Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Canon Rebel T2i/550D vs the 7D

Right now, you can buy the Canon EOS 7D for $1699.99, or you can wait a few weeks and get the Rebel T2i / (550D) So what should you do?

Seems pretty obvious; buy 2 Rebel T2i's! Well, maybe not, but if you were thinking of getting the 7D just for video, then maybe the Rebel is the way to go.

Both support the same video mode (HD 1920x1080 at 30 (29.97), 25 or 24 (23.976) fps, 1280x720 or  640x480 at 60 (59.94) or 50 fps), have the same crop factor (1.6), same resolution sensor - it’s unclear if it’s exactly the same chip - and support manual setting of aperture and shutter in video mode. The most significant differences – for shooting video – are less to do with the video and more to do with the build quality of the cameras. Most notably, the 7D is magnesium alloy rather than polycarbonate and has better weather sealing. Of course, this comes at the expense of weight.

Other notable differences: The T2i uses SDHC/SDXC cards while the 7D uses Compact Flash. The T2i uses a new LP-E8 battery, while the 7D uses LP-E6 (which is also used by the Canon 5D Mark II.) From the numbers Canon is quoting, the battery life of the 7D is about 15-20% longer than the Rebel. While both support ISO from 100-6400, the 7D can extend to 12800.

According to the specs, the T2i meters in Live-View using Real-time evaluative metering, while the 7D also supports center-weighted average metering.

The Rebel is much lighter (18.7 oz./530g(including battery vs 28.9 oz./820g body only) and has a higher resolution LCD screen 1,040,000 dots with 160 degree viewing angle vs 920,000 and 170 degree viewing angle on the 7D.

For still photographers the differences are more significant. The 7D supports sRaw and mRaw (in addition to RAW + JPEG supported by the T2i) has 19 AF-points vs 9, Color Temperature setting, a higher shutter speed (1/8000 vs 1/4000), a 100% pentaprism vs a 95% pentamirror, and 27 custom functions vs. 12. The 7D also works with the Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E5A.

The 7D has the additional LCD display on the top, and supports a higher continuous mode (8 vs 3.7) and a maximum burst mode of 94 vs. 34 for JPEG Large/Fine.

One BIG difference?
It’s being rumored that because the SDXC cards will support exFAT, this will do away with the 4GB file / 12 minutes limitation that exists in the 7D and 5D Mark II.

As exciting as this possibility is, I’m waiting to see if they have actually done this, or if they are still limiting recording to 4GB. If they have upgraded the time limit to 29 minutes and 59 seconds in HD, as they do with SD, that would be a significant advantage for the T2i.

Until people get them in their hands, it’s hard to come to a firm conclusion, but at the moment my advice would be that if you are primarily interested in video, the Rebel T2i is the way to go. I think the 7D is still a nicer camera, but you’re paying twice as much, and if you’re only using it for video, why pay for all the extras? Buy the T2i and a good rain cover and be done with it!

And if the T2i does go to 29 minutes recording time, then it will be no contest. The T2i will have a huge advantage over the 7D.


[UPDATED 2/11 - Changed reference to FAT32 to exFAT]


pfisher101 said...

This article claims the SDXC cards support the fat32 file system. Fat32 is the same file system on SDHC cards and the reason for the 4gb file size limit. I'm guessing this is a type-o and it's meant to read the SDXC cards support NTFS, which would do away with the file size limitation.

Michael Murie said...

Your right, it's not FAT32, that's what the old limitation was.
Though from the material I could find, the SDXC format support exFAT, which I think is different to NTFS?

Unknown said...

I don't think they'll ever increase the file size of the movies... not because of technology, space or file systems... I think it's a tax reason.
If they allow stills cameras to record HD files longer than the current time allowed then it means it then classifies as a videocamera, which carry a higher duty.
Could be wrong but thought I'd mention it.

Unknown said...

I think the lighter weight to the camera will really come into play shooting video - in a bad way. As a cinematographer who occasionally shoots with the 7D, I have noticed that because the camera is so light and has such a short front-to-back length in comparison to other video cameras that every shake is extremely noticeable when moving around using prime lenses. The best way to avoid this short of a shoulder rig or steadicam is actually ADDING weight to the camera. So the fact that the 550D is actually lighter is a huge turnoff for me.

Unknown said...

lol Alex your nuts.

for a talented stedi op this is awesome.

Unknown said...

@ Luke

I think the light weight overall is awesome - don't misunderstand me! But I don't think anything needs to be even lighter than what the 7D already is. AND if you read my post more carefully you will see I am not talking about the weight as it relates to operating on a stedicam, but instead handheld - as in IN your hands. Of course less weight on a stedi rig is preferred, but when you are running around handholding this camera, the light weight and its short front-to-back weight distribution makes it very prone to jitters. So the fact that the 550D will be even lighter makes me think we will have to be even more cautious to avoid jitters.
Please read more carefully before dismissing any opinion as nuts.

pfisher101 said...

Alex, I have owned both the 550 and 7d and they are both prone to shake. It seems strange to want to use one of these dslr's for video, hand held, unless of course that's the look you're going for. I use three supports regularly: shoulder mount. Glidecam, and monopod. I don't expect to operate these cameras like a run ands gun video camera, they are anything but. I do, however, love the footage they give me and I'm williing to work with their limitations (as with all equipment).
Have you tried IS lenses? They might help, but I think you may just have to accept these limitations and use a shoulder mount rig, I'm really happy using just the cheap-o spider brace.

Btw, I don't think you're a nut for expecting everything out of a camera, but it's a bit wishful.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pfisher101 said...

The 12 minute time limit is a limitation of the cards file system (fat32) the cards use this system so older macs can read them too. Fat 32 can only store files up to 4gb in size so apporox 12 min 1080p 18 minute 720p. AVCHD cams also have this limit, they just create a new clip that can be stitched to the previous ( I believe Panasonics Video DSLR does this too. So the only camera I know for sure is the 7D and yes clip length is 12 minutes at 1080p. Really though, 12 minutes is quite a long clip. I'm not sure about the upcoming t2i, but it seems, the rumor is that it will be able to use SDXC cards which supposedly can hold files longer than 4GB. All that being said, will the sensor be able to stay cool???
So I guess my answer is "I DUNNO"

Michael Murie said...

I'd almost be willing to bet money that the T2i doesn't record for longer than 4 GB (i.e. 12 minutes), even with the SDXC cards. No one; neither Canon or any of the reviewers so far, have mentioned this change.

rombe3jr said...

Can someone please explain the 12 minute limitation better... All I want to know is if when the 12 minute clip is up... can you record another clip immediatly following? If it's a SD card size limitation, can you just swap cards and keep shooting? If its a sensor overheating issue, how long does it take the sensor to cool down?

Michael Murie said...

rombe3jr: I took a stab at your question here:

The 12 minute thing

Unknown said...

FAT32, NTFS, exFAT are all different file systems from Microsoft. exFAT has a file limit of over a Zetta byte. That's over 1000 Terabytes.

SDXC cards will be exFAT, currently they are available but are over $200 for 64GB cards.

All indications are that eventually exFAT will be the new standard on flash media as FAT32 is quickly becoming very limited and outdated.