The new ultimate budget video camera: Rebel T2i (aka 550D)

Forget the 5D and the 7D. This is the new hot shit in the market: Canon’s Rebel T2i (aka 550D).

For $800, you will be able to get a great camera to shoot your masterpiece. You have no excuse anymore to not shoot a short movie, or a music video to help out your local rock bands.

The T2i supports all the frame rates that the 7D does, at similar bitrates. It has full manual control, and an audio jack. No new video-focused abilities are present in the cam compared to the 7D, however, it’s a camera that’s half the price. The still picture side of it is not as powerful as the 7D, but when it comes to video, it’s up to par with it (sample). It’s also a smaller/lighter camera than than the 7D, using SDHC instead of CF.

Add in the mix a large-aperture prime, a wide-angle, and a zoom lens, and you’ll be in business. My [photographer] husband would suggest instead three prime lenses: one wide, one normal, one long (a good combo is 24-35-50mm). You should be able to buy the camera and three lenses of your choice for $1500 overall, which is a great price if you think that a high-end Canon AVCHD camcorder, or the 7D body alone, costs as much. Honestly, I think the Scarlet is in a bit more market trouble right now — even if it’s a much better camera. “Good enough” is what sells more actually. I see plain camcorders to also be in real trouble now. Except wedding photographers and travelers, the camcorder market will down-size significantly in the next few years.

Canon also announced their new digicam line today, which actually let me down. Their SX200 IS replacement digicam, the SX210 IS, is now 14 MP — at the same sensor size. The SX200 IS has low light problems, so stuffing more pixels in it will make things even worse. They added “zooming while recording” and a “stereo mic” as new abilities for the movie mode. Personally, I find these useless as a filmmaker. Actors only have one mouth, and zooming while recording is as cheesy as 70’s B-movies were. I would have preferred to see a 10 MP sensor instead, and the ability to also record at 24 fps in addition to 30 fps. That would have been more useful to the kinds of video I shoot (i.e. not random family videos).

So as far as P&S HD video digicams go, the SD780 IS remains the best bang for the buck for $180. Except of manual focus, it still has all the video features that the SX-series have.

FCC Disclaimer: The above are my very own personal & truthful opinions. Not paid or endorsed by Canon.

36 Comments »

Michael wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 2:27 PM PST:

What about highly anticipated S90 with HD video??? Canon has screwed it again!

Panasonic LX3 just got another 6 months to rule the market…


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Eugenia wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 2:29 PM PST:

We will know about the S90 and G-series in a few months.


William Eggington wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 2:41 PM PST:

Very exciting camera for sure. Can’t wait to see sample footage shot with it. Do you think they will ever fully remove the rolling shutter effect on cameras like this? For motion tracking that rolling bendy wobbly stuff that goes on is a killer. ๐Ÿ™


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Eugenia wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 2:42 PM PST:

It’s a matter of adding more memory, full shutter. It’s just a more expensive way of doing things, but it’s not impossible.


William Eggington wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 3:11 PM PST:

I’m super curious as to how this setup works currently. Eugenia would it be too much to ask for you to do a quick test? Find a checkboard pattern of some sort and shoot a few seconds of it while wobbling the camera simulating a “running away from big scary monster” type shot. I’d love to get a feel for how much distortion from the rolling shutter there really is. I assume your 5D’s guts are about the same as the T2i. . .


Tony Bourke wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 3:12 PM PST:

In the last few years, the Canon cameras have done a great job with the rolling shutter issue compared to Nikon. Nikon has the wobble bad. In certain shots, you can see it with a Canon CMOS-based camera, but you can see it in almost any motion on a Nikon.

I just got T1i, and I think I’m going to fire-sell it. If it comes out with a good underwater housing, it’ll be the ultimate underwater camera.

Canon better get that firmware update out. It’s a shame that a T2i can do broadcast-friendly 1080p 23.94 FPS and the MkII can’t.


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Eugenia wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 3:31 PM PST:

>for you to do a quick test

There are multiple such tests on youtube and vimeo about the 5D and its rolling shutter. Please remember though that the 7D has less wobbling than the 5D, and I expect the T2i to be the same as the 7D. If not better.

