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Testing / Performance
When converting to the digital format from film, many photographers are skeptical of the color reproduction capabilities of digital cameras. While digital prints will often exhibit an impressive color range, there is often a variance from the natural scene. For many digital cameras, the tendency is to over-saturate colors, increasing the vibrancy of the scene. This can make the image appear more striking, but is certainly not a realistic representation of the setting. When we test the color capabilities of digital cameras, we are evaluating the accuracy on the reproduced tones. Since anyone can alter the tonal values on a digital image using a software application, we determine the camera’s ability to record the scene.
To test the color accuracy of the Canon Digital Rebel XT, we recorded several exposures of the industry standard GretagMacbeth color chart. The images were then imported into Imatest Imaging Software, to contrast the camera’s produced colors with the original colors on the chart. The chart below displays the results. For each color tile, the outer squares show the XT’s recorded colors, while the inner square depicts the color corrected version (approximating an auto corrected version in a computer application) and the small, vertical rectangle in the center is the tonal ideal.
The chart below displays the same color information as above in a more direct manor. The circles represent the colors produced by the digital Rebel XT; the squares represent the ideal colors from the GretagMacbeth chart.
According to our test, when shooting with the Digital Rebel XT at ISO 100, the camera will oversaturate tones by 115% with a 7.17 mean color error. This is a bit surprising, as a 115% mean saturation score means the tones are heavily embellished. This might not be as dire as it sounds, as again, many people’s eyes tend to prefer the look of rich red values and deep greens to their natural tone. However, for those who seek a straight realistic representation of the scene, it might be difficult to attain using the Digital Rebel XT. Nevertheless, the produced images contain remarkably rich tones that would likely be preferred by many users.
Still Life Scene
Below is a shot of our favorite still life scene, photographed with the Canon Rebel XT.
Click on the above image to view a full resolution version (CAUTION: The linked image is very large!)](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/viewer.php?picture=XT-StillLife-LG.jpg)
Resolution / Sharpness ***(7.10)*
**Some recent film converts making the pilgrimage to the digital SLR realm are still struggling with dated questions like "are 8.0 megapixels really necessary for any ‘serious’ photographer or is it overkill?" To determine how much resolution is appropriate, users should recognize that the decision generally boils down to the photographer’s printing needs, balanced with their allotted budget. For users who do not foresee printing larger than letter-sized (8.5 x 11 inches), you really don't need more than 4 or 5 megapixels. A 6.0 megapixel DSLR will make stunning, razor-sharp letter-sized prints and respectably sharp 13 x 19 inch prints (the largest you can print on consumer printers). You can crop considerably and still get excellent letter-sized prints; however, if you plan to print large, the Rebel XT will give you an edge. 13 x 19 prints made from the XT will appear superior to 6.3 megapixel images recorded with the Nikon D70, while providing the added opportunity to go even larger and maintain good image quality.
Click on the above chart to view a full res. image](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/viewer.php?picture=RebelXT-ResCH-LG.gif)
We test each camera’s resolution to determine exactly how many pixels are being used to form the image. This is done by recording a series of exposures of a resolution chart, and then importing the images into Imatest Imaging Software to analyze the results. When this is conducted, cameras that use 70 percent of their advertised pixels are considered "good," while 80-89 percent is deemed "very good," and anything exceeding 90 percent earns an "excellent" designation.
The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT relies on an 8.0 megapixel, single-plate CMOS color sensor. The sensor utilizes a fixed position low-pass filter as well as a RGB primary color filter to create images in a 3:2 aspect ratio. Our tests concluded that the Rebel XT uses 7.102 of its 8 megapixels; that’s approximately 89.2% of its advertised resolution and a near excellent score. This is nearly identical to the original Rebel’s 89.8% score, but still includes nearly 1.45 more megapixels per image. We report the highest resolution detected for each camera. The highest resolution value we attained with the EOS Digital Rebel XT was shot with the camera’s kit lens set to f/11 at a focal length of 33mm.
Noise Auto ISO ***(3.9)***
Although the Digital Rebel XT offers a limited sensitivity range when shooting in the Auto ISO setting, there will be many users who rely on it. When we tested the produced noise with the ISO set to Auto, the results were disappointing. Unlike the camera’s ability to reduce noise when the ISO was set manually (below), the Rebel XT displayed difficulties in the Auto mode. This is common of many compact digital cameras, as the problem generally stems from the camera’s inaccurate setting of the sensitivity rather than an inability to suppress noise. The Rebel XT fell into this same old trap, earning a dismal 3.9 overall Auto ISO score and producing images that were on par with the camera’s manual noise output at ISO 400. This is a bit disconcerting as the tests were conducted in a fixed studio setup with the light levels exceeding 400 Lux. The Rebel XT should have recognized this and reduced the ISO value to 100 or 200. For optimal quality, users will have to set the sensitivity themselves.
Noise Manual ISO ***(11.53)***
The pixel configuration on the XT’s sensor has been redesigned to maximize sensitivity and minimize distortion. The photodiode or light sensitive portion beneath each microlens has also been directly enhanced to reduce the signal amplification necessary to attain a detailed exposure. Additionally, the microlenses themselves have been enlarged, though the size of the pixels has been reduced. The increased lens area will attract more light to each individual pixel, minimizing the vacant space between microlenses and creating more sensitized surface to absorb information. This is a far more efficient and effective system of information gathering and should significantly improve the camera’s low-light performance. Canon has also applied an on-chip Noise Reduction Circuit to the XT’s CMOS sensor for added noise protection.
