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Best Canon Rebel camera

The EOS Rebel series by Canon is a highly popular series, and for good reason. It's filled with excellent entry level digital SLRs, perfect for beginners and intermediate photographers. Here is our short list of the best cameras in the Canon Rebel series.

1) Canon EOS Rebel T1i

Rebel T1i camera

The EOS Rebel T1i is Canon's main entry level DSLR, and it packs good image quality, a 15.1 megapixel sensor, solid performance, and good video all in a price way less than $1000, making it our favorite DSLR in the EOS Rebel series. There's a lot to like about it, and we're not alone either: it has been the best selling digital SLR in Amazon for over a year, consistently in the top 20 in salesrank.

The EOS Rebel T1i is a solidly designed camera that feels professional, sturdy and durable. The rubberized grip is comfortable, and Canon makes it easy to use the T1i with just hand because of the left-aligned rear LCD display. The button layout is user friendly. There's a dedicated button for ISO, and the menu button is conveniently located on top of the rear LCD screen. Our only minor gripe with the design is the tiny record button used for recording movies. The LCD screen is big and bright, and features a high resolution with 920,000 dots, making it highly useful in judging images after you captured them.

In terms of image quality, we were amazed at how gorgeous our photos were, especially considering the price range. Canon basically installed the same sensor as the EOS 5D Mark II (a much more expensive camera), so this wasn't surprising. The colors are a bit saturated than average, especially red, and orange, to appeal to mainstream consumers that want brighter, more intense colors. Hue accuracy is among the best in its class. Our photos had loads of detail, and only a few edge enhancement artifacts.

The EOS Rebel T1i is also well known for its high ISO performance. In fact, it's pretty similar to the EOS 50D. At low ISO's of 100 and 200, all our images were clean, sharp, and noise free. At 400, details are still retained with no noise, and this is so in ISO 800 as well. At 1600, we started to notice loss of detail, and blurring, but you can still manage prints at 13 X 19 inches. At 3200, you'll really notice the loss in detail, and prints should be about 11 X 14 inches or below. If you go above 3200, you can still manage solid prints at 5 X 7. So overall, the Rebel T1i delivers great quality, and you can still generate good prints in high ISOs if you keep the prints at a reasonable size.

The video mode is a cool feature that should appeal to those that like to play with video.You can capture 1080p videos at 20 frames per sec, but we recommend sticking with 720p at 30 frames per second. Recording video is not as easy as you might think since the T1i can't autofocus as quickly as camcorders. We admit though, the idea of capturing video with a wide range of lenses is pretty enticing.

Overall, Canon has produced a winner in the T1i, and we're not afraid to recommend it to people looking for their best digital SLR. It packs good features, and great image quality + performance that rivals cameras that cost way more. Unless you got a pair of lenses from Nikon, Pentax, Olympus or other brands, we suggest going out and buying the T1i.

What's great about it:
- Very good performance
- Image quality is superb
- Supports video capture in HD

What's not so great:
- Viewfinder is below average

Summary: The Canon EOS Rebel T1i is one of the best entry level digital SLRs, not just in the Rebel series, but among all DSLRs. It delivers solid image quality and performance for a reasonable price.

2) Canon EOS Rebel T2i

Canon Rebel T2i

The Rebel T1i is a solid entry level camera, but if you got a few hundred dollars more to spend, we recommend checking out the Rebel T2i, it's followup. The T2i increases the resolution from 15 megapixels to a whopping 18, and has an improved HD video experience.

Like the T1i, we like the sleek design of the Rebel T2i. It has a nice, comfortable rubber grip. Some people say it feels plasticky like a toy, and we tend to agree it does feel plasticky. However, once you put the accessory grip on it, that feeling goes away.

In the front of the camera you have your lens mount and release button, as well as the self-timer, remote sensor, and depth of field preview button. On the top of the camera, we have the hot shoe, the power button, a button for ISO, and the shutter wheel and shutter button. All in all, things are where you expect them to be.

What separates the T2i from other cameras is its performance and responsiveness. Power up time is almost instant, and it's ready to start focusing the moment you flip the power. Shutter lag measures at just .02 seconds and .18 seconds for autofocus acquisition. It shoots at 3.7 frames per second, among the best in its class.

The image quality is superb, and met our expectations. Colors were fairly accurate, although they are a tad more intense and brighter. The Rebel T2i also does a good job of controlling noise. Of course, you'll see visible noise at 12,800 but you can still manage good prints if you keep the size low. We didn't see any noise when using ISO 800 or below, and even 1600 wasn't a big issue.

Rebel T2i sample

Rebel T2i second sample

Rebel T2i third sample

The 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens that comes with the Canon Rebel T2i is decent, but not excellent. It's what you'd expect for a kit lens. We noticed softness in the corners, but chromatic distortion was minimal. If you're a beginner, stick with the kit lens, but if you're an expert and buying this as a backup, ditch it.

The battery life leaves a little to be desired, but we can easily overlook this negative. Typically, you'll be able to get 400-450 shots off before needing to recharge, around 50 shots below average.

What's great about it:
- Good color accuracy
- Good performance
- Control layout and design is intuitive
- Good noise profile

What's not so great:
- Kit lens is just average
- Shooting videos is not easy
- Short battery life

Summary: The T2i remains one of the most popular entry level digital cameras, and if you're a beginner, there's probably no better camera to get. Buy the kit lens, go out and take photos, then upgrade the lens when you're ready to advance to the next stage.

3) Canon EOS Rebel XSi

Canon Rebel XSi camera

The Rebel XSi is a nice upgrade from the XTi, and at first glance may not seem like a sexy camera. The body design looks ordinary, if a bit dull, and looking at the features, nothing really stands out.

But it shines in the 2 aspects that really matter the most: performance and photo quality.

Let's talk about performance: The XSi passes with flying colors. Power to first shot is a breezing fast .2 seconds. Shutter lag is .5 seconds in good conditions, fairly average, and 1.2 seconds in dim light. But here's where it shines: Shot to shot takes just .4 seconds for both RAW and JPEG, and with flash, it just increases to .7 seconds, making it among the best in it class. Burst shooting is also top-rate, measuring at 3.4 frames per second. The buffer maxes out at 60 JPEG frames, and 6 RAW frames.

Photo quality is also top-rate. We compared photos with other similarly priced cameras, and there's no contest: The Canon Rebel XSi delivers the best in class image quality. All our photos consistently displayed accurate colors, a good dynamic range, and very little noise when using ISO less than 1600. We do recommend tweaking with the sharpness setting a bit, but everyone should be happy with photos they shoot with this camera.

What's great about it:
- Outstanding photo quality
- Good performance

What's not so great:
- ISO maxed at 1600

Summary: While the Rebel XSi may be missing advanced features present in other digital SLRs, it offers good bang for your buck performance and photo quality.


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