Almost exactly three years since Canon changed the digital SLR market forever (with the $1,000 EOS 300D) they announced the third generation of their affordable entry level series, the EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi). This new camera follows the design of the EOS 350D, being very compact and relatively lightweight but not compromising on manual controls or in-use performance. The headline changes are another two megapixel step up (to ten megapixels), the nine-point AF sensor from the EOS 30D, a new dust removal system which includes anti-static surface coatings, low-pass filter vibration and software based dust pattern removal. Less important but just as noticeable are the removal of the status LCD, replaced instead by a camera settings screen on the now larger 2.5" LCD monitor and the eye proximity sensor just below the viewfinder to turn this off when composing your shot.

UPDATE 18/Dec/06: In our original review a mistake was made in the measurement of ISO sensitivity, this has now been corrected and the releveant pages of this review updated.

Canon entry level digital SLR series

Summary of changes (compared to the EOS 350D / Digital Rebel XT)

  • 10.1 megapixel CMOS sensor with improved microlens array, fill factor and lower noise
  • EOS Integrated Cleaning System
    • Anti-static coatings on sensor surfaces plus anti-dust materials in the camera body
    • Separate low pass filter with ultra-sonic vibration
    • Software based dust mapping / removal
  • Nine point Auto Focus sensor (same as EOS 30D) with F2.8 support
  • Continuous shooting burst up to 27 JPEG and 10 RAW images
  • Single large, bright, 2.5" LCD monitor with 160° viewing angles (horizontal and vertical)
  • Camera settings and adjustment on LCD monitor
  • Proximity sensor below viewfinder eyepiece to disable the LCD during composition
  • New viewfinder view includes 9 AF points as well as EOS 30D style status bar
  • Picture Styles, larger range of image parameter adjustment (same as EOS 30D)
  • Improved user interface
  • Image magnification available in record review
  • Histogram available as brightness (Luminance) or RGB (Red, Green, Blue)
  • Three settings for long exposure noise reduction (adds Auto option)
  • Auto rotation with three options (not recorded, record don't rotate, record and rotate)
  • Additional custom functions (magnified view in record review, LCD display at power on)
  • Up to 9999 images per folder on storage card
  • Automatic storage of setting adjustments (no longer requires a press of the SET button)
  • Improved print / share / direct print features
  • Lower introductory list price ($100 lower)

Dust reduction ('EOS Integrated Cleaning System')

The headlines features for the EOS 400D are its ten megapixel sensor, nine-point AF sensor (from the EOS 30D) and new 'EOS Integrated Cleaning System'. I'm sure there are many Olympus E-series owners having a chuckle at this moment, through the many years of 'there is no dust problem' emanating from Canon owners to see Canon now admit (but also address) the potential problem.

Dust occurs in the mirror / shutter chamber from many sources, but mostly; fragments released from the moving components inside the camera, dust introduced from the body cap, lens changes and from some of the more 'affordable' lenses which have a more push-pull movement which can draw air in. In the past the only way to clean this dust out of your camera was to use some kind of blower (which sometimes worked), clean it using a swab (dangerous) or take it back to Canon (with a cost). So here's what Canon has done to address this:

  • Used materials in the mirror box and shutter chamber which are less likely to generate dust
  • Improved the body cap, again to not generate dust
  • Used anti-static coating on the sensor surface
  • Created a new separated anti-alias filter which vibrates to shake off dust
  • Added a Dust Delete Data feature which can map stubborn dust to be removed in software

EOS Integrated Cleaning System video