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Thread started 01 Apr 2008 (Tuesday) 15:42
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Review: 450D (XSi) versus 400D (XTi)

 
Strawberry ­ Fields
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Apr 01, 2008 15:42 |  #1

Here is my 5-part evaluation of the EOS 450D (XSi), in comparison to the EOS 400D (XTi).


Part 01: "LATEST CHANGES."

The first obvious change is the new 3" LCD screen. After spending 30 minutes playing with the XSi, I picked up the XTi and boy... does its screen suddenly feel tiny in comparison. Unfortunately, the resolution of the newer screen doesn't actually improve over the older one. They're both 320x240 pixels. I've always had a difficult time judging focus on the XTi LCD screen --- even at full magnification. The same problem persists on the XSi. With Live View, you can judge focus interactively, by watching the results on-screen as you twist the focus ring. But judging a static image remains very difficult.

The XSi now allows you to pick a color scheme for your interface menu. There's the default white screen with black fonts. There's the optional blue-ish screen, somewhat reminiscent of Nikon. The one I like best is the black screen with white fonts. More subtle, and less glare for my eyes.

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Picture of XSi and XTi (external link)


The optical viewfinder is sorta-kinda noticeably bigger. If the XTi viewfinder made me squint, the new one at least feels comfortable. The change in magnification helps (0.80x to 0.87), and I suspect the shorter eye point makes it feel even bigger. It's still not good enough for manual focus, but at least it's more comfortable now than it was before. Oh, and there's now a 4% Spot Meter in the viewfinder. Nice.

Compared to the XTi, the new XSi is noticeably quieter when you press the shutter button. The XTi was already as quiet as any dSLR in the market. The XSi is even better. The actual shutter sound is now at a lower pitch than before. But the biggest improvement comes in the sound of the mirror slap. More subdued, more muffled. It's low key, not too loud and high pitched like the XTi's. It doesn't even sound like slapping of mechanical parts. It sounds like a damped rotor, though I don't know for a fact if it's motorized or not. I know it's much more quiet. It's certainly less attention grabbing than the XTi.

A 2-second timer delay for the shutter is now available, without the need for the MLU workaround. The MyMenu interface lets you move your most-used functions (ie Mirror Lockup, etc.) to the top level menu. These are available at the press of a single button. And you can now use the pop-up flash as an AF Assist Strobe without being forced to use flash during exposure.



  
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Strawberry ­ Fields
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Apr 01, 2008 15:46 |  #2

Part 02: "ERGONOMICS, BUILD QUALITY"

The grip has been greatly improved. It uses a rubberized grip similar to the EOS 40D/5D series of cameras. A definite improvement over the padded grip on the XTi, and even moreso over the plastic grip on the XT. More importantly, they added a quarter-inch to the height of the grip, going from 2.0" to 2.25". I have thick but smallish hands, yet the XTi felt uncomfortable for me because my pinky didn't have enough room to grab onto. The XSi is a definite improvement in this regard. I doubt these improvements will make 20D/30D/40D folks change their minds. But I'd imagine that XT and XTi folks who've been putting up with the cramped grip will be pleased.

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Picture of the New Grip (external link)

Minor complaints though: It feels like the plastic used in the 450D is similar to the ones on the Sony A100 and EOS 350D. Feels coarse --- and a little cheap --- to be honest. The 400D plastic was slightly smoother, more glossy. I liked it better. I remember the old Canon 400D literature stating that its plastic was more scratch-resistant compared to the 350D's. I'm just guessing that the 450D took a step backwards here, which would be a shame. And the plastic on the 4-way directional buttons and the main dial on the 450D feels flimsy and embarassingly cheap. The material they used on the 400D felt nicer, shinier, and more solid. I don't know why on earth Canon went backwards on this one. The other buttons (AE-lock, shutter, Play, Menu, etc) weren't downgraded, thank god. Admittedly, these are very nitpicky complaints.

Don't let me forget to mention the best new feature on the XSi: They took out that ugly neon green "Power" LED light! Whoopee!!! That neon LED light sure made the XTi look even more like a child's toy. I'm so glad to see Canon decided to axe it. In its place is the new ISO Button, and it is a godsend. You press it once, then turn the main dial to adjust the ISO. Then half-press the shutter to set the ISO. You can now change the ISO setting on the fly, without taking your eyes off the viewfinder.

