Canon has made the migration path through its Rebel (formerly Digital Rebel) digital camera line so seductively easy that it's a safe bet that many of you are jumping to this latest entry-level model directly from an earlier EOS camera, like the Rebel XSi, or even the relatively new T1i. The enhanced features of the Canon EOS Rebel T2i/550D are hard to resist, including a whopping 18 megapixels of resolution and honest HDTV movie-making capabilities.
So, if you do have experience with a previous Rebel model, it's very likely that by the time you picked up this book, you'd already taken a few hundred or a few thousand photos. And even if you have never picked up a digital SLR (or even a digital camera) before, you still may have conducted some warmly rewarding experiments with your camera before you decided to buckle down with this book and learn all its features.
Well, why not? The T2i is incredibly easy to use. The initial steps, including charging the battery, mounting a lens, attaching a neck strap, and inserting a Secure Digital memory card aren't exactly rocket science. Every control you need to use to begin snapping pictures is nestled on the top surface, to the right of the viewfinder. There's an On/Off switch, the shutter release button, and a large Mode Dial that includes an Auto position labeled with a green icon, Creative Auto (CA), plus six other helpful Basic Zone icons picturing a lightning bolt with the symbol for NO drawn through it (no flash mode), a human profile (Portrait mode), a mountain (Landscape mode), blooming flower (Close-up mode), a dashing speedster (Sports mode), a human under nighttime illumination (Night Scenes), and, finally, an icon that looks suspiciously like an old-fashioned movie camera (Movie mode). The rawest neophyte can turn on the camera, spin the dial to one of those settings, and begin shooting. For an old hand with Canon cameras, getting started with the T2i is even more of a no-brainer.
So, even if you didn't march out of a camera store with a Rebel box under one arm, and my book in hand, you're probably ready to learn more. It's not a bad idea, once you've taken a few orientation pictures with your T2i, to go back and review the basic operations of the camera from the beginning, if only to see if you've missed something. This chapter is my opportunity to review the set-up procedures for the camera for those among you who are already veteran users, and to help ease the more timid (and those who have never worked with a digital SLR before) into the basic pre-flight checklist that needs to be completed before you really spread your wings and take off. For the uninitiated, as easy as it is to use initially, the Rebel T2i does have lots of dials and buttons and settings that might not make sense at first, but will surely become second nature after you've had a chance to review the instructions in this chapter.
But don't fret about wading through a manual to find out what you must know to take those first few tentative snaps. I'm going to help you hit the ground running with this chapter (or keep on running if you've already jumped right in). If you haven't had the opportunity to use your Rebel yet, I'll help you set up your camera and begin shooting in minutes. You won't find a lot of detail in this chapter. Indeed, I'm going to tell you just what you absolutely mustunderstand, accompanied by some interesting tidbits that will help you become acclimated. I'll go into more depth and even repeat some of what I explain here in later chapters, so you don't have to memorize everything you see. Just relax, follow a few easy steps, and then go out and begin taking your best shots—ever.
You probably spread out on a table or desk the contents of the handsome box that transported the Canon EOS Rebel T2i from its birthplace in Japan. The box is filled with stuff, including connecting cords, booklets, CDs, and lots of paperwork. The first thing you should do (or the next thing you should do, if you've already been taking pictures with your camera) is to double-check the contents of the box to make sure nothing was left out, or accidentally removed by the retailer. Someone might have checked out the camera for you as a quality assurance method, or a curious store employee might have rooted through the box to see what this cool new camera actually looked like. In either case, it's entirely possible that something went astray, and it's good to know that now, when you can easily bring any missing pieces to the attention of the store that sold you the camera. Otherwise, a month down the road you're going to decide to see what the output of your Rebel T2i looks like on your TV screen, and discover that the video cable you thought you had has gone AWOL at some unknown time.
So, check the box at your earliest convenience, and make sure you have (at least) the following:
■ Canon EOS Rebel T2i camera. This is hard to miss. The camera is the main reason you laid out the big bucks, and it is tucked away inside a nifty bubble-wrap envelope you should save for protection in case the T2i needs to be sent in for repair.
■ Rubber eyecup Ef. This slide-on soft-rubber eyecup should be attached to the viewfinder when you receive the camera. It helps you squeeze your eye tightly against the window, excluding extraneous light, and also protects your eyeglasses (if you wear them) from scratching.
■ Body cap. The twist-off body cap keeps dust from entering the camera when no lens is mounted. Even with automatic sensor cleaning built into the T2i, you'll want to keep the amount of dust to a minimum. The body cap belongs in your camera bag if you contemplate the need to travel with the lens removed.
