some entry-level SLRs, including models from Pentax and Olympus, you'll find a number of interesting filters and effects you can apply to the image. (See the Controls section of the Pentax K-x for a sample of the myriad picture effects that are available on some cameras.)

The Rebel T2i has fewer options, focusing mostly on the color modes (or 'Picture Styles') we discussed in the Color section of this review. These options include: Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, and Faithful. If you want a little more customization, each of these Picture Styles can be tweaked for sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color tone: sharpness on a scale from 0 to 7, the others on a scale from -4 to +4. When adjusting the Monochrome settings, your options are sharpness, contrast, filter effect, and toning effect. You can create three 'User Defined' settings and save them for future use.

There is also an 'auto lighting optimizer,' which adjusts exposure and contrast. When enabled, the options are standard, low, and strong.

The Canon menu system always sets a high standard, and the T2i is no exception. The design is always clear, easy to read, and easy to use. There is only one page of options per tab, so you don't have to scroll down to see all the options quickly.

As always, Canon provides users with a thorough, well-written user manual. The Rebel T2i manual includes countless diagrams to clarify camera operation and explains even the more difficult terminology well. The organization of the book is perhaps its greatest weakness; Canon has chosen to explain the simplest settings first and the more complex settings at the end. That means that similar settings are not grouped together, but often scattered throughout the manual. You'll find yourself using the index with great frequency. A pdf version of the manual can be downloaded from Canon by clicking here.

There are two extra information booklets included with the T2i, which will be a familiar sight to Canon consumers. 'Great Photography IS Easy' essentially lavishes praise on Canon's image stabilization system. 'Do More With Macro' is actually a bit useful, especially since a lot of first-time SLR users will probably want to shoot high quality close-up images for the first time.

On the Canon website, you can also access the Digital Learning Center. Canon continually adds more lessons to this tutorial-based website, making it easier for amateur photographers to make the most of Canon products.

If you've handled other Canon Rebel models, the T2i will feel very familiar. The weight is a bit more evenly distributed than the XS or XSi, but it feels virtually identical to last year's T1i. The weight is also nearly identical: like the T1i, the T2i is lighter than many comparable SLRs. This is great if you're lugging the camera around all day, but it lacks the solid, reassuring feel of a weightier body. The light weight can also make Rebel cameras feel less stable than a heftier model.

The button layout is very close to that of last year's T1i. The most significant change is the addition of a dedicated Live View and video record button, located right next to the viewfinder. This button is easier to reach and it no longer shares duties with the playback print button. Playback print is now the secondary function of the Q button. This sharp new addition lets you pop into Quick Control mode, where you can change each individual shooting setting on the fly. We like this a great deal more than assigning this function to the ambiguous 'Set' button.

Handling Photo 1
Handling Photo 2
Handling Photo 3

One of the advantages of an entry-level DSLR is in its sparse button design, which can be less intimidating to first-time users. Controls on the T2i fit nicely into this category. The buttons are all sensibly laid out and the most important features get their own buttons here on the body of the camera. (You'll have to plumb the depths of the menus for everything else.)

There are a couple new design elements this year, including the dedicated Live View / video record button up near the viewfinder. Most beginners won't know that this symbol is Canon's universal language for Live View, but once you know it's there, you'll appreciate its convenient location. There's also a button for the Quick Controls screen; the new button is much more obvious than pressing down the Set button, as you were required to do with the T1i.

Buttons Photo 1
Buttons Photo 2

Canon has given consumers a slight increase in LCD resolution this year, with the T2i's 1,040,000-dot, 3-inch display. This high-res screen is great for sharp image playback and a more accurate manual focus in Live View. In comparison, the Nikon D5000 LCD is much lower in resolution (only 230,000 pixels), but it is articulated: the user can unfold the LCD and view it at different angles.

This year, Canon recycles the same Quick Control Screen interface seen on the T1i. When the shooting settings are displayed, pressing the Q button will switch the user into Quick Control mode. Though the two modes look nearly identical, in the Quick Control Screen, you can use the directional pad to navigate through the various options. Once you've highlighted a function, the name of that function is displayed at the bottom and you can use the dial to adjust it. If you press the Set button, a more detailed setting display appears.

The screen color option allows you to choose from one of four color schemes for the LCD: black on gray, white on black, white on brown, or green on black. The LCD can also be set to one of seven brightness levels.

Secondary Display

The monochrome LCD panel you'll find on many higher-end SLRs is, understandably, missing from the $900 Rebel T2i.

Secondary Display Photo

The mono LCD display is small and disappointing.

The T2i viewfinder is identical to that of last year's T1i. The viewfinder has a 95% field of view at 0.87x magnification and a diopter range of -3.0 to +1.0 m-1. Beneath the viewfinder is a small proximity sensor, which deactivates the LCD when you put your face up to the viewfinder.