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Picture of Changes between XSi and XTi (external link)

On the ISO menu, you can set the value from 100 to 1600, or you can toggle Auto ISO. I played around with Auto ISO on AV mode. It looks like it will only use ISO 100 to avoid overexposure. Otherwise, it defaults at ISO 200 and will bump all the way up to ISO 800 if necessary. The internal logic that guides the camera strictly depends on your current focal length: If you're using a 20mm lens, the camera will set the ISO to maintain a 1/20 sec shutter speed. If you zoom to 50mm, the camera will bump up the ISO to attain a 1/50 sec shutter speed. It's mystifying why Canon adopted the 1/(field of view) rule without taking the 1.6x crop factor in mind.



  
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Strawberry ­ Fields
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Apr 01, 2008 16:03 as a reply to  @ Strawberry Fields's post |  #3

Part 03: "IMAGE QUALITY"

Does 12 MP have benefits over 10 MP?

To answer that question, I shot test images from the 400D and 450D in RAW format @ ISO 100. Same exposure, mounted on a tripod, MLU, using my sharpest lens (70-200 f4L IS) stopped down to f6.3. Focus bracketing. Converted from RAW to TIFF via DPP, upsized both to 16 Megapixels, and applied Unsharp Mask in Photoshop (160%, 0.4, 0.0). I see no visible difference in the resolving power of 12 MP and 10 MP. I'm sure it's there, but I don't see it. I made a huge crop of the comparison images. It's 1.5 megabytes, and can be downloaded here.

Difference Between 12 MP and 10 MP (external link)


XTi vs XSi at High ISO, in-camera JPEGs.

Now I will compare in-camera JPEGs between the XTi and XSi at ISO 1600. I will not be comparing 100% crops between these cameras. Such comparisons are inherently unfair to the camera with more megapixels, and I hate it whenever people do that. Instead, I will resize the in-camera JPEGs to the same size, 16 MP.

These tests are conducted using the 70-200 f4L IS lens, mounted on tripod. Standard Picture Style is used on both, mirror lock up, identical settings, blah, blah, etc. High-ISO noise reduction (courtesy of Digic3) has been activated on the XSi.

Suffice it to say, the XSi jpegs turned out much nicer. Chroma noise is well suppressed, and what noise remains is tolerable. XTi jpegs have those blotchy red marks that I hate. On the bright side for the XTi, it does retain as much detail as the XSi... inspite of all the noise. I made a crop of the in-camera JPEG comparisons, which is a 2.5 megabyte file.

Comparison of XSi and XTi In-Camera JPEGs @ ISO 1600 (external link)




  
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Strawberry ­ Fields
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Apr 01, 2008 16:08 as a reply to  @ Strawberry Fields's post |  #4

Part 04: ISO 1600 NOISE IN RAW FORMAT

I did the same ISO 1600 test as above, this time shooting in RAW format. Converted to 16-bit TIFF via DPP, with no noise reduction. Here we see that, at the RAW level, the quality of noise in the XSi is far better than that of the XTi's:


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ISO 1600 Noise in RAW, without any noise reduction (external link)


Whatever improvements Canon implemented in the EOS 40D, they must've applied to the 450D. Because the crops above look very much like the 40D –vs- 400D comparisons I was seeing six months ago. The 400D noise is downright ugly --- huge blotches, and lots of ugly white speckles all over. Difficult to fix in post processing. Quality of noise in the 450D is very similar to the 40D's. Easier to handle with noise reduction programs.

So I process both 16-bitt TIFF files in NeatImage. Auto-profile, with some fairly conservative settings: 20% luminance reduction, 40% chroma reduction (Default was 60%, 100%). Then I uprezzed both TIFF files to 16 Megabytes again (bicubic smoother in photoshop), and compared side-by-side. Once again, detail retention between 400D and 450D is virtually identical. These processed RAW files certainly look much better than the JPEGs coming straight out of the camera. Here's the link to the comparison crops comparing 450D and 400D detail retention, in processed RAW format with very conservative NR settings:


ISO 1600 RAW detail comparison between XSi and XTi, after post processing (external link)


Now let's look more closely at the advantages of the 450D's well-behaved noise grain. With a bit more aggressive NR settings, the 450D's noise grain virtually vanish. But the 400D's ugly noise pattern persists. This sample shows how 450D's Noise is much easier to fix than the 400D's Noise:

