Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT SLR Review

Click for our main menu

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT

First Look posted 3/24/2005
Full review posted 4/21/2005

Click on the Rebel XT for a QuickTime VR tour

(Note: The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT and EOS 350D 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 rapidly became the best-selling digital SLR of all time and as with all things digital, Canon has just updated it.

The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT SLR takes everything found in the original Digital Rebel and improves the resolution to 8-megapixels, speeds up all of the camera operations, adds more creative control and put it all into a smaller and lighter body. 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 XT digital camera are inherited from its EOS 20D "prosumer big brother." Both cameras employ a Canon 8-megapixel, high resolution color CMOS image sensor, and provide the same effective angle of view, equivalent to 1.6 x the normal EF lens focal length. The consumer looking only at the fact that they are both 8-megapixel SLRs might not easily see the real differences between these two cameras. The 20D offers faster continuous shooting (5 frames-per-second (fps) vs. 3 fps) with a larger burst capability (23 frames vs. 14), more custom settings (18 vs. 9) and a rugged magnesium body. The Rebel XT 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 $600 higher price of the EOS 20D.

The Digital Rebel XT may be an "entry-level" camera but it's quite the performer thanks to Canon's most powerful SLR imaging engine. The DIGIC II processor provides 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. It also reduces the shutter release time lag from ~120 milliseconds to 100 milliseconds, reduces viewfinder blackout time from ~225 milliseconds to 170 milliseconds, and yields CF card data-writing speed approximately 3.5 times faster than the Digital Rebel. And capturing the action is no problem with the ability to shoot up to 14 consecutive Large/Fine (8.0 megapixel) JPEGs, five RAW files, or four RAW + Large/Fine JPEGs at a rate of up to three frames-per-second.

The Digital Rebel XT'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 sensitivty range is 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600, Canon raised the Auto ISO setting to include ISO 400 in order to help improve image quality, reduce camera shake and brighten the scene behind the subject when taking a flash photo.

Among the new features found on the Digital Rebel XT are user selectable metering and AF modes, flash exposure compensation control, improved E-TTL II evaluative flash metering and for the first time in this product category, custom function control. It also offers a monochrome mode for those who enjoy the subtleties and shadings that only black and white images offer. These additional controls greatly increase the creative power of the Digital Rebel XT, without taking away any of the automated functions that made the original Digital Rebel so popular with beginning photographers.

Utilizing the same 7-point autofocus system as the Digital Rebel, 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.

Another feature improved by the presence of DIGIC II is the speed of the direct printing function, which is PictBridge compatible. DIGIC II also produces faster startup times, faster CompactFlash card writing speed; and approximately 10X faster data transfer speeds via a high-speed USB 2.0 interface. It also reduces the power consumption (and extends battery life) by approximately 35%. The NB-2LH Li-ion battery and charger are included with the Digital Rebel XT camera and a new vertical grip (BG-E3) that accepts up to two NB-2LH battery packs or six AA-sized batteries and an AC Adapter Kit (ACK700) are available as optional accessories.

Digital Rebel XT 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

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

  • Three JPEG resolutions: Large, 8 megapixels; Medium, 4.1 megapixels; Small, 2 megapixels, Canon .cr2 RAW, or JPEG+RAW file formats

  • Fast, Wide-area TTL AF with 7 focusing points, manual or auto selectable.

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

  • 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 9.5% central-area spot metering

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

  • Continuous Drive mode: 14 frames at 3 fps (1/250 second or faster)

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

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

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

  • Nine Custom Functions with 24 settings including mirror lock

  • 1.8 inch, color TFT LCD, 118,000 pixels, 5 levels of brightness

  • Playback image zoom 1.5x-10x in 5 steps with scrolling

  • 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 & FAT-32 compatible

  • I/O ports: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed, Video Out (NTSC or PAL), N3 remote control socket

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

  • Direct Print to Canon CP-100/200/300, Bubble Jet Direct and PictBridge compatible printers

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

All EOS Digital Rebel XT 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, and ArcSoft Photo Studio.)

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

Digital Rebel XT Wins DIWA Gold Award

DIWA Award

Amsterdam, 6. May, 2005 - DIWA (Digital Imaging Websites Association), a world-wide organization of collaborating websites, today has the pleasure of announcing a DIWA Gold Award to the Canon Digital Rebel XT digital SLR.

The Digital Rebel XT is an entry-level D-SLR camera, but performs in many ways better than many of its more expensive rivals. The specifications are outstanding for its class, piloted by its 8.2 Megapixel low-noise CMOS image sensor and the super-powerful on-board DIGIC II image processor. This enables instant startup and super-fast response, as well as high speed continuous shooting, image processing and storing. Even at highest resolution, the Digital Rebel XT can shoot a minimum of 14 frames bursts at 3 frames per second.

Kai Thon, DIWA's test manager says: "With the Digital Rebel XT, Canon has refined the successful pioneer and predecessor, the Digital Rebel, by improving all the imperfect details pointed out by DIWA. Both the new 8.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor, similar to the one used in the Gold winning semi-professional EOS 20D and the remarkable DIGIC II image processor. Our extensive scoreboard gave results surprisingly close to those of the EOS 20D, revealing no major construction concerns. DIWA experts from Europe and USA agreed that the Digital Rebel XT elevates the "Amateur D-SLR" class pleasantly close to professional cameras, at a fraction of the price."

The DIWA group of camera experts found the image quality to be on par with the EOS 20D, perhaps the best testimonial any camera can get. This includes lifelike color rendition, low-noise images even at high ISO speeds and excellent JPEG image processing with a wide range of individual preference settings. Images may be defined in sRGB or Adobe RGB color space and stored in RAW format as well as RAW+JPEG, for highest degree of flexibility.

Furthermore, the Digital Rebel XT is equipped with a 7-point, high sensitive auto focus system, it is compatible with both EF and EF-S series Canon lenses and features Canon's advanced E-TTL II flash system. Despite its compact size, the camera is user-friendly, with ergonomic design and control layout. DIWA also honors Canon for the vast choice of languages built into the intuitive menu system. For optimum handling comfort, the optional BG-E3 Battery Grip is available, which also further expands the camera's long battery life.

Continue on to
Physical Views & Specs

Return To Our
Reviews Menu

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.