The view through the eyepiece is detailed below:

The T2i ships with an eyepiece cover: a small bit of flexible rubber that can be used to keep light leaking in through the viewfinder from affecting exposure readings during tripod photography. The cover is conveniently attached to the neck-strap, but it inconveniently requires you to remove the eyecup for each use. Sliding that eyecup off is fairly annoying and it makes you feel like you're breaking the camera — not to mention the fact that you could easily misplace the eyecup once it's off. Still, the cover is a nice feature for an entry-level model, even if you only use it occasionally.

The optical image stabilization built into the T2i's kit lens did not do much to improve the camera's performance. In the best case scenario (1/60 second shutter speed at low shake), there was a moderate improvement in sharpness. In other cases, however, the stabilization either did nothing or made matters worse.

In addition to the standard aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and manual modes, The Rebel T2i includes A-Dep (auto depth of field), Creative Auto, and full auto modes.

The Rebel T2i has the same nine-point autofocus system as most Canon DSLRs. Eight points are arranged in a rhombus, with one central point in the middle. You can either focus manually, allow the camera to focus automatically with all nine focal points, or select one of the nine specific points to use for autofocus.

The focus generally feels fast, though it slows down a bit in low light. Even in low light, however, we found that the T2i autofocus system is responsive and accurate. The focusing motor isn't too loud, but when you're recording video, its proximity to the microphone definitely provides an audible grinding noise in the background. This is a problem with most SLRs. You can read more about it in the Audio section of the Video Features portion of the review.

There is an 'autofocus assist beam,' though it's associated with the built-in flash, which will fire a short series of bursts in order to help the T2i autofocus in low light. There is no dedicated infrared focus assist beam. If you prefer to use only IR focus assist, you can purchase an external flash with this feature and set the camera to activate focus assist only when the infrared beam is available.

The T2i has three choices for focus modes: One Shot, AI Servo (AKA Continuous), and AI Focus, which switches between the two other focus modes, depending on whether the subject is in motion or not.

The Rebel T2i shoots photos exclusively in a 3:2 aspect ratio. There are three JPEG sizes available (see chart below), each size available in Fine or Normal quality. There is also the option to shoot RAW files — either alone or paired with an 18M fine quality JPEG.

There's only one option for drive mode: the aforementioned 3.4 frames per second continuous shot mode. There is technically no limit to the number of photos that can be taken in this mode, but the capture speed slows down significantly after about eleven shots (or about five if you're shooting in RAW). You also won't be able to have a 3.4fps speed if you're using the flash or have high ISO noise reduction cranked up; in these cases the continuous shot moves much more slowly.

The manual for the T2i states that the camera can get 3.7 frames per second in continuous shutter mode, and we got close in the lab, with the same 3.4 frames per second: rate we measured when we tested the T1i last year. Many similar cameras are able to record more quickly, but this is by no means the slowest camera we've tested either.

The T2i sports three different self-timer options: 2 second, 10 second/Remote control, and Continuous. The remote control option works with either a wireless or wired controller. In Continuous you choose anywhere between 2 and 10 photos, which are then taken after a 10-second delay.

The Rebel T2i has the same nine-point autofocus system as most Canon DSLRs. Eight points are arranged in a rhombus, with one central point in the middle. You can either focus manually, allow the camera to focus automatically with all nine focal points, or select one of the nine specific points to use for autofocus.

The focus generally feels fast, though it slows down a bit in low light. Even in low light, however, we found that the T2i autofocus system is responsive and accurate. The focusing motor isn't too loud, but when you're recording video, its proximity to the microphone definitely provides an audible grinding noise in the background. This is a problem with most SLRs. You can read more about it in the Audio section of the Video Features portion of the review.

There is an 'autofocus assist beam,' though it's associated with the built-in flash, which will fire a short series of bursts in order to help the T2i autofocus in low light. There is no dedicated infrared focus assist beam. If you prefer to use only IR focus assist, you can purchase an external flash with this feature and set the camera to activate focus assist only when the infrared beam is available.

The T2i has three choices for focus modes: One Shot, AI Servo (AKA Continuous), and AI Focus, which switches between the two other focus modes, depending on whether the subject is in motion or not.

On some entry-level SLRs, including models from Pentax and Olympus, you'll find a number of interesting filters and effects you can apply to the image. (See the Controls section of the Pentax K-x for a sample of the myriad picture effects that are available on some cameras.)

The Rebel T2i has fewer options, focusing mostly on the color modes (or 'Picture Styles') we discussed in the Color section of this review. These options include: Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, and Faithful. If you want a little more customization, each of these Picture Styles can be tweaked for sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color tone: sharpness on a scale from 0 to 7, the others on a scale from -4 to +4. When adjusting the Monochrome settings, your options are sharpness, contrast, filter effect, and toning effect. You can create three 'User Defined' settings and save them for future use.