■ Lens (if purchased). The Rebel T2i may come in a kit with the Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens. Or, you may purchase it with another lens. The lens will come with a lens cap on the front, and a rear lens cap aft.
■ Battery pack LP-E8 (with cover). The power source for your Rebel T2i is packaged separately. You'll need to charge this 7.2 V, 1120mAh (milliampere hour) battery before using it. It should be charged as soon as possible (as described next) and inserted in the camera. Save the protective cover. If you transport a battery outside the camera, it's a good idea to re-attach the cover to prevent the electrical contacts from shorting out.
■ Battery charger LC-E8 or LC-E8E. One of these two battery chargers will be included.
■ Wide strap EW-100DB III. Canon provides you with a suitable neck strap, emblazoned with Canon advertising. While I am justifiably proud of owning a fine Canon camera, I prefer a low-key, more versatile strap from Optech (www.optech.com) or UPstrap (www.upstrap.com). If you carry your camera over one shoulder, as many do, I particularly recommend the UPstrap shown in Figure 1.1. That patented non-slip pad offers reassuring traction and eliminates the contortions we sometimes go through to keep the camera from slipping off. I know several photographers who refuse to use anything else. If you do purchase an UPstrap, be sure you mention to photographer-inventor Al Stegmeyer that I sent you hence. You won't get a discount, but Al will get yet another confirmation of how much I like his neck straps.
■ Interface cable. You can use this USB cable to transfer photos from the camera to your computer, although I don't recommend that mode, because direct transfer uses a lot of battery power. You can also use the cable to upload and download settings between the camera and your computer (highly recommended), and to operate your camera remotely using the software included on the CD-ROM. This cable is a standard one that works with the majority of digital cameras—Canon and otherwise— so if you already own one, now you have a spare.
■ Stereo AV Cable AVC-DC400ST. Use this cable to view your camera's LCD output on a larger television screen, monitor, or other device with a yellow RCA composite input jack. Unlike the cables for previous Rebel models, this one allows stereo sound output.
■ EOS Digital Solution Disc CD. The disk contains useful software that will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 9.
■ Software instruction manual CD. While the software itself is easy to use, if you need more help you'll find it in the PDF manuals included on this CD.
■ Printed instruction manuals. These include the 258-page instruction manual. Even if you have this book, you'll probably want to check the printed user's guide that Canon provides, if only to check the actual nomenclature for some obscure accessory, or to double-check an error code. Google "Canon T2i manual PDF" to find a downloadable, non-printable version that you can store on your laptop, a CD-ROM, or other media in case you want to access this reference when the paper version isn't handy. If you have an old SD card that's too small to be usable on a modern dSLR (I still have some 128MB and 256MB cards), you can store the PDF on that. But an even better choice is to put the manual on a low-capacity USB "thumb" drive, which you can buy for less than $10. You'll then be able to access the reference anywhere you are, because you can always find someone with a computer that has a USB port and Adobe Acrobat Reader available. You might not be lucky enough to locate a computer with an SD card reader.
■ Warranty and registration card. Don't lose these! You can register your Canon T2i by mail, although you don't really need to in order to keep your warranty in force, but you may need the information in this paperwork (plus the purchase receipt/invoice from your retailer) should you require Canon service support.
Don't bother rooting around in the box for anything beyond what I've listed previously. There are a few things Canon classifies as optional accessories, even though you (and I) might consider some of them essential. Here's a list of what you don't get in the box, but might want to think about as an impending purchase. I'll list them roughly in the order of importance.
■ Secure Digital (SD) card. First-time digital camera buyers are sometimes shocked that their new tool doesn't come with a memory card. Why should it? The manufacturer doesn't have the slightest idea of how much storage you require, or whether you want a slow/inexpensive card or one that's faster/more expensive, so why should they pack one in the box and charge you for it? Given the T2i's 18-megapixel resolution, I recommend starting out with a memory card no smaller than 4GB in capacity, but an 8GB card is probably a better idea.
■ Extra LP-E8 battery. Even though you might get 500 or more shots from a single battery, it's easy to exceed that figure in a few hours of shooting sports at 3.7 fps. Batteries can unexpectedly fail, too, or simply lose their charge from sitting around unused for a week or two. Buy an extra (I own four, in total), keep it charged, and free your mind from worry.
