In the last year, a handful of camera manufacturers have added HD video recording capabilities to their DSLRs. Nikon initially beat Canon in this race by introducing the $999, 12.3 megapixel D90. Canon wasn’t too far behind, though, with its $2,699, 21.1 megapixel EOS 5D Mark II that is capable of capturing 1080p (better than the D90’s 720p capabilities). At close to $3,000 however, the EOS 5D Mark II wasn’t a lot of competition for the D90 in the consumer space.
Time and technology always march on and now you’ll find that Canon’s latest offering, the EOS Rebel T1i, is in a much better position to compete against the D90 and against the brand new 12.3 megapixel Nikon D5000. The 15.1 megapixel Rebel T1i not only beats the D90 and D5000 in terms of HD video capabilities (like the EOS 5D Mark II, the Rebel T1i can record 1080p movies), but it also comes with an MSRP of $899.99 with its EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens.
The Rebel T1i is the successor to the hugely popular EOS Rebel XSi. You’ll find many external similarities between the two models. They have similar weights and dimensions, but the newer Rebel T1i inherits a number of features from the higher-end EOS 50D and EOS 5D Mark II models such as the DIGIC 4 Imaging Processor and the ability to process full HD video.
There are still some key differences between the Rebel T1i and its higher-end counterparts, however. For starters, the Rebel T1i has half the data transfer rate, which causes the Rebel T1i to have a slower continuous shooting rate than the EOS 50D and EOS 5D Mark II. This transfer rate also means that the Rebel T1i’s 1080p video mode is only able to capture video at 20fps (there’s also a 720p / 30fps mode.) Since we would expect Canon’s consumer-grade, entry-level Rebel line to offer fewer features than the semi-pro and professional models, these differences don’t necessarily signal a disappointment, at least for the mainstream target end user this camera appeals to.
Is the new T1i the killer DSLR it appears to be? We put it through its paces to find out.