Canon started the whole consumer Digital SLR market in the Fall of 2003 when it surprised the world with the announcement of the original $899 Digital Rebel (EOS 300D) or $999 for the kit with a 18-55mm lens. That was the first DSLR to crack the $1000 barrier and it sold by the truckload when it started shipping in late 2003. This 6MP masterpiece of cheap silver-painted plastic and a pentamirror is without doubt one of the most important camera introductions in history. It sold in huge numbers, and most consider that first Rebel revolutionary in its impact on the SLR market. It certainly changed the directions in digital photography forever.

Canon Consumer DSLR Overview
Date Announced Entry Model Sensor Resolution AF Points LCD Screen
August 2003 Digital Rebel
EOS 300D / Kiss Digital
6.3 MP
7 1.8"
February 2005 Digital Rebel XT
EOS 350D / Kiss Digital N
8.0 MP 7 1.8"
August 2006 Digital Rebel XTi
EOS 400D / Kiss Digital X
10.1 MP 9 2.5"
January 2008 Rebel XSi
EOS 450D / Kiss X2
12.2 MP 9 3"

With the introduction of the EOS 450D the Rebel is now in its fourth iteration, and each new Rebel is an event that captures the attention of the photo market. Canon usually has a surprise or two in store with each new Rebel. It has become a tradition. Unlike competing stripped-down entry models, the Rebel series seems to conquer new territory with each new release, and the XSi continues that tradition. In fact in many ways the XSi is a much more exciting new camera than the 40D was when it was introduced just 6 months ago.

The new Canon is the first consumer Canon to feature a 12MP sensor. The Canon 40D, the top prosumer model, has a 10MP sensor. This is almost becoming a Canon tradition as the entry XTi was introduced with Canon's first 10MP sensor. The XSi also pioneers the best implementation of Live View in the entire Canon line, being the first to feature either regular Live View with mirror-flip for focusing, or a new contrast detection focusing that does not require a screen blackout. The XSi is also the first Canon to ship with an economical IS kit lens as standard, and the redesigned 18-55mm IS lens is a much-improved match to the resolution demands of a 12.2MP sensor.

The XSi is known in the rest of the world as the 450D, which should be its rightful name in the US. However, someone in Canon marketing believes US buyers care about the Rebel name, so Canon continues that tradition to this day. Those old ads with Andre Agassi are just that - old ads - and no one cares any more. It's even worse in Asia where they still call the 450D the Kiss.

Canon Prosumer DSLR Overview
Date Announced Prosumer Model Sensor Resolution AF Points LCD Screen
April 2000 D30 3.1 MP (Megapixel) 3 1.8"
February 2002 D60 6.3 MP 3 1.8"
February 2003 10D 6.3 MP 7 1.8"
August 2004 20D 8.2 MP 9 1.8"
February 2006 30D 8.2 MP 9 2.5"
August 2007 40D 10.1 MP 9 3"

It is also interesting to compare the entry Canon DSLRs to the evolution of the prosumer xxD series. Canon has fitted the XSi/450D with their new 12.2MP CMOS sensor, while the more expensive prosumer 40D is using the 10.1MP sensor. This is similar to the last generation XTi at 10.1MP with the 30D at 8.2MP. This will give Canon fans another opportunity to argue that resolution doesn't matter much, but this time around the prosumer Sony A700 and D300 both sport an excellent 12.2MP CMOS sensor with arguably better noise control than the 40D. The competition will make the "resolution doesn't matter" argument a little more difficult in this iteration. There is also the prosumer Pentax K20D with a 14.6MP CMOS sensor that is topping many of the resolution tests.

The new XSi, on the other hand, does compete exceptionally well in the entry DSLR space. The 12.2MP sensor, dual Live View, 9-point autofocus, and 3" LCD make the XSi stand out from the budget SLR crowd. Canon even threw in a Digic III processor with 14-bit A/D conversion for image processing on a par with the 40D. In reality, the XSi needs to be considered the top of the current budget class, and it will compete there with cameras like the Sony A350. The very capable XTi will continue in the Canon line, but it is now positioned as an entry model. The 8MP Canon XT is dropped from the line, making 10MP the new starting point for Canon DSLRs.

XSi compared to XTi


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  • Devo2007 - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    I've been quite happy with Anandtech's camera reviews so far, along with the articles on digital photography (terms, sensor info, etc.)

    I'm still torn between the Rebel XSi and the Sony A350. Live View isn't extremely important to me (even on my current camera, I don't use the LCD that much), but I also want something that's going to be relatively easy to use. I've never used an SLR before (film or digital), though I have worked with the manual controls on my existing camera a bit.
  • haplo602 - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    I personaly would go with Canon in this case. You will find a huge supply of cheap used lenses and other accessories on ebay :-)

    Go check ...

