Here you can see a generated GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart, place your mouse over any of the labels below it to see the color reproduction in that mode. Select a camera/setting combination from the 'Compared to' drop-down to comparative boxes inside each patch.
The EOS 400D's color response was accurate yet perhaps more conservative than the Nikon D80 or Sony DSLR-A100 (obviously a slight tweak of the color saturation setting would give you stronger colors). The Landscape Picture Style works well for drawing more life out of that kind of scene, producing deeper blue skies and richer green foliage. If you compare the color response to the EOS 30D you will see that Canon's aim of having a common set of 'looks' across its cameras (using Picture Styles) has been achieved.
|Canon EOS 400D||Compare to:|
Artificial light White Balance
Once again another poor automatic white balance performance from a digital SLR. Of course Canon have previously argued that they prefer to 'preserve the original appearance of the scene according to the light source used', which I for one don't agree with, primarily because my memory of the scene was not yellow / orange. If this truly is the aim then Canon should provide two options for automatic white balance (Auto White, Auto Original). Of course you can always get the white appearance if you execute manual white balance (click here; 1,258 KB).
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 8.9%, Blue: -13.8%, Poor
|Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red: 4.8%, Blue: -6.9%, Average
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: 1.8%, Blue: -3.7%, Average
|Fluorescent - Fluorescent preset WB
Red: 1.0%, Blue: -3.5%, Good
The manual white balance dance
One thing I'd like to see Canon correct (apart from automatic white balance) is the 'Now select manual white balance' message you are presented after taking a manual white balance reading (assuming you're not already in manual white balance), why not simply switch the camera to manual white balance, wouldn't this remove a step for the user?
Long Exposure noise reduction / Night shots
In our usual 30 second exposure test the EOS 400D produced only one or two 'hot pixels' which were easily taken care of with the optional long exposure noise reduction, which is in automatic mode by default.
|Noise reduction Off||Noise reduction On|
|ISO 100, 30 sec, F8||ISO 100, 30 sec, F8|
At Photokina 2006
|Noise reduction Off||Noise reduction On|
|ISO 100, 10 sec, F5.6||ISO 100, 10 sec, F5.6|
As expected no color balance issues using the internal flash although perhaps slightly under-exposed due to the flash metering picking up a reflection from the white wall. Obviously this could be corrected with flash exposure compensation.
|Built-in flash||Built-in flash|
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
We have come to expect a certain (high) standard in image quality from Canon digital SLR's. This from a combination of their excellent CMOS sensor and image processing. The EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi) is no let down in this area, it delivers detailed, sharp images with good tone and color balance and low noise even at the highest sensitivities. You can of course always squeeze a little more detail out of images by shooting RAW and using the supplied Digital Photo Professional or Adobe Camera RAW, although at higher sensitivities noise is more apparent from these RAW converters.
Canon's now standard PictureStyle method of delivering 'canned' combinations of image parameters which are standard across their range of cameras starts to make even more sense when you're dealing with a camera at the more affordable end of the market. Being able to easily switch between a tone/color balance which works best for Portraits to one for Landscapes takes a lot of the guesswork out of giving an image the right 'look', especially important for those who don't want to spend a lot of time 'developing' their images.
We didn't really consider this a major issue, but as both we and some of the early adopters on our forums observed it we thought it worthy of a mention. We did find that a small percentage of our shots (perhaps 3 to 5% depending on the scene) were underexposed by anything between half and one stop (0.5 to 1.0 EV), this did surprise us as it wasn't something we noticed with the EOS 350D. Obviously this could be avoided by checking the exposure using the histogram record review display.
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