Canon 450D / XSi / Kiss X2 Review
Image from Wikipedia
So you get sent to do some work in Japan, what do you do? Well, of course you go and buy the newest toys to play around with them. So here we are with the new Canon 450D, also the XSi, also called the brilliant Kiss X2 in Japan. If anything, I needed to buy it here so I would have a camera called the Kiss X2. Now for the unfortunate part of buying a brand new device that is only out in Japan: there is no English manual!
The Canon 450D fills some voids in the current DSLR camp. It brings in the Digic III processor, a 12 Megapixel CMOS, image stabilized lenses, a 3 inch LCD, SDHC card slot (no more Compact Flash!), 3.5 fps shooting, and finally Live View shooting. These features currently cannot be matched by other cameras in the consumer DSLR market, but how well do they actually perform in the real world?
The following review is based on my experience using the camera for a few days, and taking pictures at the Cherry Blossoms in Ueno Park in Tokyo and some other travelling. This is not an in depth article about fringing, pin cushioning of the lenses, etc, etc. This is a consumer review of a consumer DSLR.
The camera was purchased as a kit, which includes the camera (obviously), a 18-55mm IS lens, and a 55-250mm IS lens. Other than those goodies, there is the Digtal Photo Professional 3.3 editing software, image transfer software, Photostitch, and the innovative EOS utilities for using the camera through the computer. The last one is my favorite and I’ll get into that a little bit later.
The camera is much smaller than the Nikon D80 that I was carrying around until I got my hands on this camera. The lenses are smaller in diameter and length than the D80’s; the D80 had 77mm lenses whereas the 450D has 58mm lenses. The smaller size definitely makes it easier to lug around town and get some nice shots. The camera has a nice feel in the hands and it operated very easily with one hand.
The screen on this camera is massive. I am disappointed with the way it looks in the sunlight (you can bump up the brightness but that washes out the pictures on the screen), and the size of it means I get nose grease all over the screen when I go to take a picture. I would have like to have seen a screen similar to the D80 with a hard cover. Instead, I purchased a couple screen protectors at the mega super technology emporium in Tokyo. Just be sure to get screen protectors for this camera to make sure it doesn’t get scratched or greasy.
You would think that with a screen as large as they put on there that the battery life would be terrible. But my experience so far, having taken in excess of 400 pictures is that the battery does pretty well. I have yet to even see the battery indicator come off of the “Full” icon. Maybe it’s broken, but it looks like the need for extra batteries might not exist with this camera unless if you are really shooting a lot.
I was disappointed however that you cannot do RAW image capture or LiveView when you are not in the “creative” side of the option wheel. I do not see a reason for this, and hopefully it will be fixed in firmware down the road, but it seems like an unnecessary restriction. Luckily there is a setting in the “creative” section that called A-DEP that allows you to do both.
Another disappointment is the Live View in general. While this is a pretty interesting option to have on the camera, do not go about thinking that this will work in the same way as your point and shoot camera. First, when shooting outdoors, the screen is very difficult to see and so you cannot use it nearly as effectively as on a point and shoot.
The second complication comes when it is time to use the autofocus. There are two modes for the auto focus. The first is “Quick Mode” where the mirror flips down momentarily to focus the camera and then flips back to restore video to the LCD. The second mode is “Live mode” where the camera focused through the LCD and you can choose which part of the image is used for the focusing. The process of focusing when in Live View involves hitting a button located in the upper right of the rear of the camera (the zoom out button when in photo review mode). Having to hit another button to focus in Live View makes taking pictures of fast moving subjects an impossibility.
In order to take the picture, the mirror has to flip down which takes longer for taking the actual picture. Again, this is not a mode to use when shooting fast moving subjects. However, I can see this function being useful for shooting still subjects in positions where looking through the view finder is not an option. On a personal not, I am happy to have the feature, but will probably not use it very much. I would like to see faster and more seamless use in the future, and hopefully some changes can be made in future firmware.
The two lenses that come with this kit are the EFS 18-55mm Image Stabilizing lens, and the EFS 55-250mm Image Stabilizing lens. In general, these are relatively decent lenses for not too much money. The image stabilization makes a world of difference when taking indoor and low light pictures. Pictures taken in low lighting environments come fairly well, and definitely much better than they would come out in a point and shoot camera.
One of the coolest things with this camera is your ability to use included software to take complete control of the camera. You just plug the camera into the computer and open the included Canon utilities, and you can control the camera as if you were holding it. This would be very useful if you wanted to do some HDR shots or other things where you cannot even touch the camera. Just choose the settings you want and hit the button in the app and it takes the picture. You even have a live view of what the camera is seeing.
The included photo editing software will do the job you need if you just need the basics. As usual, a Photoshop type utility with a little more power is definitely recommended if you have some higher end requirements.
This camera is most definitely a consumer grade camera with some tastes of the top of the line Canon products. It is definitely not a professional camera, and the images just do not feel as well defined as pictures taken with a high end camera. However, the camera definitely fills the niche and void that it is looking to fill and I think it’s a pretty good piece of equipment that I will be enjoying for some time.
As a small aside, this camera does great with the included lenses in low light situations. My main reason for having a DSLR is so I can finally shoot pictures indoors without ending up with some fuddled mess as I get with a point and shoot. This camera did admirably well in low light situations, and the Image Stabilized lenses definitely go a long way to helping achieve that.
If you want to see some videos that Canon has put online for the camera and how to use it, follow this link. There are some nice video tutorials about the features which helped me get by in light of not having an English manual. And in the “This Just In” category, it looks like canon just opened up the XSi site here. Enjoy!