As is the fashion these days the EOS 450D has a large 3.0" LCD monitor, and it's about as large as you could go without making the camera itself bigger; plus it doesn't leave very much real estate for hard buttons. The image on the right above shows the new LCD with a gray overlay (red border) indicating the size and location of the EOS 400D (Rebel XTi)'s 2.5" LCD as well as the size of its camera settings display (inner red border) for comparison. This large screen is very impressive although screen resolution hasn't increased and there's still no anti-reflective coating.
Camera settings display
As per the EOS 400D the EOS 450D utilizes the main LCD to provide a 'camera settings display' (status panel equivalent). This can be turned on and off by pressing the DISP button and will automatically disappear if you raise your eye to the viewfinder (thanks to a proximity sensor). The diagram below summarizes all of the information available on the camera settings display.
While the EOS 400D's viewfinder was identical to its predecessor, the EOS 450D does introduce some noticeable improvements. First of all the view itself is larger (this indicated on the right hand image below; provided by Canon) and somewhat brighter, secondly Canon have also increased the amount of information displayed on the status bar which now includes a constant display of ISO sensitivity (Kudos, at last!)
The addition of spot metering to the EOS 450D means that the focusing screen gets a new circle indicating its location. The AF areas are indicated by a small LED dot in the center of the AF point rectangle. With a depression of the shutter release button (half or full) this dot will briefly light to indicated the selected AF point (either automatic or manual) and then blink again once AF has been achieved.
Battery Compartment / Battery
The EOS 450D's battery compartment is located in the base of the hand grip behind a metal hinged plastic door. The battery fits horizontally into the base and is held in place by an white clip. The 450D has a brand new Lithium-Ion LP-E5 battery pack which hasn't been used in any previous models and offers quite a bit more capacity than the 400D's battery (1080 mAh vs 720 mAh). The other noticeable difference with this battery is its protruding connectors which appear to offer better protection to shorting than previous designs, presumably to appease those worried about exploding shorted Lithium batteries.
With a new battery comes a new charger, the LC-E5E which is approximately the same size as the CB-2LWE but obviously now has completely different connectors. A full charge from flat takes approximately 90 minutes.
Battery Grip (optional)
Like almost everything else about the EOS 450D it also gets a new grip, the BG-E5 can take two of the newer LP-E5 batteries or six AA batteries (using different cartridges). As with previous grips this grip is inserted into the battery compartment and screws tight using the tripod mount. Older grips are not compatible with the EOS 450D. Also like previous models the addition of the BG-E5 transforms the handling of the EOS 450D, particularly when working with larger lenses.
Secure Digital Compartment
I commented in my EOS 400D review that Canon had resisted the temptation to switch to SD, well obviously the temptation was too much an so the EOS 450D becomes the first Canon digital SLR to rely solely on an SD slot (some EOS-1D models have dual CF / SD slots). Of course the 450D supports both SD and SDHC cards providing capacities over 4 GB. The 'beware I'm still writing to the card' warning screen and beep we finally saw implemented with the EOS 40D has made its way to the 450D, thankfully (and we can stop complaining).
On the left side of the camera are all of the cameras connections, these are protected by a rubber cover which fits flush when closed. In summary from top to bottom: Video Out, Remote terminal (E3 type), USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed).