Canon XSi Review

 
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Canon XSi Performance


Timing and Performance

Excellent speed for a consumer digital SLR.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

0.4 second

Time it takes for camera to turn on and take a shot.

Shutdown

~0 second

How long it takes to turn off (instant - difficult to measure).

Buffer clearing time
Large Fine JPEG

5 seconds
(after 13 LF JPEGs)

Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card. Some cameras won't shut down until the buffer is cleared.

Buffer clearing time
Small Basic JPEG
1 second
(after 20 SB JPEGs)
Buffer clearing time
RAW
6 seconds
(after 5 RAW frames)
Buffer clearing time
RAW + JPEG
7 seconds
(after 4 RAW + JPEG frames)

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III (133x min.) SD memory card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and other settings such as NR can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

The Canon XSi's start-up and shutdown times were very fast. Buffer clearing time depends on the image size and quality, burst length and how fast the card can be written to.

 

Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

0.3 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

1.2 seconds

Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

0.5 second

Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.

Mode switching is about average for an SLR, though switching from Record to Play was a bit on the slow side.

 

Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Using Optical Viewfinder

Full Autofocus

0.160 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture with Sigma 70mm f/2.8 lens.

Full Autofocus
with flash enabled

0.328 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture with built-in flash enabled in TTL Auto mode.

Pre-focused

0.089 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Continuous AF
0.192 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual focus
0.115 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "pre-focused."
Using Live View Mode

Full Autofocus,
Contrast-Detect AF

0.250 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture with Sigma 70mm f/2.8 lens using "Live mode" AF.

Full Autofocus,
Contrast-Detect AF
with flash enabled

0.392 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture with Auto TTL flash enabled using "Live mode" AF.

Full Autofocus,
Phase-Detect AF

0.232 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture using "Quick mode" AF.

Full Autofocus,
Phase-Detect AF
with flash enabled

0.480 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture in "Quick" Live View mode using "Quick mode" AF.

Full autofocus shutter response is quite fast for a consumer SLR, at 0.17 second. As is usually the case, the pre-flashes emitted to perform flash metering add some delay when the flash is used, raising full shutter lag with the flash to 0.33 second. "Prefocus" time was also quite fast, at 0.089 second (pre-focusing means half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the final exposure). Continuous mode was a bit slower than full AF, at 0.192 second. Manual focus was almost as fast as pre-focused at 0.115 second.

Autofocus lag when using the Canon XSi's Live View mode is slower than when using the optical viewfinder, but is still quite fast. "Live mode" AF uses contrast detect method from image sensor data, and results in a 0.25 second lag. The XSi's "Quick mode" AF uses the same phase-detect AF sensor as is utilized when using the optical viewfinder, but the extra mirror flips required result in a 0.232 second lag, which while slightly faster than Live View mode, is still slower than with the optical viewfinder. Still, these numbers are comparable to some competitors' AF lag using just an optical viewfinder, so they are really quite good.

 

Cycle Time (shot-to-shot)
Single Shot mode
Large Fine JPEG
0.42 second

Time per shot, averaged over 19 shots, 5 seconds to clear.

Single Shot mode
Small Basic JPEG

0.39 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 1 second to clear.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.36 second

0.36 second for 5 shots, then 1.08 seconds for the next 15 shots, 5 seconds to clear.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras refuse to snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous mode
Large Fine JPEG
0.29 second (3.50 frames per second);
13 frames total;
5 seconds to clear
0.29 second/frame for the first 13 frames, then 0.57 seconds (1.76 fps) for the remaining 7 shots.
Continuous mode
Small Basic JPEG
0.29 second (3.47 frames per second);
20+ frames total;
1 second to clear
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Continuous mode
RAW

0.29 second (3.51 frames per second);
5 frames total;
6 seconds to clear

0.29 second/frame for the first 5 frames, then 1.13 seconds (0.89 fps) for the remaining 15 shots.

Continuous mode
RAW +
JPEG

0.33 second (3.00 frames per second);
4 frames total;
7 seconds to clear

0.33 seconds for the first 4 frames, then 1.65 seconds (0.60 fps) for the remaining 16 shots.

Flash recycling

3.17 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III (133x min.) SD memory card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and other settings such as NR can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Shot-to-shot cycle times are also very good, at about 0.42 second per frame for large/fine JPEGs in single-shot mode, and the camera was able to capture 19 frames at this rate before slowing down. RAW mode was a little faster at 0.36 seconds per shot, but the Canon XSi had to slow down after 5 frames to flush to the card. Continuous speed is also very good, at 3.5 frames per second for 13 large/fine JPEGs or about 5 RAW files. The flash takes 3.17 seconds to recharge after a full-power shot, which is quite good considering its power.

 

Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

3,735 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, download speeds are quite speedy as well.


Bottom line, the Rebel XSi is very responsive and quick on the draw, fast enough to capture fast-paced action from sports to wildlife. The Canon XSi is also perfectly suited for photographing active children or pets, and its fast shutter response means you won't miss a shot while waiting for the autofocus. Overall, very good results.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Average battery life for a lithium-ion SLR design.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery,
Optical Viewfinder
500
Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery,
Live View LCD
190

The Canon XSi uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power, and ships with a charger. Battery life is only about average for an SLR using the optical viewfinder (and drops significantly when using the Live View mode), so we recommend you pick up a spare battery and keep it freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on either a fresh set of disposable batteries or a fully-charged rechargeable battery as appropriate), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage
The Canon XSi accepts SD/SDHC cards, though no card is included.

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
1GB Memory Card
Fine Normal
RAW
RAW+
JPG
4,272 x 2,848
Images
(Avg size)
220
4.7 MB
430
2.4MB
58
17.7 MB
44
23.3 MB
Approx.
Compression
8:1 15:1 1.2:1 -
3,088 x 2,056
Images
(Avg size)
372
2.8 MB
714
1.4 MB
- -
Approx.
Compression
7:1 13:1 - -
2,256 x 1,504
Images
(Avg size)
582
1.8 MB
1,136
901 KB
- -
Approx.
Compression
6:1 11:1 - -

The table above shows the approximate capacity of a 1GB card, file sizes and compression ratios at each image size/quality setting. We strongly recommend buying a large capacity SD/SDHC memory card at least a 1GB card, preferably a 4GB or larger one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings or when shooting in RAW mode. (Check the shopping link above. Cards are really cheap these days, so there's no reason to skimp.)

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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.

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