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Canon EOS 400D Digital Rebel XTi DSLR - Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 26/01/2007
Rating: Highly Recommended

Author: Matthew Waller
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Announced on the 23rd of August 2006, the Canon EOS 400D is a 10.1 megapixel digital SLR camera with a 2.5" screen - it will accept any Canon EF/EF-S mount lens and is also named Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi in the United States. The Canon EOS 400D DA 18-55mm lens I tested it with is equivalent to 29-88mm on a 35mm camera. The Canon EOS 400D is available from around £479 with lens kit making it excellent value for money for a 10 megapixel digital SLR camera. The camera is enclosed in a sturdy body and is available in black. This SLR digital camera does not record video. It is about average size for a digital SLR - the body measures: 126.5mm x 94.2mm x 65mm (without protruding parts), and weighs approx. 510g excluding lens, batteries and media. Nb. the Canon 350D is very similar, but is 8 megapixel and approx 50 pounds cheaper.

Canon say this about the camera:

"Make the world your playground with the EOS 400D. 10.1 Megapixels of superior CMOS resolution and Canon's Integrated Cleaning System deliver the EOS hallmark of crisp, clean images, shot after shot.  The EOS 400D's 10.1 Megapixel sensor employs the same outstanding CMOS image quality advantage of its big brothers in the professional EOS 1 range. Super sensitive in low light and virtually noise free, CMOS is also fast and power efficient."

You can find more information on their website.

The Camera: a visual tour: (Photos of the camera taken with the Pentax K100D DSLR).

The Canon EOS 400D front with lens kit.

Front - Camera off, lens off. MF / AF switch on right.

Front view - Canon kit lens on, shutter release.

Back - Disp, MENU, JUMP, Play, Delete, Info, Playback, Printer link, Optical viewfinder, in-use sensor, 2.5" screen, av compensation, drive mode, 4-way controller, OK middle button, SD access light, zoom in and out buttons.

Top: Power switch, mode dial, Av dial, shutter release. Optical viewfinder has a diopter corrector.

Right: Compact flash card slot open. Strap loop.

Bottom - battery compartment, metal tripod mount.

Side view - kit lens: EFS 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 - Right: MF/AF switch, Flash pop up, strap loop, Video out, remote & USB connectors (behind rubber cover).

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.

Size comparison.

Compared to the Fujifilm FinePix S9600 - a 9 megapixel digital camera with 10.7x optical zoom lens.

Size comparison, compared to the Pentax K100D DSLR. (Taken with the S9600)

Specifications / Features:

  • 10.1 million pixel CCD (22.2mm x 14.8mm)
  • 2.5" TFT screen - 230,000 pixels
  • 9 point autofocus
  • CF Type I/II memory card & microdrive compatibility
  • Auto picture mode, scene modes plus shutter and aperture priority modes
  • Shutter speed: 1/4000 - 30 sec. and bulb
  • High speed 3 fps consecutive (up to 27 jpeg or 10 RAW) shots
  • ISO: Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600.
  • EF/EF-S lens mount.
  • AF sensors include manual point selection
  • 35 zone metering, evaluative, partial and centre weighted average.

Box Contents:

  • EOS 400D Digital Camera
  • Neck strap
  • Viewfinder cap
  • Eye cup
  • USB interface cable, Video cable (VC-100)
  • Rechargable Canon Battery and separate battery charger
  • Camera User Guide, Software User Guide
  • Software on CD-Rom

Average box contents - There is no memory card provided with the camera. A case would be very useful.

Battery usage: Battery life seems very good:- using the provided battery, I was able to take roughly 400+ pictures before the camera displayed low battery symbol. Battery life is rated at up to 500 shots and it is possible to purchase additional spare batteries if necessary. The camera can also be used with a mains supply. The display automatically turns off when the camera is raised up to the users eye, this increases battery life.

Camera Operation and OptionsThe on/off dial on the right is close to the shutter release button. The top left dial selects the camera mode. This allows the choice of the following picture taking modes: A-DEP, M[anual], Av[Aperture priority], Tv [Shutter priority], P[rogram], Full Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait, Flash off.

Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the settings screen(s) as shown below:

Settings screen 1 Settings screen 2

Settings screen 1 (above, left) - Quality : High or Lower quality : Large Medium Small, or Raw+Large jpg or Raw only, Red-eye On/Off, Beep On/Off, Shot w/o card On/Off.

Settings screen 2 (above, right) - Auto Exposure Balance, Flash Exposure Compensation, White balance bracket, Custom white balance, color space, picture style (Standard/Portrait/Landscape/Neutral/Faithful/Monochrome or one of 3 user defined settings) Dust delete data.

