Canon 650D vs 550D (T4i vs T2i) Comparison – Differences between the two

650D vs 550D DSLR cameras

The Canon EOS 650D / Rebel T4i is out and it brings some interesting new technologies that would certainly be favorite particularly among videographers. Due to the fact that the 650D doesn’t actually replace the 600D, we thought it would be helpful if we compare the two one versus the other.  In this comparison review I want you to understand the key differences between those two excellent upper entry-level DSLR cameras. It’s very tempting to purchase the latest camera, but for some of you the 550D / T2i might be a better purchase out of the two, price wise. I am pretty sure that after reading this post you will be able to make a decision. For a full in-depth coverage of the 650D, I recommend reading the article Canon Rebel T4i – best HDSLR?


Choosing Between Two DSLR Cameras

Choosing between two cameras isn’t easy. If you are debating between two Canon DSLRs, it might be because you’ve already got some lenses and other compatible equipment. If that’s the case, you have less worries because you don’t have to jump into the Canon vs. Nikon debate and compare cameras from various vendors.

If you have a tight budget, you also find yourself thinking whether you should buy a cheaper camera body and invest the rest of the money on better lenses. Many people have the same conflict and it really depends whether you need those unique / extra features on the more expensive model.  I personally think that it’s very important to know what features you need because if you don’t use those features, it’s just a big waste.

Read this article through and also the user’s comments below (when they are added), and try to fit your needs with the current offering of each camera. It’s also a good practice to think a few steps ahead and purchase a camera that has some feature that you might need a year from now. Remember, you can always upgrade and use the same lenses and other gear that you have, at least if you stay with the same vendor.


Side by Side Comparison Table – 650D vs 550D

Let’s take a look at a Canon T4i / 650D vs T2i / 550D side by side features/specs comparison table. It will give you a good bird-view of the key differences between those two cameras.

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Differences (Cons & Pros)

The 550D / T2i is quite an older camera already, and it was already replaced by the 600D T3i. However, it costs approx. $60 less than the T3i, so you might find a very good deal and get it for a relatively low price. The T4i / 650D is much more expensive, around $500 more than the 550D. That’s quite a big price difference, but of course as the famous quote says “You get what you pay for”, but not in a bad way.


AF & Continuous AF during Video Shooting

The 650D was designed with Canon’s Hybrid-AF to provide a combination of both phase-detection AF and contrast-detection AF when shooting in Live View (LV) and Videos when the subject is in the center AF point. When it’s outside the center, the camera utilizes contrast-detection only. The thing is that most of us will shoot out videos when the subject is in the center and with that in place, the 650D will autofocus in videos in a very fast and accurate way.

The Canon EOS 650D / Rebel T4i has continuous autofocus during video recording and live view. The Canon EOS 550D / Rebel T2i has AF during movie shooting, but continuous autofocusing is not available. AF means that you can point your camera on the subject, half-click the shutter to focus on your subject. Continuous AF means that the camera will automatically focus on the subject without any intervention of the photographer.

Here’s a demonstration of the autofocus in videos on the 550D / T2i:

Canon worked hard to solve the AF noise and AF stepping problem on the 650D. It does that by utilizing the Hybrid-AF sensor’s technology and also releasing two new STM lenses, the EF 40 mm f/2.8 STM and the EF-S 18-135 mm f/2.5-5.6 IS STM. Both offer virtually silent and very fast, which is crucial when shooting videos.

Here’s the result (at least one demonstration), and you can clearly see the difference..

And another video of the 650D / T4i

What we can see from these AF movie test is that the new Hybrid-AF + STM lens is a great combination that solves, or at least helps combat some of today’s latest video shooting problems.  Mirrorless cameras have already come a long way when video recording is concerned and it’s time that DSLR cameras will keep up with them. Don’t forget that we also have Sony’s SLT cameras that utilize the translucent mirror technology to help solve those type of problems, and it’s done in a very smart and effective way (ie. Sony A77 SLT camera).


Digic 5 vs Digic 4 – Processors

Digic 5 processorSome of you probably don’t know what the differences are between Digic 5 and Digic 4 processors. I personally don’t look at the fine details either, I just know that one is more advanced then the other. However, it’s worth mentioning that the Digic 5 image processor is much more advanced. It’s 6 times more powerful than the Digic 4, it analyses four times more image information to create each pixel, recording more detail and color from a scene. Raw conversion is improved with more advanced algorithms that result in a better JPEG image, converted from Raw inside the camera.

The combination of the latest processor is one part that is responsible for the high performance of the camera, the improve of image and video quality and many of the in-camera software features. You can expect much less noise in photos compared to previous generation processors. All in all, the Digic 5 is processor for next-generation digital cameras.

More information on Canon’s DIGIC processor can be found on Wikipedia.


