Canon EOS 400D

The Canon 400D remains a very good first dSLR, with a balance of automatic, semi-automatic and manual controls to progress through as your creative photography skills improve.


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Editor's note: Canon has dropped the price of the EOS 400D from AU$1299 to AU$799.

The sub-AU$1,500 price point makes the 400D an attractive offering to a wide range of photographers, from first-time dSLR buyers who have outgrown their compact snapshooters, right up to professional photographers looking for a secondary camera for shoots. To reflect this split in target market, we are presenting our review of the 400D from two distinct points of view: first is a hands-on evaluation by CNET.com.au's dSLR-newcomer Jeremy Roche (below), followed by an in-depth analysis of the 400D by photography guru Lori Grunin.

LCD

Canon has tweaked a few aspects of the design to improve shooting ergonomics, including a thumb rest, something we complained about on the 350D (inset).

Design
Canon's latest entry-level digital single-lens reflex (dSLR) camera, the EOS 400D (also known as the EOS Digital Rebel XTi), supersedes Canon's wildly popular 350D. The main differences between the two models are an increase in resolution (up from 8 megapixels on the 350D to 10.1 megapixels on the 400D), improved auto focus (nine focal points on the 400D rather than the 350D's seven) and a larger, 2.5-inch LCD (up from the 300D's 1.8-inch screen).

We soon learned the knack of quickly swapping Canon's EOS lenses onto the body of the 400D to minimise the amount of time dust has to creep onto the camera's sensor. The 400D is one step ahead, however, as it automatically cleans the sensor every time you switch it on or off -- we like to imagine a teeny windscreen wiper system inside doing the job, but as the process is entirely hidden and automatic, we are unable to confirm this.

Starting out, we stuck to the even-my-grandmother-could-use-this fully automatic setting, as we slowly waded into further settings, such as the 400D's user-selectable nine-point auto-focus system. The 179-page bundled instruction manual helps you get to grips with various settings and the layout of the camera, including its 20-odd array of buttons. There's also a quick start guide for eager beavers.

Beneath the eyepiece, which you must use to frame your shot, is a 2.5-inch LCD purely for reviewing photos and adjusting settings. Many first-time dSLR users are put off by the inability on some models to use the LCD as a viewfinder, but we came to love the what you see is what you get aspect of using the eyepiece. Holding the camera to your eye also stabilises it somewhat -- useful in low light situations where blurry shots tend to occur.

LCD

Our only nitpick with the controls is the large power switch, which is very easy to flip while stowing the 400D in a camera bag.

Features
Although the 400D is Canon's entry-level dSLR, don't be fooled into thinking it's just for beginners. On the top is a shooting mode dial with seven easy-to-use presets for a range of environments -- portrait, action, landscape, close-up, night portrait, flash off and full auto. However, it's the 400D's five creative zones that give amateurs room to develop their skills.

First up in the "creative zone" is Shutter-priority mode, a setting that allows you to freeze the action in a shot or create a motion blur by leaving the shutter open for longer. Aperture-priority mode changes the depth of field allowing you to obtain softly blurred backgrounds or, alternatively, get everything in the frame into focus. The Manual exposure mode lets you set both the aperture and shutter speed, while the Automatic depth-of-field uses the nine auto-focus points to ensure objects in the foreground and background are both in focus. Finally, Program auto-exposure sets the shutter speed and aperture automatically, giving users the ability to shift both at once with the main adjustment dial. Tweaks can also be made to the ISO speed, exposure, colour space, white balance, bracketing and focal points through the menu.

The 400D's 10-megapixel sensor (3888 by 2592 pixels) allows you to print professional looking photos up to 13 by 8.6 inches (32.9 by 21.9cm). Be aware, though, that shooting at high resolution takes up a lot of space and unfortunately a CompactFlash card is not included with the 400D. We'd suggest a 1GB card so you don't have to scramble back to a PC to download your shots.

Recommended retail pricing for the Canon 400D starts at AU$1,299 for the camera body (black only) alone -- you'll need to purchase lenses separately. The standard kit, which includes a 18-55mm EOS lens, costs AU$1,499. There's also a AU$1,649 twin lens kit (available in black or silver), which is basically the standard kit with a paparazzi-style 75-300mm telephoto lens included.

The package Canon lent us to review, however, would make any aspiring photographer jump with glee: the EOS 400D twin lens kit, lens cleaning cloth, remote control switch, high-speed 1GB CompactFlash card, spare battery, tripod and a spiffy Crumpler camera carry bag -- Australian-based bag maker Crumpler makes some great looking bags that carry all your gear neatly, with padded compartments for storing a camera and two lenses.