There is also an 'auto lighting optimizer,' which adjusts exposure and contrast. When enabled, the options are standard, low, and strong.

The Canon Rebel T2i uses the MPEG-4 codec to compress video and it has a number of shooting modes. You can record Full HD video using a 24p or 30p frame rate, 720p HD video using a 60p frame rate, or standard definition video that shoots at a resolution of 640 x 480 with a 60p frame rate. There's also a cropped 640 x 480 option that gives a telephoto effect of roughly 7x. Video files are saved in the MOV format. These are the same options that you'll find on the T2i's more expensive cousin, the Canon 7D.

In addition to these options, you can also switch the T2i over to PAL mode and shoot using 25p or 50p frame rates in lieu of the 24p and 60p options we talked about in the paragraph above. While many users will probably overlook this feature, it is a good option to have if you do a lot of videography in Europe and any other areas that use the PAL standard instead of NTSC.

Canon states that you should be able to store roughly 49 minutes of HD video on a 16GB memory card. With the standard definition mode the capacity basically doubles to 1 hour and 39 minutes of video on a 16GB memory card. However, the camera does have file size limitations of 4GB or 30 minutes — at which the clip will automatically stop recording when reached. You can begin recording again as a new clip, but you must press the record button to start recording again. Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content

The Canon Rebel T2i has both an auto and manual exposure mode for recording video. In auto mode you can still adjust exposure manually, but shutter speed, aperture, and ISO cannot be set.

Auto Controls

The T2i does not have a continual autofocus setting, which is the case for most video-capable DSLRs (we've only seen continual autofocus on Micro Four Thirds or other mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras). What this means is that you must press a button in order to have the camera perform an autofocus. This focus system can often take up to five seconds to bring an image into focus, which is far slower than what you get on any dedicated camcorder.

The auto exposure on the T2i wasn't too bad, and it did produce adjustments in a smooth, gradual manner. The exposure changes were a bit too slow, however, and they weren't nearly as quick or precise as what we normally see from a consumer camcorder.

Zoom

Zoom is controlled by rotating the zoom ring on whatever lens is attached to the camera. The kit lens for the T2i is an 18 - 55mm lens, which is equivalent to roughly a 3x optical zoom.

Focus

As we said earlier, there is no continual autofocus in video mode on the T2i. You can set focus manually while recording video (using the focus ring on the lens), or you can press the autofocus button. In addition to taking quite a bit of time to perform the auto focus, the system is not smooth like you get from a regular camcorder — and the process is also extremely noisy.

Exposure Controls

All three of these settings can be adjusted manually on the Canon Rebel T2i's video mode, but exposure can only be set when the camera is in auto exposure mode. Aperture and shutter speed can be set manually when in manual exposure mode only. Each of these settings can be manually adjusted prior to or during video recording, which is always a great option to have.

Other Controls

ISO can also be set manually in video mode (in manual exposure mode only), and, like the other manual controls, it can even be changed during recording. Other controls available in video mode are a variety of color and image presets that we showed examples of in the Video: Color section of this review. There's also a feature called Highlight Tone Priority that expands the dynamic range when recording in video mode (gradation between grays and highlights should appear smoother). This can only be set when the camera is in manual exposure mode.

If you want to record audio with the Canon Rebel T2i you have two options: you can record monaural audio with the built-in microphone, or you can connect an external mic to the 3.5mm mic jack on the left side of the camera. If you actually care about capturing good audio to match your video, you should probably stay away from using the built-in mic. It picks up lots of unwanted operational noise and the quality of the audio is downright awful. Whether you use the built-in mic or an external mic the T2i compresses audio using the linear PCM codec.

Mic Photo
Box Photo
  • EOS Rebel T2i Body
  • EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens
  • Eyecup Ef
  • Wide Strap EW-100DBIII
  • USB Interface Cable IFC-130U
  • AV Cable AVC-DC400ST
  • Battery Pack LP-E8
  • Battery Charger LC-E8E
  • EOS Digital Solution Disc and Instruction Manuals
  • 'Great Photography is Easy' Booklet and 'Do More with Macro' Booklet

Meet the testers

Kaitlyn Chantry

Kaitlyn Chantry

Vice President, Editorial Management

@WhyKaitlyn

Vice President of Editorial Management, Kaitlyn oversees the editorial departments of Reviewed.com’s various sites. She has been writing about technology since the turn of the century. Outside of her Reviewed.com home, Kaitlyn is also a theatre director and avid gamer.

See all of Kaitlyn Chantry's reviews
Kaitlyn Chantry

Kaitlyn Chantry

Vice President, Editorial Management

@WhyKaitlyn

Vice President of Editorial Management, Kaitlyn oversees the editorial departments of Reviewed.com’s various sites. She has been writing about technology since the turn of the century. Outside of her Reviewed.com home, Kaitlyn is also a theatre director and avid gamer.

See all of Kaitlyn Chantry's reviews

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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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