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Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi Preview

by Bob Atkins, January 2008


Canon has released information on a new entry level DSLR, the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi, also known as the EOS 450D. They have increased the pixel count from 10MP in the Rebel XTi to 12.2MP in the XSi, increased the LCD size from 2.5" to 3" and added a Live View mode. The AF system has been improved, the continuous drive speed increased to 3.5 fps, and there's now a 45-JPEG-image buffer.

Unlike any previous Canon DSLR, the XSi uses SD/SDHC memory cards with no provision for the use of CF cards.

As expected, Canon has not added in-body image stabilization, which is now being used by Sony, Pentax and Olympus. Canon is still staying with image stabilization built into their lenses and the XSi will be offered as a kit with the EF-S 18-55/3.5-5.6 IS lens

The Rebel XSi is available for pre-order from amazon.com in the following options:

Here's the official press release from Canon:

Canon ‘Beefs Up’ the New Rebel With Optically Image Stabilized Lens Kit and ‘Pro’ Features

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., January 23, 2008 – Canon U.S.A., Inc.’s EOS Rebel series of digital single lens reflex cameras – the cameras that defined and refined what it means to be an “entry level” digital SLR – have now redefined the gateway prowess and “pro-ness” of the DSLR category with the introduction of the line’s new leader, the 12.2-megapixel EOS Rebel XSi camera. Incorporating a number of high-end functions and technology found in Canon’s professional SLR models, the EOS Rebel XSi camera boasts an improved autofocus sensor, enhanced 14-bit A/D conversion, an advanced Live View function, and the proprietary DIGIC III image processor. When paired with any of the more than 60 compatible Canon EF and EF-S lenses, including optically image stabilized EF-S lenses like the EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS – now included in the EOS Rebel XSi kit – or the new EF-S55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS, the EOS Rebel XSi DSLR delivers images that will delight and inspire family and friends at an entry level price tag.

“This new EOS Rebel XSi camera is the answer for those who have been waiting to make the leap from digital point-and-shoot to digital SLR or from an older SLR to the latest generation of advanced technology, while still including the creative controls their old camera afforded them,” states Yuichi Ishizuka, senior vice president and general manager, Consumer Imaging Group, Canon U.S.A.

Luxury Feel and Function

At first glance, one notices the Rebel XSi’s large, 3-inch LCD monitor, enhanced from the 2.5-inch screen on the Digital Rebel XTi model. The larger 230,000 pixel screen makes it easier for users to review images and scroll through the Rebel XSi camera’s menus. The larger-sized display provides the ability to use a larger font size for menu text, making it easier than ever to read settings and options. The new screen also features a broadened color gamut, seven brightness settings for easy viewing under a variety of shooting conditions and a wide viewing perspective in all directions.

The EOS Rebel XSi camera features a substantial yet streamlined profile, with curved edges, contoured surfaces, conveniently placed controls and comfortably constructed rubber grip and thumb rest that all contribute to fatigue-reducing hand fit. The camera body is constructed of a rugged yet lightweight combination of stainless steel and polycarbonate embedded with glass fiber. The chassis exterior is enrobed in a durable ABS and Polycarbonate resin and offered in a choice of silver or black finishes.

Improved Image Quality

At the heart of the new EOS Rebel XSi is its newly designed 12.2 megapixel APS-C size Canon CMOS sensor. This new sensor employs large microlenses over each pixel to reduce noise and enhance sensitivity up to ISO 1600, which is ideal for high-quality images in low light. The APS-C size sensor retains a 1.6x focal length conversion factor compared to full-frame digital image sensors or 35mm film format cameras.

Another image quality enhancement is the upgrade of the Analog-to-Digital (A/D) conversion process to a 14-bit A/D processor. The inclusion of the 14-bit A/D process means the Rebel XSi camera records up to 16,384 colors per channel and allows the camera to produce images with finer and more accurate gradations of tones and colors. This is ideal for shooting outdoors where subtle hue changes in sky, water or foliage can really add to an image.

The Canon EOS Rebel XSi DSLR also incorporates the optional Highlight Tone Priority and High-ISO Noise Reduction functions first introduced in 2007 with the EOS-1D Mark III Professional Digital SLR and now available for the first time in an entry level Canon digital SLR camera. Additionally, the new camera is equipped with Canon’s Auto Lighting Optimizer technology, which corrects image brightness and contrast automatically. Introduced last year in the EOS 40D camera, this valuable optional feature now works in all exposure modes and utilizes Face Detection technology to prevent underexposure with backlit faces

DIGIC III Image Processor

If the 12.2-megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor is the heart of the camera, then Canon’s DIGIC III processor is the brain. The latest generation of Canon's proprietary image processing engine, DIGIC III technology ensures that the fine details and natural colors of the images are optimally recorded. The DIGIC III processor also manages the camera’s efficient energy consumption and high-speed signal processing performance. The EOS Rebel XSi is the first model in the Rebel series to incorporate DIGIC III.

