Canon Digital Rebel (300D) Review


Cam Populum? or ad Captandum Vulgus?*



The Digital Rebel body design is simple, though not without ergonomic and performance issues. For example, on the front, the red-eye reduction light is essentially useless--your right hand position and lens will pretty much block that light from having a real impact.

The top is clean and uncluttered.

The back is where all the action is, and for the most part the controls are logical and well laid out, even though I don't think they're as effectively used as they could be. All in all, very few buttons and knobs, yet they allow you decent control over the camera.

   

The Basics

What's this? A review of a Canon product on Thom's Nikon site? Has Thom gone mad? Is the apocalypse near? Did Canon bribe Thom?

None of the above, actually. Two of the most common emails I get these days are "Should I buy the Digital Rebel or the D70?" and "Should I switch to Canon?" The first I'll try to directly answer in this review. The second is a larger, more complex question, but is also to some sense addressed by this review. (For those who need help reading between the lines: for everything that Nikon gets wrong or doesn't produce, Canon gets something different wrong. As I get time to elaborate on that, I'll do so elsewhere. To date, neither company has produced the perfect camera, though both keep leapfrogging each other while trying. Patience, grasshopper, patience.) Without further ado:

In traditional Canon fashion, their entry-level DSLR is a light, plastic-bodied, mostly automatic camera. If you're looking for the perfect snapshot DSLR and don't like fiddling with controls or encounter special situations, the Digital Rebel very well may be all the camera you need. With a 6-megapixel sensor, a quality 8x10" print is easily produced on most inkjets, and even a decent 13x19" print on a something like the Epson 2200 is well within reach with just a bit of resizing.

For a few months, the Digital Rebel was alone in the under US$1000 DSLR world, but it's been recently joined by the Nikon D70, so it probably is a good idea to get some of the key differences highlighted right up front (pink is better; if both are purple I judge the differences to be minimal):
Canon Digital Rebel Nikon D70
Seven autofocus sensors controlled by single button Five autofocus sensors controlled by direction pad
3072x2048, 1.6x effective view 3008x2000, 1.5x effective view
Matrix (36 zone), partial (9%), and centerweight metering Matrix (1005 cell CCD), spot (1%), centerweight (adjustable) metering
Infrared and wired remote control only (optional) Infrared remote control only
30s - 1/4000 shutter, 1/200 flash sync 30s - 1/8000 shutter, 1/500 flash sync
ISO 100 to 1600 in single stop steps ISO 200 to 1600 in 1/3 stop steps, Auto
E-TTL flash, no flash compensation, high speed sync support I-TTL flash, flash exposure compensation, multiple wireless support, rear sync
2.5 fps, 4 shot buffer 3 fps, 20 shot buffer, very fast write
no custom settings 25 custom settings
No grid lines On demand grid lines
19.7 Ounces (560g) 21 Ounces (595g)

Both cameras have: Bracketing, built-in flash, a variety of JPEG recording sizes and qualities, the regular exposure modes plus seven scene modes, a hot shoe, a menu and playback system that uses the color LCD, and a host of other features. Effectively, they are very similar cameras in the gross specifications, though I think they are designed for very different user types. More on this as we get into the details.

You get Program, Shutter-priority (Tv in Canon parlance), Aperture-priority (Av), and Manual exposure modes plus a faux Automatic depth of field mode; seven scene modes (Everything Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait, and Flash Off); diopter adjustments for the viewfinder; a wealth of useful information in the viewfinder (though no frame counter); excellent, though not-quite-state-of-the-art autofocus; 36-segment matrix, and centerweighted (Canon doesn't specify weighting in the manual, which I find problematic for users who like to understand and control their equipment) metering; exposure compensation and three shot auto bracketing; and depth of field preview.

