Canon Rebel T2i Digital Camera Review$899.99
With noise reduction turned off, the T2i had noise levels above 2% at ISO 3200. That's more noise than registered in any of the competitors' models. Fortunately, the 'Normal' and 'High' levels of noise reduction were fairly effective, with normal noise reduction keeping noise to just under 1% at ISO 800.
The T2i is fairly unusual in having significantly lower noise in the yellow spectrum. The T1i registered similar results. More on how we test noise.
The official ISO range on the Rebel T2i is 100 to 3200, but the camera also boasts an 'extended range' that opens up additional options: ISO 6400 and 'H' (approximately ISO 12800).
The table below contains same-size crops taken from still life photos shot with each of the comparison cameras at all standard ISO settings.
The Rebel T2i has the same nine-point autofocus system as most Canon DSLRs. Eight points are arranged in a rhombus, with one central point in the middle. You can either focus manually, allow the camera to focus automatically with all nine focal points, or select one of the nine specific points to use for autofocus.
The focus generally feels fast, though it slows down a bit in low light. Even in low light, however, we found that the T2i autofocus system is responsive and accurate. The focusing motor isn't too loud, but when you're recording video, its proximity to the microphone definitely provides an audible grinding noise in the background. This is a problem with most SLRs. You can read more about it in the Audio section of the Video Features portion of the review.
There is an 'autofocus assist beam,' though it's associated with the built-in flash, which will fire a short series of bursts in order to help the T2i autofocus in low light. There is no dedicated infrared focus assist beam. If you prefer to use only IR focus assist, you can purchase an external flash with this feature and set the camera to activate focus assist only when the infrared beam is available.
The T2i has three choices for focus modes: One Shot, AI Servo (AKA Continuous), and AI Focus, which switches between the two other focus modes, depending on whether the subject is in motion or not.
The long exposure test is designed to examine color accuracy and noise at reduced lighting levels. Like its predecessor, the Rebel T2i fared poorly in this category, producing less accurate colors and noisier images than many competing models. More on how we test long exposure.
In our test, the noise reduction setting consistently resulted in less accurate colors. The T2i really struggled across all shutter speeds in this test.
Noisewise, the T2i generally kept noise levels below one percent. This isn't a horrible performance, but it is worse than the numbers turned in by most SLRs. Fortunately, the noise reduction system does seem to reduce the noise levels at each shutter speed, if only by a small margin.
Compared to similar models, the Rebel T2i fared rather poorly in our long exposure tests.
Video: Low Light Sensitivity
The Canon T2i required 11 lux of light to reach 50 IRE on our waveform monitor, which is a decent score for a camera of its class. Much like we saw with the Canon 7D, the T2i didn't have much difference between its low light sensitivity when shooting 24p or 30p video.