Canon XS Review

 
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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon EOS XS (Rebel XS, Canon 1000D)
Resolution: 10.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: APS-C
Kit Lens: 3.00x zoom
18-55mm
(29-88mm eq.)
Viewfinder: Optical / LCD
ISO: 100-1600
Shutter: 30-1/4000
Max Aperture: 3.5
Dimensions: 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4 in.
(126 x 98 x 62 mm)
Weight: 25.0 oz (710 g)
includes batteries, kit lens
MSRP: $700
Availability: 08/2008
Manufacturer: Canon
10.10
Megapixels
Canon EF / EF-S mount APS-C
size sensor
image of Canon EOS XS (Rebel XS, Canon 1000D)
Front side of Canon EOS XS (Rebel XS, Canon 1000D) digital camera Back side of Canon EOS XS (Rebel XS, Canon 1000D) digital camera Top side of Canon EOS XS (Rebel XS, Canon 1000D) digital camera Left side of Canon EOS XS (Rebel XS, Canon 1000D) digital camera Right side of Canon EOS XS (Rebel XS, Canon 1000D) digital camera

Imaging Resource rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

Canon Rebel XS / 1000D
Overview

by Shawn Barnett and
Siegfried Weidelich
Review Date: 12/14/08

Canon's new EOS Rebel XS is a new budget digital SLR designed to compete with Nikon's D60 and other sub-$700 digital SLR cameras by Pentax, Olympus, and Sony. To meet the lower price point, the Canon XS includes fewer of the features of the Rebel XSi, but the XS is still a quality offering in its own right.

The Canon Rebel XS shares some features with the XTi announced in 2006, with a 10.1-megapixel image sensor and a 2.5-inch LCD, compared to the Rebel XSi's 12.1 and 3-inch LCD. The XS also returns to the 7-point AF sensor from the Rebel XT, compared to the 9-point AF sensor in the XTi and XSi). The XS also returns to 12-bit processing compared to the XSi's 14-bit system, and the infrared remote control on the front and proximity sensors on the back are also removed in the XS.

Though Canon says that the Rebel XS is capable of shooting JPEGs at a steady three frames per second up to the available flash card capacity (we got 7 frames with our difficult-to-compress target), RAW shooters may be disappointed to find that the Canon Rebel XS can only manage 1.5 frames per second when shooting in RAW mode. Even though the pace is much slower, the XS also manages to capture just 6 RAW frames before the buffer fills (we got 4 RAW frames in our testing).

The Canon XS maintains some very important features that could make it a worthwhile upgrade for XT and XTi owners. Most notably, Canon Rebel XS has a live view mode with phase-detection or contrast-detection autofocusing. There's also Canon's DIGIC III image processor, while the XTi was based on the older DIGIC II processor. The newer processor offers better performance and image quality. Battery life should be increased by around 50% as compared to the XTi, with the Rebel XS using the same LP-E5 battery from the XSi.

The Canon XS kit includes an excellent image-stabilized 18-55mm lens, rounding out the package, improving the camera's ability to compete in this increasingly image-stabilized market.

Canon Rebel XS Pricing and Availability

Shipping as of August 2008, the Canon Rebel XS is available in a kit version which includes the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens, at an estimated retail price of US$699 or less. Two versions are available, one in black and one in silver.

 

Canon Rebel XS User Report

by Shawn Barnett

Canon's original Digital Rebel debuted in 2003, breaking new ground and bringing digital SLR technology within the grasp of consumers with a sub-$1,000 price tag. Until now, Canon has maintained two digital SLRs under that price point, but the two were always the latest model and the previous model. The Canon Rebel XS marks the first time Canon has had two new digital SLRs in the under $1,000 category. Though the word "Digital" has been dropped, the Canon Rebel XS continues the tradition of bringing advanced digital camera technology within the range of the casual photographer, with a price that leaves room in the budget for an extra lens or two.

While the step from the Rebel XT to the Rebel XTi brought more internal than external changes, the Rebel XSi and XS are more complete overhauls, and the XS is subtly different from the XSi. Many of the external changes are welcome, including the slightly taller grip and bigger LCD, but the XS has the same sensor as the XTi, so not much is new there. Something the XS has that the XTi does not is Live View with both phase- and contrast-detect autofocus, an image-stabilized lens, and several new automated features.