To evaluate the Rebel XT’s noise suppression capabilities, we tested the amount of noise output at each available ISO rating, including 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600. We compiled the results from each test into a regression analysis to determine the overall manual noise score. The Rebel XT’s noise results at each ISO setting are expressed in the chart below, with the available ISO ratings placed along the horizontal axis and the resulting noise plotted on the vertical axis.
The engineering details listed above proved true to form, as the Rebel XT earned an 11.53 overall manual noise score. This is incredibly high and represents a strong ability to control noise. By comparison, the original EOS Digital Rebel scored a 9.01 overall manual noise score. The improvement may be attributed to the addition of the DIGIC II processor, which is designed to more accurately discern the boundaries between adjacent pixels and interpret whether the perceived variance in pixel values is attributed to detail in the image or noise.
Low Light ***(9.0)***
To evaluate the effectiveness of a camera at night or in low light, we test the camera at four decreasing illumination values. The tests are conducted at the camera’s highest ISO value (ISO 1600 for the XT) without the use of the flash. The color is manually calibrated for each lighting setup to evaluate the camera’s highest level of performance. This helps give an idea of how sensitive the sensor is to light and will pinpoint the increments at which the camera loses effectiveness. Cameras are tested at 60, 30, 15, and 5 Lux to approximate performance in common low light conditions; 60 Lux appears to the eye as a typical bedroom illuminated by two small lamps may appear after dark. 30 Lux roughly equates to the illumination give off by a single 40 watt light bulb and 15 and 5 Lux are conditions near darkness.
The low light test is a relatively new addition to our reviews; however, the Digital Rebel XT performed well beyond any other model tested up to this point. The XT displayed an ability to maintain strong color representation with distinct tonal definition throughout the test. Once pushed to 5 Lux, there is a bit of a decline in color vibrancy, but colors are still well represented. The camera’s ability to contain noise down to 5 Lux is impressive. Once set to ISO 1600, there is a boost in perceivable noise, but its appearance is subdued when compared to any other camera tested to this point. The camera’s low light capabilities seem to be one of the imager’s strongest attributes, enabling the camera to capture sharp images with nice color representation at night or in minimally lit indoor conditions.
Speed / Timing
Startup to First Shot (9.58)
The Canon EOS Rebel XT advertises a much faster startup time than its predecessor. This proved to be true, with the XT starting up and taking its first shot in an impressive 0.2 seconds.
Shot to Shot (9.67)
Shutter lag was a significant problem with the original EOS Digital Rebel, prohibiting many potential consumers from taking the camera too seriously. This issue has been corrected on the XT, which now rivals most digital SLRs on the market in this area.
Shutter to Shot (9.08)
The XT shows its SLR capabilities with hardly any shutter lag. From the moment the shutter release button was pressed to the moment the picture was taken, a mere 0.02 seconds had gone by.
The following tour may not be applicable to all models because of the camera’s look and compatibility with accessories; the Rebel XT sells in both black and silver colored housings, different lenses can be attached to the EF-S lens mount, and the additional battery grip will add an extra inch and a half or so to the camera’s base. This tour will simply cover a silver-colored Rebel XT without lens or grip.
When looking at the camera from the front, the extending right-hand grip runs down the left side of the frame. The bottom of the grip is coated with rubber and the top plastic element protrudes slightly beyond, then slants to the top side of the camera. The shutter release button sits at the tip of the slanted edge, with a protruding jog dial just above it.
The area between the top of the grip and the lens mount is occupied only by a circular AF illuminator light. Directly above the lens mount is the pop-up flash, which extends taller than the original Rebel’s flash unit when opened. The flash element is rectangular and supported by two skinnier legs that attach at opposite sides of the Canon logo below. To the right of the lens mount is the EOS logo with a square-shaped lens release button below it and a Digital Rebel XT logo at the bottom.
The back of the Rebel XT is primarily constructed out of plastic and it is brushed silver in color. The viewfinder protrudes from the top of the camera, slightly left of center. There is a thick black eyepiece around the viewfinder, with a tiny diopter adjustment dial sticking out of its top right corner. Below the viewfinder is a set of two LCD screens surrounded by a black frame with a white Canon logo at the bottom. The top LCD screen is the metering display and shows shutter speed, aperture, white balance, and other image parameters. The 1.8-inch screen below this is the main LCD display.There are buttons on both sides of the LCD screen, so users will probably use both hands when reviewing images. Down the left side are five oval-shaped buttons that stick out of the slightly slanted surface. From the top to the bottom, they are Menu, Info, Jump, Playback, and Delete. The first three buttons are labeled with text, while the bottom two are represented by icons. The buttons along the left side are all neatly aligned and vertically arranged; this is not the case on the right side. These buttons are mismatched in shape and size, but are still unified by the raised panel around the LCD screen. The top two buttons are both circular and labeled by a score of icons. The top button controls the exposure compensation; the bottom button activates the self-timer and continuous shooting mode. Below these two buttons is an oval-shaped button with a sun graphic embossed into it and a print icon next to it. This Print/Share button lights up with an LED when files are being transferred to a computer or printer. Just below this button and slightly to the right – but still on the raised panel – is the four-way navigational dial, which consists of five separate buttons. The outer four buttons have arrows imprinted on them and icons printed next to them to represent the image adjustments that can be made when in recording mode: the top button sets the ISO, the right changes auto focus modes, the bottom adjusts the white balance, and the left button switches metering modes. In the center of these buttons is the Set button. Below this set of buttons and directly to the bottom right of the LCD screen is an LED that indicates when a CompactFlash card is in the camera and when images are being written to it. Beside the raised panel, the camera body flattens out except for a crescent moon-shaped portion in the top right behind the right-hand grip. This corner is slightly slanted to provide a comfortable gripping contact for the user’s thumb. On this raised panel, there are two buttons horizontally aligned. The auto focus lock button is on the left; this button also zooms out and activates the thumbnail view in playback mode. The button to the right selects the auto focus point and zooms in during playback. **Left Side***(7.5)* From the left side, several planes on the camera body are visible. The outermost left panel of the Rebel XT has a rubber port cover to the A/V and USB jacks, as well as a divot to easily pry open the door. At the top of this panel is a wide loop for the included neck strap. Behind the panel on the side of the flash housing is a small circular button with the traditional lightning bolt flash icon next to it; this is obviously the button to press to activate the flash. On the left side of the lens mount is a protrusion where the lens release button is housed. Clearly visible from the left side is the depth of field preview button, logically placed near the bottom of the lens barrel. *** *** **Right Side***(8.0)* The right-hand grip makes the right side of the Rebel XT far thicker than the left. The gripping protrusion is covered with a black rubber material for added comfort and control in handling. CompactFlash cards can be inserted in the slot behind the plastic door to the rear of the camera’s right side. At the top of this panel is a matching wide loop for the included neck strap.