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shannyD
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Apr 01, 2008 16:08 |  #5

thats pretty in debth. but i for me.. not worth it. if im going to upgrade im going to go all out. im talking 5d replacement or even a 40d. when buying a camera, your not yout not upgrading if your getting a new camera that still sells at entry level like the xti does.

for some i guess it would be an upgrade. but for me.. not worth it.

thanks for the review though.
shannon




  
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Strawberry ­ Fields
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Apr 01, 2008 16:10 as a reply to  @ Strawberry Fields's post |  #6

Part 05: CONCLUSION

I'm impressed with the new 450D. Like many people, my expectations were rather low. I thought that in the best case scenario, a 12 MP sensor would match the noise levels of a 10 MP sensor. As it turns out, the 450D improves upon the 400D in high ISO. The amount of noise in the XSi is similar to the XTi's, but the quality of noise is better. Easier to clean up.

Beyond pixel peeping, everything else about the camera is bigger. The viewfinder is bigger. The LCD is bigger. The grip is bigger. The shoulders on the body are broader. The head (ie where the pop-up flash resides) is much bigger. The body itself feels much bigger than the XTi, even though the dimensions are virtually identical. It's hard to explain unless you're holding them side-by-side.

Better grip. Better in high ISO. Spot Meter. Live View. Dedicated ISO button. Better viewfinder. All those little things add up.




  
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jeff127
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Apr 01, 2008 16:17 |  #7

Excellent comparison, I assume you'll have a 400D for sale soon? :p

Like Shannon though Im in no rush to upgrade, and when I do, which will be in atleast another year I'll go for the 50D or similar. I'll try and not hold a 450D to keep me from wanting one. :)


Jeff.


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_aravena
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Apr 01, 2008 16:19 |  #8

Hm, while nice, if I had the 30D already I would get this as my backup and turn my 20D into an IR camera. I like the live view and what not as it'd be my fun camera. Take around everywhere because of size and I can use the live view for some macro fun.

But owning a 20D, I still want the 40D and then seeing prices of the XT and how much I loved mine when I had it. I plan on getting one again and turning it into an IR camera with my 20D being a backup. I thought about this but the SD card thing turned me way off. I have CF cards, I don't want to buy SD now. Aside from that, it seems like a very awesome entry level camera and the price is stellar for the features.

If I had an XTi I may consider it, but seeing what XTi's go for and the price of the XSi. Still, a 40D and 30D would still beckon.

Awesome review, one of the best I've read.


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scrumpy
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Apr 01, 2008 16:21 |  #9

"Suffice it to say, the XSi jpegs turned out much nicer."

I don't see that. To me the 450D shot is definately the noisier of the two looking at the shiney wood parts. Be interesting to see what others think.


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_aravena
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Apr 01, 2008 16:29 |  #10

^There is obviously more red n the 400D shot in the dark areas than in the 450D shot.


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Perry ­ Ge
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Apr 01, 2008 16:32 |  #11

scrumpy wrote in post #5239806 (external link)
"Suffice it to say, the XSi jpegs turned out much nicer."

I don't see that. To me the 450D shot is definately the noisier of the two looking at the shiney wood parts. Be interesting to see what others think.

??? The 450D looks way better to me, even in the 'wood' parts. Much less chroma noise.


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sadatk
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Apr 01, 2008 16:42 |  #12

perryge wrote in post #5239866 (external link)
??? The 450D looks way better to me, even in the 'wood' parts. Much less chroma noise.

I see the same. Detail retention is great as well.

Digic III = :cool:




  
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gcogger
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Apr 01, 2008 16:46 |  #13

Damn - I was convinced I would see no need to switch from 400D to 450D, as I expected the noise to be worse and the improvements irrelevant for me. But the things that might persuade me to upgrade are:

- quieter shutter
- better viewfinder
- improved auto focus system
- better ISO noise

and this 450D seems to have at least 2 (and maybe all 4) covered.

Damn...

:)


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jorl
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Apr 01, 2008 17:02 |  #14

450D looks sharper to me....


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mizouse
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Apr 01, 2008 17:14 |  #15

umm.. the XTi has a dedicated ISO button, sure its not on top of the camera, but its still a dedicated ISO button.


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Review: 450D (XSi) versus 400D (XTi)
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