First thoughts on Rebel T2i/ 550D

For a great review on the T2i please check out Nino Leitner’s review here. Thanks for the photos which I stole from him for this blog 😉

I love cameras, anyone who knows me knows I have more cameras than one person could ever have a use for!

There is no need for me to buy the new 550D/ T2i. I have a 7D and two 5DmkIIs after all, I even have a 500d! So why would i buy one? I simply wanted to see just how capable it was as a video camera. I don’t care too much about it’s still camera abilities, apart from for timelapse, but it’s identical video frame rates to the 7D and that price tag meant could become a very popular camera in the mass market. I wanted to get one so I could review it, test it, be able to answer people’s questions about it which I am bound to get and of course shoot on it. After all I love shooting more than anything and this is a small, light, cheap camera. Just how good can it be?

The Eos Video line up thanks to Dan Chung

I bought mine from B&H as soon as I saw it was available and in stock. Next day delivery and she arrived. I had to buy it with the stock lens as that’s all they had. Not a good lens. I recommend body only for sure! Just because the camera is cheap it doesn’t mean you should buy cheap glass for it! Anyone want that lens?!

First Impressions: Wow it’s light! Really light. The 7D and 5DmkII weigh a bit, this doesn’t. Straight off I notice some things missing that I love about my pro cameras, the T2i is part of the consumer division whereas the 7D etc are part of the pro division. So what does this mean to you and I?

Build quality is good on the T2i but not in the same league as the Pro cameras. First off weatherproofing. I wouldn’t want to get the T2i wet like my 7d does all the time, even the 5DmkII with lesser weatherproofing is still very very good at it. Have left both cameras out in the cold rain all night, have had them frost over and they work just fine afterwards. I wouldn’t do this with the T2i. Like a Mogwai, don’t get her wet. Also it’s very plasticky, as expected. I have dropped my pro cameras once or twice…oops. They survived fine. T2i…keep secure. Treat her gently!

Due to the smaller size we are missing some things I really miss on pro cameras. The dial on the back of the camera, the LCD panel telling me my metering, fstop etc on top. You get this info on the screen by half pressing the shutter button but I like having the LCD screen and miss it. The dial especially is a pain. I now have no individual iris and shutter controls. I have to effectively press a “shift button” to get aperture to change.

Image wise from my very limited tests the video looks as close to identical as I can tell with 30 minutes of filming. There may be a stronger difference and I am sure many people will do loads of side by side tests of this camera. I will over the next few weeks shoot more and more stuff with it and share my experiences. Last night I did some simple low light tests. Same shot at ISO 800 and 1600 on both cameras lit with candlelight. That brings me to another couple of things I am missing on the T2i. Manual white balance. You cannot dial in the colour temperature like you can on the 7D etc. Also ISO are limited to 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 and the unusable higher ones. In tests recently I found the quieter ISO on the 5DmkII to be 160, 320, 640 etc…I haven’t done any tests like this on the T2i, but hopefully will get a chance soon.

The skater dolly I used in the tests was the Omni tracker slim line pro. It’s great and cheap. I also have the new Humble Monkey Camera truck. Both of which I will review fully soon. The Humble monkey costs more but is lighter…as I said review coming soon!

Humble Monkey Camera Truck

Omni Tracker slim line pro

Frame rates are what we want 24p, 25p, 30p, 720p 50p, 60p. There is no manual control on audio unfortunately. Same crappy AGC we have on the 7D that looks like will be fixed on the new 5DmkII firmware.

Timelapse is of course easily done on this, just get the right controller (7D one does not work on this camera). Below is the one to get.

There were a number of people saying should I sell my 7D and buy a T2i and use the extra money to buy glass. I would say no. Simply because the 7D is a robust beast that will take a lot you throw at it. It’s a pro camera with pro build. Yes, the video is bloody close to each other and I can barely tell them apart but it comes down to more than just video quality. It’s the whole package.

So what do I think about the T2i then? I think it’s superb. For $800 (Sorry people in England, I know pricing sucks there) you are getting a video tool that really is incredible. A great B camera for 7D and 5dmkII owners and I really do recommend having two bodies on pro shoots. It’s also a great A camera for people wanted to get into HD-DSLR filming, students, keen enthusiasts or people with an addiction to buying cameras like me! From what I have seen the video is excellent, the screen is slightly bigger and higher resolution that the 7D one but a Z-Finder still fits. Time will tell how well these two cameras will compare. For now just be happy that we live in incredibly exciting times and don’t whinge that it has more video modes than the 5DmkII or you just bought a 7D and this has come out etc…Canon have brought out a camera that blitzes the competition in the consumer market for HD video and beats all the other brands out there in the pro market with video too. This is a game changer for many. It’s just this damn game changes very often and it’s hard to keep up!

