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Canon EOS Rebel XTi (400D)

Review Date: Sep 5, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Lightweight, good bright viewfinder and LCD, decent price, decently rugged, sensor cleaner, 14-bit RAW, long battery life
Firmware not upgradeable, no spot-metering, not weather-sealed

I've used this for a couple years and it is an excellent little camera, both for beginners and more advanced users. As other reviewers have said, have some realistic expectations if you're moving up from a point-and-shoot-- any DSLR is significantly different from a P&S. There is a learning curve, and there are no magic camera pixies who make every photo perfect. The photographer is more important than the camera. Study the manual, learn the fundamental photography skills, learn how to use digital editing software, and you'll get great photos with this camera.

If you're looking to buy one of these used and the price is right, do not hesitate. If you have a limited budget, it is better to buy the best lenses you can. Good lenses are forever, and Canon lenses hold their value.

It shoots both high-resolution JPG and 14-bit RAW. 14-bit RAW means you get abundant editing headroom. The nine-point autofocus is reasonably fast and accurate, though it struggles in low light and low-contrast situations. (For only a few thousand dollars more the 1D series handle low-light and low-contrast very capably.)

You get a lot of flexibility; it comes with the preset "Scenes", shutter priority, aperture priority, auto-aperture priority, and full manual operation. It has exposure bracketing, AE lock, both light and RGB histograms, mirror lock, and a whole lot of other functionality.

This a nice inexpensive good-quality DSLR for beginners, and a satisfactory camera for more advanced users. It fits my small hands, and it's not too heavy to lug along on hikes. I carry it on hikes with two lenses in a Lowepro Flipside 200, which accommodates even a long telephoto.