Canon Rebel XS Look and feel

My favorite part about the Rebel series is its small size. I shoot other SLRs when I need more advanced features, like a faster frame rate, but sometimes the only camera that will do is a small SLR, and the last four Rebels are among the smallest. The Canon Rebel XS is only a little larger than its predecessor, but it looks bigger, and its contours are a little smoother. The XS is about two millimeters wider and four millimeters taller than the XTi, and weighs about 60 grams less, despite the heavier image-stabilized lens. So while it's a little bigger, the Canon Rebel XS is less of a burden when walking around.

Canon has improved the grip again, adding a slightly taller grip area. My four fingers fit almost entirely, with only about three millimeters of overhang. The grip is not as nice as the XSi's grip, and the XS has no rubber pad on the back to serve as a thumbgrip.

XTi Shutter release XS Shutter release
Niceties. The Rebel XS's shutter release button (right) is canted more aggressively like Canon's semi-pro SLRs, with a nice wide pad for the finger to rest in.

The diopter wheel is a little larger than the XTi's for easier access, and the Canon XSi's lens release button is a little larger too.

Shutter release. It takes a real camera geek to notice, but the shutter button is set at a more aggressive angle than all Rebels but the XSi; it now matches the angle of the semi-pro Canon 50D camera and pro 1D. It's not a big deal, but it does make it easier to gently squeeze that important button when its activation angle matches the natural bend of the finger.

Contours and accents. The Canon XS looks less like the XSi and more like a smoothed-out XTi. The pop-up flash that was a distinct element of the XTi is flush with the rest of the XS's flow. While the XTi's metal parts, the hot shoe and strap loops, are painted black, those of the XS are metal. I prefer the black, but paint wears off, and the XS's silver won't show the wear quite as clearly as the painted parts. The new design also eliminates more parts compared to both the XTi and XSi.

Button displacement. The 3-inch LCD on the XSi's rear pushed the buttons off the left side, necessitating quite a shuffle of buttons and their assignments. Though the XS's LCD is smaller, they likely used the same internal components from the XSi, and so the left buttons did not return. The result actually looks a lot cleaner, though, and your eye has to search fewer places for the various controls. The downside is that the button for one of the most-changed functions, ISO, has moved to the Canon XS's top deck, right behind the Command dial. When I first saw this move, I liked the idea; in use, though, it's a pain. ISO buttons only belong on the top deck when there's a separate Status LCD up there, like on the Canon 40D or Nikon D300. But because the Status display is on the back, the ISO button should be there too, since you're less likely to even think of looking at the top deck. Some of the buttons and logos on the rear of the XS also got larger than those on the XSi, perhaps to make them more obvious.

The four navigation buttons, which Canon calls Cross Keys, behave better than they once did in Record mode. Specifically the White Balance button, which was the down button on the XTi, used to require pressing the left and right arrow keys to make changes. That button has been reassigned to the Picture Styles menu, but now the icons are oriented in a vertical column, and pressing the same button repeatedly scrolls through the various styles. The AF button, for its part, activates with the right button, and repeatedly pressing the right button also scrolls through the horizontally oriented options. Naturally, using the left arrow scrolls in the other direction, but the menu wraps, so you can just stick to one button. White Balance has been given its own button, so you still have to go to the left and right arrows to make changes, but at least all the arrow keys work logically.

Canon XS Viewfinder. Click to see the callouts.

Canon Rebel XS Viewfinder

One key complaint about past Rebels was the extremely tight viewfinder. While the Rebel XSi remedied that somewhat, with a 0.87x viewfinder magnification, the XS's viewfinder is only 0.81x, close to the XTi's 0.80x magnification. Coverage accuracy according to our tests is 95 percent, about what Canon claims. The viewfinder is also supposed to be brighter, thanks to a more efficient coating on the pentamirrors. I didn't notice any difference.

