Canon XTi Review

 
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Canon Rebel XTi Viewfinder

As noted in a few places in this review, the most natural camera to compare to the Canon XTi is the Nikon D80. The D80 sells for a good bit more money than the XTi (as of this writing in November 2006, about $100-200 more, body-only), but it's the camera that most prospective XTi buyers not already locked into a lens system will be evaluating it against. The viewfinder is one area in which the D80 enjoys a considerable advantage over the XTi, thanks to its combination of prism-based construction and noticeably higher magnification factor. In simple terms, the D80's viewfinder is quite visibly larger and brighter. The illustration below shows the difference in apparent viewfinder sizes between the two cameras.

The most visible difference between the two viewfinders is size: Switching back and forth between the D80 and XTi, the XTi's viewscreen looks much smaller by comparison. While pentaprism viewfinders are brighter than pentamirror ones, the brightness difference is much more subtle. With well-lit subjects, we really didn't notice much of a difference, but when working under dim lighting, we definitely felt we could see farther into the shadows with the D80 than with the XTi.

We don't want to make too big a deal out of the differences between the D80 and XTi's viewfinders. The XTi's viewfinder is quite adequate. It's just another factor you should be aware of and may want to consider in choosing an SLR.

As noted in the overview, the Canon Rebel XTi's viewfinder incorporates a couple of features from the viewfinder on the 30D, namely an FE lock (Flash Exposure lock) indicator on the left side, and a white balance adjustment indicator (+/-) on the right. The Red-Eye indicator icon is now displayed on the rear-panel LCD screen, so is not present in the viewfinder. The illustration below shows all the elements in the XTi's viewfinder. The faint grey lines show the arrangement of the camera's 35 metering areas, and do not appear in the actual viewfinder display.

Note that, while the nine AF areas are in the same locations as those in the 30D's viewfinder, they retain the look of the AF areas in the Rebel XT, a hollow box with a point in the center that illuminates bright red when the point is active. We personally find this style of AF marker much more visible than those in the Nikon D80, where the outlines surrounding active AF areas glow a faint red.

Apart from these changes, the viewfinder is essentially the same as that of the previous XT, with identical specifications: Viewfinder blackout time is specified as 170ms for shutter speeds of 1/60 second or faster, dioptric adjustment ranges from -3.0 to +1.0 (an unusually wide range), and the same Precision Matte focusing screen is used.


Viewfinder

Coverage
Very good frame accuracy with the optical viewfinder.

18mm eq., Optical 55mm eq., Optical

The Rebel XTi's optical viewfinder showed about 97% frame accuracy at 18mm, and about 94% at 55mm. Both are very good, although as usual, we wonder why manufacturers can't make SLR viewfinders cover 100% of the frame.

 

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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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