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Canon EOS Rebel XSi (450D)

Review Date: Aug 21, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Light weight, compact size (in regards to travel), great sensor for price, menus and interface easy to navigate, perfect MP count, good AF, Live View
Compact size (a little small to hold), no xxD control dial, ISO limited to 1600, low-res screen, short eyepoint

Overall I enjoy using this camera after owning it for two years. It's compact and light, which is very handy as I travel almost exclusively by foot, bike, and bus. Paired with the 50mm f/1.8 it makes an incredibly capable and easy-to-carry photographic tool.

I think it takes some tweaking to get good SOOC JPG files, especially in bright light or other contrasty situations, but either by tweaking the image parameters, exposure compensatino, and white balance or by shooting RAW, you can get top-notch images from this 12MP sensor (I've printed 10x15s that look outstanding). It's not too many pixels to fill up your hard drive unnecessarily quickly, but not too few so that there's little cropping room.

My feelings about the ergonomics are mixed. The light weight and small size are great for traveling, but even my medium-to-small-sized hands find the grip too small. (I haven't tried adding the portrait grip) I also own a 20D and having ISO displayed in the viewfinder is nice, although the eyepoint is a little short for an eyeglass-wearer. It's tough to see the whole frame at once without removing my glasses, which rapidly-occurring events don't always leave time to do. Also, I do miss the xxD-style control dial for changing settings and scrolling menus more rapidly, though otherwise the buttons and menu system are nicely laid out.

Autofocus performance seems pretty comparable to my 20D- pretty good although not amazing (I've never been able to compare to a 7D or 1-series, which is probably good for the sake of my wallet).

One thing that impressed me about this camera is the battery life. While using a smaller battery than its prosumer cousins, I think that this gets a lot of shots per charge on the stock Canon battery (a third-party battery I bought doesn't hold up so well). I haven't ever counted how many shots I get out of a charge, but as long as it's not too cold out I never find myself needing a second battery even after a long day of shooting. This may be aided by the fact that I very rarely use the built-in flash... my 430EX spoils me that way. (btw

As a final comment, I find Live View very handy for macro and still shots where focus accuracy is critical. I haven't actually tried the contrast-detect AF; usually when I use LV it's for manual focus since it's difficult to do with the small viewfinder.

Overall, a great camera for the price, especially what they bring used these days. Lots of useful features but not too many so as to get in your way.