Take a look at my notes which attempt to answer all of the questions and concerns faced when purchasing a memory card for the Canon T2i. I'll shed some light on compatible memory cards, specific requirements for HD recording, the number of images you can expect to take, estimated movie recording times and other important info.
SD – Up to 4GB worth of images and video.
SDHC – Up to 32GB worth of images and video.
SDXC – Up to 128GB (currently) worth of images and video.
The information below shows the total number of images that can be recorded with the T2i (based on memory card size)…
4GB – 570 images (fine) and 160 images (raw)
8GB – 1,140 images (fine) and 320 images (raw)
16GB – 2,460 images (fine) and 640 images (raw)
32GB – 4,920 images (fine) and 1,280 images (raw)
64GB – 9,840 images (fine) and 2,560 images (raw)
HD Video Requirements
In order to record HD video on the T2i, your memory card will need to have a Class 6 rating or higher. If it doesn’t meet this requirement, video recording may stop unexpectedly.
No matter how large your memory card is, video clips are limited to 12 minute segments. The information below shows the overall recording time based on the highest quality movie frame size (1920×1080):
4GB – 12min (.mov)
8GB – 24min (.mov)
16GB – 48min (.mov)
32GB – 96min (.mov)
64GB – 192min (.mov)
Speeds & Ratings
Class ratings represent the minimum write speed for a memory card. So a memory card with a Class 6 rating will have a minimum write speed of 6 megabytes per second. As mentioned above, Canon requires a Class 6 card or higher in order to record and playback HD video with the T2i. I recommend going with a class 10 rating just to be safe.
Speed ratings represent the maximum read/write speeds. If you plan on recording HD video, shooting long bursts of images (10+) in continuous mode or capturing RAW images with your T2i, then I recommend going with a Lexar Professional (133x or higher) or a SanDisk Extreme (30MB/s or higher).
Lexar and SanDisk memory cards are the safest bets when it comes to reliability and performance. I’ve used them for years and trust them with all of my pro work. Recently, I’ve been using Transcend cards for personal use and have been pleasantly surprised. Again, if you plan on utilizing some of the more advanced features on the T2i (video, RAW, burst) then go with a Lexar Professional (133x or higher) or a SanDisk Extreme (30MB/s or higher). If you just need something for everyday (personal) use, Transcend (class 10) cards are an excellent value.
Here are my memory card picks for the Canon T2i…
Memory Card Tips & Tricks
Make sure your computer can accept SDHC memory cards
If you’re at your computer, take a quick look at the memory card reader and see if it says SDHC anywhere. If it doesn’t, then your computer won’t be able to read SDHC memory cards using the SD slot. For those of you in this category, I recommend getting a memory card reader that can accept SDHC cards, like this one.
Have you ever been so focused on your subject that you snapped off a few photos only to find out that you forgot to insert your memory card? By activating this feature inside the T2i menu system, the message “Card” will be displayed in the viewfinder and the shutter will be disabled. You can read more about how to enable this setting on page 138 of the T2i manual. If you don’t have the manual in front of you, it’s basically located under the first tab and labeled ‘Release shutter without card’. Just click the ‘Set’ button to bring up the options and then select ‘Disable’.
Formatting the Card using the Low Level Format Option
Whenever you get a new memory card or if you have an existing card that you plan on using with the T2i, it’s a good idea to go ahead and perform a low-level format. The reason for this is to reduce the chances of memory card issues and errors in the future. If you have a card that you previously used on another camera, that camera will have it’s own filing system. Imagine filing all of your important documents a certain way and then your spouse comes in a re-organizes the files their way. This can lead to potential problems, so it’s best to do a low-level format in order to start from scratch and allow the Rebel T2i to correctly organize the memory card structure. In order to do this you can reference page 42 of the T2i manual. If you don’t have the manual in front of you, just go to the T2i menu system and select the 1st wrench tab. Under this tab you will see an option labeled ‘Format’. Click the ‘Set’ button on the back of the T2i to bring up the format options. In order to enable the low-level formatting you will then have to select the ‘Trash Can’ icon. Once the ‘Low level format’ option is checked, then select ‘Ok’ to begin the format.
If you’ve purchased an Eye-Fi card, then you’ll want to enable the Eye-Fi transmissions feature inside the T2i menu system. You can read more about how to enable this setting on page 208 of the T2i manual. If you don’t have the manual in front of you, just access the T2i menu and locate the 1st wrench tab. Under this tab, you will see an option for ‘Eye-Fi settings’ when an Eye-Fi card is inserted in the T2i. Click the ‘Set’ button on the back of the T2i to bring up the menu and then select ‘Enable’.
Check out the T2i homepage for more tips, advice and recommendations. Happy shooting!