on September 12, 2006
[This is the same review I posted for the kit. If you're getting the body because you don't like the 18-55 lens, keep in mind that some dealers offer this camera in a kit with the much nicer 17-85 USM IS (image stabalization) zoom.]
The new Digital Rebel XTi camera should appeal to a wide variety of users: those wishing to upgrade from a point & shoot digital, or those wishing to improve upon their first generation digital SLRs. Features and value make this a 5-star camera, but it won't be everyone's cup of tea.
Compared to the previous Digital Rebel XT, important improvements are:
1) 10.1 megapixels. In digital camera circles, this is like saying a car has more horsepower than an older car. While this alone doesn't mean "better" pictures, in reality, combined with other improvements in hardware & software, the results typically are better.;
2) 2.5" LCD panel. This alone has more than one advantage. The obvious first one is that our pictures look larger in review. The second, and for someone approaching 50 (like myself), is that the LCD is now used for all the camera's data (shutter speed, aperture, shots left, etc.). It's much easier to read than the small LCD typically located on the top of the cameras. It might use up the batteries quicker, but, heck, if you can see the info this much easier, then so be it. One complaint, it does not appear that the data rotates when you do verticals (like the Sony Alpha 100).;
3) 9-point AF. The number of points are improved from 7, but the real key here is that it's the system from the 30D, which had a much higher degree of accuracy than the previous Rebels.;
4) Picture Styles. I didn't really appreciate them at first, but simply put, this is like the days of film, when we could use a "portrait" film or "landscape" film. For those that don't like to do a lot of computer work, these can be VERY handy in getting the right look in the camera.;
5) Dust cleaning system. OK, I think the dust problem will probably be a little overblown, now that Canon offers a solution, but it is a real, if not great, threat. Additionally, the way Canon has implemented it is second to none. The first is through hardware. An ultrasonic filter can simply shake the dust off. Second is through software. If you spot a nasty piece that won't shake off, you can do a reference shot, and have the dust removed by software on your computer.;
6)The grip has been improved a little. The rubber on the grip is improved, and an anti-slip strip has been placed on the back where the right thumb goes.
Most all other things Canon is know for still exists. The camera focus fast and quietly. Camera operations are quick and easy to locate and use. Pictures look great.
Now for the other side. This is an unusual time in that all the big players are comming out with a 10 megapixel camera at the same time, so the Canon has some stiff competition. Here goes a simple comparison.
1) Compared to the other two cameras already available, the Sony A100 and Nikon D80 (both also 5-star cameras), the XTi is considerably smaller, and somewhat lighter. Some will like this, even some with medium to medium-large hands. But most people with larger, and some with somewhat smaller hands may prefer the other two choices.;
2) The battery is somewhat smaller than its rival's, and may drain a bit faster due to the LCD being used for info all the time.;
3) Functionally, the rear LCD is not as nice as the Sony's. The Sony's rotates, can be set to enlarged type (50+ user again), and the system that turns it off as your eye approaches also starts the AF on the Sony. [Although many like the top LCD, the Nikon way of needing to push a button on the back, then peak over the top to see what you're setting is not as nice].;
4) No in camera stabalization. The A100 can shift the sensor to help eliminate camera shake. Nikon and Canon require you to purchase rather expensive lenses to get the anti-shake.;
Also, soon to be added to the competion will be the Pentax K10D. Specs are sketchy right now, but it appears to be enter the competition as a 10 megapixel camera with built-in anti-shake (much like their K100D).
Of these 3 currently on the market, the Canon is the least expensive; therefore, it's up to the other 2 to show they are worth more, a very difficult task, indeed.
You'll find plenty of technical reviews on the web regarding features and specs for this camera.
The best thing I think I can provide is my short experience with this camera, so if you used to have a high end P&S camera and is looking to dive into the DSLR world, you are where I was a few weeks ago.
I owned a Sony F717 which I really loved, but honestly, all I did was set it to Auto and take good pictures. The problem was that I had a toddler at home that doesn't really like to wait till the camera took a few secs to focus and take the pic. I was missing those smiles and moments just because the Sony couldn't take pics fast enough.