Reading the feature list of the Digital Rebel, you might wonder if Canon left anything out. The big missing piece is true spot metering, though I'd also point out that fine control over certain user-settable features is also missing (you can't set ISO in 1/3 stop values, for instance). Users of the Canon 10D will immediately notice a few "cripplings" of features, such as autofocus control in P, S, A, and M exposure modes, no custom settings, no mirror lock-up, and a host of other small things.

One issue of significance to a few users might be the 1.6x angle of view change versus the D70's 1.5x. Since Canon isn't yet producing a line of lenses designed for the APS-sized sensors (other than the 18-55mm that comes with the Digital Rebel kit), true wide angle aficionados will find themselves having to look at third-party solutions such as Sigma's 12-24mm. But note that even that small angle of view difference between the two makes a 12mm lens function like a 19.2mm lens on a Digital Rebel while it would be more like an 18mm lens on D70. That translates into about four degrees wider for the Nikon.

Overall, the feature set of the Digital Rebel is quite decent for its price point, though I believe it does suffer somewhat in direct comparison to the D70 specifications.

 

Handling

I should probably preface this section with a caveat. As a long-time Nikon shooter--I used my first Nikon SLR as a teenager in the mid-sixties--I can pretty much pick up any Nikon body and start shooting. Canon and Nikon use somewhat different approaches for user controls, and switching from one system to the other definitely takes adjustment. Not having shot very much with Canon SLRs, I'm still adjusting, obviously.

If I had to characterize Canon's and Nikon's control approaches, here's what I'd say:

  • Nikon tends to have a more standardized interface approach: hold down a button on a Nikon SLR and the Rear Command dial makes the major setting for that button, the Front Command dial any minor adjustment. Most frequently used controls (exposure compensation, for example), are placed where you don't have to take your eye from the viewfinder and have been relatively consistent in position since the N90 came out in 1992 (some go further back to the N8008). Overall, the Nikon is a very right-handed design and relies very heavily on hand positioning vis-a-vis the two control dials.
  • Canon has had more interface changes over the years than Nikon, but most recently has become somewhat standardized. Where Nikon's control dials are similar in size and feel and spin in the horizontal plane, the Canon approach uses a small vertically mounted wheel on the top plate of the camera and a dial (not present on the Digital Rebel) vertically on the back of the camera; some Nikon converts have trouble adjusting to this. Canon cameras also tend to use multiple button presses more than Nikon bodies.

In both cases, you get used to certain hand positions and finger movements, and it's tough to go quickly from the Nikon style to the Canon style (or vice versa). Personally, I find that I take my eye away from the viewfinder more often when using a Canon body and my right hand position moves more while shooting than it does when I'm using a Nikon body. Since I've used Nikon bodies for so long, I find both of those things a bit uncomfortable, and to date, I shoot more slowly and less confidently using the Digital Rebel than I with, say, my Nikon D70. If the Digital Rebel is your first and only camera, that's not a big consideration, obviously. Still--and I know some 1D and 1Ds users are going to write in to dispute this generalization--I'd characterize the Canon shooting interfaces as slightly more cumbersome and slightly slower in action than the Nikon ones, and the Digital Rebel versus the D70 is typical of this dichotomy.

In the hand, the Digital Rebel is small, light, and comfortable. Even though the right grip is rather pronounced compared to the rest of the diminutive body, it fits a small hand well, and the slight contouring makes it easy to hold the camera with one hand (not that I recommend shooting that way!).

Some of the control placements may make the camera feel a bit uncomfortable to someone who has large hands or long fingers. Two controls that you tend to use more often--the exposure lock and autofocus point selector buttons--tend to force you to give up some of your grip on the camera to operate (you end up gripping the front of the camera mostly with the tips of your fingers with no thumb support). This is something big handed folk will find slightly more daunting than those with smaller digits. I'd say the Digital Rebel is a body that best fits smallish hands; at least those folk won't feel contorted when using common controls.

