Canon XS Review
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Canon XS Exposure
The Canon XS provides a lot of control functionality, leaving you the choice of shooting with fully automatic settings, or making fine adjustments as desired. Standard exposure modes include the usual Program, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority, and full Manual modes, as well as some "Image Zone" (scene-based preset) modes. The "Image Zone" exposure modes include Portrait, Landscape, Close-up (macro), Sports, Night Portrait, and Flash Off modes. These modes preset a variety of camera parameters to make it easier for non-expert photographers to achieve good exposures in a variety of standard shooting situations. The Flash Off mode simply disables the flash and external Speedlite (if attached), and puts the camera under automatic exposure control. The full Auto mode takes over all camera functions, turning the Canon XS into a very easy to use point-and-shoot camera, albeit a very capable one.
The Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes work much the same as on any other camera, allowing you to adjust one exposure variable while the Canon XS selects the other for the best exposure. Program mode keeps both variables under automatic control, while Manual mode gives you full control over everything. The Automatic Depth-of-Field mode (A-DEP) uses all seven autofocus zones to determine the depth of field in the active subject area. Once the Canon XS has determined the range of focusing distances present across the seven zones, it automatically computes the combination of aperture and shutter speed needed to render the nearest and furthest points in sharp focus.
See the Modes and Menus page for more details on exposure modes.
Canon XS Metering & ISO Sensitivity Options
Here you can see the coverage of the three metering settings. Evaluative (35-zone) is on the left, Center weighted is in the center and Partial is on the right. The XS has no Spot metering mode, but you aren't missing much without it, since Spot is usually not much different from Partial on Canon consumer SLRs.
Exposure metering options include Evaluative, Center-weighted, and Partial (10% of viewfinder at center). The Canon XS's Exposure Compensation setting allows the user to increase or decrease the metered exposure by up to two stops positively or negatively, in one-third or one-half EV increments.
The Canon XS offers regular ISO equivalents of 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1,600 (in one-stop increments only), plus an Auto mode. In Creative Zone modes, Auto can select up to ISO 1,600 while in Basic Zone (Full Auto or Image Zone), it is limited to ISO 800. The XS offers High ISO Noise Reduction options of Off and On, as well as optional Long Exposure Noise Reduction (dark frame subtraction).
An automatic exposure bracketing feature lets you set the total exposure variation (across three shots) at anywhere from +/- one-third or one-half EV, all the way up to +/- 2 EV. The number of frames and the order cannot be adjusted. The nice part is that the automatic variation is centered around whatever level of manual exposure compensation you have dialed in. Thus, you could manually set a positive exposure compensation of 0.7 EV, and then have the camera give you a variation of +/- 2/3 EV around that point.
AE/FE Lock (" * " button)
The Canon XS has the same simplified AE Lock button as the XSi and 50D, which unbundled the AF Lock feature from the old button on the older Rebels and the 20D and 30D. Marked with an asterisk (*) symbol, the AE Lock button simply holds the exposure at one setting while you recompose the image. It's very useful when spot metering, but also when dealing with subjects where you want to draw your exposure from one place, while autofocusing on another. Pressing the button with the pop-up flash activated or with an external flash mounted activates the FE Lock (Flash Exposure) function, which fires the flash and locks the proper exposure for the following frame.
White Balance Options
The Canon XS offers a full range of White Balance settings, including six presets, an Auto setting, and a Custom setting. The six presets include Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, and Flash. The Custom setting bases color balance on a previous exposure, meaning you can snap an image of a white card and then base the color temperature on that image. The Rebel XS offers no option to set White Balance temperature directly. A White Balance bracketing option snaps only one image, then writes three successive files from that single image. Bracketing steps are from -/+ 3 stops in whole-stop increments. (Each stop corresponds to five mireds of a color conversion filter, for a total range of +/- 15 mireds. This corresponds to about a +/- 500K shift at a normal daylight color temperature of 5,500K.)
The WB Bracketing is set on the same grid as the White Balance correction grid. Fairly sophisticated, the white balance correction tool lets you shift the color balance toward more or less green, amber, magenta, or blue, using a +/-9 step grid format. You move a highlighted square through the grid to adjust the color balance. It's a slightly more advanced interface than we're used to seeing on digital cameras, but a useful one that greatly extends the camera's color corrective abilities.
The Canon XS also offers a Picture Style option through the LCD menu, which lets you select from Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, or three User Defined settings. In each of the preset modes, the contrast, saturation, sharpness, and tone are set for specific conditions. The three User Defined options let you manually adjust each variable, then save it as a custom parameter. Finally, you can set the camera's color space to sRGB or Adobe RGB.
Continuous Shooting Mode and Self-Timer
The Canon XS's Continuous Shooting mode is rated by Canon at 3 frames per second, for a total of 514 Large/Fine JPEG shots, 1.5 frames per second for 5 RAW frames, or 1.5 frames per second for 4 RAW + Large/Fine JPEG frames before the buffer fills. The number of consecutive shots could be limited by SD card space, if your memory card is nearly full. Also, when shooting JPEGs of a very complex scene with a lot of sharp, fine detail may also compress less and result in lower buffer capacities.
The camera's Drive setting also accesses three Self-Timer modes, which open the shutter 10 or 2 seconds after the Shutter button is pressed, giving you time to dash around in front of the camera. The third mode will take a programmable amount of shots (2 to 10 shots), after a 10 second delay. A Remote Control mode works with the dedicated wired remote switch (RS-60E3) as well. The Rebel XS is not compatible with infrared wireless remotes such as the RC-1 or RC-5.
The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Canon EOS XS (Rebel XS, Canon 1000D) Photo Gallery.
Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Canon EOS XS (Rebel XS, Canon 1000D) with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.