Enhanced Live View

Introduced in 2007 on the EOS-1D Mark III DSLR, this function makes its debut in an entry level Canon DSLR with the EOS Rebel XSi camera. Live View allows users to frame shots through the LCD screen rather than the viewfinder. Going beyond the manual focus and phase-detection AF capabilities of earlier EOS models with Live View, the EOS Rebel XSi camera adds a new “Live Mode” contrast-detection AF function that allows the camera to focus automatically during Live View without lowering the reflex mirror.

Improved Autofocus and Framing Rate

The EOS Rebel XSi Digital SLR utilizes a precise nine-point Autofocus (AF) system featuring a newly developed AF sensor that improves the camera’s subject detection capabilities compared to earlier models. The new Rebel XSi DSLR provides a cross-type AF measurement at the center that’s effective with all EF and EF-S lenses, while providing enhanced precision with lenses having maximum apertures of f/2.8 or faster. The cross-type AF measurement reads a wider variety of subject matter than conventional single-axis AF sensors and thus increases the new camera’s ability to autofocus quickly and accurately. The EOS Rebel XSi is also the fastest firing Rebel model to date, capable of continuously capturing 3.5 frames per second for bursts of up to 45 images in large/fine JPEG mode and 6 frames in RAW mode. The faster frame rates and finer focusing capabilities of the Rebel XSi together with its impressive image burst rate will help photo enthusiasts preserve family milestones or capture split second sports action at just the right moment.

EOS Integrated Cleaning System

The new Rebel XSi DSLR utilizes Canon’s EOS Integrated Cleaning system, first introduced on the EOS Rebel XTi camera. The camera's Self-Cleaning Sensor Unit shakes dust particles off of the low-pass filter in front of the sensor. The dust is then trapped by an adhesive along the base, preventing it from causing further nuisance. Cleaning is engaged each time the camera is powered up or shut down or manually through the "clean now" function.

The second part of the cleaning system involves post processing with a compatible personal computer and the supplied Digital Photo Professional software. Here the camera maps any spots that may remain on the sensor, saving it as Dust Delete Data and subsequently subtracting dust spots from the final image during post processing. A third option includes a manual sensor cleaning function which raises the mirror and allows users to clean dust that may have stuck to the low-pass filter.

Back to the Basics

In keeping with its EOS system heritage, the new Canon EOS Rebel XSi camera is equipped with a host of useful creative controls, including shutter speeds ranging from 1/4000 sec. to 30 sec. plus Bulb, a choice of four metering patterns including 4% spot metering (another first for the Rebel series), a wide range of exposure modes from fully automatic to fully manual, depth of field preview, mirror lock and much more. The new camera is fully compatible with all Canon EF and EF-S lenses, as well as EX-series Speedlites, an optional Battery Grip, and remote control and viewfinder accessories.

A departure from previous EOS Digital Rebel models, which accommodated CF type memory cards, the new EOS Rebel XSi camera utilizes SD and SDHC memory cards including those with capacities higher than 2GB, making it the perfect upgrade for users already equipped with SD cards from point-and-shoot model cameras. Additionally, the EOS Rebel XSi camera utilizes Canon's new high-capacity LP-E5 lithium ion battery pack, which provides 50% more exposures per charge than earlier models with virtually no increase in size or weight.

In the Box

Expected to ship in April 2008, the Canon Rebel XSi camera is available in body-only configuration which includes a rechargeable battery pack and charger, USB and video cables, a neckstrap, an EOS Solutions Disk CD, and a 1-year Canon U.S.A., Inc. limited warranty. The new camera will also be available in a lens kit version which includes everything in the body-only kit plus the EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens. The two versions carry estimated retail prices of $799.99 and $899.99, respectively, available for pre-order from amazon.com.


Original Text ©2008 Bob Atkins.

Article created January 2008

Readers' Comments


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Scott Pickering "25 ASA" , January 24, 2008; 09:43 P.M.