>I just got T1i, and I think Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขm going to fire-sell it

I think that would be wise, yes.


rhervag wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 3:36 PM PST:

this will be hugely popular !
Canon is just cleverly adding some entry level option into buying EF/EF-S glass. just like when they started giving inkjet printers at stupid low prices so we’d buy ink.
obviously when the hype settles and people get to shoot real things in motion and some precision charts to review the footage, things will start to make sense again.
NB: a 24mm is not that much of a wide angle on such cropped format. better look in the 12-18 range.
the audio input jack is no interest if the horrid Automatic Gain Control can not be deactivated.
i foresee some advbenturous filmmakers getting twin rebels to start shooting some 3D footage instead of a single 7D.


Kenneth FIsher wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 3:49 PM PST:

Hi Eugenia,

Can you enlighten me a little on the lenses that you or your husband would recommend? I am very used to using video cameras that have a non-interchangeable fixed lens. But I have no experience with interchangeable lens cameras.

I’ve been reading so much on HD-SLR cameras and Scarlets, and I see everybody writing about which lenses they use and referring to them strictly by focal length. I have no idea how to identify exactly what brand or model of lens is being referred to. I have gone to B&H and sometimes I seem to find the right lens, other times not.

What I am trying to figure out is what is an essential or pretty good recommendation for a lens or a set of lenses for a beginner, with HD-DSLR video cameras. Especially which would be the first, most versatile lens to buy if I could only buy one.

Thanks,

Ken


JBQ wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 4:03 PM PST:

@Kenneth: I’d start with a 24/2.8 (on a Rebel it’s a similar angle of view as the wide end of most camcorders).

Adding a 50/1.8 is a safe investment – it’ll allow to frame more tightly on a single person.


William Eggington wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 4:15 PM PST:

They both kind of suck for that rolling shutter thing. Are there any in-expensive cameras that don’t do this? 3CCD?


Kenneth FIsher wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 4:40 PM PST:

@JBQ – THank You and please forgive my ignorance. Is this what you’re describing?

Sorry I seem so clueless, but when I search “24 2.8 lens” at B and H, I get a ton of options and it is hard to know what is right or how they differ. For example, there are 2 versions of the lens link I posted above, one which is $10 less.

I really need a lens primer! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ken


JBQ wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 6:04 PM PST:

Yes, that’s the lens. The difference between the USA version and the Imported version is that the warranty on the USA is covered by Canon, whereas the warranty on the imported version is covered by B&H.


BR wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 7:24 PM PST:

does anyone know why this seemingly great camera is limited to quite small SD cards.

seems like that’s a bit of a limitation compared to camcorders for now.

how long til the model with two SD card slots (one for stills and up to 32GB for movie mode)


VonRiesling wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 7:49 PM PST:

You would think Canon did not have any internal harmony with the new video camera and the Rebel rolling out within sniffing distance of one another.

Kudos for the low price point on the T2i. I wonder what my pals with 7D’s will think of that move.


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Eugenia wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 8:05 PM PST:

>does anyone know why this seemingly great camera is limited to quite small SD cards.

It’s not a problem, you just buy more SD cards. They are small anyway.


Ivan wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 10:05 PM PST:

On memory cards: the 550D (that is its name in Europe) also supports that new standard, what is its name, SDHX?, which goes theoretically up to 2TB!

On the sensor: dpreview says the sensor is ‘not completely’ the same as in the D7, so my fear is that the ‘rolling shutter’ effect will be a bigger problem.

On the body: the 550D body is not weathersealed, which explains the lowish price.


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Eugenia wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 10:08 PM PST:

Not having the same sensor as the 7D does not mean that it’s worse in rolling shutter. Might actually mean that it’s better. And judging from the car scene in the video sample, it has less rolling shutter problems than the 7D/5D.


Glenn wrote on February 9th, 2010 at 1:36 AM PST:

The price is good for the 550D. I might buy this one. I always thought the 7D was still a bit pricey for a more extreme rolling shutter cam. If only they could put a swivel screen on things like Nikon’s D5000 or Canon’s own SX20 IS.

The SX210 looks interesting. It’s probably not that bad. Seems like the lens is better. f3.1 wide instead of f3.4 as was the case with the SX200. That might make up for any extra light lost from the 14mp sensor.