LCD

The Canon EOS 400D's LCD's status display is extremely useful and easy to read, and it provides a single place to change all the relevant settings.

Performance
With a fully charged battery we found the 400D lived up to Canon's claims of around 500 shots with no flash and 360 shots using the flash half the time. If you know you'll be away from a power source for more than a day or are using the camera a lot in a given day, we'd suggest buying a backup battery to take with you.

Photos we took with the 400D looked stunning; colours were reproduced accurately; and images were crisp and clear. Using the telephoto lens at 300mm, we noticed a lot of blurriness caused by camera shake in our pictures -- using a tripod helped considerably.

--Jeremy Roche

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Post comment as
Tea Drinker
9
Rating
 

Tea Drinker posted a review   

The Good:Easy to use, good quality, lasts forever!

The Bad:None, at the momment

I love it! The picture quality is amazing and its so user friendly!

fat****
9
Rating
 

fat**** posted a review   

The Good:small size, picture quality, price, wide choice of lens options

The Bad:LCD isn't bright enough in sunlight, picture quality at iso 800 and above is very noisy when shooting Jpeg, metering modes will confuse begginers

I've had this camera for 3 years now as my first digital SLR, before that I used my parents film camera (a Praktica MTL3) and it looks like this Canon will last even another 3 years in my hands. It was used mostly for getting pictures that ended up as posters (700x1000mm in size) wich came out mighty fine at printing, even if some of the shots were taken at iso400 and 800, the secret is to shoot raw and post process them later. And about the metering ... everybody has found out it's not perffect but it's not that big of a deal, all it takes to correct the under exposure is to expose slightly to the right.

Beck
9
Rating
 

Beck posted a review   

The Good:Easy to use, but advanced enough to tweak to perfection. Price!

The Bad:no live view, (although I dont like live view, it should still have the option.)

I bought mine with the twin lens deal for $1100 nearly 2 years ago, I thought it would be outdated by now, but it still kicks on as good as the newest SLRs. Great for a budding photographer.

 

Degs posted a comment   

In response to Cat, this camera has been replaced by the 450D, which uses the same chip but comes with an extra 2 megapixels, and IS in the kit lens. For me, I bought the older model, even though the 450D was available, as 10MP was plenty for my needs and I upgraded the kit lens anyway. This camera performed well on a 6 month trip around Europe. If you can find this camera, I'd recommend it, as it's easy to use and take good - quality pics.

 

Ozzrebelxti posted a comment   

This baby is like driving a mini with a V8 under the hood when used in the manual mode some better glass would be nice but hey beggars cant be choosers.
Great first time DSLR user camera you will go a long way to find a better priced competitor with as many features as this.

Phenom
1
Rating
 

Phenom posted a review   

The Good:Great picture quality and huge range of canon lens available.

The Bad:Small physical size, some people think it’s a like toy

I love this camera. I think it is the best DSLR camera for its price and twin lens kit is good deal. If you have any picture quality problem in the low light condition, try to add speedlight with bounce and flash bracket. Some people think this camera is like toy, because it’s small size, but think again. This camera can do a job just like any professional DSLR. Read how to customise your camera and tweak your finial image with Photoshop.

 

Cat posted a comment   

i cant find this anywhere. have they stopped prouducing/selling them?

Hans
6
Rating
 

Hans posted a review   

The Good:Easy to handle

The Bad:Not good in ISO higher 200

My EOS 400D makes good pictures with good light, however it completely lets me down if I have to set to ISO400 and higher

Vpxl
10
Rating
 

"MARKED AS SPAM BY AKISMET"

Vpxl posted a review   

I thinks this is greate camera. I use them

Sunshinetalia
9
Rating
 

Sunshinetalia posted a review   

The Good:Easy to control
User friendly
Great manual options
Flexible
Not too heavy

The Bad:No live view
Slow when battery is low

I really love this camera, and would recommend ti to anyone.


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User Reviews / Comments  Canon EOS 400D

  • Tea Drinker

    Tea Drinker

    Rating9

    "I love it! The picture quality is amazing and its so user friendly!"

  • fat****

    fat****

    Rating9

    "I've had this camera for 3 years now as my first digital SLR, before that I used my parents film camera (a Praktica MTL3) and it looks like this Canon will last even another 3 years in my hands. It..."

  • Beck

    Beck

    Rating9

    "I bought mine with the twin lens deal for $1100 nearly 2 years ago, I thought it would be outdated by now, but it still kicks on as good as the newest SLRs. Great for a budding photographer."

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