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February 17, 2005 — Canon announced a second generation Digital Rebel today, augmenting their expansive EOS line of digital SLRs. The Digital Rebel XT will not replace the original EOS Digital Rebel in Canon’s DSLR line-up but rather increases the selection, providing added prosumer features and enhanced user control in the sub-$1,000 (USD) price bracket. With an impressive 8.0 megapixel CMOS sensor and Digic II Processor, the Rebel XT emphasizes increased speed, added control and stronger performance in a reduced overall frame. This March, the original EOS Digital Rebel Kit will drop down to $799 (USD), while the Digital Rebel XT, offered in both black and silver frames will assume the $999 (USD) price position when purchased with the 18-55 EF-S lens. Consumers also purchase just the XT body for $899 (USD).
"We haven’t gone out and come up with an outwardly more complex camera or something that moves us away from the "core Rebel audience;" the Rebel XT is smaller, has the same engaging intuitive interface and should be equally at home for the casual amateur as well as a much more usable piece when put in the hands of the enthusiastic amateur" said Rudy Winston, manager of technical marketing, CIG Camera Group at Canon USA.
With the original EOS Digital Rebel remaining in the accessible, consumer market, the Digital Rebel XT is designed to appeal to the more engaged photographer. Chief among the modifications is the inclusion of Canon’s Digic II Processor. The Digic II Processor enables faster shooting and internal processing speeds, recording subsequent images at 3 frames per second, with an extended burst of up to 14 consecutive images. This is a substantial increase from the 4 image burst on the original EOS Digital Rebel. Start-up time has been significantly reduced, down to 0.2 seconds, from just over 2.0 seconds. Shutter lag has also been minimized to roughly 100-milliseconds from the depression of the shutter to image capture; which roughly equates to the speed of the EOS 10D.
According to Winston, "some camera-club type of users found the previous generation Rebel’s attempt to simplify, to automate procedures in the name of making life easy for the casual user to be frustrating." For this type of advanced photographer, added control has been brought back into the hands of the user on the Rebel XT. Engaged photographers are now given far more manual selection and opportunity for manipulation. This is exemplified in the Rebel XT’s inclusion of a manual auto focus selection; an apparent void on the previous Rebel. Designed for simplicity, the original Digital Rebel worked to select the appropriate automatic focus setting based on whether the subject was stationary or in motion. Once determined, the camera would select the optimal AF mode and record the image. This minor delay for calculation, though not dire for the casual shooter, could become a hindrance for the manual photographer. Much of the Rebel XT’s reconfiguration is designed to minimize these potentially restrictive controls without sacrificing accessibility.
Advanced exposure metering and light control is possible on the Rebel XT through the manual selection of metering pattern, as well as the inclusion of a flash exposure compensation function built into the camera body. The Rebel XT employs an ETTL II flash metering system, introduced on the 20D and Mark II-series cameras, designed for more consistent and reliable metering and illumination.
The potential for increased color accuracy has also been brought into the user’s hands on the Rebel XT, providing a host of white balance selections inherited from Canon’s high-end, professional DSLRs. Precision-oriented users can subtly refine color, altering tones in 9 incremental steps in either the Blue-Amber or Magenta-Green directions using a white balance correction feature. When personalization is sought, users can shape the camera to their individual shooting style using the 9 custom functions included.
While some users were concerned with the feel of the original Digital Rebel, no alterations in material or construction has been applied. The overall camera body of the Rebel XT has been reduced 15 percent in size and 10 percent in weight. Although a similar 1.8" 115,000 pixel LCD screen is fixed to the back of the frame, the overall feel and size of the camera is significantly smaller and lighter. This reduction can be largely attributed to the Rebel XT’s battery and electronic reconfiguration. The camera is powered by a rechargeable NB2L battery, which is dramatically smaller then the included battery on the EOS Digital Rebel, although due to the modified electronics, the same number of shots per charge is said to be attainable. According to Canon, the Digital Rebel XT only consumes 65 percent of the energy of the original Digital Rebel.
For those large-palmed users, concerned with the significant size reduction, rest assured, an optional BGE3 battery grip is available to beef up the frame and handling.
The EOS Digital Rebel XT is slated for March shipping, selling with an 18-55mm EF-S lens for $999 and alone for $899.