The top of the camera is framed with the neck strap loops, visible on each side. Slightly left of center is the pop-up flash with a hot shoe located in its center for accessories. Behind the flash and atop the viewfinder’s eyepiece, the protruding diopter adjustment dial is placed. To the right of the flash section is the circular mode dial, which is large and constructed of a solid metal material. Icons and letters dot the sides of the dial. An LED light sits on the left side of the dial to show which mode is in use. The power switch extends out from the right side of the mode dial and slides up to turn on and down to turn off. The right-hand grip extends outward just above the mode dial. At its tip, the shutter release button is clearly visible on its slanted surface. A protruding jog dial is located below this; it has notched edges and an indentation for comfortable depressing.
The Digital Rebel XT uses the same 95 percent accurate viewfinder as the original EOS Digital Rebel and puts a larger, more cushioned eyepiece around it. The cosmetic detail is nice; the eyepiece won’t fall off (like the smaller rubber eye cup on the Nikon D70) and provides a substantial amount of comfort. For many users, 95 percent viewfinder accuracy will be good enough, although when pictures are framed within the viewfinder, the image is actually slightly smaller than the recorded picture. When images are viewed on the LCD screen, nearly all of the 5 percent discrepancy is at the top of the image – the bad background you’d meticulously cropped out above your subject’s head will be there after all – so be aware! For commercial studio photographers or perfectionists who hold their frame composition near and dear to their heart, the XT’s 95 percent accuracy may be enough to look elsewhere in the DSLR market.
The pentamirror viewfinder displays a 0.8x magnified perspective on the fixed laser matte screen. There is also a dioptric mechanism to adjust the focus of the viewfinder from -3.0 to +1.0 for photographers who dislike shooting with their eyeglasses. Image information is available within the viewfinder for the following parameters:
-Aperture and Shutter Speed settings
-Exposure level display and Exposure compensation
-Burst and continuous shooting
-Focus confirmation (AF/MF)
-AF points, AE lock
-Flash status and settings, Flash exposure compensation
-CF card status
-Data processing indicator
As with other DSLRs, the LCD screen is used for playback and menu selections only; it cannot be used as a viewfinder like on compact digital cameras. The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT applies a 1.8-inch TFT color LCD screen that offers 100 percent frame coverage (copy to file). There are 115,000 pixels of resolution and a five-level brightness adjustment available within the setup menu. The brightness adjustments will help significantly in extreme lighting, however, the 115,000 pixels is just too meager to do the images justice.
The Rebel XT has a pop-up flash similar to the original Rebel’s, except that the new flash extends slightly taller. The retractable flash unit sits just above the lens and uses an E-TTL II auto flash system – this is the same system used in the pricier Canon EOS 20D and Mark II models. The flash uses four modes: Auto, Manual, On/Off, and Red-Eye Reduction. To fine tune the intensity, there is a flash compensation mode as well as eight customizable flash metering modes. The flash, which syncs with the camera at 1/200th of a second, takes about 3 seconds to recycle. A hot shoe rests in the center of the pop-up flash; this can be used for flash accessories.
The stock flash provides coverage correlating to roughly a 17mm focal length (27mm equivalency in 35mm format).
A strong draw to the Rebel XT for those steeped in Canon equipment is the camera’s compatibility with all Canon EF and EF-S lenses. And for those photographers who opt for the kit lens that is included with the Canon Rebel XT, they won’t be disappointed. The EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-f/5.6 lens adds about a hundred dollars to the total price of the camera, but is worth the investment. It can focus quickly, captures images with remarkable sharpness, and has an improved rubber grip on the focus ring. The focus ring on this lens has grooves in the rubber that are closer together than the original EOS Digital Rebel’s kit lens and provides a more comfortable texture.
Design / Layout
**Model Design / Appearance ***(7.5)*
Following heavy dispute revolving around the design of the original EOS Digital Rebel, Canon took to reshaping the body of the XT. While more ergonomic than its predecessor, the alterations rendered to the XT missed the major point of contention – the camera’s feeble exterior shell. The XT is dressed in a more compact, symmetrical casing, but remains primarily composed of plastic.
The Digital Rebel XT’s modified frame is 15 percent smaller than the original Rebel, which was already on the compact end of digital single lens reflex cameras. In sheer size, the XT could almost be mistaken for a compact digital camera. Structurally, those opposed to the seemingly insubstantial frame of the XT can improve the camera’s feel and handling with the application of an additional BG-E3 battery grip – providing added stability and size to the body.