A dial on the left top plate is used to set the camera's exposure mode (and the special scene modes). This dial is clearly labeled and easy enough to use. The scene modes restrict what other things you can set, but, like Nikon's scene modes, don't go far enough for me to make them useful. For example, you can't set bracketing, exposure compensation, or any of the digital parameters in these modes. None of them really do anything particularly useful, in my opinion. The Automatic Depth of Field mode, while intriguing in principal, turns out to be rather limited in actual practice. The manual shows a group portrait that has people lined up at different distances across the frame, which is one of the few times this function will work optimally. That's because the objects that the camera determine as near and far have to be under one of the seven autofocus sensors, which are primary oriented horizontally.

Program exposure mode can be over-ridden (Nikon calls this Flexible Program for those of you trying to make direct comparisons). Unlike the D70, where each dial turn gives you the next 1/3 stop alternative, the Digital Rebel does a very strange thing: it gives you a third of a stop alternative followed by a 2/3 stop alternative--every other 1/3 stop possibility is missing! It's as if they do a 1/2 stop change and then round to the nearest third of a stop setting.

Manual exposure mode is less direct than on Nikon bodies. The dial on the top plate controls the shutter speed directly, but if you want to change aperture, you also have to hold down a button while turning that dial. With practice, this becomes second nature, I suppose, but it's one of those subtle things in the Canon interface that slow most people down slightly when shooting.

ISO and White Balance settings can be quickly changed without going to the menu system if nothing is being displayed on the color LCD. Press the appropriate button, twirl the dial on the top plate to get to the value you want (shown on the second LCD on the back), then press the button again.

The histogram display is sub-optimal, in my opinion. Like the one on the Fujifilm S2 Pro, it's too small and sometimes difficult to distinguish what's happening at the highlight extreme, which is exactly where we want to see the most information. The D70 has Nikon's usual large, easily visible histogram--you only have to see the two side by side to see how inferior the Digital Rebel's histogram is.

Custom white balance is obtained by taking a regular photo of a centered, neutral object, then going back and pointing the camera at that photo. Not only does this (temporarily) waste storage space, but it makes for a slightly slower than usual custom setting procedure (not that Nikon has always done right by this--the D100's custom white balance procedure is a bit labyrinthine; the D70 is better in this respect, and supports a better and faster measuring method [if you remember to press the button twice] plus the same "set from photograph" option the Digital Rebel does).

Surprisingly, image controls such as contrast, sharpness, saturation, and color tone are somewhat buried in the menu system under something called Parameters. The first things on the Parameters menu refer to color space controls, and it's only by defining a "set" do you get to the individual controls. The good news is that you can define your own sets for multiple image controls; the bad news is that these are the last items on the last menu on the first tab (which means lots of button presses to get to them). Worse news is that image controls can't be set if you choose another color space, such as Adobe RGB. Note further that the default set of parameters are actually a bit aggressive, specifying a slight bump in sharpness, contrast, and saturation as the default.

Overall, the Digital Rebel handles like a camera that you can't quite get full control over. That's fine if you're an all-automatic shooter, but for someone who wants specific, clear control over settings that effect exposure and image parameters, the D70 is a much better choice, as you can control virtually everything on the D70.

Continuous motor drive and the self timer are available via a separate button on the top plate, which is simpler than on most Nikon bodies, which require a two-step process, but bracketing, Image Quality, Image Size, and a few other functions are only accessible through the menu system on the Digital Rebel. The menu system itself is simple enough for the most part, though I fail to see why the Jump button is necessary (you can move between tabs without it, and it really seems that directional controls ought to all be assigned to the direction pad, as Nikon does). [Several Canon users have written to tell me that it is useful for browsing through images already on the card, as it jumps you 10 images at a time. I can't remember the last time I wanted to do that on a DSLR, and I can think of more direct ways of handling moving more quickly through image reviews if that's what the button is trying to fix.] All in all, the interface has more buttons than it actually needs (to see why, just look at the Kodak or Fujifilm menu interfaces). Given the target market of this camera, I see several opportunities for simplifying and making the controls more consistent. I've seen far worse, though, and what Canon has produced is easily learned and understood.

