"Upgraded from T2i"4.5 starson by JessopCG11
Pros: Outstanding Image Quality
Great build quality, rubber grips are actually quite nice, feeling much more flexible and grippy.
Very good autofocusing with video
Ease Of Use
Cons: Q button is almost directly above the "up" button
Learning curve on the touchscreen
Summary: I've owned 3 Canon cameras over the years, a Rebel SLR film camera, upgraded to the XTi for digital, then up to the T2i as it added video. I skipped the T1i/T3i as the feature set didn't seem that much improved over my previous models for the cost. I've been very happy with the T2i, shooting over 4000 pictures with it. However, I take a lot of video with the T2i and the stereo mic plus the enhanced Digic 5 processor for better low light performance and an upcoming trip to Vegas (with lots of night shot potential) sold me on upgrading again. I shot about 500 photos over the past week with it.
The T2i wasn't without its quirks. For example if I was shooting at an obvious target with the center focus point it would consistently try to autofocus somewhere else off to the side if it was closer. I got around this by just enabling the center AF point but it would still occasionally hunt for the focus. Another problem I had with it was its occasional color reproduction. There's a bar at Vegas in the Aria casino called the Moderno Bar with a dark chocolate brown sign and faux trees lit with a blue light that, no matter how I adjusted the exposure or color settings would inevitably turn out as blue gray or sandal wood. Intense reds or yellows would come out cooler or more intense than my eye was seeing them. The colors I could fix in post-processing but it was still an annoyance.
I'm pleased to report that the T4i is a decent enhancement.
Low light performance IS better. ISO 3200 is useable... SOMETIMES. It has real problems with gradients (IE dark sunsets, low lighting conditions with shadows will become very noisy and grainy.) Hard brightness/color changes with solid colors look very good, however. I suspect that this is due to the built-in noise reduction processing of the camera and not an improvement on the sensor itself. This noise is NOT noticeable on the built-in screen unless you zoom almost all the way into the picture. But it's readily noticeable on a regular monitor. Like the T2i I've set the limit to max out at ISO 1600. But it IS better than the T2i at ISO 3200.
Color reproduction is better - The Moderno Bar came out near perfect on my first shot with the T4i (and a little manual adjusting got it close enough to perfect for my taste for the effect I was going for). Reds don't tend to "bloom" as much either and blend better with the scene. Auto-Exposure is still tricky, but whereas the T2i guessed too dark and captured a bright picture, the T4i errs on the other side and guesses too light and captures a darker picture. That's not a killer issue because that's readily apparent from the image review but still a quirk nonetheless.
Autofocusing - Much better. I still only use the center AF point but it was very rare for me to not "lock" onto a point to get what I wanted.
Stereo Mic - The mic is moved to the top of the camera just in front of the flash hot shoe. Stereo separation is decent and the mic is much clearer than the T2i's (much more high end) But... the mic is on the top so its much more sensitive to wind noise. Even the slightest breeze will sound like a hurricane. Canon's added a wind noise attenuator that can be enabled which essentially clips the wind noise after half a second. Overall I'm pleased with the audio.
UPDATE - Watch your breathing/camera placement - I was doing some videoing with the camera held at chest level, breathing through my nose and the mic sounded like I was in a hurricane.
Autofocusing with video - You don't need the STM lens to get the autofocus feature. The T4i will automatically step the lens to bring things into focus though it might end up hunting for a bit. This is much better than the T2i's autofocusing abilityu but still not a great solution. You WILL hear the noise of the lens focusing, even with an ultrasonic motor. (I did not have an STM lens to test with as all the kits in my area that contained them had been recalled for the rubber grip issue and none of my local dealers had the lens itself in stock) For the T2i I ended up pre-focusing on a far away target then leaving the focus untouched for most cases or manually focusing while videoing and I continued the practice for the T4i.
Variable touch screen - Neat feature but I just didn't use the variable portion of the screen. The touch screen is cool but I found the touch to focus tricky and sensitive to being "retouched" before I could press the shutter button. If you're right handed, you're going to want to touch the screen with your right hand while holding the camera in your left, then grip the right side with your right hand while moving the left to get a brtter steady position and I found myself brushing the screen with my left thumb way too much. You can also "swipe" your pictures and pinch zoom them while viewing them but the buttons still retain the same functionality as before so I continued to just use them.
Build quality - The rubber grips (the source of the recall) are actually quite nice, feeling much more flexible and "grippy". The buttons on the back have rough edged plastic that makes them more tactile but also feels a little cheaper. The button clicking is much more pronounced though and I think that's a good thing. (My only complaint is that the Q button is almost directly above the "up" button so I kept overshooting the up button and pressing it instead when doing fast adjustments so that I was adjusting other things besides what I wanted)
If you already have a T2i and don't care about stereo audio or low light photography, I'm not sure you need to upgrade. The focusing and reproduction are somewhat better but I'm not sure it's $900 better if you're not interested in the newer features. On the other hand if you're a new buyer this is a decent camera to start with.
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I hope this review is helpful.