Professional users accustomed to larger SLR bodies may find the Canon Digital Rebel XT to be a bit too fragile for their liking, mainly because the polycarbonate body is constructed largely of plastic with a few stainless steel elements. This should not present a problem for all, and may actually aid in handling and transport, offering the lightweight body of a compact camera while retaining the feel and functions of an SLR, although it certainly lacks the durability of a rugged steel frame.
The XT sells in the traditional compact color of silver and the conventional matte black SLR exterior – a good move for the entry-level single lens reflex camera that could only extend the potential appeal of the camera.
Size / Portability*(9.0) *
Portability is one area where the Canon Rebel XT clearly burns the competition. It is 15 percent smaller than the original Rebel at 4.98 x 3.71 x 2.63 inches (48.6 in3) and also 10 percent lighter. When compared to other entry-level SLRs, the XT is dwarfed. The popular Nikon D70 measures 5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 inches (75.02 in3) and Canon’s 20D is also larger at 5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 inches (69.4 in3). The compact measurements of the Rebel XT, as well as its 17.1 oz weight, make it a great option for traveling professionals who require a portable DSLR alternative with excellent image quality. The optional battery grip can also add some size and heft to the XT, but also supplies a more professional look and a convenient vertical grip.
**Handling Ability ***(7.5)*
Handling the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT will evoke different reactions in different users. Those accustomed to compact cameras will hold the XT and feel empowered. Users more familiar with denser SLRs will wonder how to hold the small XT. At first, handling may be awkward because of the compact size; users may wonder where to put their right pinky fingers. However, handling becomes more and more comfortable with increased use (although this is certainly not always the case!). This digital camera has a comfortable grip and is the only other DSLR camera besides the Pentax *istDS that can be controlled with a single hand (of course, this is not recommended, but the option is always welcome). The gently sloping curves and reduced form are shaped nicely to the user’s hands and will become more comfortable with increased familiarity.
**Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size ***(8.0)*
The slight frame of the Digital Rebel XT still requires two hands to navigate the playback menu, with buttons placed on both sides of screen. A Jump button is included to help users locate images and conserve time. The large Mode dial is rigid and locks securely into place. The dial is textured similarly to metal handle bars on a bicycle and helps when making selections with your thumb. Both the Mode dial and balanced power switch are ideally placed near the shutter control on the top of the camera. This placement is conducive to quick shooting from the off position, enabling users to turn the camera on with one hand and maximize the camera’s increased recording speeds.
The XT features a double LCD screen on the camera’s back face – one for reviewing images and a smaller, horizontally-oriented informational screen to display camera settings. This offers a substantial advantage over the EOS 20D and other DSLRs that place one on top, restricting use when on an extended tripod.
The buttons themselves are certainly small, but seem properly scaled down to the size of camera. The biggest hang-up I have with the actual control layout is the single jog dial. I think this is a serious mistake made by Canon and defies the logic of a digital SLR. Most users gravitated to SLRs will set all exposure controls themselves. While the XT does cater to a bit wider audience, I think there will be enough users shooting in the full manual setting to necessitate an aperture control dial. The Nikon D70 and D70s place two protruding dials on the camera body – one on the front near the shutter to control shutter speed and the other on the back of the camera near the right hand thumb to alter the aperture opening. The EOS 20D offers a far more functional interface with a single jog dial on the front of the camera and a large quick control dial on the back of the camera that can also set the aperture. On the XT, users are restricted to a single jog dial for both settings. To toggle between aperture and shutter speed, an exposure button has top be held down before aperture settings can be altered. This is not very practical and unnecessarily time consuming – I found it to be one of the major detractions of the camera.
**All menu settings are visible on the 1.8 inch LCD panel on the rear of the camera. Buttons for activating controls are logically organized and arranged. Essential controls are easily accessible and users should be able to quickly discern their proper functions. Even those users making a transition over to the Rebel XT from a previous digital SLR should have little to no time with adaptation.
The XT’s menu setup is similar to the EOS 20D, with the only major difference being the lack of an LCD panel on the top of the XT’s camera body. Settings in the top control panel on the EOS-20D are placed on the upper display on the back of the XT, just above the main LCD screen. This will offer a significant advantage to photographers who frequently use a tripod. Rather than having to carry along a stool or added elevation to view the top LCD panel, users shooting with the XT will be able to view all pertinent information from behind the camera.
Contents of the menu are categorized into 5 generalized sections: 2 shooting divisions, 2 setup groupings, and a playback subsection. The headings are horizontally aligned with the corresponding options listed below.
The backdrops for the menus are solid and unfortunately do not offer the consumer-friendly live feeds that many users upgrading from compact digital cameras will be accustomed to. This is a bit unfortunate, but the solid grey backdrop does help to make the settings and options stand out in direct lighting. The settings are intuitively organized into vertical columns, aligned down the screen. Also helping with visibility, the color scheme is arranged in a two-tone spreadsheet-like fashion, alternating each line (or setting). This creates a visual distinction between the available options and helps the eye organize the information without having to read through and internalize the extraneous text. Scrolling through the extensive lists of options may become a bit cumbersome over time, but when the cursor is held down, it does pick up enough speed to get through them rapidly.
