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.
- Canon USA: EOS Rebel T2i EF-S
- Canon USA: EOS 7D
- Amazon: Rebel T2i / (550D) ($799.99 body only)
- Amazon: EOS 7D ($1,699.00 body only)
[UPDATED 2/11 - Changed reference to FAT32 to exFAT]