Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT SLR Review

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Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT

Camera Design and Features

The EOS Digital Rebel camera is not a chunky camera by any means and no one has suggested that it was in need of a diet. By comparison, however, the EOS Digital Rebel XT camera is considerably smaller. From a distance, the XT is stylish and compact; in hand, it is delightful. Compared with its predecessor, the width of the XT is 15.5 mm smaller; the height is reduced by 4.8 mm and the thickness of the body is 8.4 mm less. The weight has been reduced by 2.5 ounces/70 grams. The body alone weighs 17.1 ounces/490 grams With a battery, a CF card and the EF-S 18-55mm standard zoom lens, the camera weighs just 1.5 pounds/720 grams.

The body consists of a chassis made of stainless steel, and a mirror box made of high- strength engineering plastic. The mirror box, to which the lens mount and image sensor are attached, is fixed very securely to the chassis to obtain the same body strength as the EOS 20D. This helps prevent the flange focal distance from changing due to the static pressure of the attached lens.

As with the EOS Digital Rebel model, the EOS Digital Rebel XT camera's top, front and rear covers are made of special engineering plastic known for light weight, excellent strength and electromagnetic shielding: ABS resin, polycarbonate resin, and polycarbonate mixed with special conductive fibers. The exterior finish is more refined than the EOS Digital Rebel camera's. The Canon logo is now embossed and colored to give the XT a high-quality appearance. Both titanium silver and satin black body colors will be offered.

CMOS Imager

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT / EOS 350D

The Digital Rebel XT features Canon's 8.0 Megapixel CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensor, which captures images of exceptional clarity and tonal range and offers the most pixels in its class. This APS-C size sensor (22.2 x 14.8mm) has the same 3:2 ratio as film cameras, creating an effective angle of view that is 1.6x the normal EF Lens focal length. Featuring an on-chip Noise Reduction Circuit with an expanded ISO range, this sensor offers professional image quality in a consumer digicam.

Several engineering features account for the sensor's wide ISO range (100 to 1600), low noise, high dynamic range, and low power consumption. The configuration of each photo diode in each pixel has been optimized; detail processing has been improved, and a greater portion of each pixel is now sensitive to light. The microlens array which gathers light for the sensor has a new design, shared with the microlenses in the EOS-1Ds Mark II, 1D Mark II and 20D that reduces the gaps between the lenses. This narrow-gap array gathers light more efficiently and loses less light between the lenses.

The new, 3-layer optical low-pass filter has the same construction as the EOS 20D's filter, an infrared absorbing glass and three crystal plates having different optical axes. A dichroic mirror with a dielectric, multi-layer coating on the front surface deflects light over a wide range of infrared wavelengths. There is also an infrared- absorbing glass layer to absorb nearinfrared wavelengths in the visible spectrum.

The low-pass filter incorporates two monocrystal plates that separate the subject image into four horizontal and vertical directions. Between these two plates is a phase plate, also monocrystal, which converts the linear polarized light into circular polarized light. The first crystalline plate separates the image into two images horizontally. The linear polarized light is converted into circular polarized light by the phase plate. The second crystal plate separates the images vertically, resulting in four duplicate images arranged in a square matrix. The image separation in the horizontal and vertical directions is optimized for the sensor pitch so that false colors and moir� caused by minute horizontal and vertical lines in the subject are reduced while resolution is actually increased. Additionally, this hybrid construction, with its deflecting and absorbing layers, reduces image fogging and red ghosting caused by sensor reflections.

The CMOS sensor features a second generation, on-chip, noisereduction circuit that includes a new low-noise gain amp and an offset reduction circuit. The signal is amplified in slow-read steps. The result is the effective elimination of random noise and fixed pattern noise. With the EOS Digital Rebel XT camera, one can even photograph the heavens in the night sky with very low noise.

EF Lens Mount

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT / EOS 350D, image (c) 2003 Steve's Digicams

The EOS Digital Rebel XT uses a Canon EF lens mount (full electronic control type) and accepts the over 50 available Canon EF lenses from 14mm ultra-wide-angle to 1200mm super-telephoto including the new EF-S type.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT / EOS 350D, image (c) 2003 Steve's Digicams

Available only in the Digital Rebel XT kit, Canon's compact EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens approximates a 28-90mm zoom lens (in 35mm format). By reducing the distance from the rear of the lens to the imaging sensor and reducing the size of the image circle to accommodate the camera's imaging sensor size, the lens produces high image quality with superb resolution at all focal lengths. The lens is also smaller and lighter than conventional lenses because of the shorter backfocus distance.

EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 specifications

    Angle of view - 74° - 27°. The lens is constructed of 11 elements in 9 groups. Minimum aperture is f/22-36. Minimum focusing distance is 0.28m. Physical size is 69 x 66.2 mm/ 2.7 x 2.6 in. Weight is 190 g / 6.7 oz. Filter size is 58mm. Hood - Canon EW-60C.

