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Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

ef50mmf_18_1_
Review Date: Jan 18, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $85.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, colors are nice, neat bokeh (both good and bad), PRICE
Cons:
Af is loud and inaccurate, Mf switch is tiny and hard to move, and the focus ring is a bit small, but it is only $90, so why complain?

It is a sharp lens that has produced great results for me over and over again. The colors are very nice, but contrast is lacking sometimes. F/1.8 is usable, and once you stop it down to f/2.2 it is extremely sharp. It is very light, so when paired with an entry level slr like the XT/XTi the combo weighs slightly more than a super zoom point-and-shoot. If you ever feel like stopping down to f/8 this lens hits optimal sharpness and is great for shooting buildings--although for serious applications you will want a T&S. Great for people starting out to learn the basics of photography and produce great results along the way.

 
Canon EOS Rebel XT (350D)

rebel_xt
Review Date: Jan 17, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Colors, ISO 100-400 are fantastic, weight.
Cons:
Plasticky, ISO 800 is just OK and 1600 is usable---barely. Af assist beam should either be placed in a usable place, or not on the camera at all. Autofocus is sometimes unreliable. Viewfinder and status screen NEED to show iso.

The Canon XT/ 350D has given me a lot of great pictures. Performance still matches up well with the current entry-level SLR (XS). Color is very nice, and the file size is not overwhelming, but leaves enough room for cropping. It is light, and when paired with a 50mm f/1.8 weighs just a little more than a super-zoom P&S. Af is decent in good lighting, and hit-or miss in low light. I feel no need to upgrade to a current entry level camera, I would only consider it for a full frame camera, or perhaps the 40D (both in completely different price brackets). I like the status screen a lot, so the 1.8" screen is not that big of a complaint. The Af assist beam is placed right where your fingers rest, so if you need it you have to move your fingers, but personally I prefer not to have one anyway--the light is annoying and distracting if you are shooting people. All-in-all it is a nice camera with a couple of weaknesses, none of which should stop you from buying it if it is all you can afford.