The 15.1-megapixel Canon Rebel T1i, also known as the Canon EOS 500D outside of the U.S., ruled reviews as the best digital SLR camera in its price range -- but now, experts find the newer, cheaper Nikon D3100 (Est. $400 (with kit lens)) even more compelling. The pricier T1i offers slightly better specs in some ways -- notably its higher-resolution 15.1-megapixel image sensor -- but it lacks some of the Nikon's features. For example, both cameras can shoot HD video clips, but only the Nikon can autofocus and shoot at a film-like 24p frame rate. It's also important to note that for a little extra cash, you can get the more advanced Canon EOS Rebel T2i (*Est. $650 with kit lens) or Canon EOS Rebel T3i (Est. $695 (with kit lens)).
We like the way the PopPhoto.com and Amateur Photographer reviews of the Canon T1i base their conclusions on lab tests as well as hands-on use, with detailed comparisons with competing cameras. ConsumerReports.org provides less detail, but compares the Canon T1i with even more models. The reviews at ImagingResource.com and at DPReviews.com are quite detailed, with ample illustrations and sample shots. CNET's review is shorter but includes important criticisms. DxOMark.com tests just the camera's sensor (only one factor in image quality and camera performance).
Based on objective lab tests as well as hands-on use, reviewer Philip Ryan picks the Canon T1i as the best entry-level digital SLR camera in this older review. However, the T1i no longer holds a top rating in the site's buying guide.
Review: DSLR Test: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Philip Ryan, Aug. 2009
2. Amateur Photographer
This U.K. site puts the Canon 500D, known as the T1i in the U.S., through rigorous lab and field tests, concluding that it deserves the same "very good" rating as its main competitor, the Nikon D5000. Video capability isn't as good as that on the more expensive Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and the Canon 50D is sturdier and faster.
Review: Canon EOS 500D Review, Angela Nicholson, Aug. 2009
ConsumerReports.org compares the Canon EOS Rebel T1i with other digital SLR cameras, including other models in this price range such as the Canon EOS Rebel T2i and the Olympus E-620, based on ratings for image and video quality, versatility, ease of use and more.
Review: Digital SLR Camera Ratings and Reliability, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
This review includes sample photos showing that image quality from the Canon T1i matches that of the more expensive Canon 50D as well as the Nikon D90. The reviewers include a detailed list of faults, but the list of Canon T1i advantages is much longer.
Review: Canon EOS T1i (Rebel T1i, Canon 500D), Shawn Barnett, Dave Etchells and Zig Weidelich, Oct. 2009
This comprehensive review notes that the Canon T1i provides most of the advantages of the more expensive Canon 50D, plus HD video capability. Charts show upgrades from the less expensive Canon XSi (notably a sharper LCD and better performance in very dim light) and detailed comparisons with the Nikon D5000 and Olympus E-620 -- all of which earn high ratings here.
Review: Canon EOS 500D (Digital Rebel T1i/Kiss X3 Digital) Review, Lars Rehm and Richard Butler, June 2009
CNET's review of the Canon EOS Rebel T1i is more critical than most, noting that the viewfinder and autofocus are hard to use. Image quality and performance make the T1i a good buy, but the Nikon D5000 ranks slightly higher here (despite the same faults), thanks to faster speed, a better kit lens and a flip-down LCD.
Review: Canon EOS Rebel T1i , Lori Grunin, May 2009
Lab tests here evaluate digital-camera sensors, only one factor that affects image quality, but it's worth noting that the sensor on the Canon T1i ranks well below that of the Nikon D5000 and Sony A700 -- both of whose sensors have better color depth and dynamic range.
Review: Tests and Reviews for Canon EOS 500D, Digital Rebel T1i or Kiss Digital X3, Editors of DxOMark.com