Last year, I changed over from a solid point-and-shoot digital camera to a DSLR. I’m an amateur photographer at best, but I want to learn more about the art of photography, so the Canon EOS Rebel XSi was my choice last summer. The XSi has served me very well for both work and personal shooting, but recently I heard about the new T1i from Canon. On the outside, it looks nearly identical to the camera I use today, but there are a few key internal upgrades that got me to pull the trigger.
- Resolution – The XSi I’ve been using offers a 12.2-megapixel sensor, while the T1i is bumped up to 15.1-megapixels. Taken alone, the number of pixels a sensor offers doesn’t indicate quality; other factors do come into play. However, all things being equal, the boost will be welcome as I like to shoot scenes that equate to larger photos.
- On-camera display – Both camera bodies offer a 3-inch LCD display for the Live View function as well as modifying various settings. This display the T1i provides is VGA, or 640×480 resolution; the XSi offers QVGA, or 320×240 resolution.
- Processor – The new camera runs on the DIGIC 4 image processor as opposed to the DIGIC III found in the XSi. I think of this this like a CPU boost in a notebook and it’s the same image processor used in some of Canon’s higher-end cameras. Aside from faster image processing, it’s advertised as offering improved noise reduction as well. Plus it allows for a new feature and the one that I’m most excited about…
- HD video recording – This is the biggest reason that I’m opting for what’s essentially a marginal upgrade. The T1i can record video in three different modes: 1080p at 20fps, 720p at 30fps and VGA-quality at 30fps. I’ve watched several sample videos taken with the T1i and I doubt I’ll be using the 1080p recording mode much; the slower frame-rate shows some jerkiness to me. It seems OK if you and the subject aren’t moving, but action causes issues.
While I’ve used the Kodak Zi6 for high-definition recording in the past, it has its limits. For the $150 I paid, it’s been a great little workhorse and I’ll still use it, just not as much. It will all depend on where I’m going to be and what I have room to carry. When the T1i and lenses are too much to tote, the Zi6 will make the trip since it can fit in a pocket. Most of our HD videos here on the site were shot with the Zi6, and I’ll be switching over to the T1i once it arrives. It ought to be interesting to see the difference between the output of the two. One immediate advantage the T1i will offer is the ability to zoom and use different lenses.
Again, I’m barely what you’d call an amateur photographer, but I’m hoping to continue my learning. We don’t often cover digital cameras here on the site, but this is gear that I use while mobile, so I figured it might be of interest. You can follow along as my digital photo skills hopefully grow by hitting my Flickr photostream. The properties of each photo will tell you which camera I used, so you can see the difference between my older cameras and the new one.
I should also point out that there are other differences between the XSi that I currently use and the T1i that’s scheduled to arrive this week. I only covered a few of the basics, so if you want a full rundown of the new features, I recommend this Digital Photography Review writeup.