Thursday, January 31, 2008

Announced: Canon Rebel XSi / 450D

In case you haven't heard the news, Canon just announced the release of the Rebel XSi, or 450D.

The Canon Rebel XSi looks to be a major upgrade to the Rebel XTi, which in my mind, wasn't much of an upgrade to the XT. With this new model, Canon's consumer DSLR line is really approaching the capabilities of pro-sumer line like the 40D.

Notable new features are:

  • 12 MP sensor (not that important, honestly)
  • SD memory cards (no more broken pins!)
  • Live view (never tried it, but I doubt I'd prefer it to the viewfinder for most applications)
  • Larger Viewfinder (still not as bright as the 20D/30D/40D since it uses mirrors, not a prism)
  • Monster 3" LCD
  • Dedicated ISO button and ISO display in viewfinder (this was something that bugged me on the XT)
  • Bigger Battery (to power the live view, I'm sure; I never had a problem with my XT running out of juice)
  • True spot meter (theoretically I want that, but I haven't missed it)

Features that are still better on the 20D / 30D / 40D:

  • Ergonomics. The XT always felt a little too small in my hands and I love the rear jog wheel on the 20D.
  • Viewfinder. Until you use a nicer viewfinder, you don't realize what you're missing.
  • Shutter. While improved, the shutter still isn't as good: upgraded maximum speed of 1/4000s to match 20D/30D (40D has 1/8000s), only 1/200s synch speed (instead of the 20D+'s 1/250s), less durability, more black-out time and lag, only 3.5 frames/sec instead of 5 frames/sec.
The limitations above are the big ones for me; if I were to buy another camera right now, I'd probably go with a refurb 30D. A lot of the live view stuff, while sounding good, probably wouldn't fit into my normal way of shooting. If I had tons of money, I'd probably go with the 40D, since the ergonomics of the Rebel line drive me crazy.

So far, it appears only DPReview has started doing some reviews with (a little) hands-on work:
A New Kit Lens Too!

Something I haven't seen mentioned in the other reviews is Canon's new kit lens, the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS.

Yes, that's right, IS on a kit lens.

It looks like Canon adopted the previous kit lens, removed USM (which wasn't real USM, IMO, since it doesn't do full-time manual) and added a four-stop image stabilizer. I expect it will be the cheapest IS lens by far, which is a big win for consumers.

Of course, it will still have the same cheap plastic construction as its predecessor, but the kit lens isn't as bad optically as people make it out to be, and the IS will make up for the lack of aperture speed.


Surprisingly, Amazon already has the Canon Rebel XSi up for pre-ordering ($800 for body only, $900 with kit lens, both prices include shipping):

That link will take you to the page which lets you choose either the black or silver body and whether or not the kit lens is included. It also states that the cameras won't ship until April 15th, so don't expect them it too soon (great timing in terms of tax refunds though!).

For completeness, here's Amazon's 40D page:

For whatever reason, the 40D isn't supplied by Amazon, but by one of the other stores under the Amazon umbrella. The price is pretty good though (a bit over $1100 for only the body).


Anonymous said...

Why SD only? SD cards are garbage, I won't but a camera without a Compact Flash slot, and nobody else should either. Canon needs to make better choices.

Sean said...

The CF slot is the achille's heel of the 350D. It is definitely the most common failure point of the camera (including mine) and I applaud anything that fixes/avoids that point. SD cards/slots are much more durable.

It used to be that SD was slow compared to CF (a serial interface vs parallel) but my impression is that SD has mostly caught up now.

I really see no problem with SD cards, but if you know something I don't, please share.

In an ideal world, it'd have both (or two identical slots even), like some of the pro cameras :)