Canon Rebel XS review
I’ve been keeping an eye on digital SLR cameras for a while now. My SLR was still a film camera. Point and shoot cameras are great in that they are always with you but nothing beats an SLR. When you need to take a picture in low light, want to change your zoom, or just want a high quality picture with lots of controls SLRs are great. I have not bought one to date because they have been going through a lot of change as they get it right. The price has also been beyond what I want to pay. My Minolta cost me $500 some 20 years ago. So what I am looking for is an entry level digital SLR camera.
I looked at a number of different options. First up, the draw would be to find a way to reuse my existing two lenses for my film camera. Sony bought Konica/Monolta some years ago so I looked into Sony. I am not thrilled with Sony for a number of reasons. They insist on using their proprietary Memory Stick. This has no interoperability with phones for example for uploading photos on the go. Now some of them also use SD but this leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Add to that I am unimpressed with Sony quality and I took them off the table.
I was quite interested in the Nikon but when I chatted with my local Blacks sales person he told me a number of things that discouraged me from the Nikon. No live view function, no in body image stabilization and the real killer was overly complicated menuing system.
I did my research and looked for reviews on the cameras before I went into the store. Knowing the good, the bad and the ugly is handy.
So I bought the Canon Rebel XS with the image stabilized lens. This is the mid stream entry DSLR with the up scale lens. I took it with me on my trip and used it extensively. The menuing system is as easy to use as the sales person mentioned. They include a printed manual which I read front to back and found it quite helpful. The camera has a number of different modes and they are very helpful at getting the best picture. I have a Canon SD450 and I have been totally disappointed in this camera’s ability to take action shots and pictures in low light. The Rebel XS did famously in low light. The image stabilization is VERY effective at taking pictures with longer lens opening times. The smallish display is a little limiting in being sure how the picture turned out but it is easy to zoom in and check out the sharpness of the picture.
The camera came with a 18-55 lens and it worked pretty well. The lens is image stabilized as well as the body and the two together worked well.
I also bought an F1.8 lens which I did not find all that great. It has no zoom whatsoever and the depth of field is very limited.
The camera uses SD memory cards. Personally I use microSD and then use a converter to SD. This allows me to take the card out of the camera put it into my phone and email photos or upload to social networking sites. Even with a slow card it performed adequately even in RAW mode.
The camera supports multiple settings of JPG compression and even a RAW+JPG mode. Oddly enough the RAW mode can not be used in the fully automatic mode.
The camera includes live view which allows you to use the display on the back of the camera to setup the picture. It does this basically by holding the shutter open, you even hear it click. It keeps it open for a short period of time, something like a minute and then turns it back off. This would likely impact battery life. Again, strangely enough, you can not use live view in full automatic mode.
Battery life is stunning. It comes with a large battery which they rate for 500 pictures. I found it lasted days of heavy shooting so I would say their number is likely conservative. Spare batteries can be picked on ebay cheap.
In comparison to my film camera this one is lighter, feels good in my hands and is easy to hold. Buttons are large enough to be able to do some manipulation even with gloves on. The camera did really well even in -5C temperatures with no degradation in battery or performance.
The flash works fine for close distances and includes red eye reduction.
Update: One of the areas I am always disappointed in on digital cameras is low light. Check this out, this ought to change your mind. I took this photo in nothing but moonlight. The exposure time was roughly 2 seconds. I did not use a tripod and just trying to hold still with my arm braced. The image stabilization these days is incredible. With the combination of image stabilization in the lense and body the shot turned out. Incredible!
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