Menus are available in 14 selectable languages: English, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Italian, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Simplified/Traditional Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Japanese.**
Ease of Use*(7.5)*
For all its performance enhancements and upgrades, Canon’s XT remains a camera accessible to the general consumer. Most of the Digital Rebel’s design, from automatic assistance to intuitive interface, make the XT essentially a "point-and-shoot SLR." Not shirking the consumer goodwill created by the original Rebel, Canon has provided additional user controls while maintaining an ease of use that appeals to casual consumers - melding the considerably different elements of simplicity and more precise controls with impressive image quality.**
The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT straddles the gap between heavy-duty SLR and compact digital camera by offering both advanced manual control and extensive automatic options. In its aim for simplicity, the XT has included 6 preset modes for those users attracted to the image quality attainable with a digital SLR, yet still partial to the automatically-oriented interface of compact models. The XT is about as intuitive as digital SLRs get, filling the gap between Canon’s prosumer grade EOS 20D and their consumer level PowerShot line.
The automatic mode on the Canon Rebel XT is signified by the green square icon on the mode dial. Six scene modes are also located directly on the mode dial and are represented with intuitive graphics. The fully automatic mode allows users to utilize the Rebel XT as a point-and-shoot camera.
The strength of the Rebel XT lies in its ability to provide everything from full manual mode to pure point-and-shoot and all variations in-between. The great advantage of this type of SLR is that it enables users to determine how much control they wish to assert over the shot and let the camera do the rest. Among these are Aperture and Shutter-Priority modes as well as a Program AE mode.
In practice, the XT’s 7-point automatic focus system was both accurate and responsive. The camera achieved focus with impressive speeds; however, the same enthusiasm cannot be extended to the camera’s handling of ISO settings in Automatic mode. Unfortunately for automatic users, when the camera is set to Auto mode, the XT’s sensitivity range is truncated to a 100-400 point-and-shoot ISO range. Additionally, the digital Rebel XT displayed a common flaw inherent to many compact digital cameras we have tested – when shooting in over 400 Lux (fluorescent lights) using the automatic ISO setting, the camera set the ISO at 400. With over 400 (around 425) Lux, the camera could have easily shot at ISO 200 while maintaining a relatively quick shutter speed and increasing the clarity of the image. This is disappointing in many point-and-shoot cameras, and for a near $1000 camera, automatic users should get a bit more.
**Movie Mode ***(0.0)*
Digital single lens reflex cameras have never ventured into the realm of video – at least intended for final output. The XT holds to this tradition, focusing on still capabilities rather than delving into video.
**Drive / Burst Mode ***(8.0)*
In redesigning the Digital Rebel, Canon made vast improvements on the XT’s burst mode, perhaps because many prosumer level users gave it a cold shoulder for the 2.5 frame-per-second mode that only took 4 pictures per burst. The Canon Rebel XT can take 3 frames per second for up to 14 consecutive images, thanks in part to the improved DIGIC II image processor. The 3 fps rate rivals that of the Nikon D70; however, the D70 endures to 20 shots rather than 14.
The self-timer and single image capture modes are also available in the drive mode selections. The self-timer can be set to take a picture 10 seconds after the shutter release button is pressed. Most digital SLRs provide more timing options than the standard 10 seconds. Even the Nikon D50 has a self-timer that allows users to select a time between 2-20 seconds. Unfortunately, the Rebel XT did not make any improvement from its original in this area.
The Playback mode is easy to find with the button to the left of the LCD screen. Pictures can be viewed in single frames or 9-image thumbnail frames. When pictures are viewed individually, photographers can zoom in and out with the buttons near the thumb grip. File information and histograms can be displayed, as well as a Highlight Alert feature that outlines and flashes the overexposed portions of the picture. Users can protect and erase images, either individually or all at once. Within the setup menu, photographers can choose the Auto Play option so images appear on the 1.8-inch LCD screen right after capture. The options available are adequate, but obviously, like most DSLRs, the small screen will not accurately represent the images.
Custom Image Presets*(7.5)*
Although not the most used function on digital SLRs, consumer-friendly models tend to include a reasonable selection of image presets to help ease the transition for former compact camera users. The Canon digital Rebel XT stocks six custom image presets, conveniently placed on the mode dial for easy selection. Canon calls these its "Programmed Image Control modes" and offers the following: Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait, and Flash Off. Compact digital camera users who have recently grown into the digital SLR realm may be a bit disappointed in the abridged list of modes (some compact models have 20-plus scene modes ranging from Text to Pets to Museums). While the XT doesn’t get as specific as some scene selections, it certainly covers the basics and should suffice for the XT user.
Manual Control Options
Manual control was certainly a major point of emphasis for Canon when modifying the original Digital Rebel. XT users can manually adjust the metering pattern, AF mode, white balance, ISO rating, flash setting, aperture and shutter speed controls, and exposure compensation. Additionally, some modes go above and beyond expectation, with fine tuning of white balance and four image parameters available that will allow users to apply subtle alterations to sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color tone. Canon even went so far as to apply nine custom options to the XT’s interface for photographers who often use the same settings and wish to personalize the camera to their individual shooting style. This feature has been appropriated from the EOS-20D and professional EOS digital models to suit more engaged photographers and appeal to the "prosumer" audience; it was not available on the original digital Rebel.
The Canon EOS Rebel XT comes equipped with a quick and reliable auto focus system, even when subjects are moving across the frame or towards the lens. The auto focus system includes 7 points, all of which are indicated with red lights within the viewfinder and will flash when proper focus has been achieved. The point selection can be made automatically or manually on the Rebel XT, a significant improvement from the original Rebel. The first digital Rebel contained a painfully long shutter lag because the auto focus system had to determine whether the subject was moving and where it was going. The improved system used in the Rebel XT is much more efficient and will not stand in the photographer’s way. The XT’s automatic focusing method includes three modes: One-Shot AF, Predictive AI Servo AF, and AI Focus AF (this automatically selects either One-Shot AF or AI Servo AF). An AF illuminator assists the camera in low light and is effective up to 13 ft in front of the lens and 11.5 ft along the perimeter of the field of view.
