A Viewfinder Darkly

Photography tips and tutorials

New Canon Rebel DLSR XSi or 450D

January 28 2008

by Phil Northeast

Canon continues incremental improvements to its entry level DSLR in a process of evolution rather than revolution, announcing the Rebel XSi or 450D.

Canon Rebel DSLR

Canon Rebel DSLR Front View

The existing Canon Rebel XTi or 400D is already an excellent camera leaving little room for major improvement, especially in an entry-level model where cost is factor. Often the entry models benefit from technology trickling down from a manufacturer’s high-end models.

Canon took the opportunity of the annual Photography Manufacturers Association’s (PMA) 2008 International Convention at Las Vegas to launch this new model. Here are some of the highlights of the new Digital Rebel XSi.

LCD Live View

The ability to use the LCD monitor to view the scene while composing is just starting to appear in DSLRs. Canon have joined in the trend and increasing the size of the XSi’s rear LCD monitor to help the display of the current view through the lens. This should be an advantage when the camera is used in conjunction with a tripod for considered composition.

ISO In Viewfinder

Canon acknowledges the increasing use of ISO as the third main variable, along with shutter speed and aperture, which photographers use in achieving the desired exposure. So, it makes sense to make this essential information readily available in camera’s viewfinder.

Canon Rebel XSi

Canon Rebel XSi Rear View

Spot Metering

Surprisingly, spot metering mode is missing from Canon’s earlier entry-level models. Photographers use this mode to measure the exposure from one spot in an image with a complex lighting situation.

SD Card

Canon joins the move to replace Compact Flash cards with the newer and rapidly developing Secure Digital (SD) memory cards, including the newly emerging High Capacity cards. SD cards are becoming the storage medium of choice in a wide range of electronic devices and their capabilities are rapidly improving. As the number pixels in sensors increases, so does the demand on storage capacity, making this an indicator of the immediate future of portable storage media.

New 12.2 megapixels Canon CMOS Sensor

At the heart of the new Rebel is a digital sensor with a massive 12 megapixels packed into the standard APS size. Canon is the leading camera manufacturer using CMOS sensors rather than the more common CCD structures. Despite the inherent benefits offered by CMOS for low noise the maximum ISO is only 1600, useful but not outstanding.

The increase of resolution to 12 megapixels from 10 megapixels is only a small step and might be hard to pick in normal use. It is perhaps more important to the marketing department to help make the Rebel stand out on the showroom shelf from other manufacturer’s cameras. In the longer term is an indicator of the relentless march of digital imaging technology, and the fierce competition between manufacturers.

DSLR with battery grip

Canon Rebel DSLR with optional battery grip

Battery grip

The optional battery grip for the new Rebel uses Lithium Ion batteries, but can also take six AA batteries if an alternative power supply is needed, handy for photographers while they are travelling.

What’s Missing?

In a feature packed camera body, one omission is becoming apparent, image stabilization is not standard. Many graduates from point and shoot models regard this as a normal feature in the much cheaper digital cameras and may object to paying extra for special lenses to gain this functionally. Particularly as there are competitors offering DLSRs including image stabilization system in the camera body, so every lens benefits


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