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Canon Digital Rebel XSi Review

by Bob Atkins, May 2008 (updated March 2011)

photography by Bob Atkins and Hannah Thiem


The Canon EOS Rebel XSi (EOS 450D) is Canon's latest DSLR and the most full featured entry level DSLR in their Digital Rebel line of cameras. It builds on the Digital Rebel XTi but adds a new sensor (12MP vs. 10MP), a larger LCD screen (3" vs. 2.5"), Live View, Spot Metering, ISO display in the viewfinder, Highlight Tone priority, High ISO noise reduction and a number of other software features, which are also found on the Canon EOS 40D.

Externally, the Rebel XSi and XTi are very similar in size and shape and share a similar control layout. Due to the larger LCD screen of the XSi, a number of the control buttons have been relocated, but the same functionality is retained. To allow the center button of the rear 4-way controller to now activate the Live View mode, a separate ISO button has been added next to the main control dial.

For the first time on any EOS DSLR, the Digital Rebel XSi uses only an SD(HC) memory card for image storage. All previous Digital Rebels, as well as the EOS 5D/10D/20D/30D/40D have used Compact Flash memory cards. The 1D series DSLRs have had the capability of using both SD and CF cards. The change isn't really a big deal since SD cards (and higher capacity SDHC cards) are now as easily available as CF cards, cost around the same in $/GB, and can be found in capacities of up to 16 and 32GB.

Both the XTi and XSi use a pentamirror viewfinder system, but the viewfinder screen of the XSi is slightly larger and also, to my eye, appears to be slightly brighter. The difference in size isn't huge, but every little bit helps. The viewfinder screen of the XSi has a center circle which makes the area of the spot meter. Both cameras use the same diamond shape of 9 focus zones.

Where to Buy

Photo.net's partners have the Canon Digital Rebel XSi available in the following combinations. Their prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.

If you are new to digital photography, start with the photo.net article on "Building a Digital SLR System."

Operating Speed

The Digital Rebel XSi is very responsive in terms of operational speed. The LCD display appears less than a second after the camera is powered up, but you can take a photo only 250ms (1/4s) after the power switch is moved to "on" before the LCD screen starts displaying data.

In continuous capture mode, the Rebel XSi is capable of 3.5 frames per sec (fps) for about 55 frames before the buffer fills and the rate drops a little. The buffer is significantly smaller when capturing RAW, and in that case the 3.5 fps drops to around 0.7 fps after only 6 frames. In RAW+JPEG mode, the buffer only holds 4 captures.

These numbers make the XSi faster than the XTi (3 fps) with a larger JPEG buffer (55 frames vs. 30 frames). However, the RAW file buffer is somewhat smaller (6 frames vs. 10 frames), presumably at least in part due to the larger file size dictated by the higher pixel count. The EOS 40D is good for 6.5 fps for around 125 JPEGs or around 18 RAW images.

Controls

The Rebel XSi uses a control layout, which should be fairly familiar to most users. The 3" rear LCD screen is used to display operating parameters and the various software menus, as well as to review images. As with previous Digital Rebels, there is no top mounted LCD screen. Menu navigation is done via the 4-way buttons (allowing navigation up, down, left and right through the menus). The center "set" button is also used to enable Live View modes. In Live View, focusing is enabled by pressing the "*" button. When not being used for navigation, the 4-way buttons are used to select capturing mode, metering mode, AF mode, and picture style.

The menu structure is similar to that of the Digital Rebel XTi and the EOS 40D. Like the 40D there's a customizable menu screen on which you can place the functions you use most so that you can access them rapidly. I put Image Quality Selection, Memory Card Format, High ISO Noise Reduction, Highlight Tone Priority, Mirror Lockup, and Custom WB there.

For a complete and detailed description of all the camera controls and options, you can download a PDF copy of the Rebel XSi user manual.

Auto Focus

The EOS Rebel XSi has a 9-point wide area AF sensor with the points set in a diamond pattern. The focus point can be manually selected, or the camera can decide which AF point(s) to use. There are 4 focus modes: One-Shot AF, AI Focus AF, AI Servo AF, and Manual. The central AF point is an improved cross type sensor with high precision for lenses with an aperture of f/2.8 or faster.

In Live view there are two focus modes. One is the same as that used on the EOS 40D, where the reflex mirror flips down briefly and the normal AF sensors are used to achieve focus. This is termed "quick mode." The second focus mode (only available on the XSi) is "live mode" and uses a contrast-based AF system. The live image is used and focus is determined by looking for maximum contrast. It has the advantage that the LiveView is not interrupted, but it's significantly slower (focus may take a few seconds) and it may not be quite as accurate in all situations as quick mode.

