Canon EOS 350D Digital Rebel XT

By far, the most popular high-end digital camera on the market this year has been the Canon EOS 350D Digital Rebel XT. This sophisticated and relatively-inexpensive digital SLR has outsold everything in its class, including Nikon’s D50 and D70 cameras.

The selling point of the Digital Rebel XT is its options: for less than $900, anyone – even beginners – can purchase a professional-quality SLR kit from which they can produce stunning digital images with little to no learning curve. In the past, those interested in entering the digital SLR market had to dish out upward of $2000-$4000 in order to begin shooting, with Canon’s Digital Rebel XT that has all changed.

The advantages of the Digital Rebel XT are immediately apparent: it’s lightweight, durable, and exceptionally powerful compared to the other cameras in its class. It wields an 8.0 megapixel CMOS censor, which is important, because up until now the CMOS sensor had yet to be implemented into common use. The CMOS sensor is ideal for producing low-grain, clean images from ISO 100 all the way to ISO 1600: your blue skies will be a consistent blue, and your friend’s face will be clear of all the digital artifacts that were notorious among older sensors.

The Digital Rebel XT also offers 12 “exposure modes” that are placed at your fingertips with a convenient dial. These exposure modes take into account a wide range of shooting conditions, and include Full Auto, Portrait, Landscape, and Night Portrait, as well as settings for both shutter speed and aperture priority. As its name indicates, Full Auto does everything for you, but you’re welcome to switch the camera to Manual and change the settings to suit your fancy. Auto will save you in a crunch, but Manual is for the true master – proving without a doubt that anyone can find the Digital Rebel XT useful.

Perhaps the best thing about the Digital Rebel XT is the options it gives you. For instance, say you’re an analog camera owner, and you have a stockpile of Canon EOS lenses dating back to the 80’s. Well, you’re in luck, because the Digital Rebel XT is compatible with all of them. Your $500 professional-grade off-camera flash? That too will plug right in. Oh, and sick of black cameras? The Digital Rebel XT comes in gray too, for the fashionistas among us.

The Digital Rebel XT’s kit lens is decent, for the price. The EF-S 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens, which retails separately for around $60-80 dollars, captures the world with stunning color and sharpness. While the zoom isn’t so hot, it’s got enough power to spy on someone walking across the street. The close-up power of the 18 mm f/3.5 setting is outstanding for portraits, producing that glowing background blur that you always wanted to do on your Powershot but never could.

The Digital Rebel XT also allows you to shoot your photos faster: it can shoot up to 14 consecutive Large, Fine Quality JPEGs, or up to five RAW files, all within seconds of pressing the shutter. You can also customize the Digital Rebel XT so it takes both RAW images and Large/Fine pictures, saving them simultaneously to your CF Card. (Just in case you want to archive your files as RAW, without all the RAW conversion hassle.)

One of the more surprising things that I discovered while testing the Digital Rebel XT was the battery life: even without the bulky additional battery pack, I could get up to a week or even two worth of constant use out of the camera without having to re-charge the battery. The Digital Rebel can pull this off because the LCD screen keeps itself off until you take a picture, instead letting you rely on a series of LED displays, one on the back of the camera and one inside the viewfinder, to guide your aperture and shutter speed settings.

All in all, the Digital Rebel XT can beat the crap out of any other digital SLR on the market right now: it packs a hefty features-packed punch while being cheaper than its competitors. If you’re in the market for a versatile and powerful camera, there’s really no reason to purchase anything else.

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