Canon EOS 350D / Digital Rebel XT/ Kiss n Digital Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Excellent resolution, a clear match for the EOS 20D
- Good color, default +1 parameter set means punchy images out of the camera
- Noise free 'silky smooth' images at ISO 100, 200 and 400
- Very good in-camera image processing, JPEG's almost as good as processed RAW's
- Very low noise levels even at ISO 1600, virtually unnoticeable below this
- Excellent seven point AF system, fast, good in low light and reliable
- Good continuous shooting speed, large buffer size, smart buffering implemented
- Very fast startup (virtually instant)
- Very small and light weight although hand grip is a little thin
- Good construction, feels well put together
- Improvements over user control; metering mode, AF mode, Flash exposure compensation
- In-camera programmable 'parameter sets' to control image processing algorithms
- Selectable color space (sRGB / Adobe RGB)
- Almost no noise in long exposures, optional noise reduction if required
- RAW mode provides the 'digital negative'
- Customizable exposure steps (1/3, or 1/2 EV)
- Customizable SET button (Quality, Parameter or Playback)
- Remote capture software included for computer controlled shooting
- Designed to combine ease of use and advanced features, works well in this respect
- Playback magnification up to 10x (perfect for checking focus)
- Unique JUMP mode in playback (by date, 10 or 100 images)
- Orientation sensor for automatic image rotation
- Full Canon EF lens compatible (plus EF-S lenses)
- Excellent Compact Flash Write performance (4.5 - 5.5 MB/sec with fast card)
- Excellent battery life despite new smaller lower capacity battery
- Excellent supplied software suite
- USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
- Value for money
Conclusion - Cons
- Opening the CF compartment door shuts camera down, loses any buffered images
- LCD monitor is dim unless you turn up brightness setting
- New kit lens disappointing at telephoto with smaller apertures
- Average automatic white balance performance, still very poor under incandescent light
- Controls for ISO, metering, AF mode and White Balance now require extra SET press
- Can be awkward to change ISO, metering, AF mode and WB settings in bright daylight
- Drive mode button too easy to press accidentally
- No spot metering
- ISO sensitivity not displayed on viewfinder status bar or LCD panel while being changed
- Flash must be raised for AF assist
- Flash sync 1/200 sec (compared to 1/500 sec for the Nikon D70)
- Plastic finish will not be everyone's taste
- No Kelvin white balance selection in-camera
- Small viewfinder view, although brighter than EOS 300D
So it's clear, the EOS 350D is a great successor to the EOS 300D, it puts right many user complaints, it delivers a smaller and lighter camera which feels better put together and delivers an increase in resolution. Image quality is just as good as the more expensive EOS 20D, if you can live with the differences between the two the money saved could buy you a very nice lens. The upgrade decision for existing EOS 300D owners is definitely more difficult, the increase in resolution from six to eight megapixels really isn't that significant but some of the new features, improved performance and reduction size and weight are.
But lets not let Canon off too lightly, when we reviewed the EOS 300D we were disappointed that they had chosen to effectively cripple it by 'coding out' certain features such as metering mode, AF mode, flash exposure compensation, flash sync curtain, mirror lock-up etc. These features were removed in software and it wasn't long before hackers began to restore them in the form of unofficial firmware updates. Thus we should remember that quite a few of the 'new features' available on this camera are there just because they've not been removed.
We did have some control issues too, I was surprised to see settings such as ISO, metering, AF mode and white balance moved from the status LCD to the LCD monitor (which means you have to be able to see it to make changes) and with the requirement of an extra press of the SET button to make changes stick. Lets hope a firmware update can take care of that. We were also disappointed with the 'new' Kit lens, it effectively cripples the potential of the 350D with softness and ghosting at small apertures, do yourself a favour and go for the body only option along with a good lens (the EF-S 17-85 mm IS is good but expensive).
These niggles however can't detract from what a good solid photographic tool the EOS 350D is, it starts up quickly, shoots quickly, operates without hesitation and achieves its ultimate design goal, delivering great images. Canon's winning streak can be put down to some great product design and the two killer technologies which are at the heart of the all of their current digital SLR's; the unique CMOS sensors and excellent DIGIC image processing. It's going to be interesting to see how the competition respond.
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