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Canon EOS 550D / Rebel T2i Gordon Laing, March 2010
 

Canon EOS 550D / Rebel T2i results : Real-life resolution JPEG / RAW / High ISO Noise JPEG / RAW

Canon EOS 550D / Rebel T2i vs Nikon D90 Real-life resolution (JPEGs using default settings)

 
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To compare real-life performance we shot the same scene with the Canon EOS 550D / Rebel T2i and the Nikon D90 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings and base sensitivities.

Each camera was fitted with its respective kit lens: the EOS 550D / T2i with the EF-S 18-135mm IS and the D90 with the DX 18-105mm VR. Both lenses were set to f8 in Aperture Priority and adjusted to deliver the same field of view.


Nikon's D90 may be an older model, but in the absence of an updated version at the time of writing, it still represents one of the biggest rivals for the Canon EOS 550D / Rebel T2i. At the time of testing, both cameras shared a similar body price, and were also available in kits with longer than average zoom lenses – and it's these lenses which we've used in the comparisons below. Note the results for the D90 also provide an indication of what you can expect from the cheaper D5000 and pricier D300s, as all three bodies share the same sensor and imaging pipeline.



The image above was taken with the Canon EOS 550D / Rebel T2i at 100 ISO with an exposure of 1/400 and the lens set to 22mm f8; the original Large Fine JPEG measured 8.45MB. We matched the exposure on the Nikon D90, with 1/800 at f8 using its higher base sensitivity of 200 ISO; note this required -0.7EV compensation over the metered exposure. The crops below are taken from the areas marked with the red squares and presented here at 100%. The crops from the D90 show a larger area due to its lower resolution.

Beyond the area reproduced in the crops, the most obvious differences between the samples are the punchier processing of the Canon and an absence of coloured fringing on the Nikon. The latter is not down to superior optics, but effective in-camera reduction of fringing on JPEGs – it’s a useful feature found on many of Nikon’s latest DSLRs and one which Canon still doesn’t implement in-camera, although as you’ll see on the next page it’s an easy process to perform when processing RAW files.

As for the image processing, Canon has adopted a consumer-friendly, punchy approach for the EOS 550D / T2i using its default settings, and this will suit most of its target audience. JPEGs straight from the camera are sharp and vibrant, although not over-cooked. In contrast, Nikon went for a more restrained approach with the D90, again well-suited for its original audience of higher-end enthusiasts, although side-by-side with the Canon here it can look a little flat. If you prefer a punchier style, it's easy to achieve a similar result to the Canon by boosting the sharpening and contrast. On the next page we've attempted to match their processing style for a more level playing field.

Ultimately though, with 50% more pixels in total, the EOS 550D / Rebel T2i can capture finer real-life detail than the D90, although perhaps not as much as you’d think given the large difference in numbers. Remember this test was also taken under bright light at the lowest sensitivities, so be sure to check our High ISO Noise results pages to see how they compare as the sensitivity increases.

Now head on over to our Canon EOS 550D / Rebel T2i Real-life RAW resolution page where we’ve compared the same crops but this time from RAW files, processed to deliver a similar degree of sharpness.


Canon EOS 550D / Rebel T2i : JPEG
with Canon EF-S 18-135mm IS
 
Nikon D90: JPEG
with Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 200 ISO
     
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 200 ISO
     
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 200 ISO
     
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 200 ISO



Canon EOS 550D / Rebel T2i results continued...

Real-life resolution JPEG / RAW / High ISO Noise JPEG / RAW



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