Manual focus is available on the Canon EOS Rebel XT and is determined by the lens that is applied. Most lenses will include a focus selection switch on the side of the lens barrel to toggle between automatic and manual control. Once it is switched over to manual, users need only to rotate the focus ring until the image becomes sharp. Unfortunately, the manual focusing method on the XT’s kit lens is the same as the original Digital Rebel and requires users to rotate the very tip of the lens to manipulate focus. This is incredibly awkward and even becomes a distraction during shooting. Although the XT’s kit lens is extremely sharp, the focus adjustment would make me pick up a new lens almost immediately.
Canon designed the selection of metering options to appear similar to those of a traditional 35mm camera, so the XT has a shorter learning curve for film users. Offering Evaluative, Partial (9 percent of the viewfinder in the center), and Center-weighted modes on its TTL metering system, the Canon EOS Rebel XT’s metering range runs from 1-20 EV in "traditional" conditions (defined by Canon as 68° F / 20° C, when shooting with a 50mm, f/1.4 lens at ISO 100). The metering system measures from 35 silicon photocells (SPC), which provide a wide metering range and quick response.
Exposure control varies from strictly automatic to semi-automatic priority modes to full manual mode. When users want a subtle change in exposure, there is a compensation feature that ranges from +/- 2 in 1/3 or 1/2-stop increments. This is not as expansive as the competing Nikon D70 and D70s’ +/- 5 EV range and is more in line with compact digital cameras. There is also an auto exposure bracketing system available to aid users in tough lighting situations.
The Rebel XT adds even more control to the original Rebel’s white balance system with fine tuning in 9 steps. The camera packs the same six preset white balance options as the original Rebel: Daylight, Shade, Cloudy/Twilight/Sunset, Tungsten, White Fluorescent, and Flash. This list certainly isn’t as extensive as some compact point-and-shoot cameras, but most users of the XT will likely opt for the manual white balance setting anyway. There is also a full Auto setting for moments when photographers don’t have the time for adjustments. Manual white balance is easily set on the XT and if users are still dissatisfied with the results, they can alter the shades within a nine-step interactive grid. The grid is divided into four quadrants along an X and Y axis; each axis is formed of two tonal qualities – moving the cursor towards one side of the grid will add Blue or Amber to the image (depending on the direction) and the other will increase either the Magenta or Green color channels. The included options should satiate any level user and ensure accurate color representation is attained.
Photographers using the Canon digital Rebel XT will have a wide range of sensitivity ratings available, spanning from ISO 100-1600. This goes a bit beyond some other entry-level DSLRs, as the Nikon D70 and D70s both have ranges from ISO 200-1600. The XT will offer an edge over the competition with the inclusion of an ISO 100 setting, although like other sub-$1000 digital SLRs, the XT would have benefited greatly from the addition of an ISO 3200 setting. On entry-level digital SLRs, manufacturers seem to be afraid to include the 3200 ISO rating. With the limited sensor size of entry-level digital SLRs, it is understood that a 3200 setting would bring along a significant increase in noise; however, placing the decision in the hands of the user would be invaluable, particularly for those attempting to capture a handheld shot without the use of a flash in minimal lighting.
When using the Digital Rebel XT’s automatic ISO setting, the sensitivity range is shortened to 100-400. This is quite limited, although it is on par with most compact cameras. Regardless, most XT users will opt for the added control and shooting flexibility and set the sensitivity themselves.
The Rebel XT employs a "soft-touch" electromagnetic focal-plane shutter, which shoots as fast as 1/4000th of a second and as slow as 30 seconds. This is a decent range, but still falls a bit short of the Nikon D70 and D70s’ 1/8000 of a second peak speed. XT users also have a bulb option available, which can be controlled with a wired remote. The camera syncs with the flash at 1/200th of a second.
The available aperture range is determined by the lens used by the Rebel XT. Adjusting the aperture is done on the camera by pushing the top button to the right of the LCD screen while flipping the jog dial above the shutter release button. This action is a bit uncomfortable, requiring a good stretch of the fingers.
The Nikon D70 and D70s both include two jog dials, allocating one for aperture controls and the other for shutter speed. Canon included a similar interface on the EOS 20D, implementing a quick control dial on the back of the camera which can be used to alter the aperture settings, while the main jog dial sets the shutter speed.
Picture Quality / Size Options*(8.0)*
The Rebel XT offers three different size options, as well as two different compression settings for each image size. The following image sizes are available:
***- 3456 x 2304: Large-Fine (3.3 MB); Large-Normal (1.7 MB)
- 2496 x 1664: Medium-Fine (2.0 MB); Medium-Normal (1.0 MB)
- 1728 x 1152: Small-Fine (1.2 MB); Small-Normal (0.6 MB) ***
In the largest 3456 x 2304-pixel resolution, photographers can shoot in RAW format; this equates to 8.3MB files. Other image sizes are only available in JPEG format. Like most digital cameras, the XT is EXIF 2.21 and DPOF compliant. Images are continuously numbered automatically or can be reset within the setup menu.