Overall, I found that most of the time the AF performance of the XSi and XTi were quite similar. However, there were some situations in very low light where the XSi could get an autofocus lock, while with the same lens under the same lighting, the XTi failed. This is consistent with a statement found in the press release for the XSi in which Canon states, "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."

Metering and Exposure

The XSi adds Spot metering to the Evaluative, Partial and Centerweighted patterns of the XTi. The spot metering area is marked by a circle on the viewfinder screen.

Digital Rebel XSi metering:

  • 35-zone TTL full-aperture metering
  • Evaluative metering (linkable to any AF point)
  • Partial metering (approx. 9% of viewfinder at center)
  • Spot metering (approx. 4% of viewfinder at center)
  • Center-weighted average metering
  • Range EV 1-20 (at 73°F/23°C with EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens, ISO 100)

The Rebel XSi has the same Highlight Tone Priority feature as the EOS 40D. This appears to be a hardware function, which adjusts the tone curve in order to prevent blowing out highlights in a scene that would normally exceed the dynamic range of the sensor. Exactly how Canon does this, they don't say, but it is more than just a software function. It affects both RAW and JPEG files. It's not a miracle cure for blown highlights, but it does give you about an extra stop of latitude at the expense of potentially more shadow noise. With Highlight Tone Priority enabled, the ISO range is restricted to 200-1600.

The XSi uses a 14-bit A/D converter, which could in theory give better tonal gradation, though in practice it's very difficult to see the difference from 12-bit images (such as those from the XTi).

White Balance

The XSi has the usual set of white balance modes: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, White Fluorescent Light, Flash and Custom. It doesn't allow color temperature to be set as the EOS 40D does. In typical Canon fashion, Auto white balance doesn't do great under tungsten lighting, giving a distinctly yellow image. In tungsten mode the color balance under domestic tungsten lighting is closer to neutral, but still noticeably warm. If you want the most neutral color rendition under tungsten lighting, the custom WB mode is best. In this mode you first shoot an image of a white or gray card under the lighting conditions you will be using. The camera can them use this as a reference for subsequent shots.

LCD Monitor

The XSi has a 3" (diagonal) LCD screen vs. the 2.5" screen of the XTi. Both have 230,000 pixels, 100% image coverage and LCD brightness control with 7 levels. The XSi adds the option of 4 different color schemes for data display - black on white, white on black, light blue on dark blue and dark brown on light brown.

Viewfinder

The viewfinder of the Digital Rebel XSi is slightly larger than that of the XTi, but slightly smaller than that of the EOS 40D. The differences are not huge and you might not even notice them unless you compared the cameras side by side. The XSi viewfinder also seems slightly brighter than that of the XTi, but again the difference is small. Both the Xsi and XTi use a pentamirror system rather than the more expensive and heavier (but slightly brighter) pentaprism system.

Like the EOS 40D, the Rebel XSi displays the ISO setting in the viewfinder at all times, along with the usual information such as shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, flash status, AF status, buffer frames remaining (when that number is 9 or less), flash exposure compensation setting, high speed sync setting and exposure lock indication.

The XTi and XSi share the same 9 AF zone markings, but the XSi viewfinder adds a center circle marking, which defines the area covered by the new spotmeter in the XSi.

XSi Viewfinder Specifications

  • Coverage - Vertical/Horizontal approx. 95%
  • Magnification - Approx. 0.87x (-1m with 50mm lens at infinity)
  • Eyepoint - Approx. 19mm (from eyepiece lens center)
  • Dioptric Adjustment Correction -3.0 to +1.0 diopter

    Digital Sensor

    The Digital Rebel XSi uses a new sensor with 12.2 MP and a maximum image size of 4272 x 2848 pixels. This is up by about 20% from the 10.1 MP sensors used in the Digital Rebel XTi and EOS 40D (3888 x 2592 pixels) and should theoretically enable about 10% greater linear resolution.

    In practice, there's not a very noticeable difference in image resolution as you can see from the sample images below. These are 100% crops from JPEGs taken using the standard default parameters for sharpness with each camera.

    The Rebel XSi may have a slight resolution edge, but remember these crops represent looking at sections of a very large image, probably something around 24" x 36" on a typical monitor screen. Despite the fact that both the EOS 40D and Digital Rebel XTi have the same pixel count, the EOS 40D image looks a little sharper. In all three cases, resolution may be increased slightly when capturing in RAW mode and making the optimal conversion to JPEGs.