    As fo ease of use, the only option is to visit a larger camera store and try out. There is no substitute for experience.
  • casteve - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    I wonder if Sony provides free rootkit malware with their cameras, too! Reply
  • n4bby - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    but i never quite understood why anandtech started reviewing photo gear... i appreciate the considerable effort that went into this review, but quite frankly i think cameras are better reviewed by professional photographers and/or specialists in the field. again, not meaning to rag on you but the sample photographs are really quite sub-par from both a technical and aesthetic standpoint and in no way show what this or really any camera/lens is capable of. i think without an adequate photographic background, it is hard and perhaps somewhat misguided to critically evaluate the merits of the gear beyond the merely technical, which i understand is what the majority of people come to this site for. but photography being an art goes much beyond the technical and i think the subjective element of it is often very relevant to the judgment of equipment. Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    Super-elitist arguments are funny in posts that refuse to capitalize words.

    I have seen professional camera review sites and magazines, although I am by no means an expert in the subject. Besides reaching a different audience, Anandtech seems to bring two things to the table with these reviews: 1) Objective and numbers-based analysis, and 2) Clear conclusions. Many reviews of high-end products, be they cars, home theater gear, or cameras, seem to lack clear "this product is better than this product for this type of user" conclusions (probably their tiny audiences cannot sustain their publication costs without free sample gear, and so they avoid hard conclusions because they don't want to piss off any company and stop of flow of free gear. Anandtech provides a refreshing and readable change of pace, that for this user at least the reviews are exactly what I desire.
  • Justin Case - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    [quote]Anandtech seems to bring two things to the table with these reviews: 1) Objective and numbers-based analysis, and 2) Clear conclusions.[/quote]

    And that is precisely the problem, because most of the times the numbers are wrong (or inconsistent, because the reviewer didn't understand what he was actually measuring), which means the "authoritative sounding" conclusions are also wrong, and misleading.

    There's nothing worse than an ignorant who's sure of himself. No, wait, there is. An ignorant who's sure of himself and gives authoritative advice to thousands of other people.

    Photography, like so many other fields where art meets technology, is not about clear conclusions. Some of the greatest photographs in the word were taken with cameras that would rank at the bottom in any "number based analysis" (just look at anything by Cartier-Bresson, for example).

    Describing a camera's performance in (objective) numbers and writing requires a lot of experience, and so does understanding it. For "average users" the way to go is look at a lot of samples (with different lighting conditions, different subjects, etc.) and read people's pondered (subjective) opinion about their experience with the camera, and how it compared to other cameras.

    "Number-based clear conclusions" are like trying to define Van Gogh, John Lennon or Jesus Christ by their IQ score and shoe size. Those are certainly useful pieces of information, but if you draw a "clear conclusion" from them, you are missing the point.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    The Canon XSi is an entry DSLR. 99% of its buyers will be consumers like readers at AnandTech. I would venture a guess than the great majority of those potential buyers really don't care how the entry priced XSi performs with a $2000 Canon L lens in a studio setting.

    Using your logic none of us would ever build a computer since it is a task best left to Pros like Dell and HP, and reviewing home PCs should be left to IT professionals.

  • Justin Case - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    We are talking about reviewing a product, not building it, so your criticism of the poster's "logic" makes no sense. Certainly people shouldn't build PCs professionally without knowing how a PC is built. You don't write just for yourself, you write for Anandtech as a professional journalist. To use your analogy, you _are_ (supposedly) the "Dell and HP" of product reviews.

    Cameras should be reviewed by people with experience (preferably photographers) for the same reason that cars should be reviewed by experienced drivers, guitars should be reviewed by experienced musicians, and so on. Because people with more experience (with different situations and different products) are more likely to have relevant insights about how the product they are reviewing compares to the rest.

    If I'm clueless about, say, air compressors, the last thing I need is advice from an equally clueless person, just because he's an "average user". The expression "expert advice" carries weight for a reason. I don't think this is so hard to understand.

    The section for the "average guy review" is the "comments" section at the bottom. Anadtech's readers expect the actual _articles_ to be written by experts, and to follow a professional, relevant methodology. And (some of) the IT articles actually do (Anand's and Johan's, mostly).

    Taking pictures of a bunch of boxes on top of a desk (often with nonsensical camera and lens settings, different settings for different cameras, etc.) is something that might meet the standards of a private blog, but not really the standards of a site like Anandtech.