The viewfinder's status display now shows the ISO setting all the time, which is a plus. Just press the ISO button on the top deck, and turn the Main dial to scroll through the options, pressing it again to lock it in. So it appears there is some advantage to having the ISO button on the top after all.

Those used to the Rebel XTi and XSi won't recognize the Rebel XS's AF arrangement, which only has seven points instead of the later diamond-shaped, nine-point AF system. This system was introduced in the original Digital Rebel, and also appeared in the followup Rebel XT. It's a good system, and works very quickly, as our test results show.

Canon Rebel XS Live View

Though I still advocate using the optical viewfinder most of the time when shooting with an SLR, I've used the Live View mode often enough now that I know there are times when nothing else will do.

There are two modes to the XS's Live View system, selectable via Custom Function 7. Live View is disabled by default, by the way, so you'll need to find this menu item in Settings Menu 2 to turn it on. The two options are called Quick and Live modes. Quick mode works as most Live View modes do, dropping the mirror when you press the AE-Lock button (marked with an asterisk) to use the conventional phase-detect autofocus system. This temporarily blacks out the Live View image, which makes it impossible to know that you're still framing the subject and holding your AF point in the proper place.

That's why they added the second mode, which they call Live, but is better described as contrast-detect autofocus. This works just like a digicam, reading the image from the imaging sensor while adjusting the lens for the setting that produces the most contrast in the image. A small square appears in the center of the image area, and you can move it around with the cross keys. Just like Quick mode, unfortunately, you have to press the AE-Lock button first until you hear the focus confirmation beep, then press the shutter button to fire. It's a little slower at times than phase-detect mode, but it gets the job done. Live mode is really better for tripod work, where you can place the AF area right where you want it and confirm focus onscreen.

Both modes offer the ability to zoom in on your live view, excellent for confirming focus before capture. Using the Magnify button just right of the AE-Lock button, you can zoom in 5x or 10x, then press the AE-Lock button to focus if you like; but of course you can't confirm framing in that mode.

Another "digicam" benefit that comes thanks to Live View mode is Exposure Simulation, where the image you see onscreen in non-flash shots will appear approximately how your final image will look. If you're about to underexpose the image, for example, the Live View image will appear dark; or too bright if your settings will overexpose. It's great for fine-tuning in Manual mode. Exposure Simulation isn't always desirable, but it's something many digicam owners are spoiled by without even knowing it's unique.

A grid can be displayed on the display in Live View, as well as a histogram, though like the Canon 50D, the histogram isn't translucent, instead blocking almost 1/4 of the screen.

Like all other Canon Live View cameras, you can connect the Canon XSi to your computer via a USB 2.0 cable and see a live image on the computer, as well as remote control the camera from the computer.

Unlike the XSi, the Rebel XS doesn't have a dedicated Live View button; instead Live view is activated with the Set button.

Imperfection. It's frustrating when they get so very close to excellence, yet leave out something important. Though I think it's great that the Rebel XS's main Quick mode includes an image of the seven autofocus points overlaid on the image, the chosen AF points don't light up red after you've pressed the AE-L button (marked with an asterisk above the button) to focus, making them almost useless. What it does show you if you see all seven AF points is that you are in Auto Select mode; and if you have selected a single AF point, only that point shows. So it's not a total loss, but it would be a lot better if the Live View display behaved like the optical viewfinder. This was a problem with the XSi, but the Canon 50D fixed the problem in its Live View implementation.

My other beef is left over from the Canon 40D's Live View mode: I love that it has a histogram display option, but I can't understand why you'd make something that takes up almost one-quarter of the screen completely opaque. Other companies have managed translucent histograms for years. Canon needs to get this coded up and loaded up, and quick.

Big LCD. The 2.5-inch LCD is essentially the same as XTi's, just moved around a bit. More of an aesthetic issue is a slight improvement to the Canon XS's rear Status display, with improved graphics and four color palates to choose from.