    The Digital Rebel XSi has "anti-dust" features built into the sensor, which includes an anti-static coating and an ultrasonic shaker to dislodge dust particles. There's also a software mapping function, which can be used to minimize the visibility of dust particles if for some reason you can't clean the sensor or you want to be absolutely sure of minimizing the effects of dust.

    ISO Settings and Image Noise

    Both the Rebel XSi and XTi have an ISO range of 100 to 1600 in full stop steps (100, 200, 400, 800, 1600). The EOS 40D has a range of from 100 to 3200, with the 100-1600 range covered in 1/3 stop steps (100, 120, 160, 200 etc.). An Auto ISO mode is available on the XSi and EOS 40D, but it's limited in its range. In most exposure modes the range is 100-800, but in manual exposure mode ISO is set to 400 in auto mode. In the basic zone modes (everything except P, Av, Tv, M and A-Dep), ISO is always set to auto mode and cannot be manually selected.

    In the set of test images below the three cameras are compared. Again all three cameras were set to their default settings and no additional noise reduction functions were enabled. These are 100% crops, meaning one pixel on the screen maps directly to one pixel in the image. Up to ISO 400 all three cameras give very clean images with little or no evidence of noise. At ISO 800 noise starts to appear, but is still well controlled. At ISO 1600 noise is much more visible, with the EOS 40D showing the least noise, followed by the 12MP Rebel XSi and with the 10MP Rebel XTi showing slightly more noise.

    Since a higher pixel count in the same sized sensor usually means smaller pixels, and since smaller pixels usually show higher noise levels at high ISO settings, these observations are consistent with what you would expect. However, noise is still pretty well controlled, even at ISO 1600 on the XSi and it's low enough that small to medium sized prints made from the images would be quite acceptable.

    A feature of the EOS 40D, which has found its way onto the XSi is a high ISO noise reduction mode. This appears to increase the amount of chroma noise reduction while not greatly affecting the luminance noise. The main downside of enabling high ISO noise reduction is that the camera can buffer fewer images when capturing in continuous mode. Presumably this is due to the increased processing power required for the noise reduction mode leading to slower compression and storage of images, so the buffer fills faster.

    Live View

    For the first time in a Digital Rebel series DSLR, Canon has added Live View to the XSi. Live view gives you a real time image on the LCD screen, just like a P&S digicam. To do this the reflex mirror is locked up, and in that position the camera can't use its normal AF sensors.

    The XSi has two different methods of autofocusing while using the LiveView mode. The first is the same as that used on the EOS 40D. Pressing the "*" button on the back of the camera drops the mirror down and enables normal AF operation - though the image on the LCD blanks out during this process. When the "*" button is released, the mirror flips back up and the LCD displays the image in real time again. Although this sounds complex, it happens quite fast and Canon call this the "Quick" AF mode.

    The XSi also offers another focus mode (not found on any other Canon DSLR at the moment), which they call the "Live" mode. In this mode the image is continuously displayed on the LCD and the camera uses that image to find focus via a contrast sensing algorithm. The drawback of this mode is that it can be slow (focus may take several seconds) and it may not be as sensitive or accurate as the normal "Quick" AF mode using the dedicated phase detection AF sensors.

    It's also possible to use manual focus of course, and the LCD image can be magnified by 5x or 10x to assist in optimizing focus.

    In-Camera Editing

    Though you can't actually edit the images in the camera once you have taken them, you can apply effects to existing images when printing directly from the camera. These include a "Vivid" mode which increases saturation for more vivid greens and blues, a noise reduction mode to lower image noise and three black and white modes (neutral, warm and cool).

    The Digital Rebel XSi does have an extensive set of options, which you can select before an image is taken and affect the resulting JPEG image. There are preset picture styles (Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful and Monochrome) - all of which can be edited and modified for sharpness, saturation, contrast and color, as well as monochrome color filtering simulation (yellow, orange, red and green). You can also create 3 custom picture styles based on modified existing styles and you can create entirely new styles with the provided Picture Styles Editor software.

    If you choose to capture in RAW mode, the provided DPP (Digital Photo Pro) software allows you to apply any picture style to any image during the RAW conversion process.

    Flash

    The XSi has a retractable pop-up flash with a Guide number of 13/43 (ISO 100 meters/ft). At ISO 400 with an f/4 lens, the flash range is around 6.5m (21.5ft). The flash covers the frame seen by a 17mm (or longer) lens mounted on the XSi. Recycle time is approximately 3 seconds.

