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Canon T2i Operation

Like the T1i before it, the Canon T2i relies on its large, color LCD screen for all user interaction. This makes for a very clear, highly visible user interface, but probably does contribute to slightly shorter battery life, since the large LCD has to be fired up any time you want to change a setting. One feature we do like very much is the infrared proximity sensor that turns off the LCD screen when you hold the Canon T2i up to your eye.

Overall, the control layout places a few main controls (Power switch, Shutter button, Main dial, Mode dial, and ISO button) on the right side of the Canon T2i's top panel, with most of the other controls on the back of the camera. Let's take a closer look at some of the user-interface elements:

Canon T2i Rear-Panel LCD Display

The image below shows callouts for all the information shown on the Canon T2i's rear-panel display, by default. (Illustration courtesy Canon USA.)



There are four Screen color options on the Status display, adjustable in the first Settings menu, under Screen color. The color choices on the Canon T2i are different from those on the T1i, although not radically so. The screen also has a slightly wider aspect ratio, which has brought a rearrangement of some icon positions in the information display, as compared to the T1i. I found myself preferring color scheme 2 (top right in the group of shots above) in the daytime, thanks to its strong contrast. Color scheme 4 (bottom right) was similarly useful for shooting at night, reducing the contrast just slightly so as not to tire my eyes.

 

Whatever exposure parameter is currently being controlled by the Canon T2i's Main Dial is highlighted with arrows in the corners of its box, to indicate that it can be changed by rotating the dial. Here, we're adjusting the aperture, marked by the outlined box. Note the arrows. (They're pretty subtle; we would have liked to see them a bit more prominent.)

Like that of its predecessor, the rear-panel display on the Canon T2i is part of a Quick Control menu system. Instead of using the SET button to enter the Quick Control menu, there's now a Quick Control button dedicated to this purpose. Regardless of whether the LCD display was active or disabled, pressing the Quick Control button on the Canon T2i while in capture mode takes you to the Quick Control menu system, where you can adjust various settings shown on the rear-panel display. You navigate between the various setting options with the arrow keys, and the chosen setting will be highlighted as shown above. Once a setting has been selected, you can change it either by rotating the Canon T2i's Main Dial, or by pressing the SET button, and then using the arrow keys to choose from the available options. The Quick Control menu is dismissed with a second press of the Quick Control button.

Pressing any of the arrow keys to the right of the Canon T2i's LCD screen, or the Set button while making changes in the Quick Menu, immediately brings up a screen for the exposure parameter associated with that button. Once the option screen is displayed, you can use either the arrow keys or the Main Dial to scroll the cursor highlight through the options presented. You can continue to press the same arrow-key button, or turn the Main Dial in the same direction, and the highlight will scroll through all the options, wrapping around when it gets to the end of the list. When you've made the choice you want, pressing Canon T2i's Set confirms it and returns you to the main shooting display or Quick Menu, as appropriate.

 

Canon T2i Playback & Record Review Displays

Like the Rebel T1i, the Canon T2i shows each image as it's captured, though you can turn off this function through the Camera menu. The display mode in Record Review defaults to the same as was last used in Playback mode, or you can hit the DISP button to cycle to a different mode. Likewise, in Playback mode, you can cycle between the available display options by pressing the Canon T2i's DISP button repeatedly. (Display mode selection is persistent across both record and playback modes, no matter which mode you make the selection in.) You can also select between the normal luminance-based histogram and the RGB histogram option via a Playback-mode menu item. The screenshots below show the various displays and options available.

Canon T2i Image Display Options
This is the default display in playback mode. The file number is displayed upper right, the shutter speed, aperture, and exposure compensation (if applicable) in the upper left, and the file sequence number and quality are shown below left.
Pressing the DISP button cycles through the four available displays. This is the second option, image with no overlay.
The Canon T2i's third playback display option shows a histogram and more detailed exposure information. A setting in Playback Menu 2 lets you choose between a conventional luminance-only histogram, or the separate red, green, and blue displays. If there are any blown highlights, they'll blink in this mode.
The final playback display option shows both RGB and luminance histograms side by side, along with an intermediate level of exposure information. If there are any blown highlights, they'll blink in this mode.
You can also zoom in on an image, up to 10x at the highest resolution. The small navigator window in the lower right-hand corner shows you what part of the larger image you're currently viewing. The arrow keys let you navigate around the full image, and the zoom in / zoom out keys increase or decrease the magnification level.
If you press the Zoom Out button while viewing a single image on the LCD screen, it'll take you first to a 4-image thumbnail display, and then to a 9-image one, if you press it once again. The arrow keys let you navigate among the thumbnail images. The text above the thumbnails displays the same basic exposure info for the currently-selected image as does the default single-image display. Pressing the DISP button in this mode overlays the image size/quality and file number for the currently selected image, as in normal playback mode.
The Canon T2i handles "jumping" through images in the same manner as the T1i. Rapid scrolling through images is accomplished via the Main Dial (on the camera's top panel), and an option on the Playback menu sets options of jumping through images 1, 10, or 100 images at a time, or on jumping between shots captured on different dates, between groups of movies, or groups of still shots.

The jump menu setting only applies when you're in single-image playback mode, displaying a screen like that above when you use the Main Dial to scroll between stored images. In thumbnail display mode, the Main Dial always jumps ahead one screen of thumbnails at a time, regardless of the menu setting for the Jump option.
Pressing the Delete button brings up this display, giving you the option to erase the current image, or cancel out of the delete option. The Delete display will show either the full image, a thumbnail plus histogram, or a screen of thumbnails with border highlighting the selected thumbnail, depending on the playback mode you've selected.