Canon Rebel XSi Review
The Canon EOS Rebel XSi is geared towards photography enthusiasts and beginners who want a good camera worth its price. It's an upgrade from the Rebel XT, and though the design may look ordinary, it delivers in the most important areas: performance and photo quality.
The Rebel XSi comes with a number of changes from previous Canon Rebel models like the XT and XTi. At 5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 inches and 1 pound without the battery, the XSi is slightly larger, yet lighter, than the XTi. The body is made of plastic, but smooth. The rubbery grip is solid, and we were able to fit our 4 fingers entirely around it. It's a small DSLR, compared with others in the market, and that's one of the things we like about it. Sure, we want the best image quality or the fastest speed, but sometimes, we just want something lightweight and powerful to use. It's not worth carrying around a camera that weighs us down, no matter how great its features are.
The front of the XSi has been redesigned a bit to make it look a bit more "modern". On the top panel of the XSi, we have just 4 controls: the power button, the command dial, mode dial, and the shutter release. In the rear of the camera, we have a 3.0 inch LCD screen (slightly larger than the XTi's), with the menu and display buttons right above. There's the 4-way navigation control to the right, with the playback + delete buttons right below it. And in the bottom of the XSi is the battery door and tripod socket. Overall, the control layout is pretty similar to its predecessors, with a few changes.
You'll be interacting with the rear LCD screen a lot, since there's just 4 controls on the top. You can shoot with the LCD, as the XSi has live view. Just press the set button, and it'll activate that mode. When you enter live view, the LCD will tell you the current setting at the bottom of the screen. If you press the DISP button, you'll see more specific information, and if you press it again, it'll show you a histogram.
Of course most professionals will want to use the optical viewfinder. The optical viewfinder is solid, offering 95% coverage, and .87 X magnification. Because the viewfinder utilizes a pentamirror design, it doesn't deliver as much light as a true pentaprism design, but it is much light, and cheaper of course. Shooting with the optical viewfinder was pretty easy. There's information underneath the image area, and it shows you the main settings such as aperture, flash mode, EV compensation, ISO and shutter speed. The coverage is 96% at wide angle, and 95% at telephoto, which is pretty good for a camera of this price.
Also featured on the camera, as well as on older models, is My Menu. It builds a list of most accessed settings so you can use your favorite settings without spending time manually adjusting. More features include Live View, metering mode, and drive mode. Live View allows the camera to show a view of the subject on the LCD screen before the picture is taken. Drive mode lets the user to set a multiple shot self timer, something great for group pictures and subjects in motion.
The XSi does not disappoint if you’re looking for a fun camera that takes high quality pictures. It’s the best in its class. Pictures are sharp, noise-free, and color accurate. Colors like red and blue are over-saturated a little, and yellow and green tend to be under-saturated, but overall, we liked the saturation.
If you're planning to make prints, here's what to expect from the XSi. If you're using a low ISO of 100, you can have 16 X 20 prints that look outstanding. At ISO 200, you can still make good 16 X 20 prints, with very little difference. At ISO 400, stick with 13 X 19. At ISO 800, 11 X 14 prints looked great with just a tad of chroma noise. ISO 1600 also looked good at 11 X 15. All across the ISO range, details remained sharp, and we were very impressed. Usually when you have such a high resolution CCD, sharpness and details usually fade a lot when you reach the high ISO, but this is not the case for the Canon Rebel XSi. You can shoot in any ISO setting, and still produce solid photo quality, and in our eyes, that makes the XSi the best in class when it comes to photo quality.
You can always edit images and the XSi has many built-in editing tools. Features on the XSi that can edit the picture include Auto Lightning Optimizer, which tries to correct exposure and contrast in some pictures.
Not only does the XSi takes amazing pictures, but its performance is better than most of its competitors. From power to photo takes about 0.2 second - an excellent speed. Focus to shoot is 0.5 second in bright conditions; and 1.2 seconds in dimmer settings. Not the fastest shutter lag, but acceptable. Continuous shooting rate estimates to about 3.5 frames per second, the fastest in class. If you use the live view to shoot, keep in mind that autofocus lag is slower(but still quite fast) than if you are using the optical viewfinder. If you use the quick mode when using live view, it uses the same AF sensor as the optical viewfinder, but the mirror flips adds more time to the AF lag. Overall, performance is solid, and above average for the price. We wouldn't hesitate to use this camera to shoot running children, or pets.
The battery life is fairly average. The XSi uses lithium-ion batteries, and Canon estimates the battery life at 500 shots when using the optical viewfinder, and 190 shots if using live view via the LCD.
You can choose to buy the XSi with the body only or with the new EF-S 18-55 IS kit lens. It's a good value if you do buy the kit lens, and the kit lens is better than most we've seen. Sharpness is better, and there's visibly less chromatic aberration. At full wide-angle, there's some softness across the frame, but details are very crisp. There was around .8% barrel distortion. At full telephoto, we were very impressed; sharpness is good across the frame, and we noticed almost no chromatic aberration. The kit lens comes with image stabilization, so shooting in low light will be easier. It's not a bad deal if you buy the body + kit lens together.
- 12.2 megapixel DSLR
- 3.0” LCD screen
- 9 point autofocus system
- Sensitivity ranges from ISO 100-1600
- Shooting rate at 3.5 frames per second
- Kit lens comes with 18-50 mm lens
- Self cleaning sensor
- Best in class photo quality
- 3.0” LCD Screen
- Large viewfinder that displays ISO sensitivity
- Low noise profile at maximum ISO
- Good shooting rate
- Responsive camera
- Tendency to overexpose
- Maximum ISO is 1600
The Canon Rebel XSi is a solid DSLR for the price. In fact, its photo quality is the best out of its class. If you’re all about that and a fast camera, we suggest we get this.
Although it still is a great camera, you can find more updated DSLRs (but more expensive) with enhanced features like higher resolution and maybe HD Video. Maybe none of those fancy features matter to you, and you just want a camera that will take amazing photos; then this is it.
Rating: 4.6 out of 5
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Prices last updated on: Tue, 28 Mar 2017 10:41:04 PDT