I haven't decided if I will get this camera or not. I'm a film user and I typically sell off my digi SLRs from non use, but I still like to have a good digi camera for use once in a while. 12 megapixels would certainly give better results in detail then what I'd get off film. And the 450D's highlight control would keep it from being overexposed. But lack of CF card use (I have 3 cards) certainly puts a damper on me going for this camera. I may just wait for the 5D replacement. I know the Rebel line well, as I briefly had the 300D, then the 350D for longer, then briefly the 400D.

Tyler Robbins , January 25, 2008; 03:56 P.M.

Wow.... this make buying my next body harder. I have 2 20d bodies, and I have avoided the rebels because I am concerned that they feel to plasticy, but my wait for the 5d to drop has been long wait. Maybe the crop factor isn't so bad after all. Does this mean a 50d isn't far behind?

peter christoph , January 25, 2008; 06:43 P.M.

Sweet! 12 megapixels for 799. This will force Nikon to soon bring the prices to a more competitive level for their 12 megapixel camera offerings. And Canon will beat that price and so on, and so on.... Thanks Canon!

Bill White , January 26, 2008; 05:18 P.M.

It's still junk buy the 40D, Bill

David Rabinowitz , January 26, 2008; 07:32 P.M.

wonder what's happening to the 5D's successor...would this have been announced by now leading up to the PMA show?

Steve Justice , January 28, 2008; 07:47 A.M.

this camera is not junk. View some of my pictures www.stevesteinhardt.com All taken with the lowly rebel XT. If you all think the camera matters you are wrong. I use the 40D now but will sell that for the Xsi, their are new digital models that come out every year. the 40D will be replaced by the 50D, then the 60D and so forth. The new rbel Xsi has all the specs and tools you need to create amazing high quality professional imagery.

Jonathan Farmer , January 30, 2008; 09:29 A.M.

12.2 is great for me as I do lots of super telephoto photography, hence the 1.6 crop work just fine for me. For this reason I am presently using a 30D and Rebel XTi. Some photogs think they can crop the FF image by 1.6 and get the same results as the APSc crop (not so)

As far as I can see Canon put the 1.3 sensor into the 1D Mk3 for high ISO noise reduction; I think the 1D Mk3 would be much better off with the 1.6 sensor for telephoto work, especially for bird photography when you need all the focal length you can get.

Larry McKoder , February 02, 2008; 08:10 P.M.

I currently own the original Digital Rebel. I am not upgrading to the XSi. I want more ISO not more pixels. My dream camera is the Nikon D3, but it is too expensive.

Junce Martin , February 18, 2008; 03:28 A.M.

I just sold my D80 and eagerly awaiting to switch back to canon. I was originally going to get the 40D but the XSI just welded its ugly head. The main thing i want is live preview (it demonstrates this video review). I also do a lot of studio stuff where i can hook up the camera to comp or laptop and it would be amazing if i could frame things on my 17" laptop screen or even my tablet. The XSI has pretty damn close to everything i wanted to upgrade to from the D80. The main thing is the FPS is still stuck at 3fps, but thats about the same as the D80, so i don't really lose anything.

Leonard Lambert , March 01, 2008; 10:40 A.M.

Bill White ...How can you say it's junk ...There is nothing in your portfolio that couldn't have been taken with a plain old XT. So why pay more for less... I've started out as a professional 35 years ago in the Film world and I was a die-hard NIKON man. But now I have Canon and yes I use the Rebel's. There is nothing I can't shoot with one... nothing. But I learned way back when I was in Art School all you need is a $5.00 box camera to take wonderful pics. So don't be so prejudiced. Maybe think outside the box a little.

Wayne Johnson , March 04, 2008; 12:53 P.M.


When we retired all of our Canon film cameras we bought our first Rebel XT and it worked well with no complications. When we returned to the dealership for our next camera we were pleased with the upgrades on the XTi and that has worked well again. We are anxiously awaiting the delivery of the XSi and the larger LCD. Last year we shot 300 weddings without a single glitch using the Rebels.

Mike Meadows , April 20, 2008; 01:44 P.M.

Maybe I'm crazy, but with the way technology continues to change at such a rapid pace, I'm much more inclined to purchase the Rebel models as they come out and spend my money on better glass and lighting equipment. They certainly aren't junk, and who cares if they aren't built like a tank and will last forever? By the time they wear out, they're obsolete anyway!

Abbey Stanley , April 21, 2008; 02:10 P.M.

I was able to pick up the eos digital rebel xsi from J&R. http://www.jr.com/JRProductPage.process?Product=4216778 This is my first SLR so my frame of reference is only within the scope of this model, but so far so good. I'm basically learning as i'm going along, but I love it. Abbey


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