Canon Rebel T2i Digital Camera Review$899.99
Ease of Use
Buttons & Dials
One of the advantages of an entry-level DSLR is in its sparse button design, which can be less intimidating to first-time users. Controls on the T2i fit nicely into this category. The buttons are all sensibly laid out and the most important features get their own buttons here on the body of the camera. (You'll have to plumb the depths of the menus for everything else.)
There are a couple new design elements this year, including the dedicated Live View / video record button up near the viewfinder. Most beginners won't know that this symbol is Canon's universal language for Live View, but once you know it's there, you'll appreciate its convenient location. There's also a button for the Quick Controls screen; the new button is much more obvious than pressing down the Set button, as you were required to do with the T1i.
Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes
On some entry-level SLRs, including models from Pentax and Olympus, you'll find a number of interesting filters and effects you can apply to the image. (See the Controls section of the Pentax K-x for a sample of the myriad picture effects that are available on some cameras.)
The Rebel T2i has fewer options, focusing mostly on the color modes (or 'Picture Styles') we discussed in the Color section of this review. These options include: Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, and Faithful. If you want a little more customization, each of these Picture Styles can be tweaked for sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color tone: sharpness on a scale from 0 to 7, the others on a scale from -4 to +4. When adjusting the Monochrome settings, your options are sharpness, contrast, filter effect, and toning effect. You can create three 'User Defined' settings and save them for future use.
There is also an 'auto lighting optimizer,' which adjusts exposure and contrast. When enabled, the options are standard, low, and strong.
The Canon menu system always sets a high standard, and the T2i is no exception. The design is always clear, easy to read, and easy to use. There is only one page of options per tab, so you don't have to scroll down to see all the options quickly.
As always, Canon provides users with a thorough, well-written user manual. The Rebel T2i manual includes countless diagrams to clarify camera operation and explains even the more difficult terminology well. The organization of the book is perhaps its greatest weakness; Canon has chosen to explain the simplest settings first and the more complex settings at the end. That means that similar settings are not grouped together, but often scattered throughout the manual. You'll find yourself using the index with great frequency. A pdf version of the manual can be downloaded from Canon by clicking here.
There are two extra information booklets included with the T2i, which will be a familiar sight to Canon consumers. 'Great Photography IS Easy' essentially lavishes praise on Canon's image stabilization system. 'Do More With Macro' is actually a bit useful, especially since a lot of first-time SLR users will probably want to shoot high quality close-up images for the first time.
On the Canon website, you can also access the Digital Learning Center. Canon continually adds more lessons to this tutorial-based website, making it easier for amateur photographers to make the most of Canon products.