■ HDMI Cable HTC-100. Your camera has an HDMI port for connecting to a highdefinition television, but no Type C cable to link the port with your HDTV. Of course, you might not own an HDTV, which is why Canon doesn't include one in the box. But, if you do, you'll want to pick up a cable so you can view your movies and stills in all their glory on the widescreen.
■ Add-on speedlight. One of the best uses for your Canon T2i's built-in electronic flash is as a remote trigger for an off-camera speedlight such as the Canon 580EX II, the top of the line model, or the less expensive 270EX and 430EX II, which were designed especially for cameras in this class. Your built-in flash can function as the main illumination for your photo, or be softened and used to fill in shadows. But, you'll have to own one or more external flash units to gain the most flexibility. If you do much flash photography at all, consider an add-on speedlight as an important accessory.
■ AC Adapter Kit ACK-E8. This includes the Compact Power Adapter CA-PS700 and DC Coupler DR-E8, which are used together to power the T2i independently of the batteries. There are several typical situations where this capability can come in handy: when you're cleaning the sensor manually and want to totally eliminate the possibility that a lack of juice will cause the fragile shutter and mirror to spring to life during the process; when indoors shooting tabletop photos, portraits, class pictures, and so forth for hours on end; when using your T2i for remote shooting as well as time-lapse photography; for extensive review of images on your television; or for file transfer to your computer. These all use prodigious amounts of power, which can be provided by this AC adapter. (Beware of power outages and blackouts when cleaning your sensor, however!)
■ Angle Finder C right angle viewer. This handy accessory fastens in place of the standard rubber eyecup and provides a 90-degree view for framing and composing your image at right angles to the original viewfinder, useful for low level (or high level) shooting. (Or, maybe, shooting around corners!)
■ Battery Grip BG-E8. This add-on vertical grip/battery pack can be outfitted with two LP-E8 batteries or six AA batteries for longer shooting life, and an extra shutter release and control dial for convenient shooting with the camera in a vertical orientation.
The initial set-up of your Canon EOS Rebel T2i is fast and easy. Basically, you just need to charge the battery, attach a lens, and insert a memory card. I'll address each of these steps separately, but if you already feel you can manage these set-up tasks without further instructions, feel free to skip this section entirely. You should at least skim its contents, however, because I'm going to list a few options that you might not be aware of.
Your Canon EOS Rebel T2i is a sophisticated hunk of machinery and electronics, but it needs a charged battery to function, so rejuvenating the LP-E8 lithium-ion battery pack furnished with the camera should be your first step. A fully charged power source should be good for approximately 600 shots under normal temperature conditions, based on standard tests defined by the Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA)
document DC-002. If half your pictures use the built-in flash, you can expect about 500 shots before it's time for a recharge. While those figures sound like a lot of shooting, things like picture review, playing with menus, and using the image-stabilization features of your lens can use up more power than you might expect. Shooting in cold weather can reduce the battery's capacity, too. If your pictures are important to you, always take along one spare, fully charged battery.
And remember that all rechargeable batteries undergo some degree of self-discharge just sitting idle in the camera or in the original packaging. Lithium-ion power packs of this type typically lose a few percent of their charge every few days, even when the camera isn't turned on. Li-ion cells lose their power through a chemical reaction that continues when the camera is switched off. So, it's very likely that the battery purchased with your camera, even if charged at the factory, has begun to poop out after the long sea voyage on a banana boat (or, more likely, a trip by jet plane followed by a sojourn in a warehouse), so you'll want to revive it before going out for some serious shooting.
There are many situations in which you'll be glad you have that spare battery.
■ Remote locales. If you like to backpack and will often be far from a source of electricity, rechargeable cells won't be convenient. They tend to lose some charge over time, even if not used, and will quickly become depleted as you use them. You'll have no way to recharge the cells, lacking a solar-powered charger that might not be a top priority for your backpacking kit.
■ Unexpected needs. Perhaps you planned to shoot landscapes one weekend, and then are given free front-row tickets to a Major League Soccer game. Instead of a few dozen pictures of trees and lakes, you find yourself shooting hundreds of images of your favorite team, which may be beyond the capacity of the single battery you own. If you have a spare battery, you're in good shape.
■ Unexpected failures. I've charged up batteries and then discovered that they didn't work when called upon, usually because the rechargeable cells had past their useful life, the charger didn't work, or because of human error. (I thought I'd charged them!) That's one reason why I always carry three times as many batteries as I think I will need.
■ Long shooting session. Perhaps your niece is getting married, and you want to photograph the ceremony, receiving line, and reception. Several extra batteries will see you through the longest shooting session.