Picture Effects Mode*(8.0)*
For the more advanced users of the Rebel XT, the picture effects may never be used, as most will likely prefer to add effects in Photoshop or another software application. However, for entry-level DSLR users and those who enjoy playing around with the settings, there is a black and white mode. While a significant amount of people seem to regard the XT’s black and white mode as superior to most current digital cameras on the market, I don’t feel the camera comes close to competing with black and white film – after all, that’s the goal, isn’t it? Monochromatic images captured with the XT appeared flat and lacked any sort of strong emotive element. Even after heavily tweaking the images in Photoshop, I could not get the feeling I wanted to come across. If digital black and white images are a draw, I would recommend shooting in color and then converting the images in Photoshop afterwards. There is no quality sacrifice I noticed and then if you don’t like the final image, you’re not stuck with it, and you can always revert back to the color copy.
The Rebel XT also includes four image parameters to alter color and tonal values. Users can adjust sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color value in four steps (+/- 2) within the main menu.
Connectivity / Extras
Through PTP compatibility, the Rebel XT can readily connect to Windows XP or Mac OS X. Programs packaged with Canon’s Digital Solutions Package version 10.0 include EOS Capture 1.3, Digital Photo Professional 1.6, Zoom Browser EX, and PhotoStitch 3.1. Canon’s Digital Solutions package offers a range of functions that will satisfy most hobbyists and beginners. All necessary functions are available, including image transfer, editing (basic contrast and levels through white balance correction), RAW conversion, and direct alteration of camera settings through USB connectivity. Beginners and enthusiasts should find what they need within the Solutions package, although photographers who spend significant amounts of time editing their images may benefit from upgrading to a higher-end software application. The Solutions package is designed in line with the Rebel XT – it contains a lot of editing alternatives in a very basic interface. This will be a blessing for those who are not accustomed to heavy editing, although those used to multi-layer formats would benefit from an upgrade.
Unfortunately, Canon exchanged Photoshop Elements for ArcSoft Photo Studio 5.5 (Windows) and 4.3 (Mac) on the XT. While there is no significant loss in options, again the interface wanes a bit – although neither are suitable substitutes for Photoshop. After all, if you’re serious enough to drop $1,000 on a camera, why skimp out on the software? Remember, this will be your darkroom!
Jacks, ports, plugs*(8.5)*
To utilize the XT’s increased processing speed, Canon has integrated a USB 2.0 Hi-Speed port, capable of image transfers at nearly ten times the rate of the original Digital Rebel. Analogue transfers are made possible through a video out port and E3 wired remote control. Unfortunately, there is no PC Sync port included on the XT, so studio photographers may want to look to the EOS 20D, which does include one.
*Direct Print Options (8.0)
*As with its predecessor, the Digital Rebel XT maintains printing ease through PictBridge compliance. To simplify and expedite the printing process, a Direct Print function is incorporated into the Rebel XT’s design.
Battery (8.0) - The Rebel XT uses a smaller, more efficient NB-2LH battery (720 mAh capacity) and consumes 35 percent less power than the original Rebel. The energy savings in the XT can be traced to the DIGIC II Processor and reconfigured electronics. Less space consumed by the battery translates into a more compact frame without sacrificing image capacity per charge.
The Canon Digital Rebel XT accepts CompactFlash type I and II media, as well as Microdrive cards.*****
**Other Features ***(8.5)
Custom functions* - While the original Rebel had no custom functions, the Rebel XT has 9 such functions (half of the EOS-20D's 18) and admittedly most are obscure. One important function included in the XT is a Mirror lock-upfunction. However, its accessibility would be greatly enhanced by including it as a menu option. Also tucked within the Rebel XT’s custom parameters is the useful "C. Fn-02" exposure Noise Reduction function**. **
*Depth of Field Preview *-To the left of the lens barrel on the front of XT is a depressible depth of field preview button that enables users to view the frame with the lens stopped down prior to recording the shot. This function will grant the photographer a glimpse of the potential planes of depth within the composition.
*Remote Control – *For those recording long or bulb exposures, the Rebel XT can be remotely controlled by the RC-1/RC-5 wireless remote controller using the camera’s RS-60E3 Terminal.
If pricing is the 400-pound gorilla of a camera’s success with consumers, then at $999 the Digital Rebel XT is King Kong. When you look at matching up a lens, such as 18-55mm EF-S Series II, there may not be a better buy. Keeping the EOS 300 Digital Rebel on the market with the XT is a smart move that extends the line’s accessibility to consumers who, in the past, might have stuck with more compact cameras. Both cameras are strong values.
Nikon D70 –The original Rebel’s chief opponent in the digital SLR market was the heftier (21 oz.) and larger (5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 inches) 6.1 megapixel Nikon D70. The popular D70 is still expected to compete with the new 8-megapixel Rebel XT, especially with a recent drop in price to about $800 for the body, although it will soon be replaced entirely by the D70s. As for speed, both the D70 and the XT shoot continuously at 3.0 fps, although the Rebel XT's maximum burst of 14 frames comes short of the D70’s 20 frames. The key elements of the decision will boil down to a preference for resolution or burst duration, although the XT also includes custom settings and a 7-pt AF.
Nikon D70s – Nikon updated its D70 to the D70s in April 2005, improving its graphic interface, auto focus system, remote capability, and burst mode, among other things. The auto focus system has the same 5-point setup as its predecessor, but it works faster. The XT has a 7-point auto focus system. The D70s’ burst mode still shoots at a 3 fps rate, but lasts for an incredible 144 consecutive frames – definitely putting the Rebel XT’s improved 14 in the dust. The Nikon D70s has the exact same measurements as its predecessor and keeps the same 6.1 effective megapixels, which is less than the XT’s 8 megapixel count and far larger and heavier. The D70s appears to be a subtle upgrade from the D70, while I think most would agree that the XT has progressed miles beyond its predecessor. The D70s retails for $899.95 for the body and $1199.95 when it includes the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-70mm zoom lens.
