Canon T1i Exposure
Canon T1i Exposure
The Canon T1i provides a great deal of control functionality, leaving you the choice of going on fully automatic settings, or making fine-tuned adjustments as desired. Standard exposure modes include the usual Program, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority, and full Manual modes, as well as some "Image Zone" (scene-based preset) modes. The "Image Zone" exposure modes include Portrait, Landscape, Close-up (macro), Sports, Night Portrait, and Flash Off modes. These modes preset a variety of camera parameters to make it easier for non-expert photographers to achieve good exposures in a variety of standard shooting situations. The Canon T1's Flash Off mode simply disables the flash and external Speedlite (if attached), and puts the camera under automatic exposure control. The full Auto mode takes over all camera functions, turning the Canon T1i into a very easy to use point-and-shoot camera, albeit a very capable one.
The Canon T1i also offers the relatively new "Creative Auto" mode, which attempts to make complex photographic functions like depth-of-field easier to use. The camera controls focus and general exposure, but leaves it up to the user to adjust the level to which background elements are in focus, and whether to freeze or blur motion. By expressing changes in terms of focus or freezing/blurring motion, this mode also helps to de-mystify aperture and shutter speed for the Canon T1i's entry-level users.
The Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes work much the same as on any other camera, allowing you to adjust one exposure variable while the Canon T1i selects the other for the best exposure. Program mode keeps both variables under automatic control, while Manual mode gives you full control over everything. The Automatic Depth-of-Field mode (A-DEP) uses all nine autofocus zones to determine the depth of field in the active subject area. Once the Canon T1i has determined the range of focusing distances present across the nine zones, it automatically computes the combination of aperture and shutter speed needed to render the nearest and furthest points in sharp focus.
Exposure metering options include Evaluative, Partial (8% of viewfinder at center), Spot (3.5% of viewfinder at center), and Center-weighted options. The Canon T1i's Exposure Compensation setting allows the user to increase or decrease the metered exposure by up to two stops positively or negatively, in one-third or one-half EV increments.
Here you can see the concentrations of three of the four meter settings. Center weighted is on the left (which also shows the 35-zone evaluative metering coverage area), 8% Partial in the center, and 3.5% Spot on the right.
ISO Sensitivity Options
An automatic exposure bracketing feature lets you set the Canon T1i's total exposure variation (across three shots) at anywhere from +/- one-third or one-half EV, all the way up to +/- 2 EV. The nice part is that the automatic variation is centered around whatever level of manual exposure compensation you have dialed in. Thus, you could manually set a positive exposure compensation of 0.7 EV, and then have the camera give you a variation of +/- 2/3 EV around that point.
AE/FE Lock (" * " button)
The Canon T1i has the simplified AE Lock button, which unbundles the AF Lock feature from the old button on the older EOS cameras like the 20D and 30D. Marked with an asterisk (*) symbol, the AE Lock button simply holds the exposure at one setting while you recompose the image. It's very useful when spot metering, but also when dealing with subjects where you want to draw your exposure from one place, while autofocusing on another. Pressing the button with the pop-up flash activated or with an external flash mounted activates the FE Lock (Flash Exposure) function, which fires the flash and locks the proper exposure for the following frame. (Note that this button's default function changes in Live View and Movie modes, where it triggers an AF cycle vs locking the exposure.)
White Balance Options
A White Balance bracketing option snaps only one image, but then writes three successive files from that single capture. Bracketing steps are from -/+ 3 stops in whole-stop increments. (Each stop corresponds to five mireds of a color conversion filter, for a total range of +/- 15 mireds. This corresponds to about a +/- 500K shift at a normal daylight color temperature of 5,500K.)
Auto Lighting Optimizer (ALO)
Highlight Tone Priority (HTP)
HTP's action is pretty subtle, but the results are very evident when dealing with strong highlights under harsh lighting. The way it works is to set the camera's base ISO up one notch, to 200, so it's only half-filling the sensor's pixels with charge during the exposure. The Canon T1i then alters its tone curve, basically compressing the top half (that would normally be blown out) into a smaller range, thereby preserving the highlight detail. You can do this yourself when working from RAW files, you just need to significantly underexpose most of the scene, and then fiddle with the tone curve to drastically reduce the contrast, but only in the extreme highlights. If that sounds difficult, it is; it can be a real time-sink, and very difficult to make the end result look natural. Canon's HTP does this for you automatically, though, and the results look just great: You have no sense that the camera has been making radical adjustments to its tone curve; you just see all the detail in the highlights that otherwise would be missing. HTP is controlled via Custom Function 6, giving you options to Disable (the default) or Enable it.
Continuous Shooting Mode and Self-Timer
The Canon T1i's Drive setting also accesses three Self-Timer modes, which open the shutter 10 or 2 seconds after the Shutter button is pressed, giving you time to dash around in front of the camera. The third mode will take a programmable amount of shots (2 to 10 shots), after a 10 second delay. A Remote Control mode works with the dedicated and wireless remote units as well.
The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Canon EOS Rebel T1i (EOS 500D) Photo Gallery .
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Canon EOS Rebel T1i (EOS 500D) with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!