Canon T4i Review

 
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Canon Rebel T4i Video Recording

Most DSLRs offer HD video recording these days, and the Canon T4i is no exception. The Canon T4i's video system is pretty capable for its price point. Bar a few things such as aperture- or shutter-priority exposure control and the generous selection of frame rates and compression types found on some cameras, the T4i ticks most boxes with its feature set. Here's a quick rundown of its video capabilities, along with our usual selection of sample videos at the bottom.

Canon T4i Basic Video Specs

  • 1,920 x 1,080 (Full HD / 1080p), 1,280 x 720 (720p), and 640 x 480 (VGA) recording
  • TTL (through the lens) matrix metering using the main image sensor
  • Evaluative or center-weighted average metering chosen automatically, depending on focus mode
  • MOV file format, with H.264/MPEG-4 AVC encoding
  • Autofocus can be triggered during movie recording by pressing the shutter button, or continuous AF can be enabled
  • Manual focus also available
  • Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity can be controlled in Manual exposure modes, both before and during recording
  • ISO sensitivity can also be controlled automatically in Manual exposure mode
  • All three exposure variables are controlled automatically in other exposure modes
  • Exposure compensation can be selected prior to or during recording
  • Built-in stereo microphone and external stereo 3.5mm microphone jack
  • Fine-grained 64-step audio sensitivity adjustment available, including level display with peak hold indication
  • Still images can be captured while in video recording mode, but doing so pauses recording for a second or so
  • Movies can be "trimmed" in-camera, selecting just the portion you want and optionally saving it as a new file
  • No spec for it, but rolling shutter seems very slight (see rolling shutter section at the end of this page for examples)
  • Video duration limited to 29 minutes, 59 seconds maximum
  • File size restricted to 4 GB maximum; automatically and seamlessly spans movie capture across a second file if needed

Canon T4i Video Speeds & Feeds: Image size, frame rate, and file format

The Canon Rebel T4i offers three different video resolutions and five frame rates, although only three rates are available at any given time depending on the video system setting. When set to NTSC mode, the combinations shown below are available:

Canon T4i Video Options
MOV files, H.264/MPEG-4 encoding
Resolution
Aspect Ratio
NTSC Mode Frame Rate
Bitrate

1,920 x 1,080

16:9

30p
(29.97 frames per second, progressive scan)

48 Mbps

1,920 x 1,080

16:9

24p
(23.976 frames per second, progressive scan)

1,280 x 720

16:9

60p
(59.94 frames per second, progressive scan)

640 x 480

4:3

30p
(29.97 frames per second, progressive scan)

10 Mbps

All of the T4i's video modes are progressive scan, meaning that every video line is scanned, one after the other, for every frame. Compared to interlaced scanning, progressive scan video is much better for viewing videos on a computer screen. (Interlaced works fine for HD TVs, but some computer video players that de-interlace poorly will produce bad tearing of moving objects.)

The 24 frames/second mode is popular with some people, as they feel it gives a more "movie like" look to their videos, because 24fps is the frame rate for cinema. The lower frame rate can look choppy, though, particularly when shooting in bright light with fast shutter speeds. That won't be helped by the fact that, unlike the 30p and 60p modes, you can't match the frame rate to the shutter speed for 24p capture; the slowest frame rate in 24p mode is still 30 frames per second.

The 60 frames/second frame rate available in 1,280 x 720 mode is great for capturing smooth-looking action, but won't be as good in low-light situations, because the camera can't use a shutter speed longer than 1/60 second.

Note that the Canon T4i records video at 25p and 50p instead of 30p and 60p respectively when PAL video mode is selected.

The Canon Rebel T4i saves its video files in the MOV format, using H.264/MPEG-4 encoding. Pretty much any computer or editing program made within the last 5 years should be able to play its files with little problem, although the full 1,920 x 1,080 resolution files may strain older systems.

Canon T4i video quality

The Canon T4i produces great-quality video, with excellent detail, pleasing color, and only very slight rolling shutter artifacts. The unusually high level of subtle detail captured is particularly noticeable in our videos of Charlotte the wonder dog catching a frisbee; look at the decorative grass at the start and end of the video, for example. The tradeoff is that the T4i also produces very large video files. We also noticed some tendency to aliasing, however, especially for 720p video. You can see this in our 720p rolling shutter video, where the roof of the house exhibits aliasing.

The T4i is best for shooting in daylight, reasonably well-lit interiors, or shortly after sunset, though. For night shooting under typical city street-lighting, exposure was good, but image noise levels were quite high. They'd be fine for amateurs, but more experienced videographers will likely find the noise distracting, partly because it has a higher chroma component than we're used to seeing. The Canon T4i does lag its nearest competitors slightly in this area. Dropping the resolution to 720p exacerbated the situation; things were a bit better again at VGA resolution, but noise was still pretty evident here, too. File sizes for night video were huge by H.264 standard, likely due to the noise levels: expect a bit over six megabytes per second of video captured.

