Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi SLR Review

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Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi

Full review posted 11/28/2006

Click on the Rebel XTi for a QuickTime VR tour

(Note: The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi and EOS 400D are the same)

The 6-megapixel Canon EOS Digital Rebel came on the scene in late 2003 and instantly established a new category of "affordable digital SLR cameras" with a price of under $1000, including a zoom lens. It was succeeded in 2005 by the 8-megapixel Digital Rebel XT, which offered improved image quality, shooting performance and flexibility in addition to its higher resolution.

The third generation Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi SLR takes everything found in its predecessors and improves the resolution to 10.1-megapixels, provides a more responsive 9-point AF system, adds a large 2 1/2-inch LCD monitor, and incorporates the Picture Style image processing controls first introduced on the Canon EOS-1D Mark II N and 5D. It also solves one of the gotcha's of digital SLR's, dust on the image sensor, with the EOS Integrated Cleaning System featuring a self cleaning sensor. This easy to use digital SLR is compatible with all Canon EF lenses including the EF-S lenses and still retains the sub-$1,000 price point for entry-level digital SLR consumers.

Many of the feature advancements and innovations on the EOS Digital Rebel XTi digital camera are inherited from its EOS 30D "prosumer big brother." But the XTi offers greater resolution (10.1 versus 8-megapixels), greater burst shooting capacity (27 versus 23 frames) and a self-cleaning image sensor, leaving us waiting for the other shoe to drop in the form of a 10-megapixel successor to the 30D. Other differences between the two cameras favor the 30D, including faster continuous shooting (5 frames-per-second (fps) vs. 3 fps), more custom settings (18 vs. 11), a 3200 ISO sensitivity setting and a rugged magnesium body. The Rebel XTi was created for those migrating to digital that don't want to lose the power or flexibility of a SLR system, but can't justify the higher price of the Canon's prosumer EOS models.

The Digital Rebel XTi may be an "entry-level" camera but it's quite the performer thanks to the powerful DIGIC II image processor it shares with the Rebel XT and 30D, providing high-precision and high speed, natural color reproduction including high-saturation, bright subjects, improved auto white balance, along with increased white balance correction control and white balance bracketing. In addition to image quality improvements, DIGIC II speeds up the camera's start up time to an amazing 0.2 seconds - ten times faster than the Digital Rebel. And capturing the action is no problem with the ability to shoot up to 27 consecutive Large/Fine (10.1 megapixel) JPEGs, 10 RAW files, or 8 RAW + Large/Fine JPEGs at a rate of up to three frames-per-second.

The Digital Rebel XTi's 12 exposure modes are easily selected by a turn of the top-mounted Mode dial. These exposure modes cover virtually all the shooting conditions you'll ever encounter and are: Full Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait, Flash Off, Program AE, Shutter speed-priority AE, Aperture-priority AE, Manual and Auto Depth-of-Field AE. The camera's ISO sensitivity range is 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600, The Auto ISO setting includes ISO 400 in order to help improve image quality, reduce camera shake and brighten the scene behind the subject when taking a flash photo.

The newest feature found on the Digital Rebel XTi is the remarkable EOS Integrated Cleaning System, a self-cleaning image sensor unit/dust removal system that Canon claims is available on no other camera of any make, at any price. Another first among Canon dSLR's is the Display-off sensor, which automatically turns-off the LCD monitor when the camera is raised up to the user's eye. This feature saves battery life and avoids distracting screen brightness when looking through the viewfinder.

Utilizing the same 9-point autofocus system as the 30D, the Digital Rebel XTi is capable of analyzing where a subject is -- even when it is off center - and almost immediately bringing it into focus. It can also analyze subject movement and automatically select locking or tracking AF modes as needed. These features simplify the camera's operation and optimize its performance. The Digital Rebel XTi allows users to select locking or tracking AF modes independently, adding a new dimension of creative control. The DIGIC II chip increases the speed of autofocus calculation and hence the responsiveness of the autofocus itself.

A user-friendly enhancements built in to the new Digital Rebel XTi is the 2.5 inch, 230,000 pixel color TFT LCD monitor with its wide, 160 degree viewing angle. This new screen features a viewing area that is nearly twice as large as the Rebel XT model's 1.8 -inch monitor, and offers seven brightness settings for easy viewing of images and menu options in a wide range of lighting conditions. It is approximately 40% brighter at its maximum setting than screens found on the top-tier EOS-1D Mark II N, EOS 5D and EOS 30D digital SLRs. The monitor is also the new home for camera settings information that the Rebel XT displayed on a separate LCD. This new configuration allows for more information and larger font & icons in one easy-to-view area.

Digital Rebel XTi Features:

  • Compact (5 x 3.7 x 2.6") and lightweight, less than two pounds

  • Canon EF lens mount, compatible with over 50 Canon EF and EF-S lenses

  • 10.1-megapixel (effective) CMOS image sensor, RGB primary filter

  • Three JPEG resolutions: Large, 10.1 megapixels; Medium, 5.3 megapixels; Small, 2.5 megapixels, Canon .cr2 RAW, or JPEG+RAW file formats

  • Fast, Wide-area TTL AF with 9 focusing points, manual or auto selectable.

  • Eye level TTL viewfinder with diopter adjustment, illuminated AF points, depth-of-field preview and detailed information display.

  • One shot AF, AI Servo AF with focus prediction, AI Focus AF, and manual focus modes.

  • 2.5 inch, color TFT LCD, 230,000 pixels, 160-degree viewing angle, 7 levels of brightness

  • Canon DIGIC II image processor speeds up image processing, camera functions and improves image quality

  • Full range of exposure modes: Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Depth-of-Field AE, Programmed AE with modes for Landscape, Macro, Night Scene, Portrait, and Sports, and full Manual

  • 35-zone TTL metering, Evaluative (linked to all focusing points), Center weighted average, or 9% central-area spot metering

  • White Balance: Auto, six presets and Manual plus Bracketing

  • Continuous Drive mode: 27 frames at 3 fps (1/250 second or faster)

  • Shutter speeds: 30 to 1/4,000 seconds, plus Bulb

  • Auto exposure bracketing: -/+2 EV in 1/2 EV or 1/3 EV increments

  • 11 Custom Functions with 28 settings including mirror lock

  • ISO sensitivity range: 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1,600

  • Built-in E-TTL II popup flash with red-eye reduction.

  • Hot shoe for Canon EX Speedlites

  • CompactFlash Type II card slot, Microdrive & FAT32 compatible

  • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed connectivity, Direct Print to Canon and PictBridge printers

  • High capacity Li-ion rechargeable battery and compact rapid charger included

  • Optional BG-E3 Battery Grip holds two NB-2LH batteries and adds vertical grip, shutter release and controls

All EOS Digital Rebel XTi kits include the camera body, li-ion battery and charger, USB cable, video cable, shoulder strap and bundled software (ZoomBrowser EX for Windows and ImageBrowser for Macintosh, Digital Photo Professional for RAW image editing, EOS Utility and PhotoStitch).

The Digital Rebel XTi is offered in two kit configurations: with and without Canon's high-quality EF-S 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens.

The Digital Rebel XTi will be available in stylish brushed silver patina or Canon matte-black finish.

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