The Digital Rebel takes two types of lenses: the traditional EF mount lenses, and new EF-S mount lenses. The 18-55mm lens that comes as part of the US$999 kit is one of the latter, and mounts with a twist in the opposite direction than that of the original mount, which will take some getting used to if you're moving back and forth between lens types. Canon did it this way apparently because the EF-S lenses stick a bit further back into the camera than do EF lenses, and Canon didn't want people sticking EF-S lenses onto cameras that don't support them, as the rear elements might interfere with the action of the mirror.

The big handling gripe I have with the Digital Rebel is that it isn't always immediately responsive. The Nikon DSLRs all are instant-on, instant-wake, and thus instant-shoot. Not so the Digital Rebel. There's a three second delay between the time you turn the camera on and the first shot is taken. That's tolerable, as the battery is good enough to leave the camera on for long periods. What's intolerable to a Nikon DSLR user is the delay for the camera to wake up from sleep. If you leave the camera on but don't take a picture for awhile, you get that same three-second delay if you suddenly press the shutter release. For spontaneous picture shooting, this is very poor behavior. Indeed, if the cameras were equal in every other way, this alone would be enough to make me suggest the Nikon D70 over the Digital Rebel. Some have suggested that you use the settings to increase the amount of time the Digital Rebel is active (you can set it to 1 minute up to 30 minutes), but this seems to consume battery power somewhat faster, which isn't a great tradeoff.

Again, handling is quite decent for the all-automatic shooter, but compromised in several meaningful ways for someone who wants to take complete control.

 

Performance

Exposure

The Digital Rebel matrix meter is pretty good at tough scenes, though I find it has a tendency to blow out highlight detail more than the Nikon matrix meters do. That said, I didn't find any exposures in my initial test shots that I was uncomfortable with. And you can always dial in exposure compensation or turn on the exposure bracketing if you're really worried.

Be aware that metering changes when you press the exposure lock button to partial area metering (about 9% of the total image area). If you don't catch this distinction, you're going to have trouble getting the exposure you want. (I also don't like the fact that the only way you can cancel exposure lock is to wait for the camera meter to time out or press the focus point selection button; why wouldn't a second press of the exposure lock button unlock a locked exposure?)

Manual exposure users should note that you get only two stops of metering information on each side of 0. Also note that you don't get matrix metering in manual exposure mode. Instead, you get an unspecified (in the manual, at least) centerweighted system.

There are issues that will catch some users unawares with regards to exposure. If you perform a focus with a half shutter press and then recompose, the metering will be locked to the point where you did the focus! This isn't what I want the camera to do, and there doesn't seem to be any simple way to overcome this problem. (The hard way is meter on your composition, press the exposure lock, reorient and focus by doing the half-press, recompose and shoot. Again, a subtle slowing down of the shooting process as compared to the Nikon interface.)

Another more subtle issue is that the matrix metering changes its emphasis from the selected autofocus point to the central autofocus point if you switch to manual focus. As usual for camera manufacturers, these things aren't well documented in the 300D manual, nor is there any indication on the camera that something is changing in the metering (and you have no way of knowing whether you're in matrix, centerweighted, or partial metering except by remembering that you changed a setting that triggered it).

Overall, ambient metering performance seems accurate and consistent, but a little hotter than I'm used to with Nikon equipment (there's no way to spot meter and test head to head, unfortunately). I found that I was consistently wanting to set a small amount of underexposure compensation with the Digital Rebel. (Confession: having used Nikon DSLRs for so long, I'm very sensitive to highlight detail. Indeed, when used well, that's one of the key attributes of the Nikon and Fujifilm DSLRs: they can capture extraordinarily subtle highlight detail.)