Several battery chargers and power sources are available for the Canon EOS Rebel T2i. The compact LC-E8 plugs directly into a wall socket and is commonly furnished with the camera. Canon also provides the LC-E8E, shown in Figure 1.2, which is similar, but has a cord. Purchasing one of the optional charging devices offers more than some additional features: You gain a spare that can keep your camera running until you can replace your primary power rejuvenator. Here's a list of your power options.
■ LC-E8E. This is the standard charger for the T2i and charges a single battery, but requires a cord. That can be advantageous in certain situations. For example, if your power outlet is behind a desk or in some other semi-inaccessible location, the cord can be plugged in and routed so the charger sits on your desk or another more convenient spot. The cord itself is a standard one that works with many different chargers and devices (including the power supply for my laptop), so I purchased several of them and leave them plugged into the wall in various locations. I can connect my T2i's charger, my laptop computer's charger, and several other electronic components to one of these cords without needing to crawl around behind the furniture. The cord draws no power when it's not plugged in to a charger.
■ LC-E8. This charger may be the most convenient for some, because of its compact size and built-in wall plug prongs that connect directly into your power strip or wall socket and require no cord. This charger, as well as the LC-E8E, has a switching power module that is fully compatible with 100V to 240V 50/60 Hz AC power, so you can use it outside the US with no problems. When I travel to Europe, for example, I take my charger and an adapter to convert the plug shape for the European sockets. No voltage converter is needed.
■ AC Adapter Kit ACK-E5. This device consists of Compact Power Adapter CA-PS700 and DC Couple DR-E8, and allows you to operate your Rebel T2i directly from AC power, with no battery required. Studio photographers need this capability because they often snap off hundreds of pictures for hours on end and want constant, reliable power. The camera is probably plugged into a flash sync cord (or radio
The orange Charge light indicates that the battery is being charged.
device), and the studio flash are plugged into power packs or AC power, so the extra tether to this adapter is no big deal in that environment. You also might want to use the AC adapter when viewing images on a TV connected to your T2i, or when shooting remote or time-lapse photos.
■ Car Battery Charger CBC-E8. This is a charger that can juice up your battery when connected to your auto's 12V power source. The vehicle battery option allows you to keep shooting when in remote locations that lack AC power.
■ Battery Grip BG-E8. This accessory holds two LP-E8 batteries (another reason to own a spare, or two). It can also be equipped with six AA cells with the BGM-E8A battery holder. You can potentially increase your shooting capacity to 1,200 shots, while adding an additional shutter release, Main Dial, AE lock/FE lock, and AF point selection controls for vertically oriented shooting.
When the battery is inserted into the LC-E8 charger properly (it's impossible to insert it incorrectly), a Charge light begins glowing orange-red. When the battery completes the charge, the Full Charge lamp glows green, approximately two hours later. When the battery is charged, remove it from the charger, flip the lever on the bottom of the camera, and slide the battery in. (See Figure 1.3.) To remove the battery, you must press a white lever, which prevents the pack from slipping out when the door is opened. (See Figure 1.4.)
Figure 1.4 Press the white tab to release the battery when you want to remove it.
Figure 1.3 Insert the battery in the camera; it only fits one way.
Figure 1.4 Press the white tab to release the battery when you want to remove it.
Your Canon EOS Rebel T2i is almost ready to fire up and shoot. You'll need to select and mount a lens, adjust the viewfinder for your vision, and insert a memory card. Each of these steps is easy, and if you've used any Canon EOS camera in the past, you already know exactly what to do. I'm going to provide a little extra detail for those of you who are new to the Canon or digital SLR worlds.
As you'll see, my recommended lens mounting procedure emphasizes protecting your equipment from accidental damage, and minimizing the intrusion of dust. If your T2i has no lens attached, select the lens you want to use and loosen (but do not remove) the rear lens cap. I generally place the lens I am planning to mount vertically in a slot in my camera bag, where it's protected from mishaps, but ready to pick up quickly. By loosening the rear lens cap, you'll be able to lift it off the back of the lens at the last instant, so the rear element of the lens is covered until then.
After that, remove the body cap by rotating the cap towards the shutter release button. You should always mount the body cap when there is no lens on the camera, because it helps keep dust out of the interior of the camera, where it can settle on the mirror, focusing screen, the interior mirror box, and potentially find its way past the shutter onto the sensor. (While the T2i's sensor cleaning mechanism works fine, the less dust it has to contend with, the better.) The body cap also protects the vulnerable mirror from damage caused by intruding objects (including your fingers, if you're not cautious).