Nikon D50 – Also debuting on the DSLR market is the Nikon D50, which retails for $899.95 when it includes the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-55mm zoom lens. This model sits at the bottom of Nikon’s line of entry-level DSLRs, but can still hold its own with 6.1 megapixels, a 2.5 fps burst mode, and a 2-inch LCD screen with 130,000 pixels. The D50 is smaller than the D70 with 5.3 x 4.1 x 3-inch measurements. Departing from DSLR tradition, the D50 uses a Secure Digital card rather than a CompactFlash.
Pentax *istDS*** – This DSLR has very similar measurements to the Rebel XT, spanning 4.9 x 3.6 x 2.6 inches, but is slightly heavier at 17.8 ounces. The 6.1-megapixel *istDS has comparable manual functions, but includes some features that will be more attractive to point-and-shooters while lacking some of the more manual settings the XT has made a point to include. With a 2-inch LCD screen, SD card compatibility, and AA batteries, this Pentax retails for about $800 for the body only.
*Olympus EVOLT E-300 – *The EVOLT can match the XT’s resolution with 8.1 effective megapixels. Olympus heavily markets the Supersonic Wave Filter on this camera for its ability to repel dust from the image sensor, although in practice we found it did not live up to the marketing hype. The EVOLT E-300 comes short of the XT with only 3 points in its auto focus system, a truncated 2-1/4000 shutter speed range, and a heavier camera body. However, the EVOLT will impress the photographers who long for scene modes. In addition to its manual and priority modes, the E-300 offers scenes as simple as Portrait and as specific as Museum, Fireworks, and Candle. The E-300 has a 1.8-inch LCD screen with 134,000 pixels and can shoot in JPEG, RAW, and even TIFF (which the XT cannot). Like the XT, the EVOLT records to CompactFlash and Microdrive media. The Olympus E-300 sells for about $750 for the body only and retails for $999 with a 14-45mm lens.
Canon EOS Digital Rebel – The larger and heavier original Rebel will get the reputation of a dinosaur compared to the updated XT. The original Rebel included an older image processor that slowed the timing of the camera down. It took nearly 2 seconds to start up and had a disappointing burst rate of 2.5 fps for only 4 shots. The 6.3-megapixel Canon Rebel will remain on the US market, selling with its 18-55mm kit lens (it will no longer be sold body only) for $799, making it an appealing economic choice for consumers on a budget.
Who It’s For
Point-and-Shooters – Consumers looking for a simple two-button interface with twenty scene modes and automated everything should look elsewhere. Digital SLRs are for the choosier photographers who want to pick everything from the shutter speed to the type of lens attached. Having said that, the XT is as close to a point-and-shoot DSLR as it gets.
Budget Consumers – The Rebel XT is priced at $999 with the lens included. This is an excellent value for the image quality and capabilities of this camera, so budget consumers should look to the XT as an affordable DSLR alternative.
*Gadget Freaks – *Consumers in this category will be excited about the possibilities of accessory attachments on the hot shoe, custom settings, in-camera images parameters, and an applied depth of field preview button. The wireless remote control could provide a tinge of excitement as well.
Manual Control Freaks – With every function on the XT having both manual and automatic options, these users should appreciate the breadth of manual control. While the majority of manual options are the same as the original Rebel’s, actual functionality is substantially improved. The added Custom functions should also appeal to this breed of photographer.
*Pros / Serious Hobbyists – *The Rebel XT will likely make most of its impact in the more consumer-friendly region of the DSLR market - toward the entry-level end. While it likely won’t be the primary camera of many professional commercial photographers, it could certainly suffice as a more portable option for serious hobbyists and emerging professionals who are looking for an affordable beginning option.
Initially unveiled at PMA 2005, roughly a year and a half after its predecessor, the Canon Digital Rebel XT appears to be a real winner. Offering strong image quality, rapid shooting and processing speeds, and the ability to apply a range of Canon and independent lenses in a compressed package, the XT should have a wide appeal. Canon seems to have corrected the majority of the flaws apparent in the Original EOS Digital Rebel, with the only remaining question concerning the feel of the body. As with the original Digital Rebel, the XT is again formed out of an extremely lightweight polycarbonate, retaining the same consumer-grade frailty that forced some to denounce it as amateur. Although meager to some, the compact frame will unquestionably be an asset to other users, as the 17.1 oz. Rebel XT, currently the lightest digital SLR on the market, offers the portability of a compact camera, with the performance and flexibility provided by a prosumer grade model.
The XT is backed by an 8.0 megapixel CMOS sensor along with a second generation DIGIC II Processor. The DIGIC II is responsible for the XT’s increased start-up time, shot-to-shot rate, and processing speeds. With the virtual elimination of lag time, the XT bears a far closer resemblance to the EOS 20D than to the original Digital Rebel in terms of performance. Straight image quality should parallel or surpass 35mm film in terms of sharpness. Based on my experience with the EOS-20D, you should expect the XT to make razor-sharp 13 x 19 inch prints, even with the inexpensive but excellent EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-f/5.6 kit lens.
Sold as a kit for $999 (USD), the package should be particularly appealing to college students and first time digital SLR owners. Fusing a consumer-friendly interface with an expansive offering of user control, the Camera’s only limitation is its potential appeal to professional photographers. With the combination of a sharp sensor and equally sharp lens along with a weak anti-aliasing filter, there will be a problem with Moire fringing in certain situations. This obviously will not pass for a wedding or event photographer who only has one chance to get the shot; however, for the consumer and prosumer markets, the birth of the XT and $200 price reduction of the original Digital Rebel should result in a substantial upgrade for many consumers.
**Specs Table **
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