Flash exposures are another story, however. It's unclear to me exactly why, but flash exposures on the Digital Rebel can be quite inconsistent, with a tendency towards being too bright (blowing out highlights). Moreover, you can't control the flash exposure vis-a-vis the ambient exposure, which is something that I believe is absolutely necessary for accurate and reliable flash use. The best you can do is to use the "flash lock" feature, which actually consists of pre-firing the flash and then the camera locking on the value it determined. But even that proved to be somewhat inconsistent in use, and had a tendency towards blowing out highlights. As an expert on flash use, I think I'm not overstating anything to say that I find the Digital Rebel's flash abilities overly restrictive and unreliable. Let me put that another way: if you're going to get heavy into flash use, get the Nikon D70 instead of the Digital Rebel. Assuming you learn the idiosyncrasies of Nikon's flash system, something I'll admit takes me several hundred pages to describe, you'll end up with much more control over flash.

Autofocus

Having heard all kinds of stories about how Canon's autofocus performance on the low-end bodies wasn't as good as Nikon's, I was prepared to be appalled. In practice, however, I didn't find any substantive differences that would limit my use of it. True, in very low light without any autofocus assist help, the Canon doesn't tend to lock where the Nikon CAM900 cameras like the D70 will at least lock in the central AF point. But even the minimal light in my living at night (lit by a sole 100-watt halogen reflected off the ceiling) is enough to get fast and accurate autofocus. At ISO 100, f/5.6 and 1 second for a proper exposure, the autofocus system still seems to function just fine; if you're trying to autofocus in lighting worse than that, well, a low-end DSLR may not be what you should be buying--that's just too much to expect for a sub-US$1000 camera.

What is a little tough to get used to is the manner in which the Digital Rebel picks the focus point to use. As I understand it, the camera first tries to figure out what the subject might be by exposure (a foreground subject is distinguishable from a background in most cases because the lighting for the two is different). This is easy to see with a bright subject and dark background--pan so that the subject moves to other sensors and you'll see that the camera does indeed keep finding the bright subject. When tonal values are close or the camera thinks it might see multiple subjects, you'll see multiple sensors light up; the one that will be used will be the one on the centerline or above that has the closest focus distance (e.g., if the bottom sensor has the closest distance, it wouldn't be used). In theory, if you don't like what the camera picked for autofocus you can lift your finger and when you half press the shutter release again the camera will pick a different sensor to use. In practice, I found the Digital Rebel more often than not picks the same spot, though I did find cases where it operated as Canon suggests.

Battery Life

Battery life is excellent, about as good as the Nikon D100, which has the best battery life of any digital SLR I've tested to date (my preliminary usage of the D70 indicates it is at least as good). The Digital Rebel's battery is lower voltage and lower milliamp hour rated than the D70's, but the Digital Rebel also seems to have a sensor and digital processing side that consumes less power, so it's almost a wash.

Canon rates the battery at about 600 images at room temperature when no flash is used, and I can't find fault with that. Your overall battery life is going to be mostly determined by how much you use the color LCD more so than how many pictures you take, anyway. The Digital Rebel comes set to fairly aggressive color LCD time (2 second review), and when left at that, you can pretty much shoot all day with a single battery. If you review pictures more or use the internal flash a lot, then carry a second charged battery with you. Needing more than two charged batteries for a day's worth of shooting isn't something I can imagine any Digital Rebel user encountering.

 

Write Speed

One piece of bad news performance-wise is the write speed to CompactFlash of the Digital Rebel. To put it bluntly, this camera writes slower than any Nikon DSLR I've ever tested save the original D1, which was widely criticized for its slowness. Coupled with the 4 frame buffer and the fact that image review functions don't function until the buffer is completely emptied to the card, this has a serious impact on those that shoot raw files with the Digital Rebel. On the fastest card I have available, it took 18 seconds before a full buffer of raw files flushed and the color LCD stopped displaying the Busy message. You'll want the fastest card you can find if you shoot raw files, and even JPEG users might want to consider that, too.