As for zooming while recording. There’s definitely nothing wrong with that if done creatively! I’m a big fan of these guys, and they use a lot of fast zooms in their videos. Although if the SX210 zoom is anything like the SX200, it would be too slow for that sort of shooting.


Tamas wrote on February 9th, 2010 at 11:40 PM PST:

Some say the sensor in the S90 is too slow for HD video, as it’s optimized for low noise photography. If HD video compromises the still image quality in any way, then I’d rather not have it. Obviously the LX3 managed to pull it off, so it shouldn’t be impossible. It’s not guaranteed that the S90 upgrade won’t be screwed up one way or another.


NormanBates wrote on February 10th, 2010 at 6:07 AM PST:

about lenses, I’ve been doing some research in the last months, based on which I’d recommend:

* fast primes: sigma 30mm 1.4 and sigma 50mm 1.4 (they both seem better than the canon alternatives at around $400):
http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/298-sigma-af-30mm-f14-ex-hsm-dc-test-report–review?start=1
http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/392-sigma_50_14_canon?start=1

* general purpose lens: tamron 17-50mm 2.8n (image-wise, nearly as good as the primes; the only problem is that it is only f/2.8)
http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/289-tamron-af-17-50mm-f28-sp-xr-di-ii-ld-aspherical-if-canon-test-report–review?start=1

* wide zoom: tokina 11-16:
http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/379-tokina_1116_28_canon?start=1

* super-low-budget prime: canon 50mm 1.8 (worse than the sigma, but 1/4 the price)
http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/160-canon-ef-50mm-f18-ii-test-report–review?start=1

* super-low-budget long zoom, with half-decent macro as a nice bonus:
http://www.photozone.de/pentax/281-tamron-af-70-300mm-f4-56-ld-di-macro-pentax-k-review–lab-test-report?start=1
(that one is for pentax, but there’s a canon version too)


dustin wrote on February 10th, 2010 at 11:28 AM PST:

Will it record longer clip than 18 min on high quality with larger than 4bg memory card? can the mov H.264 file format be edited with out conversion in vegas pro?


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Eugenia wrote on February 10th, 2010 at 1:48 PM PST:

Dustin, no, and no.

And it’s actually 12 minutes for 1080p, not 18. Unless you do weddings or other social occasion videos, or very long timelapses in video mode, you don’t need more than 3-4 minutes actually. However, since these cams are mostly geared towards video artists, it’s not a problem.

Vegas will crash with that format by the way. At first it looks like it’s working, and then kaboom. You’ll need Cineform or DNxHD.


Glenn wrote on February 10th, 2010 at 3:23 PM PST:

Actually, I’m still not so sure about these cameras. I’ve been looking at a lot of 7D movies on Vimeo, and to be honest, most don’t don’t look that good at all. Even the professional stuff. I think because these cameras aren’t full frame that most of the 35mm adapter stuff still looks better. Although the 7D wins when it comes to night shots.

Strangely, most of what I see shot on the Nikon D90 still appeals to me more. Especially the films posted on this channel.

The 5Dmk2 still has the edge over most them it appears, except the frame rate until they fix it, and the rolling shutter.


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Eugenia wrote on February 10th, 2010 at 3:40 PM PST:

Actually, the 7D/5D looks way better than either D90 or HV+adapter… ๐Ÿ˜‰


Glenn wrote on February 10th, 2010 at 6:13 PM PST:

The 5D I agree, but the 7D for the most part still looks like video, even with the shallower dof. The D90 look is dirty, low res, noisy and all the rest, but just appears so much more filmic straight out of the camera, providing there’s no rolling shutter. I don’t why, it always more shallow dof too. The sensor is only slightly bigger.

Where the 7D wins out over the HV20 would be the convenience of being to shoot to flash cards, the smaller size of the camera and being able to shoot in low light. But show me some vibrant daylight footage from it that looks better than some of the best HV + 35mm adapter videos? I always compare 7d videos with web versions of a few of my own or my wife’s videos shot on the HV20+SGPro, and to date I’m still yet to find any 7D videos that can match that look. There’s plenty of colourful music videos shot on the 7D, a few nice wedding videos etc, but there’s just something about them that looks fake or plastic.

