24 June 2009

Canon T1i: Stupid Name, Brilliant Camera

I posted last week on the great HD video capabilities of the Canon EOS 5D Mk II DSLR (= 5D2). It runs about $2500. For me, they may as well add a few more zeros on to that, 'cause in any case I can't touch it.

But I could, nay, will someday lay hands on Canon's new EOS Rebel T1i, known as the 500D to the rest of the world. Why Americans always get stuck with nonsense branding from Canon, I have no idea. But I shoot Canon, so I'll put up with it.

The Rebel series is Canon's entry level line of DSLRs. They have generally been very good cameras which Canon hobbles by deleting pro features, less to save cost than to drive people up their line. They could easily do much more at that price point but have felt no need. Like Apple, they've mastered the craft of giving their customers a good enough product to thoroughly please them, but not one so good that they might truly be content with it. So the Rebels have been consistently better than the competition while always lacking those one or two things you really want (DOF preview, certain manual controls, Live View, whatever).

But I think Canon screwed up their own fiendish plan with the new Rebel T1i. First, they the put in the great 15.1mp sensor from their mid-line 50D, which runs $500 more than the T1i and, while carrying a few more features, does not do HD video like the Rebel. I expect that model is soon to be replaced.

I will not do a review here, but rather see here and here. The vital 411 is this: the Rebel T1i can shoot 720p HD video @ 30fps, and full 1080 @ 20fps. And if the video quality is not equal to that of the 5D2, it is still very good for a $900 camera.

I've been ogling the Canon HD200 camcorder for about $600, but in 18 months I'll be able to pick up a T1i for that price. The Rebel XS is down to $540 now and you can get a refurb Nikon D40 for a ridiculous $360.

At these prices, there is no reason for anyone serious about photography to buy a high-end compact over an entry-level DSLR. DLSR image quality is vastly better, interchangeable lenses an important tool, and being able to work with RAW images is a must. Once you've used one, there'll be no going back.


Mister Fweem said...

Got to agree with you. I got Michelle a Canon Rebel XSi for Christmas, and we both love it. I wavered a long time trying to decide between the Canon and a comparable Nikon that had video capability, but the Canon won out. I'm still not sure I really need a camera that does still and video; given the compact HD video recorders coming out, I'd almost rather buy one of them. That way, I can at least get my hands on a camera. For our Oregon trip, we took nearly 1,600 photos. I took maybe 100 of them, with Michelle taking ownership the rest of the time. Sigh.

carl g said...

The standing joke in my house is that I love cameras and love photography, but I don't like taking pictures. Some truth to it, but I go through my phases. It's Tasha who really likes to photograph, and right now I'm just concerned to help her take it to the next level. But I'm also committed to getting busy and making some videos. We've had a camcorder for years and never really used it. But at the very least, I want to make a few memories with it before Tasha's gone.