Once the body cap has been removed, remove the rear lens cap from the lens, set it aside, and then mount the lens on the camera by matching the alignment indicator on the lens barrel (red for EF lenses and white for EF-S lenses) with the red or white dot on the camera's lens mount. (See Figure 1.5.) Rotate the lens away from the shutter release until it seats securely. (You can find out more about the difference between EF and EF-S lenses in Chapter 6.) Set the focus mode switch on the lens to AF (autofocus). If the lens hood is bayoneted on the lens in the reversed position (which makes the lens/hood combination more compact for transport), twist it off and remount with the "petals" facing outward. (See Figure 1.6.) A lens hood protects the front of the lens from accidental bumps, and reduces flare caused by extraneous light arriving at the front element of the lens from outside the picture area.
Those of us with less than perfect eyesight can often benefit from a little optical correction in the viewfinder. Your contact lenses or glasses may provide all the correction you need, but if you are a glasses wearer and want to use the Rebel T2i without your glasses, or use your glasses with your camera and can benefit from some additional correction, you can take advantage of the camera's built-in diopter adjustment. It can be
A lens hood protects the lens from extraneous light and accidental bumps.
A lens hood protects the lens from extraneous light and accidental bumps.
varied from —3 to +1 correction. Press the shutter release halfway to illuminate the indicators in the viewfinder, then rotate the adjacent diopter adjustment wheel (see Figure 1.7) while looking through the viewfinder window until the indicators appear sharp.
If the available correction is insufficient, Canon offers 10 different Dioptric Adjustment Lens Series E correction lenses for the viewfinder window. If more than one person uses your T2i, and each requires a different diopter setting, you can save a little time by noting the number of clicks and direction (clockwise to increase the diopter power; counterclockwise to decrease the diopter value) required to change from one user to the other. There are 18 detents in all.
You can't take photos without a memory card inserted in your Rebel T2i (although there is a Release shutter without card entry in Shooting menu 1 that enables/disables shutter release functions when a memory card is absent—you'll learn about that in Chapter 3). So, your final step will be to insert a memory card. Slide the door on the right side of the body toward the back of the camera to release the cover, and then open it. (You should only remove the memory card when the camera is switched off, but the T2i will remind you if the door is opened while the camera is still writing photos to the memory card.)
Insert the memory card with the label facing the back of the camera, as shown in Figure 1.8, oriented so the edge with the gold contacts goes into the slot first. Close the door, and your preflight checklist is done! (I'm going to assume you remember to remove the lens cap when you're ready to take a picture!) When you want to remove the memory card later, just press the memory card edge, and it will pop right out.
The memory card is inserted with the label facing the back of the camera.
The memory card is inserted with the label facing the back of the camera.
Formatting a Memory Card
There are three ways to create a blank SD card for your T2i, and two of them are at least partially wrong. Here are your options, both correct and incorrect.
■ Transfer (move) files to your computer. When you transfer (rather than copy) all the image files to your computer from the SD card (either using a direct cable transfer or with a card reader, as described later in this chapter), the old image files are erased from the card, leaving the card blank. Theoretically. This method does not remove files that you've labeled as Protected (choosing the Protect images entry in Playback menu) nor does it identify and lock out parts of your memory card that have become corrupted or unusable since the last time you formatted the card. Therefore, I recommend always formatting the card, rather than simply moving the image files, each time you want to make a blank card. The only exception is when you want to leave the protected/unerased images on the card for awhile longer, say, to share with friends, family, and colleagues.
■ (Don't) Format in your computer. With the SD card inserted in a card reader or card slot in your computer, you can use Windows or Mac OS to reformat the memory card. Don't! The operating system won't necessarily arrange the structure of the card the way the T2i likes to see it (in computer terms, an incorrect file system may be installed). The only way to ensure that the card has been properly formatted for your camera is to perform the format in the camera itself. The only exception to this rule is when you have a seriously corrupted memory card that your camera refuses to format. Sometimes it is possible to revive such a corrupted card by allowing the operating system to reformat it first, then trying again in the camera.
■ Set-up menu format. To use the recommended method to format a memory card, turn on the camera, press the Menu button, rotate Main Dial (located on top of the camera, just behind the shutter release button), choose the Set-up 1 menu (which is represented by a wrench icon with a single dot next to it), use the up/down cross keys to navigate to the Format entry, and press the Set button in the center of the cross key pad to access the Format screen. Press the left/right cross keys again to select OK and press the Set button one final time to begin the format process.
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