Canon has turned up the heat in the "somewhere between entry level and professional photographer" market with the announcement of its new addition to the EOS family, the Rebel T2i. As well as a new 18 megapixel sensor, the feature and function heavy T2i also includes improved ISO control and better metering, the facility to shoot full HD movies, a brighter 3:2 aspect LCD display and support for SDXC cards.

It's been less than a year since Canon offered budding photographers who wanted more than an entry-level camera but couldn't quite stretch to a professional system, some pro-level camera candy in the shape of the EOS T1i. Now the company seems to have responded to the numerous feature-rich offerings from the likes of Nikon, Pentax and Olympus by pumping out a Rebel that's positively bursting at the seams with the kind of professional-level specs usually reserved for a much higher price point.

Much more than increased pixel count

A newly developed 18 megapixel CMOS sensor and sophisticated 63-zone Dual Layer Metering System brings the T2i in line with the much more expensive EOS 7D. Continuous shooting of 3.7 frames per second (fps) makes it the fastest Rebel to date (although the buffer now holds fewer images than its predecessor) and manual control over the Auto ISO function offers users the ability to "retain dark shadow areas and avoid blowing out highlight areas in a scene while still retaining the benefit of automatic ISO adjustments."

Although essentially featuring the same ISO100 to ISO6400 range (expandable via Custom Function to 12,800) as the T1i, the new camera no longer places the ISO6400 in the expanded range. Further high-end image quality technology has made it into the new Rebel, including high ISO noise reduction with four user-selectable settings and long exposure noise reduction applied to exposures one second or longer, automatic correction of vignetting, easier access to functions to enhance shadow detail and add contrast to "flat" scenes and the ability to add more detail to bright highlighted areas.

Full high definition video too

Recording full 1920 x 1080 HD video at either 30, 25 or 24 fps is brought to the Rebel range for the first time as well as a new standard definition (640 x 480 at 60 or 50 fps) feature called Movie Crop, which crops an image directly from the CMOS sensor to provide an additional 7 times zoom without loss of image quality. Also new is an external stereo microphone input in addition to a built in mono microphone. The HDMI-out is now compatible with Consumer Electronics Control technology where a TV remote can be used to control the camera when connected to a suitably compliant HD TV.

Viewing images or video on the camera's 3in Clear View LCD display benefits from a widescreen 3:2 aspect ratio instead of the T1i's 4:3 and a slight improvement in the resolution, now at 1.04 million dots. The new Rebel is of course compatible Canon EX-series Speedlites, EF and EF-S lenses and increases storage options by offering SDXC memory card support. Off-camera manipulation can be undertaken via the included Digital Photo Professional software.

Canon has penciled in a March release date for the new Rebel and is hoping that it "succeeds in bridging the gap between an entry-level camera and a true pro-sumer camera". Expect to pay around US$900 for the body and EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens or about US$800 for the body only. And for those who still can't bring themselves to part with that much cash, keep an eye open for Rebel T1i deals as it will remain in the range (no doubt at a suitably lower price point) for some time yet.

View gallery - 5 images