I decided to look into newer cameras... Initially my budget was around $400 and I was looking to buy the Canon S3. But after spending several weeks online reading reviews (like you probably are right now), I decided that I wanted a DSLR (you'll find plenty of technical reasons in the web and other reviews). I was then ready to buy the Canon Xt (But the Xti was just around the corner, so I decided to wait a couple more weeks and when the Xti was finally released on Sep 1st, I went to Best Buy and got mine)
It's my third week with the camera, and I'm loving it. I can take pictures of my son faster than he can say "bugga bugga bugga". While I'm still learning how to use the camera to its potential (I've been trying to learn how to shoot pictures in manual mode instead of full automatic), I've been fully satisfied with the results so far.
If you're doing what I did last month, you're probably reading tons of reviews of this camera, the Canon Xt, Nikon D50, Nikon D70, Nikon D80, etc. Don't waste your time on the details.. They're all excellent cameras, and if you're coming from P&S, any of these cameras will be an awesome one for you to learn.
I warn you though. The biggest danger of buying this camera is that you'll soon be lusting after lenses... Now I spend hours on the web checking reviews of Canon, Sigma and Tamron lenses, and believe it or not, it's much harder to buy lenses than to buy a camera.
PS: A Great book I I got was "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. I actually got the book before the camera, and it was one of the main deciding factors that got me into DSLR instead of a pro P&S. The pictures that Bryan shows in this book are amazing and you need control. Now I'm paranoid with getting the smallest Depth of Field possible in my son's pictures (You'll understand this if you get this book or any other that explains concepts of Exposure)
Update (10/04): After weeks digging forums and reviews, I decided to purchase 2 lenses... The canon 50 f1.8 and the canon 70-300 IS. I'm not going to go over the details for these lenses in this review, but wanted to let you guys know that deciding which camera was the easy part. Deciding the lenses is where all the pain resides.
I had the Rebel XT and about 8 lenses and was thinking of getting an upgraded second camera body. So when it came out the 30D was a logical choice, but it was not really much of an upgrade from the 20D, which I resisted, so I was not really sure what to do. Then I had all but decided to just take the plunge and get the 30D when I heard the first rumblings about the XTi.
Then I started to learn the details about the XTi, more mega pixels, same auto focus, same screen, picture styles, dust cleaning! The only areas that the 30D won in my opinion were build quality, spot meter, and estimated shutter life. Those 3 categories were not enough to convince me that the 30D was worth $300-$400 more than the XTi especially since the XTi had won or tied in most categories. The way I look at it is that the camera bodies are not nearly as important as the lenses, they change so fast that it is not worth it to me to spend more for longevity when it will be outdated in a year anyway. Spend $1,500 on a lens, use it for a lifetime, spend $1,500 on a camera body, regret it in a year. I fully expect the upgrade to the 30D to be released within a year, and now that I have saved by getting the XTi I will have all that much more to put towards it when it comes out.
So basically what I am saying is that, in my opinion, the XTi is just as good, if not better than the semi-pro 30D, so why pay more? Switching from the XT to the XTi was very simple, I can use them both now without any problems. The batteries, battery grips, remote shutter release, and most of the other accessories are also compatible with both, which is nice to keep the amount of gear you need to carry to a minimum.
Unless you want to move up to a full frame sensor, I can't see any reasons why you would not want to go with this camera. If you read books on photography from just 1 or 2 years ago you will realize that this "entry level" camera has features that were not even available on top of the line ($5,000+) camera bodies. With the speed that camera bodies advance you might as well buy the entry level body every year instead of making a huge investment in the pro level bodies and then being shown up by something 10% of that price in a year or two. Not that there are not reasons to buy one of those bodies, I just don't seem have any of them.