The 5Dmk2 though, that’s another story. From the videos I’ve seen, the footage appears far better than anything from the 7D or any 35mm adapter. Hard to beat a full frame camera like that, unless you shake it ๐Ÿ˜‰


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Eugenia wrote on February 11th, 2010 at 1:22 AM PST:

Sorry, this is not correct. The 7D has the same sharpness as the 5D has, only a bit less better in low light. Maybe it’s because not great videos were shot YET with the 7D, but there’s no fundamental difference in the quality of the 7D and 5D. It’s also maybe because more inexperienced people bought the 7D than the 5D — because it’s cheaper — and so its video pool is oversaturated with bad videographers.

As for the D90 look, it’s bad because of the mjpeg codec. I personally don’t like it. It’s ok if you want a muddy look for your video, but what if you don’t? Adding muddiness in post is easy, but removing it, is not.


abds69 - intimepop.com wrote on February 11th, 2010 at 5:56 AM PST:

thanks for the news !!!


VonRiesling wrote on February 11th, 2010 at 11:45 AM PST:

I bought a D90 when they first came out largely due to the video capability and from my experience Eugenia is right. At least concerning the D90.

I can’t speak for 7D/5D but the video quality I’ve seen from folks who are using these is impressive.


Glenn wrote on February 12th, 2010 at 2:38 AM PST:

No, I never said the 5Dmk2 was sharper, but the full frame sensor clearly makes a big difference over the 7D when it comes to more filmic looking shallow dof. This is why Philip Bloom prefers the 5D mk2, but mostly uses the 7D for the convenience of having 25p. I remember he wrote about this once.

True about the being able to get that D90 look in post. There’s a guy here in Taiwan I think, who shoots tv commercials on a D5000. He gets some really nice footage from that camera.


Al wrote on February 12th, 2010 at 3:54 AM PST:

Not sure why you say Wedding Videographers can’t do with 12 minutes video. You have to be creative about it. There is hardly ever a shot that requires more than 12 minutes, unless someone decides to make a really long speech. And Wedding Videographers always have a back-up rolling all the time.


Kenneth Fisher wrote on February 13th, 2010 at 9:21 AM PST:

@NormanBates — Thanks for the specific lens recommendations. I am going to check them out.

Thanks Again,

Ken


jonathan hay wrote on February 13th, 2010 at 1:31 PM PST:

I’m still a little unclear on how I would edit the T2i’s .mov files? I normally edit in Vegas 8. When you say you’ll need Cineform or DNxHD which product of theirs do you mean? Hopefully, there is a relatively low cost method. I would hate to spend almost as much on software as on a camera.


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Eugenia wrote on February 13th, 2010 at 2:18 PM PST:

Jonathan, nothing has changed in that front, that’s why we didn’t mention anything about it. The gist is this: if you’re dealing with h.264 files that are NOT in AVCHD format (.mts, .m2ts), then you must use intermediate codecs with Vegas (the proxy method is not as good in this case). I suggest you buy Cineform NeoSCENE, for $100. DNxHD is free, but it’s much slower.


JJS wrote on February 14th, 2010 at 11:43 PM PST:

Parts of this discussion is like Deja Vu to me. I remember the drawn out debates over Panasonic GS-XXX models and then they moved to the Canon HV-XX models. They always started out optimistic. Then they moved to nitpicking galore, eventually ended up negative. The entire time there were creative souls out there making films using all those cameras. The end quality was determined by the filmmaker.

So the facts always remain the same. It’s more about “who” holds a camera instead of what camera they are holding. But I do think people get so caught up in the technicalities that they are awaiting the first truly automated camera that picks itself up and films the movie while the director sits in the chair having a coke.

I for one prefer the struggles of the old days, which explains why movies of yesterday have way more production quality by the consumer standard, while today’s flicks are heavily marketed in an exploitative way to make people “think” they are good.

After the smoke clears, the Canon T2i is destined to be the next big rave for awhile and will probably send the HV20 forum to either changing its name or have members flocking to the new T2i forum. It will be next. Wait and see.


W.Doug wrote on February 15th, 2010 at 1:05 AM PST:

I got the T1i a year ago and I’m very happy with the results. http://www

So because the good quality of T1i I’buy the 7D good stuff.


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