Canon Rebel XS Lens

One of the greatest improvements to the Canon Rebel XS kit is its new image-stabilized 18-55mm lens. Canon improved the lens characteristics dramatically. It offers better corner sharpness, better chromatic aberration control, and sharper images overall. Its 18-55mm zoom range is equivalent to a 29-88mm lens on a full-frame 35mm camera, a good mid-range zoom lens. Optical image stabilization technology sweetens the deal, offering sharper shots even in low light. Canon claims you can shoot at up to four stops slower than normal and still get a stable shot. That means that if you can normally get a stable shot at 1/60 second, you should be able to squeeze off a 1/4 second shot and have it come out sharp. If you're a fairly steady shooter, it seems to be true. Your results may vary, and remember that image stabilization compensates for camera movement, not for subject movement, so tell them to hold very still or shoot with a faster shutter speed at a higher ISO.

One unusual aspect to the new EF-S 18-55mm lens is its tendency to ring audibly while the image stabilization motor is running. My old EF 28-135mm IS lens makes some noise while it's operating, but not like this high-pitched ring. It's annoying, unfortunately. I'd still buy one of these lenses for myself, but if you're sensitive to high pitched sounds, the ringing might cut through your head after awhile.

Canon Rebel XS Menus

The XS has inherited the more versatile menu system from the Canon 40D. With the XTi, you always have to scroll to the top of the list and highlight the tab to move to the next tab, but it's easier with the XS: just use the up and down arrows to move up and down in the menu, and use the left and right arrows to switch between tabs, regardless of your position in the list. Your previous menu selection is retained when you return to that tab, another benefit when changing the same setting often.

Though certain functions are buried in sub-menus, like the Flash Exposure Compensation (mentioned below), there's a new MyMenu tab which you can program with six of your most-used menu items for quick access.

Canon Rebel XS Flash

There's not much new about the flash performance, but a few items have changed, including the release hook and retention rails in the pop-up flash, which are now plastic instead of metal. Adjusting the flash exposure compensation isn't as easy as before, however. Whereas you used to find it just below AE bracketing on the second Record menu, now it's buried on the second Settings menu, at the bottom of the list, under Flash Control. Then you have to scroll to the Built-in flash func. setting, and go into yet another menu where you can scroll down to Flash exp. comp. That's four steps where you used to make only two to adjust flash exposure compensation.

Otherwise, the built-in flash performs well, capable of good exposures out to 15 feet at wide angle. Coverage at this distance isn't very even, but it serves better at closer distances anyway.

For better flash photography indoors or out, I recommend an external flash like the Canon 430EX Speedlite, or the 430EX II. Though I usually used a 580EX, the 430EX is smaller and lighter, better suited to the Rebel XSi. Canon's E-TTL II flash control system delivers excellent exposures with these units, whether bounced or direct.

Canon XS storage and battery

Some Canon digital SLR fans might not like the Canon XS's switch to SD/SDHC cards from the CompactFlash card standard still in use in professional digital SLR cameras. The advantage to SD is that you're less likely to damage the simpler connector interface by inserting the card incorrectly, whereas the CompactFlash header's many pins are often damaged when beginners try to insert the cards sideways. SD cards cannot be put in sideways, have a sturdier, simpler contact design, and the cards are also now quite affordable and common, so the time was ripe for a switch. Pros who carry a Rebel as a backup might be a little annoyed to have to carry two types of card, but one 8GB SDHC card goes a long way (and pros with 1D-type bodies will already have an SD card for their second slot).

There's also a new battery for the Canon XSi, the LP-E5. This new 1080 mAh lithium-ion battery offers 50% more capacity (~500 shots total with 50% flash usage) at about the same weight. Whereas the power pads on the NB-2LH battery used in the XTi could easily cause a fire if exposed to metal in a bag or pocket, the new LP-E5 battery's contacts are concealed inside a small protrusion out the side of the battery, making a pants fire less likely. Which is nice.

The battery door's hinge is no longer as robust as the fine metal hinge that locked into a metal bracket with a springloaded pin in past models. The new design is quite similar to the Nikon D60's door hinge, a plastic arrangement that allows removal with a quick pull on the door at a 45 degree angle.

There are many other little changes that are worthy of note, including a new Continuous Self-timer mode that allows capture of many shots in succession.

