After 4 years, Canon has released an upgraded camera in the Digital Rebel series that has compelled me to replace my Digital Rebel Xt.
The Digital Rebel T1i, which started shipping in North America this month, is quite an extraordinary camera and a huge upgrade over the Xt. Excellent low light performance (high ISO performance), extreme versatility with the ability to shoot entirely automatic through to fully manual, and lots of usability upgrades.
I won’t be positing a detailed review. That has been covered far more effectively than I ever could by the folks at DPReview.
At above-left is the first image I shot with the T1i. Nothing terribly special, but I couldn’t have taken the same with the Xt without a tripod or switching to the relatively special purpose Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens (but that would have yielded a very narrow depth of field). Since someone asked, I added a link to the Amazon product page, too.
While there are many features and refinements of the T1i that I’m looking forward to leveraging, the high-ISO / low light performance is the one that yields an immediate benefit to me.
I like shooting photos in restaurants and the like, but I hate using a flash. Beyond making the food look artificial and destroying whatever natural ambiance the restaurant has tried to achieve, the flash is a huge annoyance to everyone — staff, customers, chefs, etc..
The photo at right is another shot that I could have done with the Xt without the flash or disruptive use of a tripod and posing.
Certainly, I will also leverage the upgrade from an 8MP to 15.1MP sensor, too. While the whole megapixel wars thing was overhyped and appears to now largely be over, there are some serious advantages to having a lot more pixels.
On the interactive front, it means that you can zoom into a photo and see some interesting details that wouldn’t be apparent with a lower resolution image. Looking at the full sized version of Eddie searing scallops reveals the slight haze caused by the scallops scorching under the flame.
But the biggest advantage of lots and lots of pixels is that it stretches the value of your lenses. In particular, I can shoot a shot with the Canon 100mm macro lens, crop nearly half the picture, and still end up with an image that is of the same resolution as a full framed image from the Xt. That would have been very handy for pictures like this, this, and this.
While the camera is brilliant, the software is not. At least, not so much when you want to work with an all RAW workflow.
Whenever a new camera is released, there is a lag between the release of the camera and when Apple or Adobe releases updates that include RAW support for the camera. Thus, I can’t currently shoot in RAW and import directly into Aperture (or Lightroom).
As I had shot a bunch of the initial images in RAW, I decided to install and use Canon’s RAW processing software to convert the images to usable form.
I summarized the experience with this tweet:
Canon’s camera software is a gigantic turd in the box containing an awesome camera.