Do check out Nino’s review linked up top and also look at JJ Kim’s excellent comparison video below.

7D vs. T2i Comparison Video from Orange Wedding Films on Vimeo.

(For better viewing experience:
Wait for the grey bar to fill up, then press play)

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Please watch in Full Screen if you can.

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  1. I played with one today, and am very disapointed.
    Way way way too light, Added a 35mm 1.4 and L series and my wrist would wobble forward. The menu is very annoying and has to be pre-planned, not too good for run and gun.

    The images are beautiful dont get me wrong, and I know its a consumer camera and should be used as one, so I would not even try it for legit work… I would’nt take the risk. it feels too cheap and plasticky, even a good squeeze makes the plastic squeek. Vacation and around the home; at parties camera yes, Wedding or other venue gear… No!

    1. I couldn’t disagree with you more. It might be consumer level but its certainly up to the challenge of shooting things like weddings etc. The build quality is not as good as the 7D but you make it sound paper thin, I think your over exaggerating slightly there. I have shot music video’s on this, One of which was featured on Sky’s alternative music channel “scuzz”. The results were great and the video was received extremely well. A friend of mine also shoots with one and uses it as his main camera. He was recently invited to London where his music video was show cased in front of some top guys Who have worked on many great british films such as Hot Fuzz and This is England. They were all very impressed with his work and invited him to dinner after where he made some great contacts. My point here is, its not just about the camera, a good camera does not make you a pro. The canon 550D is an amazing camera for its price, and more!

      Just my two cents…

      1. the image out of it is the same pretty much as the 7D, 60D so of course it is capable of great images if the right talent is behind it. Problem is you are replying to a comment made well over a year ago Rob and to be honest if you can the 60D is a much better proposition as it is really is far more robust. Image is the same. But it will last you longer and doesn’t overheat as much!

        1. Thanks for the reply Philip. I didn’t realize how old the post was when I replied!

          I have yet to experience this overheating problem. Is it something that occurs during long shoots? As I mentioned, I have used the camera to shoot a few music videos, and even braved a wedding with one!

          I am worried though as I am heading off to the Cayman Islands to start up my own small production company, will be using DSLR’s the heat there as you can imagine is slightly different to the UK! Im wondering if it would be wise to rely on DSLR’s only?

          Would greatly appreciate anyones thoughts on this!


          1. Relying on DSLR’s in hot climates is fine. You will run into overheating issues when using for extended periods of time. Good ways to avoid overheating is by using ice packs and changing the batteries routinely if you are able to.

  2. this is great..
    but just make me hate canon and fell like a donkey for buying a t1i a couple of months ago, and now see all this capabilities on such a similar piece of hardware.
    they cant even release a firmware with manual controls.. without mentioning frame rates..
    i feel really bad.
    i know i bought my t1i knowing its features and specs.. but i could never imagine this move from canon.

      1. well.. im confused..
        would anyone here be happy, if canon suddenly squeeze both 5D markII firmwares into a 5D markIII body?
        i know 550D got many new hardware features, but the most significants, for most here, are manual controls and frame rates, of course.
        B&H shipment + taxes cost extras US$650,00 to get the camera around here.. and im pretty sure thats the best price we can get here.
        nice 🙂

  3. I would love to have a 7D or 5D mark II – but it is not happening anytime soon…. Will have to save money for a year or so to afford one of those bodies (but at that time a 5D mark III might be availlible :P).

    Would love to upgrade from my 50D just to do video… In time hopefully.

  4. I know this may sound silly, but are you really offering to give away the kit lens?

    I am thinking about jumping into the HDSLR world with the T2i, and as a newcomer, I don’t have any other lenses, and I am fairly broke. It would save me a small amount of money to be able to buy just the body and not the kit.

    So, I would actually love to take that lens off your hands until I can afford better glass 🙂

    Please let me know if the offer stands. Thanks for the writeup!

    1. Buy body only with a 50mm 1.8. I APS-c you are loosing aroun a sptop of DOF -remember that-. Forget about kit lens.

      Also a zuiko 50mm 1.4 or a canon 35 ƒ2 could be nice options.

