Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS Digital SLR Camera
At a Glance
The 10.1-megapixel Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS has just about everything a budding digital photographer could want in a camera: a wide variety of features and modes, excellent image quality, and an affordable price tag. The XS doesn't have as many advanced features as the Digital Rebel XSi, its older sibling and one of our top-ranked digital SLRs, but it is an overall improvement over its predecessor, the Digital Rebel XTi.
Priced at $700 (as of 11/15/08) including a kit lens, the XS is $100 cheaper than the XSi--and fortunately, very few of the features we loved in the XSi have not been compromised. The XS comes in a single-lens kit with an 18mm-to-55mm IS lens (f/3.5 to 5.6), which provides image stabilization and a 35mm focal length range of 29mm to 88mm.
The camera has a sturdy build with a textured grip for one-handed shooting. The grip seems a bit small, however, and a few of the buttons, such as the exposure composition button, are a bit awkwardly placed. The 2.5-inch LCD on the back is a downgrade from the XSi's 3-inch LCD, but it is still a generous amount of space for viewing your images. At 15.9 ounces, the XS is 2.5 ounces lighter than the XTi, and it's the lightest Canon SLR to date.
With 10.1-megapixel resolution, seven-point autofocus, the EOS integrated cleaning system, and a CMOS sensor, the XS has a solid feature set for an entry-level camera. It has an unlimited burst rate of 3 frames per second. (Burst mode allows you to take several shots immediately in succession.) This is fairly remarkable considering that the XTi has a limit of 27 JPEGs, and even the XSi is limited to 53.
The XS has live view, a feature that allows you to shoot while viewing a real-time image on the LCD screen. Live view (which was not included on the XTi) reflects the brightness level of the actual image and lets you adjust it if it's too dark or too bright. You can also zoom in on your image as you're composing it to check focus in certain areas of the photo. I'm a novice digital photographer, and in my hands-on tests, I found this mode especially useful. However, I also discovered that shooting for a long period of time in live view increases the camera's internal temperature and can degrade image quality.
The XS lacks two major features seen on the XSi: spot metering and highlight tone priority. Spot metering, which allows you to meter your subject and ignore the rest of the frame, is useful for brightly backlit or macro images. Highlight tone priority helps retain detail in the brightest area of an image. Entry-level digital photographers won't miss these features, but more advanced users might.
The XS has an easy-to-read menu system that uses tabs to eliminate unnecessary scrolling. It also has the useful My Menu, which allows you to build a shortcut list of your frequently used settings.
The smallish viewfinder has autofocus indicators, tiny red dots that quickly flash when the focus locks. I found the lights a bit distracting; they don't flash long enough to see immediately, and I had to reshoot many pictures to ensure that I was focusing on my subject.
The XS's image quality really impressed me. Pictures were evenly exposed and sharp, and colors were accurate. I saw very little evidence of interference or noise in the images. The XS scored very well in the PC World Test Center's digital camera tests, too, though slightly lower than its older sibling, the XSi.
If you're a more seasoned photographer, you might want to shell out an extra $100 for the XSi. But overall, the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS is a great entry-level digital SLR, delivering a handful of advanced features and excellent image quality for a reasonable price.