Both cameras perform well in low-light situations.
As high-quality production equipment becomes more readily available to consumers, one must ask if they are truly getting their money's worth. One new camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T2i (referred to as the 550D in European countries), is bringing professional image quality and video capture to the most frugal enthusiasts.
Not a year earlier was the Canon 7D released; a revolutionary DSLR camera that caught the eyes of independent filmmakers around the world. Most notable to filmmakers was its ability to record video at a resolution of 1920x1080 and its lens interchangeability. Cinematic depth-of-field could now be achieved without the expense and hassle of 35mm lens adapters.
The most notable difference between these two cameras is in price. The newer, cheaper T2i is priced at $799 (body only). The 7D costs over twice as much, at $1599 (body only). What is the justification of the price difference? A huge contributing factor is the difference in build quality of the two cameras.
The body of the T2i is light (18.7 oz.), and made mainly of plastic, which is seen as a turn-off to some photographers. A plastic camera body does not fair well in rough conditions, and when used with heavy telephoto lenses, makes the camera front-heavy. In a situation such as this, the camera could be damaged by the weight of the lens.
The 7D has a rugged build quality, as it is intended to be used in harsher situations. To stand up against the elements, the body is constructed of metal, which is why it is heavier than the T2i (28.9 oz.). When used with heavier lenses, it will not feel as front-weighted as the T2i. The 7D is also sealed to protect against weather. Even though it is better protected, it is not completely protected, so the 7D should be handled with great care.
To filmmakers, both cameras are nearly identical. They both have the same APS-C-sized sensor and processor. Both cameras shoot video at the same resolutions and frame rates (so long as they have been updated with the latest firmware). At less than half the price of a 7D, the T2i is at a price in which most filmmakers can afford. On the other hand, for use on video tripods and steadicams, the T2i's front-weighted problem might interfere with the quality of the footage. For that reason, the 7D would be a good investment for those who have the money to spare.
Another thing to be noted for those researching these two cameras is that the T2i is marketed towards serious enthusiasts looking to having a high-quality entry-level DSLR. The 7D is not recommended to those who have little to no experience with DSLRs, or would not benefit from its added features. Not only is it a financial decision, but one of commitment as well. Do not spend twice as much for a camera that you may not ever learn to use enough to benefit from the features it has over the T2i.
It is not to be forgotten that image and video quality does not solely rely on the camera body. Where the most money should be invested in is lenses. For an additional $100, each of these cameras is packaged with an 18mm-55mm kit lens. It is great for beginners and those who cannot afford other lenses at the time of camera purchase. However, most committed photographers will invest several thousands of dollars in lenses, much more than the cost of their camera body. This is something to consider when budgeting the purchase of either the Canon T2i or Canon 7D.
Both the T2i and 7D are extraordinary cameras, and neither has a sole reason to succeed the other. The bottom line in deciding which camera to purchase is this: the 7D is for professionals that have the money to spend on the highest-quality camera. The T2i is for committed amateurs purchasing their first DSLR, and filmmakers who are looking for a reasonably-priced way to achieve cinematic quality in their work.
Remember, there are also several other great brands out there; most major brands have similar video features to offer. Remember to thoroughly research other brands and cameras before deciding to purchase a DSLR (more in-depth comparisons and reviews can be found here on InfoBarrel). Accidentally buying the wrong camera is a costly mistake!