  5. Very nice entry level. Seems to have great performance in lower ISOs. I am just waiting the firmware for the 5d mkII, nevertheless this one is a great option to learn HDDSLR techniques.

  6. Thanks Philip……people have been waiting almost daily for these first thoughts. I think your review will help a lot of 7d and 5d Mark II owners down from the ledge due to the price difference. For some of us just wanting to get in the game and give it a good shot, saving around $1000 for basically the same quality of filming as a 7d seems like the obvious choice. But if you’re a serious experienced professional, or money’s not that big a deal, your decision may well be just the opposite. Both sides would be correct…..I’m curious what these developments do the camcorder market? It reminds me when PCs first came out, no matter what you buy, a few weeks later something would come out better and cheaper.

  7. Sure, I’ll take that glass! I can’t yet afford even the T2i but having at least some piece of glass to start with would be very nice. But if you have already given it away, no worries!
    Steve Crow

  8. I’ve had my T2i a little more than 24hrs and so far I love it! I was pleasantly surprised how nice the camera build is, I was worried it would feel too plastic-y. This is not the case. The T2i is solid for shooting video, this camera is an absolute game changer!

  9. Too many things on my shopping list at the moment. Should I be seduced into buying a 2nd body when I still need a decent tripod, a follow focus set-up, maybe some lights, a fast wide-angle……

    Nice Yeti by the way

    1. I would be interested in the same thing. I haven’t filmed with DSLR cameras before but I want to get into it since right now I only have a HV30. I know, at least I think Philip you used the HV20? How would you compare it to the T2i? And just like Lenny asked, how convenient is the shutter/iris problem? Would it still allow me to film quite nice videos without causing problems during shooting, or will there be things that will bottleneck my shooting capabilities with the 550D? Thanks Philip.

  10. Thanks for the great info. Looking forward to seeing more results with the camera. I just bought a 5DmkII and as it looks as though the firmware update wont be adding 50/60p i may consider one of these as a B cam. Shame I am in the UK too and have to put up with our prices. In your experience are their any disadvantages to buying the camera in the states if you live in the UK? I may have the chance to pick one up there later this year.

  11. I have been watching and reading a lot of reviews of this having owned a T1i (sold and preordered T2i) and previously an XSi. The one thing I keep hearing over and over is “It’s too light” “not heavy enough” etc.. JJ Kim said it, you said it, and people in this review said it. I haven’t held one yet, but having had two other Rebels I can’t imagine this could be *that* different than the T1i and XSi in weight and ergonomics. Is it just that there are a lot of still photogs with non-video cams or pro-videogs just getting this as a DSLR with video for the first time or what? Even though this has some capabilities of the 7D, lets face it, its a consumer level Rebel still, that plastic body and no weather seals are the reason its 800 bucks. I am REALLY looking forward to this cam. But you get what you pay for people! If its too small, too light or too plasticy, then just stick with your 7D.

  12. I really don’t get the whole deal with people saying “Its too light” “Its too plasticky” “its not the build quality of a 7D” etc… Its a consumer camera! Yes it has very similar specs to the 7D, but its still a consumer camera in the Rebel line. You get what you pay for. The plastic body and build is the reason it is 800 bucks. Given some comments here, on forums, and even in the review section of the camera on, it seems like people thought this was going to be just like the 7D at half the price or something. I don’t understand all the professional people wanting to buy this and then knock it when its not just like a 7D. If you need a weathersealed full magnesium body camera, then spend the money and buy one.

  13. wowsa! 550D really rocks. Im torn between buying 7D and 550D. Id buy it for its video/movie capabilities and would love to have it as one of my professional tools. Im a motion designer and would love to engage in filmmaking.

    What would be my best choice between the two?

  14. I find that the T2i would be much less steady by it self for handheld work mainly because of weight. Also for people who dont color correct which would be the majority. The white balance thing would be a problem. Otherwise great images possible for everyone. Love having 60p on a camera like this.

  15. Wow. This is making the descision VERY hard for me. I’m looking to get a DSLR right now. and, though the T2i is cheap, that LCD screen, and the ruggedness, of the 7D are pretty hard to pass up…

  16. On your 7D DVD you advise certain camera settings (reducing the sharpness and contrast to 0, etc.) before you even begin shooting video. I know you have not have the time to really experiment, but, for now, do you anticipate that your advice for the initial settings for the 7D should hold true for the T2i, generally speaking?