Canon XS Processor and Features

Canon uses the DIGIC III processor in the XS, but the Rebel XS is limited to 12-bit analog-to-digital processing, rather than the 14-bit image processing, nor can it capture 14-bit RAW files. So though the XS has a powerful processor, Canon chose not to use it for capturing smoother images, as the XSi does.

They do still use the DIGIC III processor to power their Auto Lighting Optimizer mode, which works to maintain highlight and shadow detail, working similarly to Sony's DRO and Nikon's Active D-Lighting. Canon's literature says that the Auto Lighting Optimizer mode uses Canon's Face Detection technology to make sure faces are exposed properly in backlit situations. Unlike Nikon's D-Lighting, however, it cannot be applied after capture. It's designed to enhance photographs for direct printing, camera to printer, via PictBridge. We didn't notice much of an effect in our tests, though.

ISO. The Canon XS's highest ISO setting remains low compared with other recent offerings from other companies, ranging from 100 to 1,600. Image quality across the range is good, except in certain situations, with ISO 100 shots producing good 13x19-inch prints, and ISO 1,600 shots looking good at 8x10 inches.

 

Canon Rebel XS Shooting

Shooting with the Rebel XS comparable to the XSi. The grip is great, making the camera feel a little less tiny, and the curves make handling the camera comfortable all around. Save for the new ISO button's position, controls are very good, improved when the larger LCD eliminated the left-side buttons. Checking exposure and focus is a lot easier with the larger LCD, and thanks to Live View, you can quickly check focus before you capture.

The new image-stabilized lens included with the Canon XS is excellent, quite an improvement over the last model. Its zoom ring works more smoothly, and the knurled grip is easier to hold. Image stabilization works very well, serving up more high quality shots in very low light. The lens isn't USM, which means it doesn't have an ultrasonic motor for fast, nearly silent focusing, but the motor isn't disagreeably loud at all, and it's fast enough.

Because it's an EOS camera, it's compatible with most of my other EOS gear.

Frame rate. The Canon XS's frame rate tests a little slower than the Canon Rebel XTi: 2.93 frames per second, for a maximum of 7 before the rate slows down, compared to 3.0 fps with a maximum of 8 frames before slowing in our lab torture test. When shooting in RAW mode, this frame rate is cut in half, down to 1.5 frames per second, while the XTi was able to capture 3.0 fps regardless of file type. The shutter sound is different from the XTi, but still includes a lot of whirring and stomping, instead of a nice, simple click-click. Some might prefer the winding sound, but to me it draws too much attention.

The new lens release button makes it a little easier to change lenses, and while it's hard to get used to a Canon SLR with a small SD card door, it does fit the small body of the Rebel XS. It has thrown me on occasion when my standard complement of CF cards was no help after I'd filled an SD card. Now I carry both.

Shooting in Live View mode is pretty easy once you get used to it; though focusing by pressing the AE-Lock button is a little cumbersome when shooting from odd angles. I suppose they separated the buttons to avoid the confusion of the mirror going up when you half-press the shutter button. Surely that would make many users think they'd taken a picture, as it did with the early Olympus live-view SLRs. And in "Live" AF mode, it's a lot slower than some digicams, especially in low light with camera movement, so I'm sure that's why they left AF activation on the AE-Lock button.

As well as it works, I recommend against using the Live View mode as a default shooting method. Use it for fine focusing while shooting from a tripod, where you can afford the time to confirm or specify which focus point or area is in use, or when shooting from odd angles, but you get better camera stability when shooting with the camera held to your face than you do holding it out in front of you. Battery life also drops from 500 to 190 shots when shooting in Live View, so invest in a spare battery if Live View is your thing.

There's so much about the XS that's similar to the XTi that there's not much new to say about the camera shooting experience. It works well, is fun to shoot with, and captures pretty good images. Speed, unfortunately is not up to the XTi's standard, and if that's important to you, consider the Rebel XSi. The main feature that the XS has over the XTi is Live View.

 

Canon XS Image Quality

As I mentioned earlier, the Canon Rebel XS has good image quality, but not as good as we'd like. Canon has made many changes in how they compensate for noise, especially chroma noise, and in specific situations, there are demosaicing errors that create disturbing patterns that are difficult to remove.