    The XSi has a standard Canon hotshoe and is compatible with all of Canon's EX series speedlites (the current models are the Canon Speedlite 220EX Flash, (compare prices) (review), Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash, (compare prices) (review) and Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash, (compare prices) (review)). There's no PC connector for external studio flash, though of course hotshoe to PC adapters are available. Max sync voltage is 250v and the max sync speed is 1/200s.

    Memory Cards

    The Digital Rebel XSi uses SD/SDHC memory cards. This is in contrast to all previous Digital Rebels and the EOS 5D/20D/30D/40D models, which use Compact Flash (CF) cards. These days, there's little difference between SD and CF cards in terms of price, capacity and availability. The fastest CF cards are still faster than the fastest SD cards, but in a Digital Rebel or even an EOS 40D, the camera can't write fast enough to make use of the extra speed of the fastest cards.

    The only real issue related to SD/SDHC and CF cards is compatibility with what you already own. Today, most digital P&S cameras use SD cards, so if you carry a P&S digicam and an XSi you'll only need to carry one type of card.

    Batteries

    The XSi uses Canon Battery Pack LP-E5, which is currently only used by the XSi. The XTi uses a type NB-2LH battery pack. The new LP-E5 has higher capacity, but a different form factor so the two types of battery are not interchangeable.

    AC power can be supplied to the XSi via AC Adapter Kit ACK-E5. An optional Battery Grip BG-E5 is available, which can use 6 AA batteries or two LP-E5 batteries. It also provides a shutter button and control dial along with AE/FE Lock, exposure compensation and AF point selection buttons in a vertical orientation.

    Mechanical Design

    The Digital Rebel XSi is very similar in size and shape to the XTi. The edges and corners are slightly more rounded and the rubberized patches on the back and grip sections of the camera are slightly rougher and "stickier", making the camera a little easier to hold with one hand.

    • Digital Rebel XSi - 129 x 98 x 62 mm - 524 g (with battery)
    • Digital Rebel XTi - 127 x 94 x 65 mm - 556 g (with battery)

    Like the XTi, the XSi has a high strength plastic mirror box mounted in a small stainless steel chassis. The outer panels of the XSi are made from durable plastic.

    Choosing a Lens

    The Digital Rebel XSi is available as a kit with the new Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, (compare prices) (review). This lens covers the same angle of view that a 29-88mm zoom would on a full frame camera, so it's useful for many types of photography including landscapes, group shots and portraits. The Image Stabilized (IS) system is a new low-cost version of Canon's traditional IS, but the performance is good and it can add up to three stops of stability, making handholding the lens in low light easier, despite the relatively slow maximum aperture.

    To complement the EF-S 18-55/3.5-5.6IS Canon has a new Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS, (compare prices) (review), which is good for situations like sports and wildlife photography where a longer focal length is needed. It gives an angle of view equivalent to an 88-400mm lens on a full frame 35mm camera. Like the EF-S 18-55IS, the EF-S 55-250IS uses a new, lower cost IS system, but again it seems pretty effective adding up to three stops of stability. Zoomed out to 250mm, IS gives you a good chance of a sharp image while handholding the camera at shutter speeds as low as 1/60s.

    Of course, for an inexpensive fast portrait lens, you really can't beat the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, (compare prices) (review). That's a lens I always recommend looking at.

    There are many other lens options from Canon, Sigma, Tamron and Tokina. For an overview of what's available see The EOS System Guide

    Compared to Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Sony

    The 12MP Digital Rebel XSi falls between the 10MP Canon Digital Rebel XTi, (compare prices) (review) and the 10MP Canon EOS 40D, (compare prices) in Canon's lineup. The XTi doesn't offer such features as Live View, spotmetering or Highlight Tone Priority. The EOS 40D offers those, plus a higher frame rate (6.5 fps vs 3.5 fps), a larger image buffer, support for studio flash, and a more rugged construction. Which DSLR to choose depends on your needs and how much you want to pay. All three cameras are capable of producing excellent image quality, so the choice should be mainly based on camera features.

    In the Nikon lineup the closest cameras to the Digital Rebel XSi would be the 10MP Nikon D40x, (compare prices) (review)Nikon D40x and the 10MP Nikon D80, (compare prices) (review) Nikon D80. The D40x is cheaper, but has a simpler 3 zone AF system and no provision for the use of Nikon AF-S (internal ultrasonic motor) lenses. The D80 is closer to the XSi in terms of features, having an 11-zone AF system, DOF preview and an optional vertical grip (all of which the D40x lacks). Both the D40x and D80 have the option of an ISO 3200 setting, which could be a consideration for those who do a lot of low light work.