Let’s take a look at at Low light (ISO 1600, 3200) Canon T4i video test. This video was shot in low light and shows how good the t4i can handle noise during video shooting and actually how well the DIGIC 5 performs for videos. Of course it’s a good practice to have something in comparison to, but right now I couldn’t find any review that compares two different cameras and with the same scene.  No color correction or noise reduction has been applied. Lenses: Canon 50mm F/1.8, Sigma 30mm F/1.4, Tokina 11-16mm F/2.8.  Aperture: F/2.8 (most shots). Frame rate: 50 (720p), 25 (1080p). The video brought to you by FenchelJanisch.


Built-in Stereo Mic

Both cameras offer a 3.5mm socket for connecting external stereo microphones. However, some of us just want to enjoy stereo sound without connecting or buying any special equipment. The Canon EOS 650D / Rebel T4i can record videos with stereo sound, while the T2i can only record monaural sound. Of course those of you who want crystal clear and high fidelity sound will prefer going with an external mic. The differences are huge and I highly recommend that you at least try them out.

Sound is an important integral part of any video. Sometimes you will overlap the original sound with your own soundtrack, but in many cases you want the original sound to be preserved and want it in a very high quality. Just imagine shooting a video at the beach in a very windy day. If you don’t have the right sound recording equipment it will just sound terrible. If you are interviewing someone in a big who where there are a lot of people and background noise, you want a special mic that will pick only (at least mostly) the voice of the one you are interviewing.

However, stereo sound will sound better of course, and that’s a very nice feature to have. Most compact digital camera do offer this, so no reason why DSLR won’t.


Articulating vs Fixed Screen

The Canon EOS 650D / Rebel T4i was designed to be a modern HDSLR camera. A more expensive model that those who buy it will mostly do it due to it advanced movie recording features. One of the most important features in any HDSLR camera is the articulating screen. Professional videographers might use other equipment (ie. rigs, separated screens), but those usually will shoot with cameras like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and other pro models.

Fixed vs articulating screen, Canon dslr cameras

Amateurs and enthusiasts that buy the 650D might not buy this equipment and they mostly shoot for personal use, not commercially oriented one. The Canon EOS 550D / T2i comes with a fixed screen, the 650D comes with an articulating screen. That’s a big difference when it comes to flexibility in composing your shots.

An articulating display helps you get low and high angle shots, like shooting from a above your head or at low angles like shooting below your knee’s height. It’s usable for both stills and video recording.  Videographers will certainly prefer the T4i because of that feature. For some of you it can be a “must have” features, others might not need it. It all depends on the needs of the photographer. I personally used it quite a lot when I had my Canon 60D, and I’m quite a fan of articulating screens.

The other advantage of the 650D over the 550D screen is that the 650D’s screen is touch-sensitive. The first ever DSLR to feature that. The 650D allows you to control almost any aspect of the camera using the touch-sensitive user interface, including when viewing images and videos, editing,  apply settings, menu browsing, AF, etc.

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650D (T4i) or 550D (T2i) – Which one should you buy?

Other than what we’ve mentioned above, the 650D shoots faster, has 14-bit A/D conversion and offers better boost ISO.  The 550D is smaller, thinner and lighter and features a slightly larger optical viewfinder. Having said that. the Canon EOS 650D / Rebel T4i is by all means a better digital camera overall, especially when video is concerned.  If you don’t intend to shoot a lot of videos or not at all, the 550D is a great camera with a much cheaper price tag. As we still waiting for some professional image quality comparisons, I don’t expect the 650D to outperform the 550D in a very high degree.

The Canon T4i was designed to be a HDSLR camera first. The high price tag is for those who want to get a highly-capable video shooting DSLR. Without the need for those unique video features, I see no big reason why to pay more when you can get the 600D / T3i and the 550D / T2i for a much lower price and still get excellent cameras.

The new 650D features certainly put it in a good place to compete very well against Sony SLT (Translucent Mirror) cameras. I really like the 650D and all in all I think it’s an amazing camera. It’s around $50 less then the Canon 60D and you should also looks at the whole package to decide whether the 650D is for you or not. Even without the unique Hybrid-AF, the 650D is a great camera for stills.


Buy the Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650D from Adorama

Buy the Canon Rebel T2i / EOS 550D from Adorama

If I care about high quality videos and intend to dive deeper into videography, I would take the 650D / T4i without thinking twice, otherwise, the 550D / T2i sells for a relatively very low price. For those of you who think about upgrading from the 550D.  Looks at the comparison table above and see if there is one features that worth spending much more on this model( ie. articulating screen, improved image quality / lower noise, higher max. ISO, fast burst, in-camera HDR, tec.). I personally think that the 650D worth the extra price for those who need the improved video functionality, but that’s my opinion. If you enjoy reading this article, please don’t forget to share it with your friends. Thanks!