Controls, Response, And Menus
The Rebel T1i's menu system is well organized and easy to navigate. In the Creative Zone modes (Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, Automatic Depth of Field AE), you'll notice eight color-coded tabs across the top of the menu system with various functions assigned to each tab. In the Basic Zone modes, there are only five tabs across the top of the menu system.
Like other Canon DSLRs we've seen to date, the Rebel T1i includes a Creative Auto (CA) mode that essentially provides a means for beginners to experiment with manual controls. Instead of selecting a particular aperture, for instance, the CA mode provides an on-screen slider that lets you adjust the sharpness of the background. Another slider is used in CA mode to adjust the exposure compensation. Given that the Rebel T1i targets consumers who may be purchasing his or her first DSLR, the CA mode seems more appropriate for the Rebel line than for the 50D on which it made its debut. For more advanced photographers, this mode will be a bit too simplified.
When shooting in Live View mode, you'll need to press the AE / AF lock * button in order to focus on your subject. Canon has used this setup in earlier models as well, but now Canon has added instructions on the camera's LCD to tell you how to autofocus (previously, you'd have to read the owner's manual to figure this out.) Ultimately, we would have preferred that Canon implement autofocus with the half-press of a shutter release similar to many point and shoot models, but at least the on-screen instructions are a step in the right direction.
You must select one of the Creative Zone modes in order to use Live View shooting. While shooting in Live View, you can use one of three autofocus modes: Live Mode, Face Detection Live Mode, and Quick Mode. You can also focus on your subject manually. In Live Mode and Face Detection Live Mode, the image sensor is used to focus. Because this method doesn't interrupt the Live View preview, it is most similar to what you'd find on a point-and-shoot digital camera. In Quick Mode, the dedicated AF sensor is used to focus using the same autofocus method as is used with viewfinder shooting. While this focusing method in Live View is the quickest, the Live View image will be momentarily interrupted while the camera focuses on your subject. If you opt to focus manually, you can zoom in on a portion of the Live View preview to ensure you've accurately focused on a specific area of the photo.
You can select and set many of the camera's shooting settings directly from the LCD monitor thanks to the Quick Control Screen. To access these controls, simply press the Set button when the shooting settings are displayed on the LCD. You'll find that there are many more options that you can control from the Creative Zone modes than from the more automatic Basic Zone shooting modes.
When looking through the Rebel T1i’s viewfinder, you’ll see nine AF-points with a spot metering circle in the center. Canon doesn't build image stabilization into the body of the camera, so you'll need to buy a lens with image stabilization if you want to take advantage of this technology. Thankfully, Canon's kit lens for the Rebel T1i includes image stabilization which helps to reduce the effects of camera shake on an image.
Anytime you switch the power of the Rebel T1i On or Off, you'll notice that the Self Cleaning Sensor Unit operates to automatically shake off the dust on the front of the sensor. Should you feel the need, you can also activate this cleaning option manually or disable it. If visible dust remains even after the Self Cleaning Sensor Unit operates, you can activate Canon's Dust Delete Data function to help remove dust during post processing.