Canon Rebel XTi Operation

The Rebel XTi has a very different user interface than previous Digital Rebel models. It discards the black/white data readout found on the original Rebel and Rebel XT, instead relying on its large color LCD screen for all user interaction. This makes for a very clear, highly visible user interface, but probably does contribute to slightly shorter battery life, since the large LCD has to be fired up any time you want to change a setting. One feature we do like very much though, is the infrared face-detection sensor that turns off the LCD screen when you hold the camera up to your eye. (The Nikon D40 lacks such a sensor, something we've found somewhat annoying when working with it.)

Overall, the control layout places a few main controls (power, shutter button, command dial, and mode dial) on the right side of the camera's top panel, with most of the other controls on the back of the camera. Let's take a closer look at some of the user-interface elements:

Canon XTi Rear-Panel LCD Display

We mentioned the new rear-panel display in the overview, let's take a closer look at it. The image below shows callouts for all the information shown in the default display. (Illustration courtesy Canon USA.)

The display is black-and-white, except for the light-grey box around the Shooting Mode indicator. We were a little surprised that we didn't see more use of color in this display, but the monochrome approach does have a certain elegance to it, and all the information is very easy to decipher.

One time when color is used on the rear-panel display is when you adjust the exposure compensation. As soon as you press the exposure compensation button on the camera's body, the exposure compensation area is highlighted on the LCD display, as seen above.

Top: ISO
Left: Metering Mode Right: AF Mode
Bottom: White Balance

Pressing any of the arrow keys to the right of the LCD screen immediately brings up a screen for the exposure parameter associated with that button. Once the option screen is displayed, you can use the arrow keys to scroll the cursor highlight through the options presented. When you've made the choice you want, pressing Set confirms it and returns you to the main shooting display. A nice feature on the XTi is that you don't have to press the Set button to confirm a setting before shooting: If you just hit the shutter button, the camera will snap a picture, using the setting you left the cursor on. One odd aspect is that some of these buttons work differently from the others. For example, when you press the ISO button it brings up the ISO menu. Press the button again, and it scrolls up through the options. You can also use the four arrows to navigate within the list, jumping from ISO 100 to ISO 800. However, when you press the center or OK button, you get a similar list, but you can't scroll with anything but the up and down arrows, or else the Main Dial. Same look, different behavior.

The AF-point selection screen is also very clear and straightforward. When you press the AF-point selection button in the upper right corner of the back panel, the display shown above appears. As you'd expect, you can use the arrow keys to select the point you want, and then exit by pressing either the Set or Shutter button.

The Picture Style and Drive Mode displays are equally clear, though selection is not quite as simple (mostly because the Set and Drive mode buttons aren't navigation buttons; but the interface is different enough that it's noticable)...

A final camera-status option has been carried over from the Rebel XT, namely the Camera Function display, shown below. This display is accessed by pressing the DISP button while any settings menu is displayed. This screen shows the status of a large number of camera settings, including date and time, Picture Style settings (sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color tone), color space, white balance correction and bracketing, auto power off, auto rotate, LCD monitor auto off, and remaining capacity on the CF card. This display can be a little bewildering to new users, but it's a great way to quickly check whether you may have forgotten to clear (or set) some of the more obscure Picture Style or White Balance options.

Canon XTi Playback & Record Review Displays

As is the case with most DSLRs, the Canon Rebel XTi's rear-panel LCD screen can't be used as a live viewfinder. It does, however, show by default each image as it's captured. The display mode used in Record Review is the same as was last used in Playback mode, or you can hit the DISP button to cycle to a different mode. Likewise, in Playback mode, you can cycle between the available display options by pressing the DISP button repeatedly. You can also select between the normal luminance-based histogram and the new RGB histogram option via a Playback-mode menu item. The screenshots below show the various displays and options available.

Canon XTi Image Display Options
This is the default display in playback mode. The file number is displayed upper right, the shutter speed, aperture, and file sequence number is shown below left.
Pressing the DISP button cycles through the three available displays. This is the second option, image with no overlay.
The XTi's third playback display option shows a histogram and more detailed exposure information. If there are any blown highlights, they'll blink in this mode.
A Custom Settings Menu option lets you choose between a conventional luminance-only histogram, or the separate red, green, and blue displays as seen above.
You can also zoom in on an image, up to 10x at the highest resolution. The small navigator window in the lower right-hand corner shows you what part of the larger image you're currently viewing. The arrow keys let you navigate around the full image, and the zoom in / zoom out keys increase or decrease the magnification level.
If you press the Zoom Out button while viewing a single image on the LCD screen, it'll take you to a 9-imge thumbnail display. The arrow keys let you navigate among the thumbnail images. The overlay text displays the same basic exposure info for the currently-selected image as does the default single-image display.
Pressing the JUMP button takes you to a thumbnail display, but one that lets you skip through pages of nine thumbnails at a time.
Pressing the JUMP button when a single image is displayed gives you the option of skipping through the images on the card in steps of 10 or 100 at a time, or skipping based on shot dates.
Pressing the Delete button brings up this display, giving you the option to erase the current image, or all (unprotected) images on the card. The Delete display will show either the full image or a thumbnail plus histogram, depending on the playback mode you've selected.


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