  17. I love my 7d, but if this camera had been released when I was buying my 7d it would have put me in two minds.

    If you look in the right places in the UK you can find the 550D body only for ~£600-700, so more/less the same as the US price. For the video capability alone, I have to agree with you this time Philip – that is cheap! :o)

      1. I feel like that depends on a lot of things Phil. I don’t think that’s a question you can just straight answer. For a lot of people the recording time limit, the poor ergonomics, the price (the gh1 being cheaper body only and having an amazing kit lens for the price) are factors to go with the GH1 instead…it all depends on who you are and what you’re doing. If you’re buying the 550d to save money that means you probably won’t be buying the Z-Finder, a ton of additional glass, etc, for it.

  18. Great review, Philip

    I have a 7D and am looking at the 550D/T2i as a b cam.

    One (indirect) question regarding the timelapse.

    I used to have a 40D and on that to stop flickering I read that you could disconnect the lens contacts slightly to stop it, and it definitely worked on that – is this still the solution with the newer cams?



      1. Hi,

        isn’t that what you would want though?

        talks about the aperture flicker where it doesn’t return to exactly the same amount when taking a frame. And this is what I got on the 40D when I didn’t disconnect the lens. Disconnected it was fine.

        I was just wondering if you were doing that on your timelapses, or if the 7D/550D/5D don’t require it, or if you were running them through a deflicker in post?

        Your timelapses don’t flicker at all, so I was just wondering how you got around the issue (if there was one on the cameras you used)

        I need to get my intervalometer back from someone I’ve lent it to test.



      1. I’m in LA (Pasadena, work in Santa Monica) and just bought a body-only T2i for noodling around with video. I’ve currently got an ancient Nikkor 55mm adapted onto it, and that’s great, but I think I’m missing out a lot of fun general shooting by skipping the kit lens. Want to sell it to me for the difference between the kit and body prices?

  19. I would be interested in this camera for stills and video.
    Would you say that the stock lens or the 18-135mm lens would be good as a general purpose lens for still photography.
    I could then purchase a 50mm f1.4 and others over time.
    My video use will be hobbyist and something I will build on over time.


    1. Hey, in reply to this your better going for a good 35mm or 28mm in my opinion cause then you get the equivalent angle of view. The 50mm 1.4 is not a 50mm on a canon 7d (cause its not a full size sensor). The tamron 17-50 2.8 is a real great lens and in somne places, you can get the non vc version for the same price as the kitlens. Bargain! =]

  20. Phillip, food for thought for your readers. I have been doing some sums (all with UK prices) and the difference between 550d and 7d is in fact £421 ish.
    Why, I hear you say…… well the kit lens you would get with the 550d is next to useless so you would have to buy a better lens. Some say that the kit lens on the 7d is not great so I looked at the 15-85mm lens. 550D + 15-85mm lens@£624=£1328. 7D + 15-85mm £1749…..difference of £421.
    (all amazon prices)

    Had a play with the 550d today and it is a great camera but not a 7d killer that is for sure. For me it’s the 7d.

    So the question is is the the 7D worth £421 extra TO YOU…. it is to me.

  21. Can’t wait to see more in the coming days. Good thing you were in the USA when it became available at B&H. Gotta love overnight shipping!

    One question: are the frame rates -just- like on the 7D, meaning 29.97, 24.967, etc? I saw a chart on Planet5D that had them as straight 30p, 24p, etc. like exact 30p on the 5D, whereas on the same chart the 7D rates were listed as 29.97, etc.


    1. Well, RTFM to me. A quick look deep inside the Canon website revealed that 30p is (29.97) 24p is (23.976) etc. I guess the chart I had seen was before offical release or something.

  22. Hi Philip,

    Great to hear your thoughts, i know many people look to your experiences 🙂

    Can you shed any more light on the menu? Can the 550 import custom picture styles?

    Does it have the “my menu” option like the 7d?

    I didn’t see this covered in the videos


  23. T2i?
    Even though I still can’t help feeling totally screwed on the video functionality the T1i was hobbled with, I ordered the T2i the day it was announced:
    – It was a hard, frustrating decision to even stay with Canon after the T1i, but I have the lens investment there. Adapters are a pain.
    – After 100’s of hours of trying to get the d*mn T1i to work for video, it did teach me TONS of valuable skills and tricks that will now rock on my T2i.

    Great news is, after just one day with the T2i, almost a year after my T1i disfunctional relationship started, I’m now finally smiling ear to ear with my T2i. Sometimes a bad camera was an amazing teacher, as you had to work so hard to get a decent result. With the T2i, I finally feel like I have skills.