    The 10MP Pentax K200D, (compare prices), is the closest camera to the XSi in the Pentax lineup. It offers several features not found on similar Canon and Nikon DSLRs including sensor-shift stabilization built into the camera body. This means that all your lenses become stabilized and you don't need to buy special IS or VR lenses. The K200D is also sealed against dust and moisture to a greater extent than most other DSLRs of its class. It features an 11-point AF system and an ISO range up to 1600. It does not have a Live View capability.

    The Sony Alpha A350, (compare prices) (review) offers a 14MP sensor, ISO 3200 capability, an advanced Live View system, a tiltable 2.7" LCD, sensor-shift stabilization built into the camera body and a 9-zone AF system. Maximum frame rate is a little slow at 2 fps, but it does pack in a lot of features for around the same price as the Rebel XSi.

    Rebel XSi Key Features

    • 12MP CMOS sensor
    • 14-bit A/D conversion
    • Digic III processor
    • 3" LCD
    • Live View with Live Focus
    • Highlight Tone Priority
    • High ISO noise reduction
    • ISO 100-1600 (plus Auto)
    • ISO visible in viewfinder
    • Flash Sync speed 1/200s
    • Spot metering (4%)
    • Mirror Lock Up
    • Depth of field preview
    • Picture Styles

    Conclusion

    The Rebel XSi seems to be a combination of the Rebel XTi and the EOS 40D, with a few new features of its own thrown into the mix. It has the basic form of the XTi with the same shutter speed range, the same flash sync speed and the same ISO range. However it also has features of the EOS 40D such as Live View, Highlight Tone Priority, High ISO Noise reduction, Spot metering, a 14-bit A/D converter and viewfinder ISO display.

    The performance is perhaps closer to the 40D than to the XTi. Resolution is measurably higher, though the difference in practice is quite small. Noise appears to be a little higher, perhaps because of the smaller pixels.

    Overall the XSi is an improvement over the XTi, though more in terms of features than image quality, which is good in both cameras. Upgrading from the XTi to the XSi makes sense if you need things like spot metering, a larger LCD and Live View, but if you're looking for a noticeable leap in image quality, I don't think you'll see it. If you want a significant increase in image quality, you'd probably need to look at a full frame DSLR like the Canon EOS 5D, (compare prices) (review).

    Where to Buy

    Photo.net's partners have the Canon Digital Rebel XSi available in the following combinations. Their prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.

    More

    Canon Digital Rebel XSi Example Photographs

    Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (review), set at 43mm, 1/100s, f/11, ISO 800. The use of a small aperture gave enough depth of field to get both far and near flowers in focus.

    Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS (review), set at 90mm, 1/160s, f/16, ISO 200. Using continuous capture, I followed a seagull in flight. If I had used a slightly higher shutter speed, I could have frozen the motion of the bird. However, at 1/160s the photo has a sense of movement.

    Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS (review), set at 154mm, 1/1600s, f/5.6, ISO 200. Even at f/5.6, the EF-S 55-250mm lens creates a nice out-of-focus background while still capturing detail and vivid color in the flower.

    Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (review), set at 28mm, f/8. Photographing directly into the sun at 28mm with the 18-55 IS lens. No flare spots are visible.

    Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS, (compare prices), set at 250mm, 1/60s, f/29, ISO 200. Slowed down the shutter speed to capture a silky effect of the waves.


    Text ©2008 Bob Atkins. Photos ©2008 Bob Atkins and Hannah Thiem, except as otherwise indicated.

    Article revised March 2011.

    Readers' Comments


    Add a comment



    Chinmaya Sn , April 21, 2008; 02:08 P.M.

    Since XSi is part of Rebel series, nice to see some of your thoughts on upgrade from XT or XTi.

    Steve P. , April 21, 2008; 07:30 P.M.

    I can't wait to read the full review. I'm wondering how some of the 40D-esque features incorporated into the XSi work, and how it compares to the XTi.

    Geoff Francis , April 21, 2008; 08:26 P.M.

    Good review Bob. Based on your shot above, the noise at ISO 1600 looks quite a bit worse than the 40D.

    Bob Atkins , April 21, 2008; 08:58 P.M.

    You have to be careful about drawing conclusions from single measurements of noise. I don't know if the 40D and XSi use different noise reduction algorithms for example. Though high ISO noise reduction was turned off, I'd bet there are default noise reduction algorithms in use at ISO 1600.

    Also sharpness settings can make a difference to how the noise looks and it's possible the XSi and 40D use different default sharpness settings.

    So while there looks to be extra noise in the XSi image, it may not be true to say that XSi images are inherantly noiser than 40D images under other conditions, or when optimized for low noise.