Drive mode Detailed information - photo mode

Optical / Electronic Viewfinder:  In common with other digital SLR cameras, there is no electronic viewfinder.  The optical viewfinder is clear and has a range of useful indicators located along the bottom which tell you how fast the shutter speed is, the apeture, what the current exposure compensation is and what the auto focus is aiming at.

Detailed information - photo mode (above, right) - shows you current photo settings

Scene modes: There do not appear to be any further scene modes other than the basic ones that come with the camera. It likely that the majority of the time, this camera will be used by people who want to take control of the image for themselves.

The Drive mode button brings up the option screen as shown above, left, and give you the following options:

Left: Single shooting
Right: Self-timer / remote control
Center: Continuous shooting

Playback (Review) mode/menu:

Playback mode - photo view mode Playback - histogram and photo information

Screen / LCD display in play mode: (shown above, left) The screen resolution with 230,000 pixels is good and pictures look clear on it. The screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read. The camera can display a review of your picture showing the over-exposed regions.

Playback mode: Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is moderately fast. Zooming in is quick and magnifies the image up to 12-16x. Zooming out shows 9 images at a time as thumbnails. Pressing the jump button allows you to skip forward and backward 9 photos at a time. Further photo information (shown above, right) is available by pressing the DISP button (exposure information and the histograms). 

Playback function menu (above, right)   In playback mode, the trashcan button deletes images (with confirmation).

Playback menu Setup menu 1

Playback menu (above, left) - Protect, Rotate, Print order, Transfer order, Auto play, Review time, Histogram

Set-up menu (above, right) - Auto power off, Auto rotate, LCD brightness, LCD auto off, Date/Time, File numbering, Format. 

Set-up menu (Page 2 - not shown) - Language, video system, custom functions, clear settings, sensor cleaning, auto, maunal, firmware version.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures:

Image Size:
Number Stored (128meg SD) / Quality
L (3888 x 2592)
M (2816 x 1880)
S (1936 x 1288)

As shown in the table above, higher quality images take a large amount of memory, so a high capacity memory card is definitely recommended.  Having said that, the largest JPG images recorded by this camera were rarely above 4mb and so over a hundred images can be recorded onto a 512mb card.

A large memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 512mb memory card, and preferably a 1024mb memory card, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to be away from a computer for a long time (such as when going on holiday) then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in. This camera takes only compact flash memory. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Canon EOS 400D:

Find the latest prices for CF (Compact Flash) at Amazon.co.uk: 512mb: £21, 1gb (1024mb): £16, 2gb (2048mb): £38, 4gb (4096mb): £77, 8gb (8192mb): £198.
Need more help deciding what size memory card to buy?
Click here to read my article called "What Size Memory Card Should I Buy?"

Speed: The camera is quick to switch on and take photos, being ready in about 1 second (with sensor cleaning turned on). Focusing is precise and rapid.  As expected from a camera of this class, you can take the photo the instant you push the button and then take another in less than a second.  In continuous shooting mode it takes 3 frames per second and will take an impressive 27 shots in a row (!) before it needs to pause and record the images to compact flash.  The flash is able to take 5 shots before needing to recharge. Playback mode is quick, and its easy to zoom in on your last shot and check for blur with the zoom control. Moving from picture to picture is quick but you can also get an overview of 9 shots at a time if you zoom out one more notch. Moving around the different menu options is rapid and clear but deleting photos is time consuming.

Ease of use: Surprisingly for a camera of this complexity, it is easy to get to grips with.  The majority of the useful functions are located in logical places and so little use of the manual is necessary.  The AUTO mode is obviously the most straight-forward and the other scene modes are explained in the manual and the clear on screen display makes the normal everyday functions easy for a beginner to use.  The menus are easy to read and although some options are slightly cryptic, a quick read of the manual clarifies things.  The viewfinder has a display which shows you the usual information and when you're not looking through the viewfinder the LCD display lets you see the camera and film settings (mode, F stop, exposure compensation, iso), the metering modes, the current resolution settings, how many shots you have left and whether the battery is about to die on you.  Overall the camera is well laid out and logical, which makes using it straightforward and unobtrusive, with some of the more advanced features requiring a couple of button pushes.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc.) I was impressed with how easy the camera is to hold, even with only one hand, even in less than ideal conditions - It has a rubber grip for right handed people which means it can be held completely securely with one hand, although the cameras overall size and weight may make it difficult for some people to hold steady like this.  For maximum stability (particularly in windy conditions) it is recommended that you use both hands or a tripod.  The buttons are easy to reach although advanced users may find changing aperture, overriding compensation and doing an exposure locked shot all at once a little tricky (but not impossible).  The buttons of use are all in logical positions.  The buttons don't seem overly small. I thought the camera felt very good ergonomically, with an excellent size hand-grip.  The mode dial is large but not accidentally bumped and the shutter release, apeture change and exposure compensation are well positioned within reach of thumb and clicking finger. The camera feels solid, robust and well-built and I like the ease of use of the manual focus - when you have the manual focus set 'correctly' the auto focus detectors confirm this by indicating where it agrees with you - very helpful!

Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, Macro, to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Canon EOS 400D Sample Photo Gallery!


Heather and Flower (ISO400) Group photo (ISO400)

Inside: The camera has very good colour - It took a good "Heather and Flower" photo - there is no red-eye in the photo, and there is none in other group photos. It has a decent flash, and copes well with group photos and on AUTO ISO, the ISO setting was kept quite low in these photos. The camera did a good job at focusing most of the time even in low-light. Colour is accurate and saturated. Exposure was good and if necessary (such as the bright conditions I faced) this can be altered using exposure compensation or altering the flash strength.

ISO Noise Test - Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos, and you may use higher ISO settings as light levels get lower, particularly indoors. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (ISO: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600).

Below you'll find the noise test image (taken indoors in low light without the flash, unless otherwise stated), plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings, compared with the 6 megapixel Pentax K100D and the 10 megapixel Olympus E-400 in order to show the difference between the Canon EOS 400D and other current digital cameras.

Pentax K100D (6mp) (Tungsten WB) Canon EOS 400D (10mp, Auto WB) Olympus E-400 (10mp) (Tungsten WB)

ISO Noise Test Photos - Flash is off. Canon EOS 400D in the middle, Pentax K100D on the left, and the 10 megapixel Olympus E-400 on the right. The colour difference is due to automatic white balance unless otherwise stated.

Pentax K100D (6mp) Canon EOS 400D (10mp) Olympus E-400 (10mp)
ISO100 - N/A ISO100 - Actual Pixels (1.6s F5.6) ISO100 - Actual Pixels (1.3s F5.6)
ISO200 - Actual Pixels (1.5s F5.6) ISO200 - Actual Pixels (0.8s F5.6) ISO200 - Actual Pixels (0.62s F5.6)
ISO400 - Actual Pixels (0.7s F5.6) ISO400 - Actual Pixels (1/3 F5.6) ISO400 - Actual Pixels (1/3 F5.6)
ISO800 - Actual Pixels (1/3 F5.6) ISO800 - Actual Pixels (1/5 F5.6) ISO800 - Actual Pixels (1/6 F5.6)
ISO1600 - Actual Pixels (1/6 F5.6) ISO1600 - Actual Pixels (1/10 F5.6) ISO1600 - Actual Pixels (1/13 F5.6)
ISO3200 - Actual Pixels (1/10 F5.6) ISO3200 - N/A ISO3200 - N/A

The Canon EOS 400D has very low noise in the test photos taken at ISO100 to ISO400. Noise is low at ISO800, and acceptable at ISO1600. Noise is lower than the Olympus E-400, although slightly higher than the Pentax K100D (this can be expected as the Pentax has a 6 megapixel sensor). Compared to the Fujifilm FinePix F30 which displays quite low noise, the 400D's edges are much smoother than the F30's, most likely due to the high levels of image processing applied to the F30 images. The camera has excellent abilities, however choosing the highest ISO settings will sacrifice some final image quality.

Image Stabilisation: The Canon EOS 400D does not feature built in image stabilisation - to acheive image stabilisation with this camera you will need to buy Canon lenses with optical image stabilisation such as the Canon EF f/3.5-5.6 IS USM - this is a much more expensive way of acheiving image stabilisation when compared to Digital SLRs with image stabilisation built into the body of the camera.


London Eye (ISO100, f11) Red London Bus (ISO400)

Outside: The camera has rich colour, with good saturation and contrast. There was good detail, and noise was low upto ISO400. The quality was set to maximum to minimise any jpeg artefacts.

Zoom (and lenses): The first kit lens provides a 3x optical zoom starting at wide-angle 18mm (27mm equivalent), zooming to 55mm (82mm equivalent) - it is great for 'normal' everyday photography, but if you want a camera suitable for every situation from wide-angle use to ultra zoom use, then an alternate zoom lens is worth purchasing. Below you'll find test photos taken with the kit lens. As with all Digital SLRs, digital zoom is not available in camera.

Wide-angle Telephoto Actual pixels - rollover for sharpened image

Exposure / metering - The photos of the clock tower seem a little dark in the shadows, because of the very blue sky and lighting, however this can be either compensated for (using EV compensation) or by selecting a different metering mode, the metering can be weighted toward the center of the image. Overall exposure and metering was very good.

