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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  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, May 7, 2008 - link

    While I do understand what you're suggesting, trust me on this one: I would make a HORRIBLE reviewer for cameras. At least initially, anyway - give me a couple years and a bunch of different cameras to use and I could begin to make some headway. But we don't have a couple years, and even with time I would never know as much as a lot of other people. As it stands, I have personally used exactly three DSLR cameras: an original Canon Digital Rebel EOS, and then last month I upgraded to a Rebel XTi. (Love the XTi, incidentally - I'm thinking an upgrade every two or three generations will work out well.)
  • n4bby - Tuesday, May 6, 2008 - link

    hi all,

    i appreciate the replies, and again i am not trying to belittle the time and effort put into these reviews. but i think Justin Case understood the point i was trying to make. and the reason i bring this up is that i too went about learning about DSLR's and photography the "wrong" way.

    i too used to analyze gear very much the same way Wesley did in this review - taking endless test shots, playing the numbers and features game, etc... much like Anandtech reviewers and readers, i come from a technical background (EE in college, internet developer since then), and this seemingly quantitative evaluation method made sense to me. i have my own collection of box shots that are uncannily like Wes's. i spent a lot of time reading reviews and user opinions on DPReview, Fred Miranda etc. etc. that took a similar approach.

    the problem is, it didn't really help me size up the true value of gear for its ultimate purpose - taking pictures - and while i don't really regret my purchases (Canon 10D and various prime lenses - Canon was the only real game in town at the time), i do not feel they were well-advised. since then, i have had the good fortune of working with professional photographers at a digital photography startup - i'm talking people who shot for Sports Illustrated, US News, the NY Times, etc. - not to mention having exposure to clients who shoot for a living. and let me tell you, it turned my perspective on photo gear upside down... now, you may say ok, these guys are pros but anandtech readers are consumers, so that's not relevant. but the perspective i gained from these pros helped me improved my photography immensely, and also made me look at gear in a much more constructive fashion than "pixel peeping." i realized that the merit of gear was not so much about absolutes, but about context and finding the right gear for the job - and i think that is something that is often missing from these reviews.

    again, i think the work you guys do here is excellent - this is one of the truly great resources of information on the desktop computing industry on the internet. and if the readership likes the camera reviews, more power to you. i just thought i would throw another perspective out there... apologies for the rant!

  • n4bby - Tuesday, May 6, 2008 - link

    incidentally, i just re-read the review very carefully, and i find a *lot* of statements and judgments that i take issue with, and that i think many knowledgeable photographers would as well - some things have already been pointed out by other anandtech readers. and i stand by my original statement that the quality of the test and sample shots is rather poor and may not be a good basis for comparison between the cameras.
  • casteve - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    It might be time to retire my 2.1MP now. :)

    Seriously, thanks for the camera reviews. I might come to the site for PC info, but all things electronic draw my interest.

    I've got a point and shoot digital camera for casual shots and a trusty Canon A-1 for when I care about quality/enlargements. I've been waiting for prosumer prices to drop or consumer builds to meet the quality bar. Looks like we are starting to get there.
  • haplo602 - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    I think the comparison with Nikon D60 is not the correct one. D60 is a followup on D40 - crude AF system, no lens drive screw, no DOF preview button etc.

    Both have the same sensor, but D80 is a more usable camera:

    11 AF points, DOF preview button, 2 command dials (way better handling than with one), battery grip ...
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    The D80 was introduced at the time of the XTi. It was priced higher than the XTi and aimed more at the 30D than the XTi. Comparing it to the entry Canon did not seem appropriate. The real Nikon competitor to the XSi will likely be the D80 replacement as I mentioned.

    Canon does not really have a camera as basic as the D60 (D40x/D40), but the XTi is continued and actually costs less than the D60 right now. In my opinion the XTi trounces the D60 in a head-to-head and it costs less.

    I expected some would claim the D80 the better compare, but I don't believe it is. BTW, IMO the Nikon D300 trounces the Canon D40 in every way as I mentioned in the review. I am definitely not biased toward Canon. It is just the situation changes at the entry level and Nikon does not really have a convincing competitor right now for the XSi.
  • haplo602 - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    I did not say you are biased either way (the general oppinion would be you are biased towards Oly 4/3 :-))

    If you claim that Canon does not have an equivalent to the D60/D40 line why then compare them with the latest Rebel? And if D80 is older, well bad for Nikon as they don't have an up to date competitor to the Rebel. But D80 should be the direct opponent for 450D until the next generation is introduced.
  • DailyYahoo - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    I remember those Rebel ads with John McEnroe. Back then, John was a hippie and spelled his name Andre Aggasi. Image was everything back then :)
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    Thanks for catching this. At least we got the Ad reference corrected before McEnroe caught it :) I seem to recall Agassi was dating Brooke Shields at the time.
  • DailyYahoo - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    You are very welcome. I should point out that at least one of us knows how to spell Agassi ; ) By the way, excellent article. I have a 350D and it is really starting to look so very long in the tooth with all of these new releases. Too bad I'm poor. : )

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