    Both give very usable images at ISO 1600. Getting to the root of the noise and making fair comparisions requires more work than just shooting a couple of images (which is all I did for this test).

    Helen Clement , April 21, 2008; 10:09 P.M.

    Looking forward to reading your full review. I have just bought the Canon 450D and the two lenses that you mentioned. I am still "finding" my way around the camera, with the odd focusing problem, but so far very happy with it. This is my first DSLR up from a P&S Olympus.

    Marcus Ian , April 22, 2008; 10:30 A.M.

    In your full review I'd really like to see how you feel the XSi compares to the XTi in actual perf. (ISO noise (worse w/ higher mp count?), 14b vs. 12b a/d (for whites in bright sun), read/write times, etc.) I enjoy using my XTi, but have a few gripes (mainly things like the viewfinder size (compared to my EOS3)). Overall I enjoy it.

    Bob Atkins , April 22, 2008; 01:35 P.M.

    I haven't done the test yet (I'm still working on some Sony reviews that I have to finish first), but I can tell you what I expect to find based on previous testing of the 20D vs. 40D.

    I'd expect the average image quality of XTi and XSi images to be pretty much the same for the large majority of users under the large majority of conditions. 10MP to 12MP is a small change and it's very hard to see the difference between 12 bit and 14 bit A/D. I'm sure there will be some circumstances and some images which will benefit slighly from the upgrade, but unless you're making big prints you probably won't see them.

    Since I don't have an XTi on hand, I won't be doing any "side by side" comparisions, though I can do comparisions of the XSi with the 40D. I don't expect to see any huge differences in image quality between the 40D and XSi either.

    What you can measure on a test bench under microscopic examination of images and what you can actually see in a print aren't the same thing.

    UPDATE: I may be able to do an XTi vs. XSi comparision after all. One is promised to arrive this week and if it does, I'll do some comparison testing.

    Peter Kaczkowski , May 11, 2008; 05:34 P.M.

    Thanks for the helpful first look. I have been using an XTi from work for about a year and am planning to buy an XSi for myself ... barring some unforgivable flaw (which you did not find, thankfully!). Of course, I'm looking forward to the extended review.

    One characteristic that really irks me about the XTi interface is the lack of ability to 'lock' the buttons on the back. I find that in P-mode I am always changing the ISO inadvertently. I have thought of getting a viewfinder extension to move my face away from the back. Can one lock the buttons on the back? I'm glad to hear that th ISO is displayed in the viewfinder, so at least I might notice the change sooner! Also, is the XSi body slightly smaller than the XTi's? And do you notice any difference using the DIGIC III? --- Thanks much.

    Malcolm Ruthven , May 18, 2008; 01:13 A.M.

    >One characteristic that really irks me about the XTi interface is the lack of ability to 'lock' the buttons on the back. I find that in P-mode I am always changing the ISO inadvertently. I have thought of getting a viewfinder extension to move my face away from the back. Can one lock the buttons on the back?<

    On the XSi, the ISO button isn't on the back but is very handy for my index finger. I've had no problems at all with anything changing inadvertently.

    Maria Obias , May 25, 2008; 08:15 P.M.

    I ordered my XSI today and am looking forward to using it. Please advise which SD card I should get for it. I checked SanDisk's website for product compatibility where they list which cards are recommended for which equipment and they do not have the XSI in the list yet. Many thanks.

    george ferrell , June 03, 2008; 10:00 P.M.

    I have used a Rebel XT and like the new XSi model with added file size, a larger LCD and additional range on the flash. I think the new battery may take longer to charge. The addition of an ISO button near the mode dial is helpful, too. Overall, seems to be a good user at a budget price.

    Steve Mack , June 06, 2008; 03:43 P.M.


    Vice President Al Gore and Tipper Gore

    The XSi really rocks! I got it two weeks ago and use it for Red Carpet photography for Getty Images. I was using a Canon Rebel XT and this XSi makes my work a lot easier. The focus is faster and more accurate. My shooting ratio has improved. I select shots based on composition not based on if I think it is in focus, because most of the shots now are in focus and are very sharp. I can't say enough about this camera. The live view is there, but I've not had the time to master it. Focus is an issue with that feature. I use a 17-85mm, 28-135mm, and a Sigma 70-200mm. Between those three, I'm all set. My site has samples.

    Dave Mishalof , June 08, 2008; 04:55 P.M.

