The Bottom Line
It's $200 cheaper than Canon's next step up camera, the Rebel T2i, and it lacks some of the features that makes the T2i such a good camera. But is it a good beginner's camera?
- Resolution: 10.1 megapixel, CMOS sensor
- ISO: ISO 100 - 800 (Auto), 100 - 1600 (Manual)
- Focusing: 7 AF points
- Movie Mode: None
- Flash: Built-in pop up flash
- LCD Screen: 2.5-inch LCD panel, 230,000 pixels
- Battery: Li-Ion LP-E5 rechargeable battery
- Dimensions: 126 x 98 x 62 mm (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
- Weight: 1.1 lbs. (502 g) (with battery)
- Maximum Image Size: 3888 x 2592 pixels (RAW and JPEG)
- Great results even with auto settings
- Images remain detailed even at high ISO
- Lots of external short-cut controls
- Color reproduction in JPEG mode is not entirely accurate
- Continuous shooting ability in RAW is poor
- Average automatic white balance performance
Canon EOS Rebel XS Review
The Rebel XS is Canon's "bargain" camera, and it certainly has a very attractive price tag. Canon brought this camera out in 2008 to compete with its rivals, who were all producing equally cheap and cheerful models at the time. It's proven to be a popular camera for the manufacturer, and is still going strong a few years later.
This is very much a beginner's camera, with a much lower pixel count than its big brother, the Rebel T2i (10MP compared to 18MP). This is particularly evident in the feel of the camera -- it's extremely lightweight and looks very small in comparison to other Canon models, but it still feels solid enough, and it is as well made as all Canon cameras.
The first thing to note up front is that the Rebel XS does not have any movie mode. Whether this is an issue is obviously dependant on the individual. I wonder if the Rebel XS would even produce good movies anyway, considering its lower megapixel count.
One of the other features that is missing from this camera is Spot Metering. Canon has always traditionally left this off its entry-level cameras, but I can't help but feel that this would be a far more useful feature to leave on!
The camera is compatible with all Canon's EF and EF-S lenses, and has a 1:6 crop factor.
This camera is aimed at beginners, and they will want to start by using this camera on its default settings. So, how good is the image quality without any alterations?
Well, as with all Canon DSLR cameras, the Rebel XS performs astonishingly well at all ISO outputs. Even at ISO 1600, a high level of detail is retained. If you shoot in RAW format, the definition and color reproduction is excellent, giving crisp, sharp images and bright, vibrant colors (see the RAW example). Frustratingly, as with most of Canon's entry-level DSLRs, JPEGs are undoubtedly slightly softer, and colors appear far more muted (see the JPEG example). These can easily be fixed by tweaking the in-camera parameters, but how many beginners will want to be doing this?
Apart from this minor irritation, image quality is, as we've come to expect from Canon, excellent.
Automatic white balance performs really well in all outdoor situations, but the camera still has problems compensating for artificial lighting situations (such as tungsten and fluorescent lighting). Using the preset white balance modes for these types of lighting does improve matters -- more noticeably with fluorescent lighting -- but it's still not perfect. White objects will have a distinctly yellowish tinge. However, many people may be happy to let this slide in response to all of the other excellent features of this camera.
The Rebel XS has a 7-point AF system which, when compared with the T2i and 7D, seems quite minimal! I gave the camera to someone who had never used a DSLR, and I noticed that they sometimes had trouble focusing correctly when the camera was in automatic focusing mode. By switching the focus points to focus only on the center point, this problem went away, and his images were crisp and sharp. So I would recommend that beginners follow this step. The camera focuses quickly, even in lower light situations.
Despite its small size, the Rebel XS has lots of useful shortcut controls on the back and top of the body. These are easy to use, and they are fairly evenly spaced, although some users might find the Exposure Compensation button a bit fiddly. The controls work well with the default LCD screen view, which shows all the current settings for the camera (such as f-stop, shutter speed, AF mode, WB mode, and others). The whole system is well designed to help beginners.
This is a solid little camera that I would have no hesitation in recommending to those looking for a first DSLR camera. Canon has been smart with this camera and has, in many respects, just gently toned down the specifications of its higher-priced models. Yes, there are a few problems, but, overall, this camera gives great images which will delight most people.
However, I can't help but feel that Canon will need to either drop the price of this camera, or bring out a new model as it simply can't compete with Nikon's entry-level offering -- the D3100. Time will tell on how Canon will react.