It's not even a close contest with a D70. Use a state-of-the-art card in the D70 and you'll rattle off JPEGs continuously until the card fills. Meanwhile, your Digital Rebel will have fallen way behind as it stutters through filling and emptying the buffer.

Image Quality

Color, contrast, and some types of detail are strong points in the images a Digital Rebel's produces. Overall, the Digital Rebel produces JPEG images with more contrast than I'm used to with the Nikon DSLRs. For casual shooters, this is probably fine, as contrast is something our eyes are very keyed into. However, note that it is usually easier to add contrast (as I often have to do in my Nikon DSLR images) than it is to remove it (as I've wanted to with several Digital Rebel images I've made). For the target audience for the camera, though, Canon has made the right decision here.

Color is generally quite good, though I sometimes find a very slight green shift in mid-tone neutrals (Nikon bodies tend towards a slight magenta shift, if they have one). Greens overall tend to be "brighter" and snappier than the D70. Reds and oranges are also very well handled, though purples seem dark and slightly off to me. Raw images seem to have a slightly better color fidelity, while JPEG images seem to have a slight color emphasis (boosting certain colors for punch or contrast). White balance plays a role in color rendering, and here I'd have to say: shoot with manual (custom) white balance in any lighting other than daylight. Unfortunately, as noted above, doing that takes extra steps it shouldn't, which slows you down. Still, if you take the time, you'll get very good color that, with the slight increase in contrast at the default settings, provides photos with a lot of color "punch."

As 6mp cameras go, the Digital Rebel stands right with the pack in terms of detail handling, with a small caveat. Since noise and artifacting are well controlled (at least at the lower ISO values, see next), the Digital Rebel produces images with detail that'll stand up against the other 6mp cameras, including it's higher-priced sibling, the 10D. Canon's anti-aliasing is less aggressive than Nikon's is on the D100 (though slightly more aggressive than the D70), which allows for the 6mp to act like 6mp and is more than enough for quality 8 x 10" prints (and larger with good shooting and post processing discipline). One slightly weak point: when shooting JPEGs, the camera tends to mask highlight detail, probably due to the way the Digic chip processes the data (that increased contrast comes from somewhere). What do I mean by that? Well, something bright towards the extreme that is recorded--detail in white walls, lace in bride's dresses, texture in snow, etc.--tends to lose a bit of detail when rendered by the Digital Rebel JPEG as compared to a D70 JPEG. This is clearly a function of the JPEG processing, as Digital Rebel Raw images run through a decent converter clearly have more highlight detail in them. But overall, there does seem to be a bit of detail smoothing going on somewhere in the system--perhaps in the ADC pulling data off the chip--that isn't present in the Nikon DSLRs. As I said, it's a small caveat. Some will actually prefer the smoothing effects of the Digital Rebel, especially if you have to sharpen aggressively for your inkjet output, while others won't.

Despite it's reputation as a low noise sensor, the CMOS sensor in the Digital Rebel doesn't really do as good a job as you might think given all the ecstatic raves you see in Canon Internet forums. Yes, the Digital Rebel is low in noise at ISO 100. I wouldn't place it in a clear category above or below the 10D, D70, or S2 Pro (other 6mp cameras) at the base ISO, though. If you use the camera at the defaults, the slightly higher than normal default sharpening will quickly produce noise in the red channel as you ratchet up ISO values. Even with sharpening turned down, the red channel noise seems excessive compared to other 6mp cameras at high ISO values. Indeed, there seems to be a "clumping" aspect to the Digital Rebel noise I don't find in the D70 (which tends to be more film grain like in its randomness). So, no, the Digital Rebel isn't the last word on low noise images (the S2 Pro would be, as I write this), and no, it's not "buttery smooth at all ISO values" as at least one prominent person has touted.