Lens noise and zoom: The lens is silent in operation except for motorized focus which is still relatively quiet. The lens gives excellent control over how you frame your subject. The shutter sound is quite noticable, and makes a "screrrr" type of sound. It is slightly louder the the Olympus E-400, and may be a shock to people upgrading from a silent point and shoot digital camera.

Other Image Quality issues: 'Purple fringing' was difficult to detect in the majority of normal photos. In some test cases, by looking toward the corners of the images, slight coloured fringes may be noticed, although it is likely that use of an alternate lens would minimise this problem. Some computer based tools can be used to remove purple fringing in post-processing. Images taken with the kit lens were noticably soft when viewed at 100%, and benefitted from sharpening - an example of a normal image and a sharpened image (using Photoshop) can be viewed above.


Timex Watch Macro Actual Pixels (ISO400)

The manual focus ring allows you to get very good, close-up, detailed macro photos. Custom white balance is also an option with this camera. The kit lens allows you to get quite close to the subject.

Video mode: The camera does not feature a video mode (as with all current Digital SLRs).


Image Quality: Image quality is excellent, the images have very good colour, with good contrast and detail, with low noise except at the highest ISO settings (ISO1600). Images were slightly smoothed but this is adjustable within the camera and detail was very good. Purple fringing was very low with the kit lens, and red-eye was not a problem. The camera was very competent at focusing (except on very plain surfaces). Vignetting in photos was very mild and I did not notice barrel or pincushion distortion. There is a good range of image sizes, and the compression options include a RAW mode. Auto white balance, metering, and exposure seemed to be good to very good. The camera gives very good control over image quality - pressing the menu button lets you change "film" properties and this can be customised. (9/10)

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is stylish and professional with a solid black body. The camera has good 2.5" screen, with excellent resolution. The camera feels sturdy and is very comfortable to hold, although it could be considered slightly bulky compared to some of the smaller DSLRs. The camera is easy to use, the menu system is easy to use and there is a good layout of buttons and controls, although some of the more advanced options may take a little time to get to through the menu system - it is recommended that you spend time with the manual to ensure you gain the most benefit from these features. The camera speed is good, with a good switch on time, rapid focusing time, excellent shutter response, barely noticable delay due to flash recharge, quick playback mode, quick menus, and excellent continuous shooting. The camera has a large range of features, including RAW support, bulb-mode and night photography. Battery life is excellent but dependant on how much you use the flash. (9/10)

Value for Money: The Canon 400D from around £479 including lens kit, is good value for money for a 10 megapixel camera, particularly if you already own Canon lenses. The Canon 400D will accept any EF and EF-S mount lenses. The Canon 350D has slightly less resolution and should be available second hand for a good price, however, the savings are only useful if you feel you will not benefit from the extra resolution of the 400D.  Other digital SLR cameras offering similar features and controls are the 10 megapixel Olympus EVOLT E-400, Nikon D80, Sony Alpha A100 and Pentax K10D. Available for slightly less are the Pentax K100D (with image stabilisation), Nikon D40 and Nikon D50 with lens available for around £450, and £400 respectively. (9/10) See more digital camera reviews sorted by megapixels here.

Summary: The Canon 400D Digital SLR is a great digital camera.  It feels very comfortable in hand, and produces very natural pictures with little noise and rich pleasing colours. This camera is very easy to use (in auto mode), and would definitely suit an amateur who wants to become a professional. The camera offers excellent battery life, with very good controls and good build quality. Professional photographers might want to compare the camera with other DSLR cameras before purchase, as some may find the camera's features and options slightly limiting. The Canon EOS 400D with kit lens is available for around £479 making this camera good value for money and a great quality Digital SLR.

Canon EOS 400D DSLR Rating: Highly Recommended (9/10)
Available for £479
or Get the best price below!

What I like:

  • Great image quality
  • Low noise at all ISO settings (apart from the highest ISO setting)
  • Easy to use - AUTO mode, Scene modes especially useful for beginners
  • Excellent image quality - difficult to detect any artefacts
  • Sturdy, compact body
  • Good kit lens (although slightly soft)
  • Provides access to Canon lens range
  • Good colour (highly accurate with good options)
  • Good handling - comfortable hand grip (although it may seem small to some)
  • Good battery life - clever way it achieves this withou compromising on abilities
  • Dust detection and auto cleaning sensor
  • Quick performance

What I don't like:

  • No automatic image review options eg; auto zoom.
  • No advanced playback review options eg; compare 2 photos side by size zoomed in.
  • Deleting images must be done one at a time.
  • Lack of post processing abilities.
  • Not as many scene modes as other recent digital cameras (but maybe that's a good thing)
  • Included software utilities seem limited.

Additional Test Images are viewable in the Canon EOS 400D Sample Photo Gallery.

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