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Canon EOS 450D Digital Rebel XSi - Digital SLR Review
Review Date: 21/08/2008
Rating: Highly Recommended
Author: Matthew Waller
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More Reviews: Canon EOS 450D

Introduction: Announced on the 24th of January 2008, the Canon EOS 450 (aka Digital Rebel XSi) is an impressive update to the Canon EOS 400D and features a new 12.2 megapixel sensor, 3.5fps shooting, live view mode, 9 point AF, 3" screen, SD memory card support, and dust reduction, and adds an image stabilised kit lens to provide a fully featured Digital SLR system. The Canon EOS 450D is available from around £445 which makes it good value for money as one of the cheapest 12 megapixel Digital SLRs. The camera is enclosed in a black plastic body and measures approx. 128.8 x 97.5 x 61.9 mm (excluding protrusions), and weighs approx. 475g. excluding lens, battery and memory card.

Canon have this to say about the camera:

"The EOS 450D blends uncompromising performance with ease of use in a lightweight, ergonomic body. Capture your world with a 12.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor and the very latest Canon technologies. Featuring a 12.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor, EOS Integrated Cleaning System, 3.0" LCD with Live View mode and a new 9-point AF system, the model presents consumers with an unprecedented level of image quality and versatility at this end of the market."

You can find more information on their website.

The Camera: a visual tour: (Photos of the camera taken with the Panasonic Lumix TZ5)

Front view - camera off.

Front view - camera on, flash.

Top: flash hot-shoe, mode dial, on off, ISO, scroll wheel, diopter correction.

Canon EFS 18-55mm IS Lens and Canon EOS 450D with lens off.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.

Size comparison.

Specifications / Features:

  • 12.2 MP CMOS sensor
  • 9-point wide-area AF
  • EOS Integrated Cleaning System
  • 3.0" LCD with Live View mode
  • DIGIC III processor
  • Large, bright viewfinder
  • Total image control
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Compatible with EF/EF-S lenses and EX Speedlites
  • Continuous shooting: Full-Resolution Image 3.5 frames/sec
  • HD Output : No
  • Red-Eye Reduction: Yes
  • ISO : Auto /100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600
  • Modes / Scenes: Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait, No Flash, Program AE , Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Manual, A-DEP
  • Histogram available: In playback and record
  • Exposure bracketing: +/- 2 EV, 1/2 or 1/3-stop increments
  • Optical viewfinder: Yes
  • Manual WB: Yes

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • Wrist Strap
  • Battery
  • Battery charger and lead
  • USB cable
  • Software CD Rom

Average box contents - A memory card supplied as standard would be nice, and I highly recommend getting a case (eg Semi-hard Case EH19-L) as one is not supplied as standard.

Menu system: The menu system is logical and very easy to use. It doesn't take long to get used to the way the menu system works. The function button gives (along with the buttons on the back of the camera) quick access to the most commonly used options with just one press of the button. There is direct access to 'picture style presets' which have individual settings that change between different pre-sets - ideal to switch between more high contrast, sharp settings to a more subtle tone. The central 'setting' button provides another way to access the usual options that you may need to change as well as the more advanced ones (such as flash compensation). The playback menu gives you a collection of picture reviewing screens as well as more advanced options such as rotating, protecting and printing effects.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera lets you choose the image size (Large, Medium and Small), and how much compression is applied to the images (represented as either 'smooth' for larger files or 'blocks' for smaller files). In addition, Large images can be recorded as JPEG only, RAW only and JPEG + RAW combined. Higher quality images take a large amount of memory, so a high capacity memory card is definitely recommended, unless you're prepared to sacrifice image size or compression to fit more pictures in memory. There is a good choice of image sizes and compression options but no obvious choice regarding aspect ratios. Note that in burst mode, in all image sizes and all qualities except the highest quality settings (& RAW modes), the burst mode can be used continuously until the card is full.

Bottom - Battery (LP-E5, 7.4v, 1080mAh), metal tripod mount.

Battery usage: Battery life is rated at 500 shots (according to CIPA standards, with supplied LP-E5 battery pack) - I was able to take around 590 shots with battery life still showing as full, this is very good for a digital camera and slightly better than average for a Digital SLR. Battery life will be dependent on the kind of use you make of the camera. It won't be a problem obtaining additional Canon LP-E5 batteries, Canon make a battery grip and provide two options of battery magazine, one that lets you use two Canon LP-E5 batteries and the other allows you to use the camera with AA batteries.

Memory card slot, SanDisk Ultra II 1GB SD memory card.

