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Canon Digital Rebel XS Review



Canon has shaken up its entry-level offerings for the second time in 2008 with the launch of the Canon Rebel XS consumer-grade DSLR. Announced way back in June for the European market (as the EOS 1000D) but only recently available on this side of the Atlantic, the Rebel XS slots in at the very bottom of Canon's DSLR line – providing a second new entry-level option in Canon's lineup and a lower-cost, lower-res alternative to the relatively advanced XSi.

FEATURES OVERVIEW

The Rebel XS represents a shift in strategy for Canon; with the manufacturer bringing a second simultaneously developed and supported DSLR to the bottom-tier consumer market. Traditionally, Canon has demoted its previous-generation Rebel into the entry-level spot with each new announcement. While the new XS diverges from this formula insofar as it was purpose-built for beginning DSLR users (rather than simply a more advanced hand-me-down, as in the case of the XTi that it replaces), the net result really isn't that different from what we've seen before: in terms of both hardware and design, the XS is very much an amalgam of XSi and XTi.

To this end, the XS uses the previous-generation 10.1 megapixel CMOS sensor as well as the XTi's smaller 2.5 inch LCD. XSi-level upgrades include DIGIC III processing, Canon's advanced "Picture Style" menu that allows shooters to fine-tune image processing (and includes space for several user-defined custom settings), and an impressively fast advertised continuous shooting speed with a new-for-XS unlimited buffer for JPEG shooting.

The XS also brings the XSi's live view system (which allows the screen to be used for shot composition) all the way down to Canon's entry-level model. The XS's live view implementation moves beyond the basic with the addition of a contrast-detection AF mode that allows the camera to auto focus without interrupting the on-screen preview to do so – a feat not possible in the first generation of live view DSLRs.

As with previous Rebel DSLRs, the XS's shooting modes are divided into two basic groups, which Canon terms the "Basic Zone" and the "Creative Zone." The Basic Zone is made up of the XS's auto exposure and scene preset options. Basic Zone presets are as follows:

* Auto Exposure: Camera selects all exposure values
* Portrait: Settings are optimized for portraiture, with adjustments to image tone and flash mode
* Landscape: Increased contrast mode that favors narrower apertures
* Macro: Moderate aperture settings are preferred in this mode
* Sports: Continuous drive and AF options are enabled; higher shutter speeds are preferenced
* Night Scene: Enables slow flash sync to capture both subject and background
* Flash Suppressed: Flash is disabled

Note that in the Basic Zone, many exposure control and general shooting options (including AF drive mode, metering options, and flash modes) are locked out or limited.

Canon's Creative Zone modes encompass the full range of expected user-controlled exposure options, with a few interesting additions:

* Program: Auto exposure mode with user control for flash settings, metering mode, etc.
* Shutter Priority: User selects shutter speed, and camera calculates aperture for correct exposure
* Aperture Priority: User selects aperture, and camera calculates shutter speed for correct exposure
* Manual: User selects both aperture and shutter speed
* Auto Depth of Field: Camera automatically calculates aperture to ensure that depth of field covers all focus points

Like most DSLRs, playback options are fairly basic with the XS. The camera does incorporate an orientation sensor that automatically rotates portrait-orientation images during playback. As with Canon's point-and-shoots, it's also easy to scroll through images either 10 or 100 at a time using the control dial.

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