With emphasis on portability, Canon's Digital Rebel XTi is designed for first-time DSLR photographers and travel enthusiasts. Measuring 5.0" by 3.7" by 2.6" and weighing 1.1 lbs., it is about as large as the largest point & shoot cameras and one of the smallest DSLR camera bodies on the market. Its size is the source of both popularity and criticisms. If you have large hands or a heavier lens, it may feel too small. An optional battery grip can help, but some will want something more substantial. Visit a store nearby to find out for yourself.
The package includes camera body with a lens cap, battery, charger, manual, catalogs, neck strap, USB and composite video cables, and CD-ROMs. You will need a lens and CompactFlash memory card. There may be some static energy in the packaging, so remove the lens cap in a dust-free environment such as the bathroom to prevent dust entering the sensor. Much promoted sensor cleaning system helps, but it's best not to get any in the first place.
Canon sells 4 versions of XTi: black or silver finish and with or without EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. Black or silver is largely a personal preference, but most lenses, most accessories, and all but low-end DSLR camera bodies are black. As for the kit lens, it can be an affordable introduction to DSLR and capable if used exclusively at f/8 or f/11 apertures (soft at other apertures). In other words, the lens is not ideal for shooting under low light. If you don't have to get a zoom lens now, start with Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II. It is famous for top-notch performance at very low price. Due to XTi's APS-C image sensor (compositions are multiplied by 1.6x), this lens becomes 35mm-equivalent of 80mm.
If you have the budget for a good zoom lens, at over 100 lenses, Canon has you covered. Some of Canon's popular zoom lenses include EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM, and EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. If these are too pricey, third party vendors such as Sigma and Tamron make Canon-compatible lenses for less. Their focus is not as nice as Canon's USM but they generally outperform Canon's lower-end lenses.Tamron's SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II LD Aspherical (IF) and Sigma's 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC and AF 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC macro are popular among budget-minded photographers.
With 10.1 megapixels image sensor, the XTi can benefit from sharper lenses. Although increasing the resolution over same image sensor area can increase noise, Canon has improved the sensor technology to maintain low noise floor and high dynamic range. Performance wise, there's very little to criticize. Great example of Canon's trademark smooth, high contrast, saturated, and low noise. Noise remains low even at ISO 800. It is said that shooting RAW is equivalent to getting an extra exposure (1.0 EV) and it can help you maintain usable details with acceptable noise at ISO 1600. Low noise gives XTi a bit of an excuse for missing in-body image stabilizer. According to Canon, lens is more effective location for image stabilizer, especially telephoto. That's true but I think the feature would've been nice to have. As a consolation, the XTi has mirror lockup that reduces vibration caused by the mirror movement. My sole performance criticism is the metering mode. It includes only partial and not spot metering mode (very useful when shooting high contrast scenes such as candlelit birthday cake). Perhaps more problematic is the evaluative metering mode, which occasionally underexposes images by 2/3 EV or so.
Some have criticized XTi for "plasticky" build. Except for the metal lens mount, the exterior is largely made of high quality engineering plastic with rubbery paint. If you drop it, it will probably crack or break, but it's sturdy and well made. Flipping on the power lever, it starts up almost immediately ready for use. Much promoted auto sensor cleaning kicks in when powering up and down. As with most DSLRs, there's virtually no shutter lag and it focuses in a split second (especially when using a USM lens). In continuous shooting mode with a fast memory card, it can take 10 RAWs or 27 JPEGs at 3 frames per second. RAW images are 10 MB each, so get a speed 2 GB or larger memory card, such as SanDisk's Ultra II series.
Replacing both 1.8" LCD and info display is 2.5" high resolution LCD with LED backlighting. It displays current camera settings, photos in memory, and menu. Thanks to greater real estate and more refined user interface, XTi is very intuitive and pleasure to use. The minus is 10% lower battery life, which was merely adequate to begin with. XTi has 95% crop 0.8x optical viewfinder that displays 9 auto focus points, shutter speed, aperture, and more, but misses ISO speed, white balance, and metering mode. Overall, XTi's viewfinder is more than adequate but pales to Nikon D80's larger and more comprehensive one.