    Rebel dependability?
    I have really loved my super cheap T1i camera for photos, and the little kid has been my abused, throw in the bag, carry around the world several times lover on all my business trips for nearly a year. Mr super light “plastic fantastic” for photos has been absolutely reliable with no issues. But I admit, I never left it out over night in the snow…

    T1i now?
    After my first night date with the T2i, I can’t help but now think of what price I should EBay my little old “psycho girlfriend”, plastic fantastic, T1i for now, with it’s still screwed up video functionality: What is a crazy, unpredictable, DSLR T1i video camera with a $100 funky kit lens really worth now? $200? $300?

    1. If you hurry, you might get more for that T1i than you think. I just sold a T1i body I paid $475 for, an old $50 nifty fifty I’m not using, and a cheap $35 battery grip on eBay for $700.

      My T2i will be here tomorrow..after the usual discounts it too was $700.

  24. These shots are really helpful, just the sort of conditions you’ll want to shoot under in low light. And the noise is proper DSLR type noise not the horrible blocky compression artifacts I get with my HF10, that’s simply unacceptable. I’m convinced that, for corporate web video at least, 2-3 550Ds is a perfect and credible solution.

    The sad thing is, those folks that are close to talentless will now have nothing to moan about. You’ve got the kit, at an affordable price, so go make films.

    1. More importantly go make good films. Enough with the “look how shallow my depth of field is”. You got the camera, learn to use it, then go spend the next couple weeks writing a good script. No camera can save a terrible screenplay.

      Thanks for the info Phil. You’re the best man.

    2. Philip, did you have time to shoot some photos on 550D? How would you compare these two regarding the still capabilities, just technically, no ergonomics, body, etc.

  25. Hey Philip,

    In your article, you said “Timelapse is of course easily done on this, just get the right controller (7D one does not work on this camera). Below is the one to get.”

    I can’t seem to find where you said which one to get. Am I right or just blind?

  26. Just wondering if you think the cheaper photodoix? nikon adapter sold on amazon works well enough? I worry about collimnation and infinity focus and wonder if the more expensive one sold on b&h would be a better choice. Thanks

  27. Amazing. This game is running really fast !

    I found a video on YT – apparently there’s an adaptor for 7D and Nikon lenses (
    I don’t know if the tip is useful for you…

    I just have a question which may be stupid :
    Do those HD DSLR (5D/7D/550D) have built in ND filters or is it optional ? (I don’t want a shutter upper than 1/125th for film motion…)

    Thank you.

  28. Hey Philip,
    Like you, I think lots of us want to trade or sell their stock lenses as well as any other equipment they may have.

    Maybe you could encourage everyone to bring along their extra DSLR accessories to trade or sell with each other when we meet up on the 7th!

    What do you think?

  29. finally something it is moving to help us “poor image maker”
    i’m coming from dark rooms plenty of id11 and componar, durst and lots of nights closing with black tape all the bathroom windows
    got old nikkormat and nice ai lenses.

    videomaking has been always on my mind but could not afford extra money for that ( just for leaving :)). a couple years ago got my first cam: the little beast CANON HV10 (btw, why never mention this cam, i think it is better then some new models, except in low light)

    i’m planning for having a single “head” for both, stills and movies, and canon made the right way for this. you know ,phil, when trekking a lot , weight is a pain ,better having some waters & food instead 🙂 i know, i could train my nice black labrador as nepal-sherpa, but i’d need really waterproofing stuff as she always jump into the real piece of water she meets.

    i think i’ll go for the 7d as t2i looks a bit plastic boxed but i’m damn curious about new movie testing concerning 550d..when???

    what about using my nikon glasses(not ef, simple AI) on canon?
    with d300s, they said, some metering is available, what features on 7d?
    i love my 105 nikkor and 28 and all i have

    tks for sharing your great works

    cheers from italy

      1. I used the fotodiox adaptor to get my old Nikon slr 50mm on the T2i. Looks Great! Totally worth it! Nothing like a shallow dof and better low light capabilities 🙂

  30. Hey Bro,
    You know I like a small light weight camera. For many, this will fit the bill giving them way better picture then imaginable (no need for 2 cameras when traveling) plus an optical viewfinder which is a big plus for photographer/video dudes like me. Not as small as my GF1 that you bought me, but I have two solutions depending on the size I need for the gig. It is an exciting time in the industry, what’s next?

  31. Weak build, lack of buttons and NO color temperature control (this is too valuable in video to part with), guess I’m staying with the 7D. Thanks for this awesome review Phil!