Canon EOS Rebel XS
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The EOS Rebel XS ($699 list price) is the entry-level model in Canon's digital SLR lineup. The camera is essentially a stripped down version of the Rebel XSi: it has fewer pixels, a slower burst rate, and a smaller LCD than its big brother. I put together this chart to show you exactly what's difference:
The differences are pretty clear between the two cameras. Buying the Rebel XSi gets you "bigger and better" in most (but not all) areas. The thing is, it doesn't cost you much to get those things. For $70 more you can get the Rebel XSi, which makes buying the Rebel XS sound a bit foolish. But I digress.
The EOS Rebel XS finds itself in a very competitive category: entry-level D-SLRs. How does it perform in our tests? Find out now in our review!
The Rebel XS is known as the EOS-1000D in some countries. I will be reusing portions from the Rebel XSi review here, since the cameras are nearly identical.
What's in the Box?
The Rebel XS is sold in just one kit (though it comes in two colors). Here's what you'll find in the box:
The Rebel XS includes the F3.5-5.6, 18 - 55 mm IS EF-S lens. This is the latest (fourth?) version of the 18-55, and it's a lot better than previous models. The biggest addition, of course, is optical image stabilization. The Rebel XS is compatible with all EF and EF-S lenses, so there are plenty to choose from when you're ready to expand your collection.
Like its big brother, the Rebel XS uses Secure Digital memory cards, instead of CompactFlash like on previous models. You can use SD or higher capacity SDHC memory in the camera, and I'd suggest starting with a 2GB card. Spending a little extra for a high speed card is definitely a good idea.
The Rebel XS uses the same LP-E5 battery as the XSi. This battery packs 8.0 Wh of energy, which is good (but not spectacular) for a D-SLR. Here's how that translates into battery life:
First off, the Rebel XS has exactly the same battery life as the XSi. In the group as a whole, the Rebel XS is about 15% below average, due mostly to the stellar numbers put out by the Sony A300. By the way, if you're shooting full-time with live view, the battery life number drops to 190 shots/charge.
Like most of the cameras on the above list, the Rebel XS's battery is proprietary. That means that it's pricey (a spare will cost at least $50), and you can't use an off-the-shelf battery when the proprietary one runs out of juice. You're not completely out of luck, though. The optional battery grip (pictured below) includes an adapter that lets you use six AA batteries to power the camera!
The XS (actually the 1000D) with the optional battery grip
Image courtesy of Canon
Speaking of the battery grip, above you can see the BG-E5 (priced from $132) in action. The grip holds two LP-E5 or six AA batteries, offering double the battery life. There are also additional buttons on the grip for shooting in the portrait orientation.
When it's time to charge the LP-E5 battery, just pop it into the included charger. It takes around two hours to fully charge the battery. This is my favorite type of charger, too -- it plugs directly into the wall.
Digital SLRs support a ton of accessories, and the table below covers just a selection of those available for the Rebel XS:
Not too shabby, eh? Let's move on to software now!
EOS Utility - Main Screen
Canon includes version 18.1 of their EOS Digital Solutions Disk with the Rebel XS. The first application that you'll probably bump into is EOS Utility, which is sort of a gateway to all the other software programs. The "monitor folder" option is for use with the Wireless File Transmitter, which is not supported on the Rebel XS.
EOS Utility - Selecting Photos to Download
If you choose to select and download images to your computer, you'll get the screen you see above. Once photos are transferred to your computer, you have two ways of viewing and editing them.
ImageBrowser in Mac OS X
The "consumer-friendly" option for image viewing is ImageBrowser (for Mac) and ZoomBrowser (for Windows). On the main screen, you get the usual thumbnail view, with quick access to image e-mailing, printing, editing, and slideshows.
Double-click on a JPEG image and you'll bring up the photo in its own window. Editing functions include trimming, redeye removal, and the ability to adjust levels, color, brightness, sharpness, and the tone curve. There's also an auto adjustment feature, for those who don't mess with all those controls.
RAW editing in ImageBrowser
The Browser software also includes a nice RAW editor, which is reminiscent of the DPP software that I'll describe in a moment (just with a nicer interface). Here you can adjust exposure compensation, white balance, picture style, sharpness, and contrast.
Digital Photo Professional in Mac OS X
For slightly more powerful RAW editing, plus a batch image conversion tool, you'll want to fire up Digital Photo Professional. The main screen isn't too different from Image/ZoomBrowser, with your choice of three thumbnail sizes, plus a thumbnail w/shooting data screen. The batch processing tool lets you quickly resize and rename a large number of photos.
RAW editing in DPP
The RAW editing tools in DPP are a little more robust than those in the Browser "twins". In addition to adjusting the basics that I described above, DPP also lets you tweak color tone, saturation, the tone curve, both luminance and chrominance noise, and lens aberration (such as distortion and purple fringing).
I've been talking about RAW for several paragraphs without explaining what it is. RAW images contain unprocessed image data direct from the camera's sensor. Thus, you can adjust settings like white balance and exposure without damaging the original image, so it's almost like taking the photo again. The downside is the large file size (compared to JPEG), fewer shots in continuous shooting mode, and the need to post-process each image on your computer before you can turn it into a more common format like JPEG.
Remote camera control, complete with live view
Jumping back to EOS Utility again, I want to mention a really nice feature -- Remote Capture. This lets you control the camera right from your computer, with access to most camera settings. The live view feature is fully supported, complete with a histogram, composition grid, and the ability to enlarge the frame and manually tweak focus. Photos are saved directly to your computer, though they can be stored on the camera too, if you wish. Most camera manufacturers charge extra for a remote capture feature, but not Canon!
Customizing the My Menu settings with the Remote Capture tool
The EOS Utility tool also lets you set up the My Menu feature on the camera. You can select up to six items to be in your custom menu. I'll have more on this feature later in the review.
Picture Style Editor in Mac OS X
The last tool in Canon's software suite is the Picture Styles editor. To use this, you must first open up a RAW image. You can then tweak the tone curve, color settings, contrast, and sharpness, and then save a new Picture Style, which can be used both on the camera and in the Digital Photo Professional software.
Whew, that was exhausting!
Canon includes a thick, printed manual with the Rebel XS. While it's not the easiest read (expect lots of fine print), it is quite detailed, and should answer any question you may have about the camera. Documentation for the software bundle comes in digital format on a separate CD-ROM disc.
Look and Feel
Front the front, you'd be hard-pressed to see the difference between the Rebel XS and the XSi. The most obvious differences can be found on the back. The XS has a smaller LCD and viewfinder than its slightly more expensive sibling. The control layout is virtually identical.
Both cameras are quite small, and I find them uncomfortable to hold, due to the small right hand grip. Unlike its more expensive sibling, the Rebel XS doesn't have a rubberized coating on the grip, which makes it easier to hold on to. There are quite a few buttons on the back of the camera too, which can be a little intimidating to beginners. The camera is made entirely of plastic, but it still feels relatively solid. The only thing that bothered me was the flimsy door over the battery compartment.
|Images courtesy of Canon USA|
Like all the other cameras in the Rebel series, the XS is available in both silver and black.
Now, here's a look at how the Rebel XS compares to other entry-level D-SLRs in terms of size and weight:
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
Canon EOS Rebel XS
5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4 in.
45.6 cu in.
450 g Nikon D60
5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in.
46.3 cu in.
495 g Olympus E-420
5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in.
38.6 cu in.
380 g Pentax K2000
4.8 x 3.6 x 2.7 in.
46.7 cu in.
524 g Sony Alpha DSLR-A300
5.1 x 3.9 x 2.9 in.
57.7 cu in.