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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 (RAW files matched)

 
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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 RAW files 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.


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 RAW file measured 25.3MB. 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.

We photographed this scene using the RAW plus JPEG modes on each camera, allowing us to directly compare in-camera images against those processed using software later. On this page we've compared the RAW files and attempted to match their processing style. The Canon EOS 550D / T2i file was processed using Digital Photo Professional 3.8 with a sharpness of 4, while the D90 file was processed using Capture NX 2 with a sharpness of 3. We found these settings delivered the closest match in terms of sharpness. Fringing and vignetting lens corrections were also applied in both programs, but we left the measured White Balance unchanged on each image as it was already a fairly close match.

On the previous page the Canon image looked much punchier than the Nikon using the default JPEG settings, but here they're much more closely matched. Rather than just boost the D90's RAW file to match the 550D / T2i's defaults though, we've toned-down the Canon a little for them to meet half-way for a more natural-looking result. The relatively coarse increments on the sharpening settings prevented a perfect match, but it's pretty close.

While some may prefer the D90's somewhat restrained default processing strategy, there's no denying its images can benefit from a little sharpening. Here they've come to life, revealing fine details which were lost in modest processing on the previous page. We also disabled Active D-Lighting in Capture NX, and the resulting contrast looks better for it in this particular image.

The other aspect worth mentioning is the effective removal of the coloured fringing from the first Canon crop. As explained on the previous page, recent Nikon bodies do this automatically for in-camera JPEGs, but Canon still requires you to apply the correction using software later. It's less convenient, but at least it works. That said, the Nikkor kit lens still appears better-corrected than the Canon in this far corner crop.

Ultimately both cameras benefit from shooting in RAW, and we'd recommend it for anyone who wants to get the most from each model. As before though, the EOS 550D / Rebel T2i is still recording finer real-life detail than the D90, but again it's closer than their respective Megapixel counts suggest.

Now let's see how each camera compares across its sensitivity range in our Canon EOS 550D / Rebel T2i High ISO Noise results.


Canon EOS 550D / Rebel T2i : RAW
with Canon EF-S 18-135mm IS
DPP with 4 Sharpening
 
Nikon D90: RAW
with Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR
Capture NX 2 with 3 Sharpening
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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