Archive for March 27, 2009

Canon EOS Rebel T1i: an $800 SLR that shoots HD video

For years, I've wondered which type of product will win the "hybrid" or "convergence" war: An HD camcorder with all the quality and flexibility of a good digital camera? Or a camera offering the quality of HD video found on a good camcorder? I've got my motives: I'd love to be able to use just one device to shoot photos and video of my kids, family and friends.

To date, no one product meets both of my requirements. But Canon's new 15-megapixel EOS Rebel T1i SLR seems to be giving cameras a slight edge over camcorders. (Although all consumer-grade camcorders can take digital still photos, nearly all do a mediocre job, producing middling quality and low-resolution images.)

Meanwhile there are three SLRs and many point-and-shoots that claim to capture HD video. Plus, Panasonic's second micro four-thirds, SLR-like camera, the Lumix GH-1, also takes HD video.

The Rebel T1i is Canon's response to the Nikon D90, the first SLR on the market to offer HD video. (The third SLR is Canon's first with HD video, the EOS 5D, Mark II. But priced around $2800, body only, it's more than what most average consumers will pay for an SLR.)

At $800 for a body-only model, or $900 with the 18-55mm image-stabilized zoom, the Rebel T1i is cheaper than the Nikon D90, which is $1000 body-only or $1300 with a longer 18-105mm image-stabilized zoom. That makes the T1i the least expensive SLR that has HD-video capability.

The Rebel T1i differs from the D90 in another potentially significant way: Canon claims it can shoot at 720p (at 30 frames per second or fps) or 1080p (at 20fps). The Nikon D90 can only shoot 720 video at the slightly slower 24 fps. The T1i also lets you autofocus when shooting video, which you can't do with the D90.

Of course, we won't know just how good the video quality is until we get the Rebel T1i in our labs. And our experience with the Nikon D90's HD video wasn't promising: Its video quality didn't match that of even lower-ranked HD camcorders in our Ratings.

In some ways, the Rebel T1i combines features and specs from two of its siblings, the Rebel XSi, $650, and the pricier EOS 50D, $1400, body only. It's exterior is similar to the XSi. Plus, it includes 9-autofocus points, ships with an image-stabilized kit lens, and has the same 1.6x magnification factor for lenses. Also, Canon rates the T1i's burst mode nearly the same as the XSi: 3.4 fps vs. 3.5. But its sensor and processor are similar to the EOS 50D, since it's a 15-megapixel camera and its 3-inch LCD has more than 900,000 dots, which should make for far more detailed images on the display.

For more on SLRs, go to our SLR Ratings (available to subscribers).

The Rebel T1i will be available in May.

—Terry Sullivan

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lalalala asked:

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