    If you can't do something at least _half_ as good as the main photography websites and if you're reviewing a product that has already been reviewed ad nauseum by all those sites... why bother? I guess it increases the number of ad impressions, and maybe you get paid by nVidia, Corsair and Intel to use their logos as your "test images", but is that really worth the impact on Anandtech's reputation?

    If you don't have the knowledge, time or resources to make a proper _technical_ evaluation of the camera and lens, just write an _opinion_ piece. Photography magazines are full of them, and they're quite useful.

    Take a few photos (of different things: people, buildings, sunsets, flowers, cars, night scenes, indoors shots, etc.), post your results and write about your experience using the camera for a week or two. Less press-release, less spec sheet, less "hacked together" photographic tests, more real-world samples and more subjective opinion about real-world photos, clearly identified as such. That might actually have some relevance, and would complement the more technical articles found in photography websites.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    I can attest to the fact that Wes knows *FAR* more about cameras than the rest of us at AnandTech. Some of you may not feel that way from reading some of his articles, but I wonder how much you're actually reading and how much you're assuming. He's done photography work professionally in the past, and we all tend to discuss things with him when we need camera advice. To pretend that he lacks knowledge of a subject just because you disagree with some aspect of an article is typical of anonymous internet users.

    Why does he use a setup where he's photographing a bunch of computer hardware boxes? For one, I'm sure the fact that it's inside in a controlled environment and has a bunch of stuff that doesn't change constantly helps. Taking a picture of some outside scene is fine, but it doesn't allow apples-to-apples comparisons. It really would be great for Wes to include some other sample images, I agree. You know, sort of like he does on page 12.

    I'm sure he can add more photos there showing other shooting environments, but it's pretty easy to take a few shots under specific conditions and come up with a conclusion that "this camera is AWESOME!" That's what a lot of people tend to do. A great photographer taking pictures can make even lousy cameras look good, which is why we need a controlled environment.

    For me, being able to easily take a quality picture under tungsten lighting is in fact one of the best ways to separate average cameras from great cameras... it would be quite entertaining to see some point-and-shoots try out his test. I say that because I upgraded from a point-and-shoot to a DSLR purely for the fact that after trying three PAS cameras I still couldn't manage to capture good quality photos of products.
  • Justin Case - Tuesday, May 6, 2008 - link

    It has nothing to do with his opinions. It has to do with inconsistent (and plain wrong) methodology, lack of varied samples (all the "sample photos" seem to have been taken in 20 minutes, at the same place), and poor quality of the photos in general (all but two have bad framing, bad exposure and bad use of DOF - they're fine as holiday snaps, but not really the work of an "experienced photographer").

    In fact, about the _only_ thing about his articles worth reading is his opinion (which, sadly, he insists on basing on fundamentally flawed "technical" tests, instead of basing it on real-world experience with the cameras - you know, the kind that really matters for people who are going to use it instead of sit at home "measurebating").

    Outdoors photos don't allow for an "apples to apples" comparison? So you'd rather compare just the apple seeds, because the rest of the apple might be different? You think 50 photos of an nVidia box give you more information about how two cameras perform in the real world than, say, 20 photos taken in different conditions? Or is this review aimed at that very specific market niche of people who photograph nVidia logos on boxes that happen to be on their desk?

    If he knows *FAR* more about cameras than anyone else at Anandtech (and I'm starting to think that might be true, which is scary), that makes it pretty clear that Anandtech shouldn't be doing camera reviews. For one thing, how will the rest of the people at Anadtech know that he's not publishing nonsense (answer: clearly, they don't)?

    Seriously: _You_ (Jarred), spend two weeks taking pictures (indoors, outdoors, day, night, portraits, babies, flowers, cars, sports, dogs, landscapes, clouds, flash, no flash). Pick the 20 or 30 photos you consider more relevant (because they came out right or because they came out wrong or just because they came out different from what you expected). Write an article about your experiences with the came and comment on each photo. Skip the technical "camera" stuff; it's been done properly by people who know how to do it at specialized websites, and "average users" don't understand it anyway, even if they think they do. Give us your opinion and different samples taken in different conditions. If you can take similar photos with multiple cameras, even better. If not, nevermind, just try to photograph many different situations. I'm sure the end result will be a million times better (and more relevant) than Mr. Fink's "let's test sensor sharpness by setting lenses to f/1.2" pseudo-technical articles.

    PS - FYI, P&S cameras will generally perform *better* than dSLRs under tungsten lighting, if you have both set to full auto (certainly better than Canon dSLRs, which have very crappy auto WB under tungsten). As long as you do in-camera white balance (or shoot raw) and expose correctly, both P&S and dSLRs should perform fine (as far as white point is concerned; P&S cameras are still noisier, have worse lenses, less control over DOF, etc).

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