Canon EOS 1D Mark II versus Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi

You’re probably reading the title and thinking, no way, not even close, not a fair comparison. That’s like comparing apples to oranges. I would definitely agree. But what if you had some money to spare, found a great deal on a 1D Mark II and was wondering, is it worth it or should I just get the XTi? Let me save you guys the trouble of having to read the entire post if you are in a hurry: despite the Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi utilizing many new Canon advancements, it still does not come close to the 4 year old Canon EOS 1D Mark II.

While these two SLRs are not even close to being in the same class (amateur stepping up from point-and-shoot camera vs. pro shooter), it’s still fun to just to compare. So let’s lay it out in an easy to read table (information compiled from dpreview.com):

SLR Cameras Canon EOS 1D Mark II Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi Winner
Year Introduced January 29, 2004 August 24, 2006
Sensor Size 28.7 x 19.1 mm 22.2 x 14.8 mm 1D Mark II
Viewfinder 100%, 0.72x magnification 95%, 0.8x magnification 1D Mark II
Max Resolution 3504×2336 3888×2592 400D/XTi
Megapixels 8.2 10.2 400D/XTi
ISO rating 100-1600 in 1/3 stops, with 50 and 3200 as options 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 1D Mark II
Auto Focus type TTL-AREA-SIR 45 focus point CMOS sensor Multi-BASIS TTL 9 focus point CMOS sensor 1D Mark II
Max shutter 1/8000 sec 1/4000 sec 1D Mark II
Metering 21 area eval, partial, spot (center, AF point, multi-spot), center weighted average 35 area eval, center weighted, partial 1D Mark II
Crop Factor 1.3 1.6 1D Mark II
Continuous Drive 8.5 fps for 40 JPEG or 20 RAW 3 fps for 27 JPEG or 10 RAW 1D Mark II
Storage Types Compact Flash (Type I or II), SD card, and SDHC (with latest firmware) Compact Flash (Type I or II) 1D Mark II
LCD 2.0 inches 2.5 inches 400D/XTi
LCD Pixels 230,000 230,000 Tie
Battery Canon Ni-MH NP-E3 (12v 1650mAh) battery Canon Lithium-Ion NB-2LH (7.4v 720mAh) battery 1D Mark II
Weight 1565 g (55.2 oz) 556 g (19.6 oz)
Dimensions 156 x 158 x 80 mm (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.2 in) 127 x 94 x 65 mm (5 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)

It’s pretty obvious, side-by-side, which is the superior SLR: the 1D. There are a couple areas where the 400D/XTi has an advantage over the 1D, but it’s a slight advantage such as the LCD size. While the 400D/XTi has a bigger LCD (2.5 inch), the 1D has as better resolution screen. The most noticeable difference is megapixels. For those concerned with megapixel sizes, the 400D/XTi has nearly 2MP more than the 1D. But you have to consider from a relative stand point, that 8.2 MP on a 1.3 crop factor sensor versus 10.1 MP on a 1.6 crop factor sensor will result in lower noise. The pixel size on the 1D Mark II is 8.2µm versus 5.7µm (figures from the-digital-picture.com) meaning that the 1D Mark II is able to capture more light per pixel resulting in higher sensitivity meaning less noise in the picture. That’s why more mega pixels is not always better and the Canon EOS 5D has such fantastic low noise capabilities because of it’s full frame sensor with 12.8 megapixels.

So Which Camera Is Right For Me?

Unless you make serious money from photography or you just make serious money, I would recommend the Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi (or the newly released Canon EOS Rebel 450D/XSi). The 400D/XTi and 450D/XSi has some very useful features and should not be easily discounted as merely an amateur camera as Peter Gregg found out. Read his informative post about the Canon EOS 400D/XTi as a sleeper camera on his website, abetterbouncecard.com. It’s small and portable and can utilize Canon EF and EF-S mount lenses, unlike the 1D only taking EF mount lenses. The battery is small and lasts forever and is cross usable with other Canon point-and-shoot cameras. It will do a decent job for amateur sports, event photography, party photography, etc.

If you need the serious frame rates because you’re shooting sports, professional auto racing, etc., then definitely spring for the 1D. The prices for the 1D are pretty good, if you can get a good condition used one for under $2k, it’s definitely worth doing. The 1D Mark II may seem old, but it’s still performs as good if not better than a lot of the new SLRs right now. The Canon EOS 1D Mark IIn is also worth considering if you can find it for a good price. I generally see some once in a blue moon at BH Photo’s Used section and occasionally on Craigslist. There aren’t really too many major differences between the Mark II and Mark IIn other than bigger LCD (2.5 inch vs. 2 inch), you can write different file types to either card, slightly faster Digic II CPU, and a few other minor things.

2 thoughts on “Canon EOS 1D Mark II versus Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi”

  1. I own both of these cameras: I came across this page looking for jpeg info/comparison/settings between these two. I bought the 400d as my first dslr, got the 1dmkii used when the 400d broke and “needed” another camera before it got fixed.

    Although the 1d is a better made camera, the actual photos produced are similar (I shoot jpeg, and don’t post process – I use my slr as highly controllable point-n-shoot). The screen on the 400d is much better than 1dmkii, but viewfinder is much worse, after getting used to 1d.

    My question: what jpeg settings are recommended on 1d to get awesome photos with no PP? My 1d images seem noisier/darker where 400d seems smooth (although prob less detail) and bright.

    I know Canon aim 400d at making happy snaps that look good out of camera, where 1d is designed to have PP applied, but I’m using the 1d as a better 400d – can these two conflicting desires be resolved.

    1. Rex, I certainly agree with you assessment. When it comes to post-processing, that’s where the 1Dm2 really shines over the 400D. When you try to process the 400D JPEGs, the images just fall apart.

      As far as an answer to your question: there is no magical setting to get picture perfect JPEGs out of the 1Dm2. The only way, that I know of, if you’re intent on getting the perfect look is to nail the exposure perfectly and set custom white balance.

      Hope this helps and happy shooting!

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