However, the Canon XS's ISO 1,600 setting is impressive, creating usable prints at up to 11x14-inch print sizes. Yes, there's noise, but it's hardly noticeable, which is impressive for ISO 1,600.

Canon XS vs Canon XTi at ISO 1,600

Canon Rebel XS at ISO 1,600 Canon Rebel XS at ISO 1,600 with High ISO noise reduction Canon Rebel XTi at ISO 1,600

Remember that these images above are shown at 100 percent, and captured at ISO 1,600. By default, the Canon Rebel XS leaves about as much chroma noise in the image as did the XTi. There's a little more sharpening applied to the XS images, which makes images pop better for consumers. In between the two images are crops from the image captured with High ISO Noise Reduction applied. You can see that there is slightly less detail, but there is much less chroma noise, especially in the shadows. The Rebel XS does pretty well against the XTi in these tests.

 

Canon XS Demosaic Errors

Canon Rebel XS at ISO 100 Canon Rebel XSi at ISO 100
In the Rebel XS images starting at top left, you can see some strange horizontal bands in the strands of hair, bands that do not appear except in a few places from the XSi images. The second set of images reveals more demosaicing errors that show up as chroma noise. These errors only show up in vertical lines, and are not limited to this red hair. They also affect the XSi image, but the noise suppression system deals with them a little better. The bottom images show both artifacts. Between the nine and ten in the scale above, you can see blue and red tints, where there are only black and white lines. In the scale below that, just above the words "SAME SIZE," you can see the banding again, where there should be lines that radiate out from this wheel's center. These lines, though faint, also appear in the Rebel XSi image. While we've found these artifacts in other cameras, including the Nikon D300 and Canon 50D, they're never as pronounced as we've seen from the Canon XS. The best we can figure is that Canon weakened the low-pass filter which results in more demosaicing errors. When the camera makes mistakes interpreting colors from the red, green, and blue filters in the camera, you end up with the false color artifacts and odd diagonal lines among objects with very fine linear detail.

The demosaicing errors mentioned above are really the only major aspect we find problematic about the Canon Rebel XS. And the fact is that many people won't see it at all. Ironically, as you raise the ISO on the Rebel XS, some of these artifacts become less noticeable, especially the diagonal bands. When we printed the images to see when the artifacts would appear, we found that the color errors appeared early on, affecting images at ISO 100 when printed at 8x10. We knew what we were looking for, however; most would not notice the effect at all. The diagonal banding didn't appear until 11x14, and didn't really stand out until printed at 13x19 inches. So take it with a few sprinkles of salt, and the XS is still a good, usable camera.

You have to decide whether the above artifacts would bother you if you didn't see them at 8x10, especially when you consider how little you paid for your rather capable SLR.

You can use the Rebel XS to get great images almost all of the time, and you'll get impressive detail at all ISO settings, so we think the tradeoff of artifacts against high ISO performance is worth it for the average consumer photographer on a budget.

Analysis. The Canon Rebel XS is a good quality digital SLR camera, well-suited to the consumer shooter looking for a little more from a digital camera. Canon sought to compete with Nikon and Pentax at the extreme low price level, and they had to cut a few corners. The body isn't quite as nice as the Canon Rebel XSi, and the image quality suffers from a few more hitches, but you'll only notice if you zoom to 100 percent onscreen and search around like we do. The Canon Rebel XS's image stabilized lens and impressive high ISO performance should mitigate most of the other problems, and the Rebel XS's fast autofocus should make this year's holiday pictures better than ever. While we really like the Canon Rebel XS for consumer photographers on a budget, most enthusiast shooters will be better served with the Canon Rebel XSi kit, which is available for about $200 more.