Highlights of software package are ImageBrowser (Mac OS X Universal Binary), ZoomBrowser (Windows), and Digital Photo Professional (Mac OS X Universal Binary and Windows). ImageBrowser and ZoomBrowser are easy-to-weight lightweight applications for managing JPEG and RAW. Digital Photo Professional is considerably more powerful and lets you use XTi's dust delete data feature for removing dust its sensor cleaning hardware couldn't remove.
on October 3, 2006
I've been using the 400d/XTi for about 2 weeks now, and I love it. Shutter response is very fast, and the LCD is easily readible, even in very bright conditions. The 9 point AF is far superior to the 7 point AF offered on the 300 and 350d models, and the added resolution (10.08 MP) is a nice bonus. The anti-dust protection, particularly the automatic sensor cleaning, is great as I change lenses quite often.
I'm sad to say that the 400d has replaced my (more expensive) 30d for most applications. The 30d clearly has a better build quality, but that's the only advantage I can see at this point. If you want a lightweight, moderately inexpensive prosumer-grade camera, the 400d is about as good as you can get for the money.
PLEASE NOTE: if you are new to digital photography, the camera is important, but lenses are FAR MORE IMPORTANT. If you want to get great results with the 400d, you're going to have to buy good lenses. The kit lens (18-55, NOT USM) sucks -- it makes a good paperweight, but that's it. If you're a beginner I'd recommend the 50mm f/1.8 MK II (or the f/1.4, if you can afford it) to start. The f/1.8 MK II is cheaper than the kit lens, and while it's a prime (doesn't allow you to zoom) it's much sharper in low light conditions (and the f/1.4 is even sharper than the f/1.8).
Overall, I give this camera a 9 out of 10. For the price, it's the best you can get. Just remember, lenses are more important than the camera. A 300d with L-series lenses will outperform a 400d with low/consumer grade lenses in all settings. If you already have a 300 or 350d, save your money and invest it in better optics. If you don't already have a dslr, this is perhaps the best entry-level model on the market.
on October 16, 2006
I bought the Rebel EOS Digital XTi 400D to upgrade my almost 3-year old Rebel EOS Digital 300D (which, by the way, is still a great camera). I won't go into the technical differences between the two cameras, but I will say this: the differences between the two cameras are worth the cost of the upgrade for me. Here's why.
Although too much can be made of additional pixels, the upgrade from 6 mega-pixels to 10.1 mega-pixels simply means that more data is available to process pictures. I shoot in RAW mode, so I'll take all the additional information I can get.
The larger LCD screen on the 400D is much, much, much better than that on the 300D. I really like a) the much larger view of each picture taken, and b) the clarity of the camera settings when displayed on the screen. I also really like the feature that automatically turns off the screen when the camera is raised to the eye for composition. I honestly didn't realize how tiny the 300D LCD is until comparing it to the 400D. Thank you, Canon, for the bigger screen!
I also like that the 400D comes with new, selectable Picture Styles (Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral and Faithful) that automatically make small corrections to things like sharpness, contrast and color.
The camera start-up time on the 400D is also significantly quicker than that of the 300D. I once missed what I now think is the shot of a lifetime because I couldn't get the 300D to start up fast enough. I believe the 400D would have gotten the shot.
It's also much easier to select the type of Auto Focus mode on the 400D. When your camera is set to shoot in One Shot mode, but you find yourself in the middle of movement and action, the 400D makes it easy and fast to switch to AI Focus or AI Servo - essential for sports shots.
For those who have come to appreciate and rely on the histogram to determine proper exposure, you now have the choice between Brightness and RGB.
I also like the increased continuous shooting speed of almost 3 frames-per-second. A very nice feature when shooting the dog, kids playing or outdoor events.
Finally, for those who are concerned about dust on the sensor, the new automatica sensor cleaning capabiltiy is a very nice to have.
On the downside, the 400D camera grip is a bit too small for larger hands. It's manageable, but not as comfortable as the grip on the 300D. However, I mostly solved this problem by attaching an Opteka battery grip, which enlarged the grip surface.