Memory cards: The highest quality large images take over 4 megabytes. Typically then an 1gb memory card would provide room for about 200 images, which I would recommend as a bare minimum. If you intend to use the camera's RAW mode (and included software) a 2gb or larger memory card is better. You can use SD, and SDHC memory cards - I tend to use Sandisk Ultra II Plus USB SD memory cards as these let you plug the memory card straight into a USB socket making it easy to transfer images onto any computer, they are currently available as 1GB, 2GB, 4GB SD cards. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Canon EOS 450D:

Find the latest prices for SD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 1gb (1000mb): £4, 2gb (2000mb): £6, 4gb (4000mb SDHC): £8, 8gb (8000mb SDHC): £12
Need more help deciding what memory card to buy? Have a look at our guide to digital camera memory cards or our article what size memory card should I buy?

Speed: The camera can take its first photo from 'off' in under 1 second (without flash), which is faster than you can say 'you forgot to take the lens cap off'. Focusing seemed very quick and precise too. The camera shutter response seems instant when pre-focused, responding immediately - and shot to shot time was fairly quick, with a delay of around 0.4 seconds without flash. The flash recharge time was quite quick allowing a shot to be taken every 0.9 seconds, flash is also available in the continuous shooting mode. Continuous shooting is very good, at roughly 3.5fps at the highest quality setting until the card is full. In highest jpeg quality, the burst mode should allow 50 images before things slow down. The playback and menus are also very quick.

Back - 3" screen, menu, display, optical viewfinder, eye detection, AV, WB, 4-way controller, middle set button, play, delete, focus area, zoom control in playback mode.

Ease of use: The camera is very easy to use, particularly in the AUTO mode and has a number of scene modes that help get good results. The controls on the back of the camera are straightforward and the menus are responsive and easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The scene modes are easy to access, mainly thanks to the large dial at the top right of the camera and a lot of the commonly used options can be accessed using the buttons on the back. It's easy to see when photos are in focus and I didn't have any difficulty using the manual focus. The image stabilisation means that more of your shots will be blur-free.

Lens - AF/MF and IS switch, flash release, lens release, Video out, usb, remote sockets.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The layout and size of the buttons and controls are good, with the most commonly used options reachable with your right thumb. The supplied canon kit lens is light and smooth to use and shutter release works well. I thought the camera felt very light, good ergonomically and it feels well built (although the focus ring was lighter than I am used to) and the shape of the body is very comfortable.

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 450D DSLR Sample Photo Gallery!


Heather and Flower (ISO400) Flash photo (ISO400)

Inside: The camera has very good colour - It took a very good "Heather and Flower" photo - there is no red-eye in the photo. On wide angle, the flash falls off in the top corners, and the rest of the image appears slightly overexposed . Otherwise it is very good, coping well with group photos, and for the most part red-eye is quite low. On AUTO ISO, the ISO setting was quite low, and noise was acceptable. The camera did a good job at focusing even in low-light where the focus assist lamp kicks in. Colour is quite richly saturated, though lacking in contrast however this can be improved using My Colours "Vivid" or "Custom Colour" setting.

ISO Noise Test: Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it fragments detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as it is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise and is most noticeable in darker areas. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels (ranging from ISO 100 - ISO1600), and manual ISO settings (ISO: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600).

Below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops, viewable at 100%, from the image taken at different ISO settings, compared with the 10 megapixel Nikon D40x and Olympus EVOLT E-420.

Nikon D40x (10mp) Canon EOS 450D (12mp) Olympus E-420 (10mp)

ISO Noise Test Photos - Flash is off. Nikon D40x on the left, Canon EOS 450D in the middle, Olympus EVOLT E-420 on the right. Any tonal difference is due to white balance or lighting / metering differences.

Nikon D40x (10mp) Canon EOS 450D (12mp) Olympus E-420 (10mp)
ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels
ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels
ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels
ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels
ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels
ISO3200 - Actual Pixels ISO3200 - NA ISO3200 - NA

Noise results: Noise is very acceptable up to ISO800 - with ISO1600 images also usable. The Canon shows more noise than the Nikon D40x, but also slightly less noise than the Olympus E-420. It's a shame there isn't an ISO3200 mode available with the Canon - however this may have pushed the sensor too far and produced overly noisy (and potentially unusable) images.

Image Stabilisation: The Canon EOS 450D kit comes with a 18 - 55mm kit lens with built in optical image stabilisation - this feature helps reduce image blur due to low light or long zoom photography. Examples showing this feature switched on and off can be seen below.

