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  Reviews by: Paul Morrison  

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Canon EOS Rebel XSi (450D)

Canon450D
Review Date: Jul 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Size, weight, 3" screen, auto dust removal, 12 MP sensor, performance at ISO 800 and 1600, 3.5 fps, improved menus, dedicated ISO button near shutter release, IS kit lens, improved 3.5 fps motor, My Menu, good viewfinder, good battery life
Cons:
SD cards, another different battery and charger

This is an excellent camera for anyone. For a beginner or as a fun/ backup camera for a pro, the XSi delivers an amazing amount of photographic performance for it's size, it's weight and it's price. I thought the XT was great, the XTi better again and now, the XSi is better yet again. I own the 40D, and while it too, is an excellent camera with faster motor drive speed, the quality of the images at ISO 800 and 1600 with the XSi makes it very worth owning. There isn't much to complain about at all, but here are a few minor quibbles. I wish it used the larger, easier to handle CF cards, that I didn't have to have another different battery and it's charger and I still wish for a 'one button' approach to mirror lockup. The huge and easily read LCD screen, the much improved viewfinder, the faster motor, the sharp IS kit lens, the quality of the 12 MP sensor and it's high ISO performance, improved controls, custom programmable 'My Menu' options and great handling (unless you have large hands) make this an excellent upgrade from any of the earlier Rebels or from 20D and 30D cameras.

 
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

EFS18-55_35-56IS
Review Date: Jul 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Price, size, weight, stabilization, edge sharpness, close focus, quick and sure AF
Cons:
rotating front element, build quality, lens hood not included

Considering this lens cost $100 as an option as part of the XSi kit, it is simply unrivalled in the Canon line of lenses. It is very sharp, the stabilizer works very well, the AF is both quick and accurate and while this isn't a USM lens, it is still very quiet. The ability to focus close is excellent. One of few negatives is the rotating front element that makes using a polarizer near impossible to operate effectively. As a lens for hiking or where lightweight is an important consideration, this lens simply cannot be beat. In combination with the new 55-250 IS lens, the owner would have an excellent all round. super lightweight, but very sharp set up. While the build quality 'could' be higher, I'm not sure how that would be possible at this low a price.

 
Canon EOS 40D

40d
Review Date: Sep 20, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Improved sensor performance at higher ISO's, dust removal system, larger LCD screen easier to read in daylight, much improved menus and access to them, Live View, improved viewfinder, ISO visible in finder, solid feel, fast motor, Auto ISO,
Cons:
12MP would have been nice, feels a bit 'thick' in my hand (even when compared to the 1D IIn), no simple access to mirror lock up, battery concerns in cold weather

Having owned the 20D (as well as owning the 1D IIn and the XTi), the 40D is a major advance in almost every direction. I cannot think of any real negatives aside from the obvioius need of a one button access to mirror lockup. The improved motor speed (6.5 fps) makes this a near ideal second camera to the 1D and an extremely capable camera in it's own right. The reduced noise at ISO 800 makes this a very capable camera for many different uses. The viewfinder is brighter. The menu interface is more intuitive and the LCD screen is excellent. One concern is the battery life in winter temperatures. My 20D never performed well in the cold. I'm hoping that they 40D is improved in this area as well. Auto ISO is an interesting feature that I can see being useful, especially now that the sensor performs so well at the higher ratings. I bought this as a kit bundled with the 28-135 IS lens for C$1553 total, which seems like a good deal when I think back to what I paid for the 30D (C$4000) and what a superior camera this is!

 
Acratech ballhead

57ballhead_1_
Review Date: Nov 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Lightweight, compact size, good feel to main tension knob (rubberized), strong for it's size/weight
Cons:
Takes some getting used to the limitations of the design, small knob for panning is hard to tighten/loosen (my version is non rubberized)

I bought this ballhead because of its lightweight and compact size. I use it on a set of very light Manfrotto legs and mostly for hiking/backpacking. I find it to be very strong and easily capable of holding my 300 f2.8 and 1D camera, but mostly use it with a 20D/XTi and lenses in the 10-22 to 70-200 f2.8 range plus the 100mm macro. The angled design of the ball clamp does limit the tilting ability of the head and often requires loosening of the panning knob in order to get the angle you're after. My model is not equipped with the rubberized knob on the panning feature and I would definitley recommend ordering one with these superior grips. If ultimate lightweight is not important to you, I might suggest one of the other slightly heavier models for overall satisfaction. But, if weight is a major concern, I would strongly recommend this ballhead.

 
Canon EOS Rebel XTi (400D)

rebel_xti
Review Date: Nov 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very small size, yet very good handling, very lightweight, huge and complete information readout on rear panel is great for my ageing eyes, dust removing capabilities, easy to navigate menus, fun to use, 10MP, price
Cons:
Mirror Lockup requires the setting of a custom function instead of a 'one button' approach. Depth of field preview button could be easier to locate with more pronounced 'feel' on the button itself.

The Rebel XTi is a surprisingly excellent photographic tool. Some will find it's small form size to be an issue, but once you become adapted to it's layout, I think all but those with very large hands will come to love it. The dust removal system alone makes this a worthwhile upgrade. The huge LCD information readout offers more detailed information and is very easy to read, even for someone with poor eyesight (with all my other Canon cameras I sometimes need reading glasses to decipher the menu and custom function settings, etc.). The increased buffer size makes this a much more useful camera in situations where motordrive shooting is being done. The 10MP sensor elevates the XTi ahead of the 20/30D models, but for a very reasonable price. The ability to use mirror lockup with the tiny RC-1 remote control is a feature I wish my 20D had and it sees near daily use for landscape and macro work.