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Canon Announces New Low-Cost SLR

Canon announced low-cost Rebel XS

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June 10, 2008* - Cost-conscious consumers have another camera to consider with the impending introduction of the entry-level Canon Rebel XS digital SLR, announced today in Japan and due to ship in the U.S. sometime this summer. The XS is a slightly stripped-down version of the XSi, which shipped in April and scored well versus similarly-priced models in its review. 'The XS is essentially about a clone of the XSi physically, especially from the front,' according to Chuck Westfall, technical information advisor for Canon USA. Significant differences arise in four key areas.

• Resolution: The XS offers 10.1-megapixel resolution versus 12.2 for the XSi.

• LCD: The rear screen measures 2.5 inches on the XS; it's 3 inches on the XSi.

• Autofocus: The XS uses 7 autofocus points, the XSi offers 9.

• Price: While the exact price won't be revealed until the official U.S. product announcement July 8, Westfall says it will be 'about $200 lower than the XSi.' The XSi currently lists for $780 (body only) and $830 with the 35-70mm kit lens – that puts the XS at approximately $580 body only, $630 with lens.

Like the XSi, the XS will offer Live View on the rear LCD while shooting, though our reviewer was less than thrilled with the performance of this feature on the XSi. The new camera also shares support for SDHC memory cards, but lacks spot metering and the Display-Off sensor featured on the XSi.

One XS feature is actually a step up from the XSi. In what Westfall describes as 'a first for EOS cameras,' the XS supports an unlimited burst rate of 3 frames per second until the memory card is full. The XTi was limited to 27 sequential shots, and even the XSi is capped at 53.

The precise ship date for the U.S. launch will be announced on July 8, though we're told it's likely to arrive earlier rather than later in the hot summer sales season. As for the existing Rebel XTi, it should disappear from store shelves at about the same time the XS arrives.

Comparing the new XS with the XTi it's replacing, the image resolution and LCD screen stay the same, but the XS gets an image-stabilized lens (the same kit lens as the XSi), while the XTi kit lens didn't offer image stabilization. The XS processor steps up to the DIGIC III, which should translate into improved image quality and faster processing than the XTi, which uses a DIGIC II chip.

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The XS offers Live View on the rear LCD while shooting, a feature the XTi lacks. It also delivers 50 percent better battery life than the XTi, which is not surprising, since the XS battery is twice the size of its predecessor. Even with a bigger battery, though, the XS weighs 2.5 ounches less than the XTi.

The combination of bargain price (particularly with an IS lens) and fast DIGIC III processing make this a camera to watch. Until we get it into the labs, though, we won't know if it represents a terrific deal or wretched XS. 

UPDATE: Canon has clarified its timing for release of the XS in the US.  No official ship date has been announced.  This information, along with final pricing, will come in July. While we expect to see the XS on store shelves during the summer months, it could ship as late as the second half of the year.

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