 

Canon Rebel XS Basic Features

  • 10.1-megapixel RGB CMOS sensor delivering 3,888x2,592-pixel images
  • Single-lens reflex digital camera with interchangeable lenses (supports all Canon EOS series lenses). Focal length multiplier of 1.6x as compared to a 35mm camera
  • Variable ISO (100, 200, 400, 800, and 1,600 settings)
  • TTL optical viewfinder with detailed information display, diopter adjustment, and depth-of-field preview
  • 2.5-inch, low-temperature TFT LCD with 230,000 pixels and Live View display mode
  • Automatic, Program AE (shiftable), Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Depth-of-Field AE, and Manual exposure modes, plus Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait, and Flash Off programmed modes
  • Variable white balance with Auto, six manual presets, and a Custom setting (reads from a neutral gray or white card), as well as a color correction tool and bracketing function
  • External hot shoe supports E-TTL II metering, FEL, and FP (high speed sync) flash with Canon EX Series Speedlight
  • Flash exposure lock function (FEL)
  • 35-zone Evaluative metering linked to all focusing points, Center weighted average metering, or Partial (10%) central-area metering; metering range of EV 1 to 20 (at normal temperatures, EF 50mm f/1.4 USM, ISO 100)
  • Adjustable exposure compensation from -2 to +2 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 EV increments in all exposure modes
  • Auto exposure bracketing (AEB) from -2 to +2 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 EV increments in all autoexposure modes
  • Shutter speeds from 1/4,000 to 30 seconds, and a Bulb setting for longer exposures
  • Electronic self-timer with a fixed duration of 10 or two seconds
  • Image storage on SD or SDHC memory cards

 

Canon Rebel XS Special Features

  • Live View mode includes two focusing modes: Quick, phase-detect mode, and Live, contrast-detect mode
  • Dust reduction and automatic sensor cleaning
  • Picture Style menu offers six presets plus three user-defined settings for contrast, saturation, sharpness, and tone
  • Continuous Shooting mode capturing as many as 54 images as fast as 3 frames per second (with shutter speeds of 1/250 second or faster), according to Canon
  • TTL autofocus with seven focusing points, manually or automatically selectable; One shot AF, Predictive AI Servo AF, AI Focus AF, and manual focus with AF assist beam, depending on exposure mode selected; working range of EV 0.5 to 18 at ISO 100
  • Built-in E-TTL II retractable-type flash with red-eye reduction; guide number is 13/43 at ISO 100, m/ft, flash angle said to cover the field of a 17mm lens (27mm in 135 format); topside hot shoe for external flash connection of EX Speedlite flashes
  • E3 remote control socket; no infrared remote control (something the XSi has)
  • Available resolution settings are: 3,888 x 2,592; 2,816 x 1,880; and 1,936 x 1,288
  • Red-eye Reduction via pulse flash
  • Optional external hand grip/battery pack adds secondary shutter release and control wheel, as well as AE lock and focus point buttons for vertical-format shooting
  • NTSC/PAL selectable video out connectivity
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) and DCF (Design Rule for Camera File System) compliant
  • PictBridge; Direct Print capability to selected Canon photo printers
  • USB 2.0 connectivity with TWAIN driver for PC and Adobe Photoshop plugin for Macintosh

 

In the Box

The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS Kit comes with the following items in the box:

  • Canon Rebel XS digital SLR camera body
  • EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II lens
  • Body cap
  • Lens caps (front and back)
  • Neck strap
  • Eye cup
  • LP-E5 battery pack and charger
  • Video cable
  • USB cable
  • Software CD
  • Instruction manuals and registration information

 

