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  Reviews by: Gerald Crum  

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Canon EOS Rebel XTi (400D)

Review Date: Jun 6, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: High detail, low noise. Logical user interface. Compact size and low weight for travel. Comprehensive controls.
I wish there was a dedicated flash exposure comp button. The SET button can be programmed for that, but I'd prefer to save SET for Picture Styles selection instead.

This is my third DSLR starting with the canon 20D, downsizing to the XT, and now the XTi. I found the 20D too big and too heavy for travel-hey, I'm 69! The 20D and XT didn't have a broad enough range of paameter adjustments for direct print of JPEGS. I do shoot some RAW, but on trips I'll print 5-700 shots for albums. Post processing all those shots gets very tedious so I insist on a camera that can produce directly printable JPEGs. The 20D did a fine job on focusing accuracy, but the XT was seldom spot on. The result with the XT was that everything was slightly soft.

The XTi focusing accuracy is spot on with all my lenses. At least as good as the 20D and maybe a bit better. My XTi is quite recent and has no problems with exposure. I was concerned about that after all the furor over many reported under-exposure problems, but mine seems dead on.

I have large hands, but proportioned with short fingers and long palms. The grip on the XTi is fine for me and fits better than the Nikon D80. You might find it different if you have long fingers.

I do like the new "picture styles" and the ability to modify them. There is an ample range of sharpening and other parameters. The new large rear LCD has a great look for a status display and is very nice for review and menus. Lots of complaints about no top of camera LCD, but the 2.5' rear display easily trumps that. I don't need my reading glasses!

AF is fast and sure in all lighting conditions and with slow lenses.

It's a small point, but the on-off switch is much better positioned than on the 20D and 30D.

Control layout and logic is not perfect, but it's very good. fast and easy to change key settings. My only gripe in that area is the reprogrammable SET button fuction. You have a choice of Picture Styles or Flash Exposure Compensation, and I'd really like to have both available without menus.

Overall, a very nice and very capable camera. I'm hardly new to photography, I got my first 35 mm 52 years ago; but I'd have to say this is the best I've had since my Nikon FE-2's back in the 80's and early 90's.

Tamron 18-250mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD Aspherical (IF) AF

Review Date: Jun 6, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp at all focal lengths. Light, compact, nice feel. All metal mount. 62 mm threads (for me, a good thing). Great range. Sharp in closest focus. Quick AF on my Canon XTi.
slow at the long end.

I bought this lens based on a few user reviews and one or two formal reviews, especially Pop Photo. The reviews were so uniformly good, that I took a chance, although I have been burned on rave reviewed products before. The results so far have been excellent. I have run the lens through a number of quick tests and found excellent sharpness at all focal lengths and distances. AF on the XTi body is quick and very accurate. Close ups were sharp and detailed. My standard of comparison here is the Canon 50 f/1.8 II.

You do have to be careful about zooming out as the lens goes so long (about 386 mm equivalent) that you quickly get to where you need a tripod or a steady rest. A body with a clean high ISO is a must if you're going to use the longer focal lengths.

Feel is quite good and the build quality sems better than the Sigma 18-125 and Tamron 18-200 lenses I had previously. The optical quality is miles better and the color and contrast are pure Tamron XR.

This is a great one lens solution for travel or for a starting point for a system. You really should have some faster glass for low light, but for everything else, it's all you need.