Like most Canon SLRs, the T4i biases automatic exposure in an attempt to attain a shutter speed close to the frame rate. That's a sensible decision, as the alternative tends to yield choppy-looking video. Our eyes expect to see some motion blur in videos, and the result with a slower shutter speed is hence more natural-looking. If you want, you can of course override the T4i's chosen shutter speed by switching to Manual exposure, and you can still keep automatic control over exposure levels by letting the camera control ISO sensitivity.

Canon T4i video focusing

  • By default, the T4i uses movie-servo AF, but you can disable this and opt for manual or single-servo autofocus instead
  • Single-servo autofocus focuses when the shutter button is half-pressed; movie-servo AF focuses as the camera deems necessary during recording
  • There is essentially no focus motor noise with the EF-S 18-135mm STM kit lens, and in good light it focuses quickly, making it well-suited to movie-servo AF. Single-servo AF cycles, especially in low light, could be very slow indeed though, as long as twelve seconds or so when the lens was quite close to focus to begin with. Also, non STM or USM lenses are likely to cause significant autofocus noise, and non-STM lenses may also be less quick to focus
  • AF area mode options:
    • Face-priority + Tracking
    • FlexiZone - Multi
    • FlexiZone - Single
  • The point on which to focus can be selected by gently tapping on the touch screen, letting you subtly change focus between different subjects without moving the camera
  • Autofocus with shutter button can be disabled, useful if you want to capture still images during movie shooting without causing the camera to refocus as well
  • Manual focus is also available during movie recording

Canon T4i video exposure control

  • Defaults to fully automatic exposure, but exposure compensation adjustment is available
  • Auto-ISO limit set in still capture mode doesn't affect video recording
  • All exposure modes except Manual use Program autoexposure, and provide +/- 3EV of exposure compensation, set before or during capture
    • Adjustments to exposure compensation are somewhat delayed, and are applied gradually, making them more subtle than with many cameras.
    • Sensitivity is controlled automatically in Program mode, and can't be adjusted manually
  • Aperture, shutter speed, and (optionally) ISO sensitivity can be adjusted before and during exposure in Manual exposure mode
    • All three exposure variables can be adjusted through touch screen, using the four-way controller, or the control dial.
    • The physical controls produce some noise on the audio track. The touch screen is silent, but it's difficult to keep the camera still, as you have to tap repeatedly to make adjustments. (Sadly, the touch-and-drag slider you get when not recording isn't available during recording; this would make it easier to adjust settings without shaking the camera.)
    • Adjustments in shutter speed, aperture, or ISO sensitivity are instant and make noticeable changes in exposure level, even with auto ISO. (Here, the exposure level dims or brightens slightly, then returns to the original level.)
    • Available shutter speeds range from 1/4,000s down to 1/60s for 60p, and down to 1/30s for 30p and 24p
    • Apertures vary with the lens in use
    • Sensitivity can be set from ISO 100 to 6,400, or to Auto. The latter lets you dial in your chosen shutter speed and aperture, while letting the camera handle the exposure level
  • Full range of Picture Style settings apply to movie recording. (Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, and User Defined 1 - 3), and each can be adjusted. Picture Style adjustments include sharpness and contrast, plus saturation and color tone for color styles, and filter / toning effects for monochrome.)
  • AE (auto-exposure) lock is supported in video mode, both before and during recording
  • Evaluative metering is always used for video recording, regardless of metering mode selected

Canon T4i audio recording

  • Internal stereo microphone
  • Defaults to automatic level control
  • Manual level control available via Movie Settings menu, with 64 levels available
  • VU (audio level) meter display also available via Movie Settings, and includes peak hold indication
  • External stereo mic input - use external mics for better sound quality, control over stereo effect / directionality, and to eliminate camera / lens noise
  • Audio can be turned off entirely


Here are some examples of video shot with the Canon Rebel T4i:

Canon T4i: Video Samples
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second, Unstabilized
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 24 frames per second
Download Original
1,280 x 720
MOV, Progressive, 60 frames per second
Download Original
640 x 480
MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 24 frames per second
Download Original
1,280 x 720
MOV, Progressive, 60 frames per second
Download Original
640 x 480
MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second
Download Original

Canon T4i video rolling shutter artifacts ("Jello effect")

Pretty much every DSLR on the market distorts moving objects, or the entire scene, if the camera is being panned. The technical term for this is "rolling shutter artifacts," but many users simply call it the "Jello effect," because the image can jiggle and sway like Jello as the camera is moved. This occurs because the image is captured and read out line by line, so the bottom of an object may no longer be underneath the top of it by the time the camera gets around to capturing that part of the frame.

Rolling shutter artifacts can be very annoying if they're severe, but as noted, all digital SLRs show them to one extent or another. In the case of the T4i, rolling shutter is very slight; much less than we've seen with some cameras. Unless you have fast-moving subjects or pan rapidly while filming, you're not likely to notice them much, if at all.

Canon T4i: Rolling Shutter Artifacts
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 24 frames per second
Download Original
1,280 x 720
MOV, Progressive, 60 frames per second
Download Original
640 x 480
MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second
Download Original

 

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