We recently picked up a Canon Rebel T2i so we could shoot some additional video at our weddings – nothing as amazing as our friends at Peace Love Productions consistently put out, but just something extra for our clients who don’t have a videographer. If you’re considering purchasing a T2i, here are a few things I didn’t find other people mentioning online, but I wish I had known before I made my purchase.
Where’s video mode?
If you think the T2i is going to be basically the same as a 5D Mark II just with a different crop factor, you’re in for a big surprise. I must have tried to get video mode working on the T2i for 15 minutes. I’m pushing the video button, and seeing live view, so why is it not letting me record?! I checked Google. Nothing. Finally, Larissa came over, and within a few seconds had found that like her point-and-shoot, there was an actual video mode on the dial. I was in manual mode like I would have been for the 5D. I felt like an idiot. It was time to stop thinking that the Rebel was really anything like the 5D Mark II.
The Rebel T2i can shoot video with both EF & EF-S lenses. Basically, you can use either the full-frame lenses, or the crop lenses. There are some fantastic EF-S lenses, and quite a few with image stabilization, which is a definite plus for video. Being able to use EF lenses is a plus too because we’ve accumulated some pretty sweet EF lenses over the past few years. There’s some bad news (depending on your perspective) about using the EF lenses though. Only a cropped portion of the field of view for EF lenses will be used. That means that a 17-35 lens turns into more like a 27-56, and losing the wide angle-ness means moving shots will be a little less smooth. I guess life will go on, even if it does mean that putting a wide angle lens on the Rebel makes me sick to my stomach.
No compact flash?
SD? That’s not convenient. Every other camera we own uses compact flash memory. SD drives me nuts when I’m trying to download to my computer. Maybe it’s just me, but I always struggle putting the SD card into my reader correctly. Plus we’ve had more trouble with SD cards not being readable due to scratching (probably me trying to force the SD card into the slot). They’re easier to lose too. Seriously, if one of the camera manufacturers would come out with memory the size of a VHS tape, that would probably be the one I would use.
Quality of video
Enough with the bad news. Seriously, it’s been depressing writing the article up to this point, so I’m probably ruining your day by making you read everything I don’t like. The quality of the video on the T2i on the other hand, makes me happy. I’m sure the 5D Mark II would still win if I did a close comparison, but I can’t really notice a huge difference between the 2 without doing a side-by-side test.
Typically I’ve found that doing video with a camera eats up the battery pretty quickly, so I bought a spare battery at the same time I bought the camera. I’ve never used the spare battery. We aren’t recording 30 minute clips, but for the small clips we’re doing, the battery has held up very well. There’s almost always battery life left at the end of the day.
Ease of use
Ok, so I reverted to my old ways of trying to treat the T2i like the 5D again. Bad idea. White balance settings are not set the same way, and neither are a handful of other settings. Just use the T2i’s Quickmenu and you’ll be set. It’s easy to use – just a matter of knowing that it’s there.
Frames per second
What would be awesome is if you could select your frames per second and your recording quality independently. For example, say I want to shoot at 640×480 using a shutter speed of 30fps. Sounds easy enough. Nope – not gonna happen. 640×480 only runs at 60fps. That doesn’t seem too bad until you find out that the reception is actually being held at the back of a cave and you’d willingly re-live your entire 5th grade year if it meant you could get the extra light from 30fps. No such luck. You’re stuck at 60fps unless you want to go HD and eat up a ton of hard drive space. I guess just go HD – I have nightmares about 5th grade.
Cranking the ISO to 4000 and beyond at the reception wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The clips are still usable. Do they look amazing? No. I think using a video light to supplement should be enough to eliminate most of the obvious noise (meaning graininess). Again, it’s not the Mark II, but it gets the job done.
For the price, I’d say the Rebel T2i is a steal. If you’ve got the money and want the amazingness of the 5D Mark II, it would make sense to go that route instead. If you’re going from no video to Rebel T2i video, it’s a no brainer. Wait for a deal at KEH, and buy a T2i in bargain condition.
For you guys who already own a T2i, have you found that it pretty well takes care of all your video needs? Anybody planning to get the T3i instead? Are you still waiting on the 5D Mark III (no, I don’t have any news on when it’s coming out – I’m just as anxious as you are)?