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


View All Comments

  • meanjean - Wednesday, September 3, 2008 - link

    Anyone had trouble with memory cards not recording pictures because of being dislodged from contact points for some reason? Reply
  • thepieces - Saturday, May 10, 2008 - link

    Cool review, but the samples are horrible. A little more effort than images from your back yard please :) Half of which are out of focus Reply
  • Midwayman - Friday, May 9, 2008 - link

    "Early testing shows the new 18-55mm IS to be a superb lens with performance comparable to top-line Canon lenses."

    So you're saying the kit lens is up to L quality. Right.

    Also that Nvidia test target you are using is really a pretty poor choice. Almost no fine detail. Noise is only have the story when comparing high iso. You also need to look at detail retention. The only thing that could possibly qualify is the TM. Alot of camera that appear to have low noise do it through destroying detail.

    I know a couple other folks have mentioned the lighting. You're doing all this in a low light setting. What about outdoors? People take an awful lot of pictures outside. I know you complain about "studio lighting" but since you can't control outside conditions, at least you can bring the light level up to a reasonable level. For under a $100 you can pick up some work lights at home depot and a couple yards of white muslin to make a large softbox. Test shots are test shots and I'd rather see them at more normal exposures. (and then you can stop down to f8 to get max resolution)

  • m61376 - Friday, May 9, 2008 - link

    I have been trying to decide between the D60 and the XSi for several days, reading everything I could find. The two stores I went to were very Nikon biased. This is one of the best comparative articles for a newbie to digital SLR, upgrading from a point and shoot.

    I appreciate the XSi comparison to the D60 rather than the D80. I think there are many people like me who are reticent to upgrade to the SLR's because of their size and the larger size and weight of the D80 and the like just take it out of consideration.
  • iamatrix - Friday, May 9, 2008 - link

    Looking at samples from the D60 and Rebel, the D60 images at high ISO look better - better contrast, color rendition, and noise handeling. Canon suffers from high ISO chroma noise, which has been noted by dpreview time and time again, Nikon on the other hand has higher luminance noise. Chroma noise is much harder to deal with in the post processing stage and leaves a blotchy 'digital' look to high ISO images whereas the Nikon grain is more film like and easier to deal with using noise reduction software. Reply
  • Deadtrees - Thursday, May 8, 2008 - link

    Though many reviewers and users have been complaining about Canon's yellowish WB under tungsten light, it is, in fact, Canon's policy to keep it that way.

    It's true that there're times when I want the pictures to look yellowish as it captures the mood of the scene such as in Cafe and restaurant. But at the same time, there're times when I want the pictures to look not yellowish at all.

    Having said that, I understand where they're coming from and why they decide to keep it that way. However, it'd be much better if Canon, at least, gives two options in that situation: #1 for true to the eye, yellowish WB. #2 for absolute WB.

    Sure, I get around with this 'problem' by having 3 slightly different tungten lighted gray card pictures in the memory card and using them accordingly. It pretty much solves the 'problem' but having that option built-in would be just better and eaiser.

    I tried to find the link of the interview talking about this issue but failed. It was an interview done by a Japanese camera magazine with the president of Canon camera. If anyone has the link, providing would be more than greatful.

  • mikett - Wednesday, May 7, 2008 - link

    I meant the shutterbox as the external construction is obvious. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, May 7, 2008 - link

    Canon rates the 40D shutter for 100,000 actuations. We can not find a published spec for the XSi (450D) shutter, but it is presumably less than 100,000. The XSi shutter is more likely designed for 50,000 acttuations. Reply
  • punchkin - Wednesday, May 7, 2008 - link

    You're talking out of your a**. There's no reason for such a claim. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, May 8, 2008 - link

    Actually there is a reason. As stated we could not find a spec for the rated shutter life of the XSi, but the 40D does have a specified rated life of 100,000. However a few other entry SLRs have a rated shutter life of 50,000 actuations, and we would expect the XSi to be competitive. That is an assumption and not a hard fact.

    The rated life for the Olympus E-3 is 150,000 shutter actuations and is specified, but many DSLRs do not specify a rated shutter life.

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