It wasn't that long ago that the T1i first brought 1080p video to an entry-level digital SLR--albeit at a pokey 20 frames per second. Today, Canon's latest digital Rebel, the T2i borrows the video capabilities of the far more advanced 7D in a sub-$1,000 package.
The T2i shoots 1080p video at the full range of frame rates desired by hobbyists and cinema pros alike--24, 25 and 30 frames per second. It also includes the same manual exposure controls during video capture--essentially every major video-shooting feature of the 7D.
The similarities continue: An 18-megapixel APS-C sensor is inside that matches almost every feature of the 7D's own, differing only in its speed--a 4-channel readout as opposed to 8 means a slower burst mode, capturing 3.7 frames per second instead of 8. ISO range is also similar, with a standard max of 6400 which boosts to 12,800.
The T2i also borrows the refined ergonomics and control scheme of the 7D, with a dedicated video button up top. A new high-resolution 3-inch LCD (1.4 million dots) graces the back.
So what do you lose from downgrading from the $1,700 7D? The aforementioned speed, the tougher magnesium body alloy, the enhanced body shape (and thumb wheel), and the suite of still-photo enhancements like faster autofocusing and the 7D's extremely programmable and customizable control scheme.
Still, for savings of almost $1,000 (the T2i is $900 with a kit lens, $800 for the body only), matching the 7D in the feature areas most will care about--HD video capture and imaging sensor--is quite a nice looking package. And for those who are served just fine by 720p video, look for the otherwise-excellent T1i to come down in price.