Canon EOS Rebel XTi/400D Digital SLR

Introduction

It took a bit of agonizing trying to decide what would be the replacement SLR to my Nikon D100. I knew for sure that I was making the switch to Canon. Ironically my friend saw it coming before I even realized it. It had just come time to upgrade.

So at first I was not even considering the Canon EOS Rebel XTi/400D because I felt it was too “entry level” SLR for me, so I was considering a used Canon EOS 20D instead. I really wanted the Canon EOS 30D because of the improvements over the 20D, but the cost of the SLR alone would make it difficult for me to have any quality lenses. I was considering a used Canon EOS 30D at one point, but figured it might be too dangerous of an investment considering buying used electronics, too unpredictable when it may just decide to crap out especially without a warranty. So I was considering a Canon EOS 20D again because of its price and it still had many of the features I wanted despite a new model being out. After number crunching, I decided perhaps the Canon EOS Rebel XTi might be a good idea after all.

For the cost vs. what it offers, you can’t really beat the price. I got mine brand new from a Canon authorized dealer, Beachcamera.com, body only, for under $700 dollars.

Weight and Dimensions

2007-01-08 - Canon EOS Rebel XTi - 009They weren’t kidding when they said this SLR was small. It’s practically the size of a larger point-and-shoot, in fact it probably could be confused for a point-and-shoot if not for larger lenses attached. My finger tips feel practically smashed against the lens mount, that’s how tiny it is. At first it was quite uncomfortable to use, especially since I was using a Nikon D100 before, but after you get used to it, its not so bad. I’ve used my friend’s Canon EOS 30D and my Dad’s Canon EOS 5D, and when you have been using the XTi for awhile, holding the other two bigger SLRs feels completely different.

The XTi is very light, almost feels like there is nothing inside. The lightness can be both a good and bad thing. It’s good because you’re carrying less, but it’s bad when you have a big lens attached such as the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM. Without the top LCD, Canon has achieved a SLR the size of mid-sized point-and-shoots, which makes being stealthy easier.

Lighter lens mounted to the XTi is no issue, but when you mount an L lens, it becomes very front heavy. Everything time I have my 70-200mm f/2.8L mounted, I’m bracing the lens rather than the camera.

Construction

The XTi is primarily constructed of polycarbonate with magnesium around the lens mount and CMOS sensor. It definitely feels plastic, but don’t let that detract you from how great this camera really is. It definitely is very well constructed and put together despite being plastic. I have my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM attached to it primarily, and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM for special events, and it doesn’t feel like the lens mount is going to break off. Take it from a guy, who at times, carries his camera with the 24-70mm or 70-200mm attached via the neck strap slinged on one shoulder walking around. I know some people would cringe at the thought…

I know many people and many sites have commented on how much more comfortable the Nikon D80 and even the Nikon D40 (despite being smaller than the XTi) is. I have held both for a bit and agree that the two Nikons are definitely more comfortable.

Field Test

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 005Because this is my primary (only, currently) body, I use it whenever I need to take pictures. It gets a lot of use and while I don’t baby it, I don’t abuse it either. The body still looks relatively new other than for a few cosmetic blemishes such as my fingertips digging into the rubber inserts to hold the camera.

I always get looks when I pull out my XTi because I have two main lens, the 24-70mm and the 70-200mm both f/2.8 which means big lenses, and the 24-70mm is usually what I have mounted. It looks a bit comical at first, such a small camera but such a big lens.

The small size of the XTi makes traveling with it very easy. I can easily stow it away in my car and carry it with me to snap nice high quality shots. My lenses do kind of negate the smallness benefit of the XTi though…

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 031The 2.5 inch LCD screen is great, I love it, especially since I went from a 1.8 inch LCD screen on the Nikon D100. One major thing I highly recommend doing to protect your LCD is purchasing the Palm Premium screen protectors multipack and applying it to your LCD. You will have to do a bit of measuring and cutting, and it may take a few times before you get it perfect, but it is all worth it. It doesn’t affect the color or view angle of the LCD in any way. Worthy investment.

In the beginning, I figured the dust sensor cleaning feature was a gimmick by Canon, but after a bit of comparison with my friend’s 30D, it does in fact work. I change my lenses much more often than my friend does (he only has one lens…at the moment…), but I have hardly any sensor dust compared to him and he is much, much more careful about how he changes his lenses to prevent dust such as facing the camera downwards to avoid introducing new dust artifacts on the sensor, me, I just plop it off and on.

The battery life is actually quite good. I don’t have an exact count of how many shots you can take before you have to recharge the battery, but I find that I rarely have to recharge the battery. When the battery is depleted, it doesn’t take long to recharge the battery back to full either, some three hours I believe. And in no accident, the Canon NB-2LH battery is compatible with the XT, Canon PowerShot S30/40/45/50/60/70/80, and the Canon G7.

Final Thoughts

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 010While I am definitely overall very happy with the SLR, there are a few points that do irritate me. First and foremost, the limited ISO steps. My ISO choices are: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600. The jump from 400 to 800 is ridiculous! Sometimes I need 600 or around 600 and 800 is a bit overkill. The XTi does do very well in noise suppression, but going from 400 to 800 is a bit much in my opinion. I would definitely like to be able to adjust my ISO in 1/3 steps versus full steps, but I guess this is where entry-level comes into play.

There is no easy way to change the focus point. On the Canon EOS 30D and Canon EOS 5D, there is a little independent mini joystick that you can set to be a dedicated focus point changer. On the Rebel XTi, I have to press the focus point button, then use either the four point cursor keys or the jog wheel near the shutter. This results in missed shots because of having to press the button and then search for where I want the focus point set.

I’m not a big fan of the limited buffer. While the frames per second (3 FPS) is decent, the buffer of 27 high quality JPEGs feels limiting, although there is very few reasons to deplete the buffer. But somehow Nikon’s D40 and D80’s 100 picture buffer seems much more appealing.

If the Canon XTi’s body was made of all magnesium alloy, I think it would be perfect, although it probably would cost almost as much as the Canon EOS 30D.

Also having 10.1 MP is nice, makes having to do drastic crop downs still look pretty damn good.

This camera is definitely worth having as your primary and/or secondary camera. It has many features of the Canon 30D, but at nearly half the price. Eventually I would love to have the Canon EOS 1D Mark IIn or even the newly released Canon EOS 1D Mark III, I probably would still use the XTi a lot. It’s small, portable, cheap, and can use all the lenses so it makes a perfect backup camera or a traveling camera.

[rating:4.5]