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Home > Reviews > Cameras > Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT / EOS 350D Review
11/12/2005 - Updated 12/14/2005

Here's my first single lens reflex digital camera. What I ordered was a Digital Rebel XT kit with an EFS 17-85mm zoom lens. The reason for going with Canon's EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM is the wider zoom range and IS (image stabilizer). I'm also hoping that the additional cost implies that the 17-85mm is a much higher quality lens than the 18-55mm kit lens.

Inside the "kit" box was a box for the Digital Rebel XT camera and a box for the EFS 17-85mm zoom lens. Since this review is about Canon's' Digital Rebel XT, I'll leave the lens out of it since I have a separate review for this lens.

What's Inside the Box
1 - Rebel XT camera body with body cap
1 - NB2LH battery pack with protective cover
1 - CB-2LT battery charger (some may come with a CB-2LTE which uses the included power cord)
1 - IFC-400PCU USB interface cable
1 - VC-100 Video cable
1 - EW-100DBII wide camera strap (with eyepiece cover)
1 - EOS Digital Solution CD
1 - ArcSoft PhotoStudio CD
1 - Software Instruction Manual CD
1 - Camera warranty card
1 - Lens warranty card

The following comes in two sets, one in English and the other in Spanish:
1 - Pocket Guide
1 - EOS Digital Rebel XT/350D Manual
1 - Software Guide
1 - Battery Pack NB-2LH Instructions
1 - Lens Instructions

Not included: CF (CompactFlash) card

[Specifications]

Camera Body
Front Back Left
Right Top Bottom
Looking at the camera body, you can't help but notice that it is all plastic which may attribute to it's very light weight at 17.1 oz. (485 g). The plastic is smooth and has a matte finish while the grip has a non-slip texture finish which, unfortunately, still feels like plastic. That aside, the majority of the camera's body is solid and after several months of use, it's mostly scratch free. I'm somewhat careful about handling the camera, but sometimes I get into situations where I lose my footing, and, well... things happen.

My main concern is the use of thin plastic for the battery and CF cover/door. Although they are reinforced with metal, they do feel somewhat flimsy, and I have no doubt that one of these days I'll break them off. Luckily that hasn't happen yet. Rubber is used for the terminal (video, remote, USB) cover/door so, for the moment, no worries here.

A also have a small concern with the clear plastic that is used over the LCD panel/monitor. I know that plastic scratches based on my experience with my iPod nano. What you don't want to do is wipe the screen clean of dust, fingerprint/nose smudges with your shirt, however, I do this all the time and have done it for several months. The difference between my nano and the clear plastic used on the Digital Rebel XT is that Canon must use a different type of plastic. Maybe a polycarbonate (Lexan) or some scratch resistant coating was used because there are no scratches on the clear plastic... yet.

I would like make a remark about the grip. It is small, even for my small hands. My little pinkie just barely fit on the grip so I'm not sure how this grip will be able to accommodate others with larger hands. The good thing is that all the controls are accessible with the index finger and thumb. When shooting in aperture/shutter priority or manual, I find myself using the middle finger on the shutter button and index finger on the dial. It simply makes for quicker adjustments on f-stop/shutter speed.

Removing the body cover reveals the mirror. Unfortunately this is the most vulnerable time for the mirror, focusing screen and, eventually, the sensor because dust/particles in a normal environment do exist and, when you have air movement, the risks are even greater. Every time you change your lens, it gives dust, and other particles, a chance to enter your camera so it's a good ideal to keep this exposure to a minimum.

CF Card
The CF card I'm currently using is a 2GB Sandisk Ultra II CompactFlash card. It's reliable, fast and, for me, somewhat affordably priced. I also have a 1GB, same make, that I use whenever the 2GB is filled up. It doesn't happen often, but it did once. It's not a card that I could recommend because, from what I've heard and read, there are supposedly better, and faster, ones out there. But the Sandisk suits me just fine.

The following chart may help determine what size CompactFlash card you will need (needless to say, get the largest you can afford).
Image Recording Quality Image File Size
(Approx. MB)
Possible Shots*
128MB 256MB 512MB 1GB 2GB 4GB
Large Fine 3.3 37 73 145 290 580 1160
Large Normal 1.7 70 140 279 558 1116 2232
Medium Fine 2.0 62 123 245 490 980 1960
Medium Normal 1.0 117 233 466 932 1864 3728
Small Fine 1.2 105 210 419 838 1676 3352
Small Normal 0.6 198 395 790 1580 3160 6320
+ Raw + Large Fine 8.3 + 3.3 11 21 41 82 164 328
Raw 8.3 15 29 58 116 232 464
*These numbers vary widely. As an example, I generally shoot in 'Large Fine' mode and found that pictures that have a lot of details, such as a field of flowers (no sky), creates huge files. I have one JPEG image that is 7.18MB. On the other hand, a picture of the moon against a dark sky using a 70-300mm zoom lens was only 1.02MB. Typically my pictures range from 2.5 to 4MB.

Battery
Inserting battery NB2LH left
NB2LH left CB-2LT charger
Having used compact digital cameras in the past, and I still do, it's always a good idea to have a spare battery. The NB2LH battery used in Canon's' Digital Rebel XT fully charges in 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It is small, in fact, it's not much larger than the battery used in a PowerShot Digital Elph, however, the battery life in the Digital Rebel XT is nothing short of amazing. To give you an idea, I can fill up and entire 2GB memory card, shooting in Large Fine mode on one full charge.