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Canon Rebel XS Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • 10.1-megapixel sensor with low noise and good detail
  • Live View mode works well
  • Live View mode offers a choice between phase-detect and contrast-detect modes
  • Zoom in five or ten times with Live View
  • Image-stabilized kit lens is excellent optically
  • Small size is great for travel and all-day carry
  • Dust removal technology largely eliminates sensor cleaning chores
  • 2.5-inch LCD with a wide viewing angle for better image sharing and focus check
  • Taller grip makes for a more comfortable hold
  • Integrated status display conveys a lot of information
  • Print/Share button enables quick and easy printing and image transfer
  • Fast autofocus
  • AF system works well in low light
  • Viewfinder shows lots of information, including ISO
  • Picture Styles makes choosing and customizing color modes fast and easy
  • Compatible with over 50 lenses and accessories
  • SD cards are inexpensive and easy to find
  • Selectable auto-rotation feature rotates on the camera or only in the computer
  • Shutter button design allows followup shots without refocusing
  • Good macro performance from the kit lens
  • Images are sharp
  • Color is very accurate, with only red being a little high, which consumers generally like
  • Auto white balance handles most situations very well
  • Print quality is excellent, making sharp 13x19-inch prints
  • High ISO shots are surprisingly good, easily usable at 11x14
  • Great shot-to-shot, shutter lag, and cycle time numbers
  • Suitable for the inexperienced amateur, perfectly usable by the seasoned
  • Great value at current street prices
  • AF-assist adjustment and Flash Exposure compensation are buried in the Flash Settings menu.
  • In Live View Quick AF mode, camera does not tell you which AF points are in focus
  • Kit lens produces somewhat high barrel distortion at wide angle
  • Flash coverage is uneven, falling off in the corners
  • More than average exposure compensation required for well-exposed flash shots
  • Indoor white balance is a quite orange
  • Battery capacity is reduced with significant use of Live View mode and dust off system
  • Switch from CF to SD may bother experienced EOS users
  • ISO range is not as broad as higher-end offerings
  • Front lens barrel rotates, making polarizer lens use difficult
  • Live View shutter lag is a little longer than with the optical viewfinder
  • Small, tight viewfinder
  • No true spot metering
  • Demosaicing errors introduce noticeable artifacts in images: purple and yellow blotches in fine vertical lines (like hair or screens), and diagonal lines that create a moire pattern
  • Frame rate slows by half when shooting in RAW mode
  • No wireless remote support

 

Canon will likely sell a lot of Rebel XS kits. It's a pretty good SLR at a pretty astonishingly low price, and that's what it was designed to be. Most consumers will be very happy with the Canon Rebel XS, thanks to the high quality, image-stabilized lens, the well-rounded feature-set, and impressive print quality. But there are a few technical foibles that enthusiasts will do well to take note of.

Still, that won't affect most shooters, as it's the rare person who enlarges to 11x14-inches, let alone 13x19 or 16x20. The good news is that Canon made minor but important improvements to the grip and controls, and kept most of what is great about the XS's predecessor. Adding Live View and image stabilization addressed a few elements that other companies, namely Olympus and Pentax, have had in their favor at the low-price end of the market. If anyone knows how to address the image stabilization problem, it's Canon, with years of experience and a proven track record.

The new 18-55mm IS lens is significantly improved, as our SLRgear.com tests show. There is surprisingly little corner softness and chromatic aberration, and the lens's build is better than past models. It delivers such a good focal length range with so little weight that I recommend most people buy the kit to get this fine little lens for those days they just want a light, high-quality optic along.

The Rebel XS shares the faster shutter lag numbers we saw in the XSi. Shutter lag lengthens in Live View mode thanks to the need to close the shutter before the actual exposure, but that's to be expected. It's still very fast. Learn to shoot with the optical viewfinder by default, leaving Live View for special situations and tripod use, and you'll be happier with the experience. Most of the benefit of an SLR can be found in that optical viewfinder, with a truly real-time view of your subject. Unfortunately, the viewfinder of the Rebel XS isn't much bigger than the XTi, so for a better view lean again toward the Rebel XSi.

The Canon EOS Rebel XS's JPEG images are sharp and ready to go right from the camera. Enthusiast photographers won't like this, but this isn't an enthusiast camera. Consumer photographers will be very happy with their images. Stick with JPEG shooting most of the time, and you'll be happy with the 3-frames per second rate. If you plan to shoot RAW images at all, or sports, look to the Canon XSi or better yet the Canon 50D.

The Canon Rebel XS is a very good camera for the money, especially with a good-quality image-stabilized lens. If you'll never enlarge above 8x10 or want to shoot low-light and indoor images that you'll enlarge to 11x14, the Canon Rebel XS is a very good choice at a very low price, and a Dave's Picks among bargain digital SLRs. If you want a slightly faster, more capable camera with the same excellent lens and an excellent image sensor, give the Canon Rebel XSi a closer look.

 

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