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Video ISO Comparison: Canon EOS Rebel T2i vs. Canon EOS 7D

Video ISO Comparison:  Canon EOS Rebel T2i vs. Canon EOS 7D

Ron Risman
February 25, 2010

Ever since the Canon EOS Rebel T2i was announced last month it has become one the most eagerly awaited DSLR's since the Canon EOS 7D.   What makes the Rebel T2i such a hot product is the inclusion of technology that up until now was only available to those that could afford the price tag of the EOS 7D.  Below you'll find the notable features that make the Rebel T2i a great baby sibling to the 7D - and a potentially perfect low-cost video-capable DSLR for those that want to enter the filmmaking / storytelling / cinematography arena.

Unboxing and Video ISO Comparison (T2i vs 7D)

This is a 1080p high-definition video. Watch full screen if your PC can handle it

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Video ISO Comparison #2 (T2i vs 7D)

Two notes about this video: 1) The graphic at the beginning shows a Rebel T1i in error. I pulled an image and didn't look close to make sure it was the T2i. 2) In the last comparison of the video, where both camera's are set at ISO 100, the Rebel T2i was not correctly split in editing, thus you cannot compare ISO 100 in the dark - something that seems a bit silly anyway since ISO 100 in the dark is, well, dark.

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Feature Highlights:

  • 18.1-Megapixel Sensor
  • Full 1080p HD Video with Manual Control
  • Selectable Frames Rates (24p, 25p, 30p, 50p, 60p)
  • DIGIC 4 Processor (EOS 7D features Dual DIGIC 4 Processors)
  • ISO up to 6400, expandable to 12,800 (EOS 7D goes to 25,600)
  • External audio stereo input
  • iFCL metering System with 63-zone Dual-layer Metering Sensor
  • Exposure compensation +/-5 stops
  • 3:2 Clear View LCD with 1,040k dots (EOS 7D = 4:3 with 920k pixels)
  • Select maximum value for Auto ISO (not available on 7D)
  • Movie crop function (not available on 7D)

I ordered the Rebel T2i via overnight delivery in order to be able to post a comparison of its video capabilities compared to the EOS 7D and eventually the EOS 5D Mark II.   I personally love shooting with the full-frame 5D Mark II, so the EOS 7D was both a backup camera as well as a second camera for my work.    There's nothing like doing two-camera shoots.    The problem with owning both the 5D Mark II and the EOS 7D is basically a financial one - it's expensive!    When I read the specifications of the Rebel T2i after it was announced I was hopeful that this might be able to replace the EOS 7D for me and potentially save me $800 or so (after factoring in the loss I'll take selling the 7D), since it's the video mode that I care about most.  It's important to note that the Rebel T2i is NOT comparable to the EOS 7D if you're interested in some of the features that make the EOS 7D unique as a stills / photographic camera - such as the very fast still-image burst rate of 8fps or the new AF sensor having 19 cross-type AF points instead of the 9-point (single cross-type center point) of the Rebel T2i.

After unboxing the EOS Rebel T2i and getting to know it a bit, it quickly dawned on me that there are other trade offs that I'll need to consider if I plan on giving up the 7D for this camera.   The first is the lack of a top-mounted LCD display.  I use the top LCD often both for convenience as well as to conserve battery power.   Having to use the rear LCD display to change every settings means increased battery drain.    That brings me to the next drawback, the smaller battery.  The EOS Rebel T2i uses a new, smaller 1250mAh battery pack, which unfortunately is not compatible with the EOS 5D Mark II or EOS 7D - or their chargers.  This means buying extra dedicated batteries and carrying around a 2nd charger and power cord for the Rebel T2i.     The last issue that I guess I already knew but never really thought about until today was that the EOS Rebel T2i uses SD memory cards, whereas my EOS 5D Mark II uses CompactFlash.   Personally, I prefer CompactFlash, but not for any other reason other than I am used to them, I own quite a few of them, and feel that I'll lose the tiny SD cards often.  

If after testing and comparing the Rebel T2i and EOS 7D I feel that the video image quality is equal, I'll then have to weigh the other issues I mentioned above as well as ergonomics and the still image feature set of the 7D before I can put an extra $800 back in the bank.

There are some features that I really like about the Rebel T2i, which are either not available in other Canon models or are not available in my EOS 5D Mark II. 

  • The first is the ability to set a maximum ISO when using Auto ISO.   This way I can tell the camera to only go as high as ISO xxxx, if needed, to prevent the camera from going to high in the ISO department.   You still cannot choose a minimum shutter speed in Auto ISO like you can with Nikon cameras, but it's a great first step.

  • The second is the inclusion of a 5-stop exposure compensation, making the T2i ideal for HDR photography - though auto-bracketing is limited to +/- 2-stops over the 5-stop range.     The top LCD also only shows +/- 2-stops so you'll have to use the back LCD to get to the full 5-stop compensation.

  • Compatibility with the new SDXC media format.  I guess if you're going to capture memory hungry video on an SD memory card, it is nice to know that your camera will support the larger (up to 2TB) and more capable SDXC media format.  The camera is also backwards compatible with SD and SDHC media.

Once the rain lets up in New England I'll take the Rebel T2i out for some real world testing both in the video and in the stills department.   At this point it would seem that Canon has a real winner on their hands.  High resolution stills combined with high-definition video with full manual control, the ability to connect external microphones, and good high-ISO capability means that the Canon Rebel T2i is sure to be a BIG seller this spring.

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