The Digital Rebel XT is very efficient when it comes to battery usage. You can start up the camera and take that first shot in less than half a second. It is that fast. You have to understand that during the course of taking a picture, the battery has to power the circuitry, calculate f-stop and shutter speed, display information on the LCD panel and in the viewfinder, drive the AF (autofocus) motor and IS (image stabilizer, if lens is equipped with one), flip up the mirror, charge the CMOS sensor, drop the mirror, process and transfer image to memory card and, finally, display the image on the LCD monitor. The Digital Rebel XT can go through that cycle approximately 400 to 600 times on one charge. I should mention that my previous camera was a compact digital which naturally explains why I'm am so impressed with the speed and battery life of Canon's' Digital Rebel XT.

Flash
Since the camera is aimed more towards the consumer, Canon incorporated a built-in-flash into the Digital Rebel XT. There is also a hot shoe on top of the viewfinder for external flash units. When in any of the fully automatic modes and where there is insufficient light, the flash will automatically pop up. When in the semi-manual/manual modes (what Canon calls the Creative Zone), you can pop up the flash by pressing the flash button just above the lens release button.

The flash on the Digital Rebel XT is more than adequate and better than the ones found on compact digital cameras. It is ready to fire almost instantly and offers quite a bit more range and coverage.

When shaking the camera, you'll hear a rattling noise that sounds like it's coming from the flash. Rotate the camera from horizontal to halfway from vertical in either direction, and you will hear a faint click. The people at the camera store informed me that the noise is coming from the horizontal/vertical orientation sensor and is noted on page 5 of the instruction manual where it states,

"When you change the camera’s orientation between horizontal and vertical, the camera orientation sensor will make a small sound. This is normal and not a defect."

Since I'm not a reader of manuals, I generally tend to panic when something seems to be out of the ordinary (well... that's just me).
Photographs taken with Canon's' Digital Rebel XT
Subject:   Full Moon
Model:   Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
Shutter Speed:   1/500 sec
F-Stop:   f/5.6
ISO Speed:   400
Focal Length:   300.0 mm
Notes:   A fairly clear and warm night. There was some light haze and city lights nearby.
Subject:   Park Festival
Model:   Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
Shutter Speed:   1/400 sec
F-Stop:   f/11.0
ISO Speed:   400
Focal Length:   83.0 mm
Notes:   Hundreds of people were gathered at this event prior to the 4th of July fireworks display.
Subject:   Fireworks
Model:   Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
Shutter Speed:   11 sec
F-Stop:   f/8.0
ISO Speed:   100
Focal Length:   85.0 mm
Notes:   Temperatures was around 80-85 degrees F and you may notice one hot pixel at the upper right corner of the picture (tripod used) .
Subject:   Boulders/Rocks
Model:   Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
Shutter Speed:   1/800 sec
F-Stop:   f/11.0
ISO Speed:   400
Focal Length:   130.0 mm
Notes:   One of the many hills in Riverside, California.
Subject:   Apartments
Model:   Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
Shutter Speed:   1/500 sec
F-Stop:   f/5.0
ISO Speed:   100
Focal Length:   50.0 mm
Notes:   Brand new apartments, only a handful are occupied.
Subject:   Family Room/Kitchen
Model:   Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
Shutter Speed:   1/50 sec
F-Stop:   f/5.0
ISO Speed:   400
Focal Length:   17.0 mm
Notes:   None.
All the photographs above have been taken in jpeg mode, and reduced 50% in Photoshop with moderate jpeg compression to conserve disk space and bandwidth. Camera was handheld using autofocus and image stabilizer (unless otherwise noted). No color corrections, level adjustments, sharpening or croppings were made.

Conclusion
Canon's' Digital Rebel XT, as I've mentioned before, is an astounding camera. Being a compact digital camera user and previous Canon F-1 SLR film user, I found this digital single lens reflex camera to be extraordinarily versatile in its features and wide range of shooting modes. The ability to change lens from super wide to extreme telephoto adds to the versatility, albeit at at cost.

It is quick and ready to go the moment you turn on the switch. This is probably the one feature about this camera that constantly impresses me the most.

I have very few cons about this camera and the one I had about the rattling noise, which still annoys me, is not a concern. However, I'm somewhat disturbed when it comes to long exposures because I do get some random hot pixels and this occurs on warm to hot days/nights. They sometimes start to appear at around 80, or more, degrees F at around 1/15 second exposures where I will find one or two of them. Then the hot pixels exponentially multiplies to twenty or more. Here is an example of a 30 second exposure, ASA 400, lens cap on, ambient temperature 96 deg F, in the shade (hot pixels have been circled) <<image size: 3456px x 2304px, 161KB>>. I understand that this is normal and can be Photoshopped out but it is still a nuisance. I've recently noticed hot pixels in long exposures taken with my compact digital camera, now that I know what I'm looking for, so I am realizing that this may be inherent with all digital cameras.

Other than a couple of issues... I find this camera a joy to use.

:-)

Gary Kawamura

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