IS Off
ISO800, 1/5
IS on
ISO800, 1/4
Thumb Thumb
Actual Pixels Actual Pixels

With image stabilisation switched on the images are much sharper and clearer, and are much more likely to come out blur free, especially in low light, when using the zoom or when using slow shutter speeds. The camera's systems appears to work well, and it's good to see that this feature is becoming the norm with digital cameras and Digital SLRs.


Liverpool shops (ISO200) Lliverpool Super Lamb Banana (ISO200)

Outside: The camera has good rich, saturated colours. There was very good detail, and the camera took a number of very pleasing images outside [see flowers], with good contrast, and although the kit lens has some chromatic aberrations [on the clock tower] this is well within expected range for this kind of lens. In general jpeg artifacts are not easily seen at 'lower' quality setting, however areas with strong contrasts benefit from use of the highest quality setting.

Zoom: The kit lens provided zooms from 18 to 55mm (equivalent to 28 - 88mm). I've included examples below to show what the zoom is capable of. There is no digital zoom.

Wide-angle Optical Zoom Actual Pixels

Exposure: The photos of the clock tower are exposed well with detail in the dark areas as well as the lighter areas - exposure in other photos was generally very good. Vignetting was not noticed in these photos. It can be useful to under expose images with bright backgrounds (eg; sky) with use of exposure compensation. There are various options to help provide a wider dynamic range if necessary.

Lens noise and zoom: The shutter makes a little noise and the lens is very quiet and gives you very good control over how you frame your subject. Canon provide plenty of other lens options to give you a wider or narrower field of view.

Other Image Quality issues: Purple fringing / Chromatic aberration was slightly visible on strong contrasts at the edges of images (as red blue halos).

Macro Lens Performance:

Timex Watch Macro Actual Pixels (ISO200)

The camera can take macro photos where the subject is roughly 15cm away from the lens in macro mode using the telephoto zoom. Colour and detail is very good, and there appears to be very little noise at ISO200. The camera has manual white balance which can help get better shots in artificial lighting.

Video mode: The cameras does not come with a video mode.


Image Quality: Image quality is good - with excellent colour, with high levels of saturation and contrast. Noise is acceptable higher than average compared to the competition, but is low up to ISO400 and detail is good. There was very little red eye in group photos, and generally red-eye was very low. The camera was quick at focusing and didn't hesitate, even in low light. The built in image stabilisation in the lens was very effective. I didn't notice any vignetting (darkened corners) but there were some image artefacts due to the lens used. There is a useful range of image sizes and a good choice of compression options. White balance and metering seemed to be very good with plenty of scope to cope with different lighting situations. The camera gives very good control over image quality and by using the 'picture settings' option there is further control of the resulting image. (9/10)

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is available in black finish and has a strong body. The camera has a very good 3.0" LCD screen that is visible except in bright sunlight. The camera feels well built and is light and comfortable to hold. It is easy to use and has quick access to the most commonly used options. The layout of buttons and controls is excellent and overall shape is comfortable. The camera speed is excellent, with a good switch on time, fast focusing time, excellent shutter response, quick playback mode, quick menus, very good continuous shooting, and good flash recharge time. The camera has a wide range of features that should suit most people, such as numerous scene modes, macro mode and optical image stabilisation. The only thing I'm not convinced by is the 'Live View' mode which could do with some work. (9.5/10)

Value for Money: The Canon EOS450D from around £449, is excellent value for money, and is one of the cheapest 12.2 megapixel cameras available with optical image stabilisation, and is cheaper than some of its rivals, such as the Sony A350, and Olympus E-520. It's also worth looking at the Nikon D60 with VR kit lens. (9/10) See more digital camera reviews sorted by megapixels here.

Summary: The Canon EOS450D is a robust lightweight SLR camera that provides an impressive 12.2 mega pixels with image stabilising lens. Image quality is generally excellent and images are useable up to ISO1600 and tend to maintain good detail. The camera's screen works well and battery life is excellent. Overall this is an appealing camera offering excellent value for money, and a number of features that should suit experienced amateurs as well as experts. An area where this camera could be seen as lacking is in the lens region, however there are a huge range of other lenses that will work.. these will increase the initial cost. If you want a genuinely excellent SLR camera with full manual controls and image stabilization, then this is highly recommended!

Canon EOS 450D Rebel XSi Rating: Highly Recommended (9.2/10)
Available for £445 - or Get the best price below!

What I like:

  • Very good image quality
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • Good size 3.0" screen
  • Robust, light body
  • Excellent battery life
  • Good macro mode
  • Quick performance
  • Full manual controls
  • Eye detection

What I don't like:

  • Standard lens may sacrifice some image quality.

Additional Test Images are viewable in the Canon EOS 450D DSLR Sample Photo Gallery.

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