Just got my XT "WOW"

Started Mar 9, 2005 | Discussions thread
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PeaceFrog Forum Pro • Posts: 12,185
Just got my XT "WOW"

Yesterday evening I stopped by Best Buy to buy the Rebel XT. I sold my Digital Rebel last week for $525 and I must say that on my way to the store to drop nearly $1200 on the XT I felt like I was making a very stupid mistake.

I felt a lot better when I got to the store and saw the XT in the display case sitting next to the old rebel. To me the size difference was shocking and the XT looked like what I had hoped for back when the DR came out. I got the salesman to open the case and let me hold the camera and if felt nice in my hand (I like small cameras). It felt to me to be a lot more solid than the DR (probably due to the added compactness). Holding both the DR and the XT at the same time made me think that the weight reduction done on the XT was pretty insignificant. The two cameras didn’t feel different enough weight-wise for me to really notice.

Looking through the viewfinders I didn’t really see much difference either, they both were fine. The difference in the kit lens was so small that I really had to look at it to figure out what had changed. I don’t expect I will ever mount the kit lens on the camera anyway so it isn’t a big deal to me.

I fired off a few shots in the store with the display camera and noticed that the shutter does sound quite different. The salesperson described the sound as much more electronic on the XT and I must say I agree with him.

I got home and charged up the battery and set all the settings where I wanted them and went to bed excited about trying out the camera in the morning. I left the house just before the sun came up and drove to a local lake to try to get some wildlife pictures. There wasn’t a whole lot out but I did manage to find some good subjects. The lens I was using was the EF 400mm f/5.6L.

After using it at the lake I came to the conclusion that this camera is like a mini EOS 10D but better. It is very capable of bird in flight photography and unlike the DR I never felt like I had to wait for the camera to catch up while I was using it. At this point it seems to me like every aspect of the camera’s operation has been improved over the DR. The AF was nice and fast and accurate and I was able to track birds flying past with no trouble.

While I was shooting I noticed that the buffer seemed to be lasting longer than expected. When I later tested this out I found that for photos without much detail in them (a passing bird that fills maybe 25% of the frame on a clear blue sky background) I could get as many as 32 shots in a burst at ISO 100. This was quite a surprise to me. When I did a burst at a bush (very high detail across the frame) I could only get 11 or 12 shots before the buffer was full and the frame rate slowed. I also noticed that as you bump yo the ISO the number of frames you can take in a full-speed burst drops to a max of 18 frames at ISO 400 and 14 frames at ISO 1600. I was using a 4GB Hitachi microdrive for all of these tests that I removed from an MP3 player and formatted with 32K cluster size.

The biggest shock of the day was the battery life. When I arrived at work I had taken a little over 200 photos (from the lake). I figured that the battery would probably give me around 400 shots so I decided to go ahead and see how many shots I can get out of a battery. I proceeded to indiscriminately start taking pictures of anything and everything from bursts of cars driving past to telephone poles to you name it (this is also when I did my burst testing). Of course this is not typical shooting and I would estimate that about 80% of the shots I took were in the form of bursts of passing subjects being tracked in Ai-servo focus mode.

By the time I was finished with this little test several hours had passed, my fingers hurt and my arm was tired. I had to take several breaks to do some work (imagine, actually doing some work at work!) and to clear off my memory card and review some of the pictures I had taken on the camera LCD screen (which had a dead pixel out of the box). When all was said and done I had filled my 4GB card twice and fired off a total of 3776 frames (and probably taken a few steps closer to getting carpal-tunnel syndrome).

I was initially concerned about battery life with the new battery format, but after my experience today I think that if I buy one spare battery I will feel very comfortable going out for a full day of shooting (doing some reasonable style of photography) and not having the slightest worries about running out of batteries. I think I would be hard pressed to even drain a single battery in a day if this thing keeps performing anything like this. One note, I did not use the flash for any pictures today.

In conclusion, I am VERY impressed with the XT at this point and am looking forward to getting out and producing some good photos with it. I know it is still early but as of right now I think this camera with a decent telephoto lens would be a great setup for anyone who wants to get into nature photography but doesn’t want to spend a fortune. The XT appears to be a very capable camera and a huge step up from the DR.

Greg

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