Also, the smaller battery size on the 400D means that you can't interchange batteries between the 300D and the 400D. It also means that the (optional) battery grip that worked on the 300D does not fit on the 400D.
Am I happy that I upgraded from the 300D to the 400D? You bet. I'd do it again in a heart beat.
Would I recommend this camera to the serious amateur? Absolutely. It's worth every penny to someone getting his or her first Digital SLR or upgrading from the 300D.
on April 16, 2007
I owned a Canon Rebel film SLR that I used well into 2002. Like many others, I got tired of paying for film, so I made the switch to digital, buying a point-and-shoot. It wasn't until I purchased this Rebel SLR in March of 2007 that I realized how much I missed my SLR!
I purchased the body only because I had a lot of Canon gear that was still compatible with the digital SLR. Buying the Canon was therefore, an easy choice for me. However, I did compare the Canon to the Nikon D40 and D80 and found that the Canon compared very favorably, dollar-for-dollar.
The Canon Rebel XTi has a very high-quality feel about it. It is very well made, with rubber grips at all the right contact points, buttons and doors that feel "made for the long run," EXCELLENT bundled software, and fast camera-to-PC transfer times. Unlike a lot of other electronics purchases I've made recently, it comes will full versions of all of its software- no "lite" versions requiring you to pay more for the full version. And again, the software is EXCELLENT. It is much better than the software that came bundled with my Kodak point-and-shoot.
Even if you don't have any Canon lenses in your arsenal, I'd still advise against buying the kit with the lens. The lens included with the kit is not a great lens- it won't disappoint, mind you, but it's not a high-quality optics lens. Most local camera stores are offering Canon-sponsored specials that allow you to buy the body and a separate lens for about the same price as the Camera kit. This would be a much better deal. Note that the only difference between the "Kit" and the "Body Only" is the kit lens. The "Body Only" still includes all of the cables, software, manuals, battery, and charger.
If you're interested in flexing the camera's true muscle by shooting multiple frames at high resolution (I've gotten mine to fire 49 straight frames in about 17 seconds) you'll want to get a top-quality Compact Flash card; the camera does not come with one. Note that there are differences in memory cards with respect to read and write speeds. I purchased the SanDisk Extreme III 4GB card. The Extreme III line is capable of 20MB/sec min write and read speeds. Check other cards carefully- I've tried the slower cards and the camera cannot respond as quickly as you might want with slower cards.
This is an excellent camera- it takes high-quality 10MP JPEG images with excellent color depth, white balance, and clarity, with as little or as much control as you care to specify. You can use it as a novice's point-and-shoot, or a professional's wedding camera, and get excellent results every time.
on September 14, 2006
I've been wanting a digital SLR for a long time and with the introduction of the Canon Digital Rebel XTi, I decided the time was right. My experiences are based on about 7 years of point-and-shoot zoom cameras and, before that, a manual focus Canon A-1 film SLR.
As SLRs go, the camera is very compact out of the box. Unfortunately, it didn't stay that way after I attached the optional BG-E3 battery grip. It feels very solid regardless of the attachments, but I think it's a little easier to handle with the extra bulk of the battery grip, which also allows for up to three times the battery power of the standard Li-ion battery when used with the high capacity NiMH AA batteries currently available,
The lens included in the kit is passable, especially if you can't afford a better lens, but I found that a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens gives noticeably sharper images. I will be using the kit lens only when I need 18-24mm focal lengths.
One of the first things that impressed me when I started using the camera was the autofocus speed. It is really fast and works well in lighting conditions that would make my Canon PowerShot S1 IS's autofocus choke. It uses the flash as a focus assist light when the light gets too low for the autofocus to work unassisted.
The controls are well laid out. They provide one-button access to white balance settings, ISO settings, autofocus modes, and exposure modes. Exposure compensation is accomplished almost as easily: turn the dial next to the shutter release while holding down the aperture/exposure compensation button with your thumb.