Autofocus System

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT / EOS 350D, image (c) 2003 Steve's Digicams

Utilizing a 7-point autofocus system the Digital Rebel XT 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 XT allows users to select locking or tracking AF modes independently, adding a new dimension of creative control. The DIGIC II chip actually help increase the speed of autofocus calculation and hence the responsiveness of the autofocus itself.

The Digital Rebel XT has three user selectable autofocus modes: One-shot AF, AI Servo AF with focus prediction and AI Focus AF as well as manual focus. Going from autofocus (AF) to manual focus (MF) is accomplished by flipping a switch on the lens itself. The AF system is able to work down to 0.5EV at ISO 100.

The AF-assist beam is a series of stroboscopic flashes from the builtin flash or a near-IR patterned LED with a compatible accessory Canon Speedlite. With the built-in flash, the working range of the AF-assist beam is approximately 4 meters/13.2 feet at the center and 3.5 meters/11.5 feet a the other 6 AF points. Firing stops when the focus detection confirmation signal is detected.

E-TTL II Flash

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT / EOS 350D, image (c) 2003 Steve's Digicams

The camera's high profile, built-in retractable flash unit makes taking pictures with well-balanced foreground and background exposures simple thanks to Canon's E-TTL II (Evaluative Through-The-Lens) flash exposure metering system. When shooting in the AUTO mode or the Basic Zone modes (except landscape, sports or no flash mode), the built in flash will automatically pop up and fire in low-light or back lit conditions. In other recording modes you press the release button to pop it up when needed. The recycling time is only three seconds.

E-TTL II takes effect when the built-in flash or an accessory EX-series Speedlite is used. E-TTL II does not assume that the AF point in use covers the main subject. Instead, when the shutter button is pressed completely, ambient light is measured just before a pre-flash fires. For each metering zone, the ambient reading and the pre-flash reading are compared.

Areas having a large difference between ambient and pre-flash readings are selected and analyzed. Extreme differences suggest a highly reflective or specular object; these areas are eliminated from calculations, avoiding underexposure. When a lens providing distance information is used, this data is also considered in determining the presence and location of a high-reflectance object. The selected pre-flash readings are added and averaged and the output of the main flash is calculated. Even if the subject changes position, reflectance or size, the flash metering remains highly accurate and stable.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT / EOS 350D with Canon 550EX speedlight, image (c) 2003 Steve's Digicams

Some other highly useful changes to the flash system of the EOS Digital Rebel camera have occurred:

  • User-adjustable flash exposure compensation up to +/- 2 stops in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments has been added.

  • Second-curtain flash synch has been added, via Custom Function 9-1. This function is effective with the built-in flash and also with EX-series Speedlites that lack secondcurtain sync control.

  • The built-in flash has greater coverage, now handling a 17mm focal length, and the flash head has been raised 5.5mm higher than the Digital Rebel, reducing red-eye and eliminating blockage of flash illumination when using the EF-S 18-55mm and EF-S 17-85mm zoom lenses.

  • The built-in flash has a guide number of 13/43 (ISO 100, meters/feet), the highest in its class as of February, 2005.

  • The XT supports the new functions of Speedlite 580EX, including auto zoom for picture size and color temperature data transmission.

  • Flash exposure bracketing, FEB, is now effective when set with the 580EX, 550EX, MR-14EX or MT-24EX Speedlites.

  • Modeling flash is enabled with the 580EX, 550EX, 420EX, MR-14EX and MT-24EX Speedlites. In the Creative Zone modes, press the depth-of-field preview to fire at 70 Hz for 1 second.

  • The EOS Digital Rebel XT camera supports wireless flash with the 5 flashes listed above and the ST-E2. Three-group slave control, a flash output ratio control, FEB and modeling flash (with flash output ratio) are all enabled. (The ST-E2 supports up to two slave groups with flash output ratio control, but not FEB or modeling flash.) Note that the 420EX can function as a slave only, while the MR-14EX and the MT-24EX can serve as the master unit only.


Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT / EOS 350D, image (c) 2003 Steve's Digicams

The eyelevel viewfinder shows approx 95% of the captured image with 0.8x magnification via a pentamirror with a fixed focusing screen. There is a builtin -3.0 - +1.0 diopter adjustment. Around the viewfinder is a soft rubber Ef frame that fits comfortably against your face or eyeglasses, it provides a 21mm eye point.

Canon offers E-series Dioptric Adjustment Lenses (from -4 to +2 values), the Angle Finder C for 90° viewfinder applications, the EP-EX15 Eyepiece Extender and replacement Ef rubber frames.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT / EOS 350D, image (c) 2003 Steve's Digicams

Inside the viewfinder are seven focusing points, the active focus point(s) are illuminated to indicate which AF zone(s) are selected. Viewfinder information includes - AF information (AF points, focus confirmation light), exposure information (shutter speed, aperture value, AE lock, exposure level, AEB in progress, exposure warning), flash information (flash ready, red-eye reduction enabled, red-eye reduction lamp on, high-speed sync, FE lock, flash exposure compensation), maximum burst, CF card information

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