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  Reviews by: Rudy Kouw  

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Canon EOS Rebel XT (350D)

Review Date: Dec 6, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Image quality in terms of sharpness, colour and dynamic range, acceptable noise at 1600 ISO, battery life.
Auto focus even at moderately large relative apertures, small viewfinder, menu system, rear buttons can be activated by accident too easily, no dust reduction.

The three main issues in considering a digital camera are image quality, image quality and image quality. In this respect the 350D is an outstanding camera, even in low-light conditions. At 1600 ISO noise is still acceptable, without a compromise in sharpness. The possibility to change sensor sensitivity by four stops is a clear advantage of a DSLR over a 'classical' SLR. I only shoot in RAW which gives me quite some room in image post processing, although only in few cases I have to apply manual correction to my 'personal standard' which uses slightly reduced contrast and saturation compared to the camera's standard settings. The main limiting factor in obtaining high quality prints of 20x30 cm is the lens, not the camera.

That said, a better auto focus remains to be desired, as there is the issue of back or front focussing with a fast lens such as the 50 mm f/1,8 at full aperture or even stopped down to f/4. The viewfinder is rather small and dim, so manual focussing better than the auto focus is difficult, if not impossible. Full manual mode shooting is troublesome, as changing the aperture setting requires additionally pushing one of the rear buttons. In general, changing camera settings in many cases is complicated or, as in the case of setting the shooting mode, occurs by accident. Having a good dust-reduction system would be very helpful, as collecting dirt on the sensor is an inconvenient fact of life using a digital SLR with more than one lens, especially outdoor.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Dec 5, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness up to 70 mm, fast focus, low weight.
Soft borders from 70 mm and longer, no panning with active image stabilisation.

I choose this lens, as a companion of the Tokina 12-24 mm F/4, for the combination of good optical performence, at least on a APS-C size sensor, and relatively low weight. The image stabilisation comes as a partial compensation - moving subjects don't care about IS - in low-light photography.

This is a versatile lens, offering, up to 70 mm, very sharp images at full aperture, also at the borders. At 100 mm, which I use frequently for portraits, the performence is also very good, although for sharp borders one needs to stop down to F/8 or even F/11. The weight is favourable compared to any fast lens, say F/2,8, in the same focal range and compensates for the low-mass 350D. Using the 350D, the AF is very fast, also in low-light conditions. On a 30D body the AF appears to be even faster. The image stabilisation works very well, giving the opportunity to take low-light pictures or shooting with small apertures at 100 ISO to gain depth of field.

The only draw backs are the need to change lenses for wide-angle photography, at the risk of polluting the sensor. Further, one has to take care of an extra knob (for turning IS on or off). As only full IS mode is offered, panning is not possible.

Having this lens for more than four months, I was never tempted to use the kit lens.