My only complaints center around the difficulty with which the included Macintosh software installed. First of all, unlike software installers for any other package I've installed under OS X, which give you the opportunity to authenticate with an admin name and password even when installed from a normal user account, the installer for the included software does not. Therefore, you *must* install the software while logged into an admin account. This is very bad installer design IMHO.
Secondly, the Digital Photo Professional application would not operate correctly when run in a normal user account unless it was run once in an admin account. I presume that the first run installs some extra software (plugins or drivers?) in a location only writable by an admin user. Before I figured this out, the app would not decode nor process RAW images, more often than not resulting in the SBOD (spinning beachball of death) and requiring a force-quit of the app. However, once I got it working, the software worked well on the RAW images I had captured with the camera. I was able to brighten up a slightly underexposed RAW photo of one of my cats in a particularly expressive pose by about 0.5 stops with no noticeable quality loss.
I would heartily recommend this camera to anyone who has been disappointed with the image quality, speed, and other limitations of a point-and-shoot.
on September 19, 2006
I was comparison-shopping between the Canon Rebel XTi, Nikon D80 and Sony Alpha DSLR-A100. Issues that matter most to me are ISO performance, image stabilization and dust removal capability. The best information that I was able to gather from various professional reviews before my purchase decision is as follows:
ISO performance: The XTi and D80 are pretty much on a par, but with the D80 having a slight edge in being able to push it up to 3200 (with decreased resolution at that setting though). The Sony starts to fall behind at ISO 800 with noise issues and at ISO 1600 with other image quality issues as well.
Image Stabilization: Sony has an edge in terms of cost-effectivenes because of the use of an in-camera IS system. With Canon and Nikon, you have to pay extra for lenses with IS.
Dust Removal: Canon provides both hardware and software solutions. Sony provides hardware only. Nikon provides neither.
I decided to take a chance on the XTi and bought the camera with kit lens about 10 days ago. Since then, I was snapping shots everywhere at various camera settings, testing its limits. First off, I was very impressed with the lightning quick performance of the camera. I was also stunned by the amazing picture quality that the kit lens is capable of providing, especially after so much snob from numerous professional photographers on this "cheap" lens. The most tell-tale signs are various hand-held head shots taken indoor at ISO settings of 800 and 1600 (without flash nor any additional lighting). I was able to capture all the vivid details of the skin complexion of a human face, including every little pore, hair, bum, wrinkle, and even subtle skin discoloration.
Excited over the amazing performance of this new camera, I decided to add a zoom lens to it and I bought the Canon EF 70-300 mm F/4-5.6 IS USM zoom lens five days ago. I took it to the park two days later to take pictures of our dog and her canine buddies. It was already 6:45pm when we arrived at the park. With Image Stabilization functions on, hand held, ISO fixed at 1600 and no flash, I snapped both still shots and light-duty action shots from a distance at various focal lengths. I was still able to get quite a number of high-quality letter-size printouts from these shots.
So far, I am very happy with the camera and the two lenses. There are a few things I would wish for though. I wish the XTi would have a larger viewfinder (both the D80 and A100 have larger viewfinders), illuminated buttons (for night shots), and more reasonable prices on Canon's lens hoods (the lens hood for the above-mentioned zoom lens costs an outrageous $45).
on November 15, 2006
I'll keep this short,as I assume most of the tec stuff has been covered.I sold a 350D to get the 400D(XTi).The 400D focuses better,has better ergonomics,is the same size/weight,and takes GREAT photos.I tried a Nikon D80,but it loses way too much detail at iso 400 and up.Plus the Canon line of lenses fits my needs better,are cheaper,and are available.The Nikon costs $300 more (with the Canon being discounted),and the Nikon Raw converter adds another $150.So the true cost difference is $400-450.
I'd buy the Canon over the Nikon at the same price due to image quality,especially if you shoot jpeg.
BTW,if you can afford Canon L lenses(the 25-105L and the 70-200L-any of the 4) are amazing.
One caveat,as with ANY dslr,these cameras are not p/s and do best with some post processing and with knowledge of how a camera meters/exposes,etc.I can't emphasize this enough.