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Canon EOS Rebel XT (350D)

Review Date: Apr 8, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Compact for a DSLR. Easy to use, feels good in your hands and handles well. Bright, clear viewfinder. AF system fast and responsive enough for most situations. Excellent images with low noise in the upper ISO ranges (i.e. > 400 ISO). Canon quality and reliability. Excellent value for money, particularly if you can still find a Rebel XT marked down to a close-out price, now that the XSi has come along to replace it.
A bit 'plasticky' in spots. Flash is a trifle weak. Battery runs down quickly when shooting RAW images and using a cheap CF card (I know, buy a better CF card!). Limited burst shooting mode. 18-55mm 'kit' lens included with the camera offers decent but not stellar quality, a bit soft at maximum wide-angle and telephoto focal lengths, and could be faster. LCD display on back of camera is a bit small and nearly useless even under overcast skies. Lacks spot metering mode and advanced manual controls.

I've had my Canon Rebel XT for about two weeks now and I'm very happy with it. At a close-out price of $569.00CDN, it represents very good value for money and a compelling alternative to the Nikon D40 and the Olympus E-410, if it isn't a better camera outright.

Even with an 8MP sensor, it generates images that are superior to 99% of the compact (i.e. non-DSLR) cameras out there, even at higher megapixel resolution levels. Much of this has to do with the fact that the XT uses an APS-C sized sensor that is close to five times the size of a standard digicam sensor and uses CMOS technology (Canon is a leader in this area) as opposed to CCD.

The XT is a good camera for the DSLR beginner or someone just getting back into the hobby (that would be me, since for the last 10 years I've wandered around with a point-n-shoot compact digicam and finally broke down and decided to go for a DSLR).

The included 18-55 'kit' lens does have some weaknesses - mostly lack of definitive sharpness at the extreme ends of the lens' focal lengths. It also could be brighter and offer better tonal range. I find that even with photos taken in decent lighting conditions, I often have to use a post-processor like RAW Therapee 2.1 and increase exposure compensation by +0.5 or +1.0 to bring out the highlights and improve tonal range.

The LCD panel on the back of the camera is very small and lacks sufficient brightness to cope in even cloudy, overcast lighting conditions. In fairness to Canon, though, this is a problem common to many 2nd-generation DSLR's and in the case of the XT, has much to do with the compact body size. Compare a Canon D40 body with an XT and you'll see what I mean.

However, the lens quality and other issues I've raised are really minor quibbles, as I'm getting very good results with the Rebel XT.

Overall, this is an excellent camera for the money. Anyone who buys a Rebel XT should be very happy with it. One of the reasons why I've consistently bought Canon cameras over the last twenty years is because of their quality, reliability and affordability.