    Interesting review. I know that the XSI comes with the two kit lens mentioned, but I also understand that the XSI is able to take advantage of "L" lens (new AF system and higher sensor density) Why compare noise to the 40D at iso 1600 when the normal range for the XSI camera is 100-800 and then not use Canon's better lens. The potenial resolution with this Rebel is higher, so it deserves to be tested with better glass. I realize that most will buy the Kit lens as their "first" lens but why not discuss what the potenial is with better glass, especially if you are comparing the purchase alternative to the 40D. Looking forward to your complete evaluation.

    Carlos Eduardo Livino , June 09, 2008; 03:43 P.M.

    I wonder if this XSi is a worthy upgrade from a 300D (6MP Rebel). I already have a 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens and 6MP give great results. That's why I've been postponing my 300D's replacement. But the newer camera seems to have lots of ergonomic/useability improvements (immediate startup, large LCD etc.). Any thoughts?

    John Brissett , June 18, 2008; 11:46 P.M.

    I just received my XSI last week!! Works great, but I must say that I'm new to the SLR field. Only problem so far is finding the compatible battery grip E-5, I had one on order through Buydig then after a week they canceled my order saying they were out of stock(It was in stock when I ordered it!). I am looking forward to upgrading my lens though, from the EF-S 18-55 IS kit lens. I'm looking for more zoom capabilities! as in distance, any suggestions for someone on a major budget? Thank You!!

    Keaton Andrew , June 27, 2008; 04:33 A.M.

    carlos, I'd say definitely upgrade if you easily can. I used to have the 300D and every single camera I've had since then has blown it away. I've been shooting with a 20D and a 5D lately, and I think that the difference between the 300D and this latest canon camera would make it a worthy upgrade.

    that's my two cents!

    Nielson Assa , June 29, 2008; 03:45 A.M.

    I just got the XSi about 2 weeks ago and just got the chance to try it in Estes Park lake, Colorado.

    The result of this camera is very good, it does beats my old XTi on the easier to use. Below are some of the result that I had taken with my new XSi, it's about 4pm with lots of sunlights. I am using Rebel XSi + canon lens 55-250mm IS and my friend (on the first picture) using 40D + canon lens 70-300mm.







    |Nielson.Assa|

    Amit Barak , June 30, 2008; 05:50 A.M.

    Sounds like a good DSLR body, already invested in Nikon system I doubt I'll ever buy one. Too bad...
    See more XSi reviews here.

    Carlos Eduardo Livino , July 09, 2008; 09:00 P.M.

    Keaton, I received my XSi on the 23rd (of June, 2008) and you're right in that it's worth the upgrade. I still prefer the 300D in terms of handling, and of course mine had the ISO 3200 option (hacked firmware) whereas the XSi only goes to 1600. Apart from that, it's a huge step up in every respect. And I don't mind having 12MP at all - now I have more room to compensate for my poor composition skills...

    Harry C , July 19, 2008; 06:44 A.M.

    Bob great review. How much better is the 5D in image quality and noise? Not interested in the other features.

    Edit: found the 40D V's 5D thread

    Srikanth Kondeti , July 19, 2008; 04:27 P.M.

    Nice comparisions

    Really nice to have this review. I have been waiting for to read this review since long time though I have read the reviews from other sites like dpreview.com n all. This is wonderful review.

    John Hanlon , July 20, 2008; 08:10 A.M.

    Excellent review Bob, as usual!

    By the way I noticed a small typo: "...followed by the 10MP Rebel XSi and with the 12MP Rebel XTi showing slightly more noise." Looks like the pixel counts got switched. Keep up the good work!

    Diane Fields , July 22, 2008; 10:41 P.M.

    I found the review interesting. I had never shot with an xxxD body before but just bought a used 400D to use (primarily) with a small fast prime as my small camera instead of my G9 (which is a frustrating camera for me). I tried the 450D in a store with the 18-55IS and really liked the button placement, 3" LCD, but in the end got better value with the XTI. If I were buying new and as my main camera (I shoot with a 5D) I would likely choose the XSI unless I owned an XTI--not sure if I would upgrade at this point.

    I have to say--the IQ from these little cameras with a good lens really surprised me and I found most of the controls easy to use, so ergonomically it worked pretty well for me. I was surprised how much I liked shooting with the smaller body also. I'll be interested in reading your complete review--and pay more attention to the xxxD models in the future.

    (just a note--not sure why the post ended up with 2 different font sizes).

    Diane

    Jonathan Farmer , August 05, 2008; 10:26 A.M.

