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Canon T2i Review – The Backpacker’s DSLR?

Canon T2iThe Canon T2i has been on the market for several years now, but even as newer versions supplanted it. I would argue that it is the perfect digital SLR for shooting professional quality stills and video for a traveler, backpacker, or digital nomad. I believe this for several reasons.

The main one is price, while it is certainly true that the 60d and 5d Mark III sport better and more attractive features like better image sensors, full frame capability, and weather sealing. However, with the substantially higher price tags attached to those cameras I would nervous about carrying a super expensive camera around too.

The T2i on the other hand is more comfortably priced and closer to the costs of a simpler point and shoot–but with professional quality results in the right hands. Honestly if you are a frequent traveler or nomad and want a super simple, compact, and more importantly durability, then I would argue that a GoPro Hero 3 would be a far better choice than any point and shoot.

With the 18 megapixel image sensor, you can get some great quality stills as both RAWs or JPEGs. Like most other rebel series cameras, the images are stored on a high performance SD card. The T2i is capable of shooting stills at a speed of about 3.4 to 3.7 frames per second, while not as fast as a professional grade DLSR like the 7D its still faster than most point and shoots and fast enough to capture most travel moments.

On the video side the T2i is capable of shooting 1080p HD, 720p HD as well as standard definition resolutions. In terms of frame rates the it capturing footage at 24, 25, and 30 frames at both 1080p  and for 720,  60 frames per second.

But I will slow down here, as all I am doing a spewing a bunch of facts and statistics at you which you can indulge yourself with at the bottom of this review.

Lets talk about the merits of the T2i in a travel setting, and how I have used it in my travels.

Lens Selection

For starters even though the T2i is a crop body camera, it will still will accept and use both EF-S (Crop) mount lenses as well as EF mounts (Full frame). The thing you have to take into account is that when you use a EF lens on a crop body you will viewing things with a 1.8x zoom factor. That means a Canon EF 50mm lens will be effectively 80mm when viewed through your T2i. That being said, if you have any intention of upgrading to a full frame camera body like the 5D Mark III, then its definitely worth while to invest in EF lenses.

At the time of this review I own 5 lenses (but have rented many more) they are as follows:

  • Canon 18-55mm f/4-5.6 II
  • Canon 50mm f/1.8
  • Canon 55-250mm f/4-5.6
  • Canon 40mm f/2
  • Canon 17-40 L USM f/4

Canon EF-S 18-55mm

Canon 18-55mmI suppose its only fitting to start with the kit lens that usually comes with the T2i if you buy the full camera kit. Unlike the original 18-55mm version that preceeded the “mark II” version the optics are excellent for what  you would expect from a kit lens. Combined with a reasonably speedy focus in daytime environments I would actually rate it as a decent walkabout lens if you were on a limited budget or did not want to risk a more expensive lens to to the environment you were traveling in.

Canon EF 50mm

Canon 50mmDubbed the nifty-fifty, this lens possesses some of the most incredible sharpness and image quality for a lens that costs less than $120. The wide aperture also makes it a solid performer in low light conditions. That being said, the fixed focal length will test your skills as a photographer as you will have to adjust your distance from the subject depending on how you want to frame it.

Canon EF 40mm

Canon 40mmArguably the smallest lens I have handled, dubbed the “pancake” lens, if you are looking to have super unobtrusive lens then you should look no further than this lens. As an added bonus on crop bodies the 40mm focal length is more usable than another lens like the 50mm primes although you do run into the same issues as other fixed focal length primes.

 Canon EF-S 55-250mm

Canon 55-250mmThis is a good and affordable telephoto for crop bodies, especially if you are wanting to capture specific moments in a crowded marketplace or distant wildlife in the outdoors. The focus is relatively slow, so you do run the risk of missing those great shots that second long windows–if you want that, you probably should upgrade to a professional grade lens with a higher price tag to match. Personally as a photographer, I don’t use this lens as much as I should–mostly because I am a huge fan of shooting majestic wide angle shots of a scene or landscape.

Canon EF 17-40mm L

Canon 17-40mmThis is my newest acquisition, as my first L lens. I am absolutely loving it. For a wide angle lens its a bit bigger and heavier than my other EF-S lenses but the image quality from the glass, and the faster focus speeds that the USM motors provide outweigh any inconvenience that size and weight might have. It definitely is much more expensive than any of the other lenses I have mentioned here, so if you are new to Canon cameras or are new to using DSLRs in general, then it might be a wise choice to purchase and use a cheaper lens until your skill and comfort level rises.

What to use while traveling?

The predictable short answer is, it depends. Do you like and plan to shoot wide landscapes that take in everything? Or do you prefer taking detailed pictures from afar or capturing more intimate moments in a busy setting? Its up to you.

My typical light setup these days consists of the 17-40mm and the 55-250mm which gives me the best of both wide and zoom worlds without having to lug a ton of lenses around.


The Canon T2i might not be the newest or coolest camera around any more but it is a solid and affordable choice for the backpacker who wants a camera that capture pro quality images without feeling like they are carrying around the crown jewels.

I would love to hear what sort of shots do you like to shoot when you are traveling? Feel free to comment below.

The Canon T2i has been on the market for several years now, but even as newer versions supplanted it. I would argue that it is the perfect digital SLR for shooting professional quality stills and video for a traveler, backpacker, or digital nomad. I believe this for several reasons. The main one is price, while …

Review Overview

Price - 95%
Image Quality - 85%
Video - 80%
Reliability - 85%
Ease of Use - 85%


Final Score

Summary : A solid performer capable of shooting professional grade stills and videos at a accessible price.


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