That's not to say that it's noise handling is bad. There's little to worry about with ISO 100 and 200, modest noise that would be invisible in most prints at 400 and 800, and acceptable noise at ISO 1600. Long exposure noise (dark current noise) isn't an issue at all for most shooting, though if you're into astronomical photography, be aware that the Digital Rebel's dark current noise isn't repeatable--really long exposures will have different noise patterns each time, though the noise is well under control. Given the market the Digital Rebel is targeted at, I really doubt that any users are going to complain about its noise handling. I'd quantify it overall as "very good."

Indeed, everything about the image quality the Digital Rebel produces is in the very good range or better. If I felt like I were a little more in direct control of what the camera is doing, I'd be more excited about that. But there's a functional interaction between your ability to absolutely control exposure quickly and accurately and the ultimate image quality you produce. Every now and then your lack of full control produces a "close but no cigar" image. One key difference between the Canon Digital Rebel and the Nikon D70, therefore, is that when the Digital Rebel misses an exposure, it's the camera's fault. When the D70 doesn't quite nail the image, it's your fault. For casual shooters, the Digital Rebel is fine. For control-freaks, the D70 is a better choice.

I know I'll be blasted by emails from Canon devotees trying to hammer me on statements like those in the last paragraph (and this one, read on ;~). "My Digital Rebel takes perfect pictures," they'll write. Perhaps for them, it does, though I'd question how critical they're being and whether they're producing snapshots or photographs (there is a difference). As I teach in my workshops, getting a great photograph requires absolute control and discipline on the part of the photographer. You don't just get things "about right." You must precisely and fully control each and every element and parameter that impacts what shows up in the pixels (or grain) of your shot. The list of those things is daunting to some, but it's the individual pursuit of them that distinguishes photographer A from photographer B.

That's not to say that the Digital Rebel can't take good pictures. As I think I've outlined here, it's a very capable camera image-wise. The crippled handling compromises what the camera (and thus the photographer) can produce, however, and in my mind this is a serious flaw for anyone who intends to use the camera as anything other than a high-quality, advanced point-and-shoot. If you're using a Canon G5 or a Coolpix type camera and looking for less shutter lag and better image quality, the Digital Rebel may be all you need (but watch out for that 3-second startup delay!). For me, however, Canon took too much control out of the camera.

 

* Pardon my Latin, but loosely: Cam Populum would be "a camera for the entire people," while ad Captandum Vulgus literally means "in order to win over the masses," but implies that such actions are intended solely to achieve popularity and not necessarily in the best interests of the people.

Drawbacks

  • Plastic Fantastic. Exactly what you'd expect for an inexpensive body; you'll want to take precautions to keep this camera sheltered from the elements. The color LCD on the back has no additional protection, so is susceptible to scratching with rough handling. But other than that it seems hardy enough.
  • Not so Flashy. The 1/200 flash sync speed can be problematic for some. Canon aficionados will point out that the camera supports High Speed flash sync, but that flash mode robs too much light output to be useful over reasonable distances. Plus, compared to the Nikon D70, the Digital Rebel's flash abilities are not as plentiful, flexible, nor do you have as much fine control over them.
  • Waiting for Godot. Three seconds before the first shot. Three seconds to wake up. Three seconds in which you'll miss many pictures.
  • Not Suited for Manual Labor. If you shoot in manual exposure mode and like to have full, quick control over every last camera setting, you'll be frustrated by the Digital Rebel.

Positives

  • It's the Image Stupid. Nice color, nice contrast, and very printable out-of-camera JPEGs make this a snapshooters delight.
  • Bang for the Buck! US$899 for a rather full-featured DSLR is as good as it gets here in early 2004. Add another US$100 for a reasonable, though not great, lens and its an even better bargain for the first time DSLR purchaser.
 
Quick Evaluation


Recommended
; very appropriate for the auto-everything snapshot user; might frustrate the more sophisticated wants-to-set -everything user.

features
performance
build
value

Table of Contents

Initial Review: 4/10/04
Fixed exposure lock cancel: 4/14/04

Camera photos added: 5/1/04



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