    I am an all round photographer; I shoot weddings and commercial images for the money and wildlife for fun. I love the 1.6 crop factor for wild life as it works well with telephoto lenses and I do not like the 1.3 crop factor of the 1D Mk3 for this reason, sure I can crop the image of the full frame and 1.3 cameras, but at the expense of pixel density; this is why I am looking to upgrade my camera bodies (30D & XTi) with the 40D & XSI. At present I use the XTi as a back up on wedding assignments, at this point I must point out that the focus on the XTi in low light conditions is VERY POOR; it will not focus with the Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens in low light conditions. I understand that the new XSi has revised focusing; I hope this has corrected the lousy focusing that the XTi has.

    Can anyone advise me on the aboveā€¦. Thanks

    Masum Haider , August 18, 2008; 05:56 P.M.

    hi bob, all my life i have been using canon cameras. the one i have now is canon AE-1 bought in 1986 with a 50mm 1:1.4 lens and still gives nice pictures. i am thinking of buying a digital SLR and i was actually going thru your reviews about Rebel xsi, amazed to see that u have so much knowledge about cameras. I am still kind of undecided because i almost ended up buying canon 40d but the price is too high, but when the new xsi came out i think that will be a better choice.....I shoot wedding pictures, portrait, sometimes wild life, nature and sports .. what kind of lense i should be using.please advise me with your expertise . thanks masum , staten island ny..

    Chris Young , September 12, 2008; 05:42 P.M.

    Just got the 450d a couple of weeks ago and I absolutely love it. I was pretty close to purchasing the 40d - but I didn't feel that 2x the price of a 450d was reasonable. The 450d is a great body for beginners and the "kit" lens isn't the worst thing either.

    Anyone from serious photographer's looking for a spare body to the beginner looking for their first camera, the 450d is a perfect fit.

    malcolm wright , November 12, 2008; 05:35 A.M.


    a good day

    Malcolm Wright I have a rebel XT, it has served me very well, I have a lot to learn still... there's always some thing more to learn. I am however thinking of upgrading to the new rebel for the faster AF alone. Any comments welcome. Thnx

    Bard Fosse , December 10, 2008; 03:13 P.M.


    One of my first test shots with the camera

    I bought the 450D (XSi) and have now used it for a few thousand shots, the only quirk I am unhappy about is the lack of PC connector, so I had to buy a Nikon hotshoe to PC adapter to get it up and running which was a bit of a downer.

    Since it was impossible to get hold of the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 in the country where I live I bought the Canon EF-S 17 - 55 f/2.8 IS lens with the camera, and from every shot I have done so far with it I have to say it gives images of an unreal sharpness and quality. The colors are beautifully presented and the autofocus dead fast, I am extremely pleased with the setup so far and are very impressed over the camera and lens. I do agree a bit that a prime standard is the way to start out but from shooting unreal amount of film and 50 prime I find the standard primes to be rather boring, and using the 17 - 55 gives me most daily shots available on the camera, street, school play and no-flash poor lighting (thanks to the IS) travel, beautiful portraits at 55/2.8, school sports and all general shooting. I also tried some older lenses I own (primes) which again is really great with the camera, again sharp crisp very nicely colored shots. Way to go Canon...

    Ron Wilson , February 25, 2009; 12:32 P.M.

    The XSI is usefull at times since it is small and light but that kit lens (18-55) has such low resolution it is unuseable (except for, perhaps, a childs birthday party). Other optics will yield a much superior image showing the processor is decent. Ron

    Nielson Assa , May 06, 2009; 10:56 A.M.

    I just bought Canon Lens EFS 18-200mm IS and with my XSi, the picture taken with both is outstanding.



    Koushik Ranjan Das , August 29, 2009; 02:58 P.M.

    The body is very lightweight to carry but I think it is not dust and raindrop proff! A question: Is there any lens converter available by which I can use my all AE1 lenses with this EOS 450D Xsi?

    Image Attachment: fileXgQ08A.jpg

    Betheny Jimerson , January 28, 2010; 11:43 P.M.

    I didn't see this so I am asking--- are the lenses for the XTI compatible with the XSI? I want to upgrade but I have a lot invested in lenses for my XTI and don't want to start over in buying lenses again.

    Nielson Assa , January 29, 2010; 09:07 A.M.

    The lenses you use on XTi should fit on XSi too, all EF & EF-s lenses fit on that XSi camera. Check this page : http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=139&modelid=16303

    Jennifer Doggett , November 05, 2010; 09:16 A.M.

    I love my 450D. The only thing I need help on (as I'm fairly new to the photography business) is what is the best lenses to purchase for shooting weddings? I know I will need a wide angle and a zoom or maybe a wide-to-tele zoom? Any advice is greatly appreciated.


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