October 26th, 2010
After taking some time to explore the camera, I now have an evaluation of the new Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i. This camera will be the latest in the Digital Rebel series (what I call value priced pro consumer models). It falls in the $600 to $800 range, depending on what accessories and lenses you may choose.
For me, the T1i was a giant leap up in megapixels. My initial digital camera was the trend setting original 6.3 Megapixel 300D Digital Rebel that I have used for thousands of pictures over the last several years. It worked great for me and I skipped many an upgrade until the market reached the 15 megapixel range. Then, my fantastic wife gave me a good birthday gift of this new camera.
I ordered it from Amazon, obtained it in several days and started to shoot right away. The very first thing I had to keep in mind is that the digital camera kit using the 18-55 EF-S lens did not include a flash media device (it employed SDHC cards). Now what was Canon thinking? If I hadn’t remembered to read the small print, I would have been waiting to pick one up before I could take my initial picture with my new camera. This is like purchasing a vehicle, but they did not include the tires.
Well, with that out of the way, the camera is excellent. It has a 3″ LCD screen in the back that displays not only your images in review, but the settings you’ve got. On most counts, the T1i offers some pretty nice specifications, highlighted by the 15-megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor (for Canon’s standard 1.6x focal-length multiplier) and exact same nine-point user-selectable autofocus system as the predecessor XSi. The APS-C size sensor means that it is a “cropped” sensor that captures a slightly smaller view than regular 35mm cameras or the Canon large professional cameras costing in the more than $2500 range. I drool thinking about the possibilities.
The camera has received really good reviews concerning its image quality, and I can say that the human photographer may be the only weak point in getting a very good shot. It has the full variety of picture sizes from small.jpg to RAW. I shoot practically entirely in RAW mode (this saves a very big file, but has all the data available for use in Photoshop.
One particular genuinely wonderful feature is that this camera shoots video, too. Though not quite as robust as on the EOS 5D Mark II, which supports 30fps for its 1080p capture, the T1i’s video still surpasses that of the Nikon D5000 that’s limited to 24fps 720p. The movie quality is solid, but I stick with the 30fps 720p and steer clear of the High Definition mode of 1,920 x 1,080 due to the fact it is only 20fps, and the motion looks a bit jerky. You may manually invoke AF while you’re shooting, which is helpful, but recall that it’s slow and creaky. Initiating focus creates some jerkiness, but at least you don’t have to stop, focus, and restart. I absolutely prefer having the alternative. Like several of the low-end implementations, it uses mono audio and there is no mic input.
I had the chance to shoot a major men’s tennis tournament in October and got some excellent photographs of several major tennis legends (like Todd Martin, Andre Agassi and Jimmy Arias, among others). The camera was great in less than ideal lighting for the night matches. I applied the Auto ISO setting and it stretched the settings of the digital camera to be quick enough to catch the action with some really artistic blur from the ball and racquets. The daylight matches allowed me to set the digital camera at really quick shutter speeds and freeze those yellow tennis balls in mid flight, plus the players in mid stroke with feet off the ground.
Those Auto ISO settings got me in trouble several weeks later when I was in the mountains attempting to obtain pictures of the fall colors with Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB). I’ve used AEB before and it works great and allows some fantastic chance for HDR merging of pictures later. However, it is only logical if you will be shooting in Auto-bracketing you should turn Auto ISO Off, lest all the auto configurations conflict and create an image that averages out everything to its most dull form. Now I know better.
All in all, the Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i is an excellent digital camera for much more advanced amateurs and also the price challenged professionals. I will stick with this one till I can figure out how to obtain one of the Canon big boys. I look forward to several years of shooting and learning about how to capture nature’s beauty in a digital picture.