Handholding Cameras, Part 4:
The Canon Rebel Xsi

The Canon Rebel Xsi is a small light camera that works well for hand-help photography


This article continues my thoughts about hand-holding cameras for increased shooting flexibility and creativity that have been the subjects of the three previous posts. Go the the first part of the hand-holding series.

When I got back from my weeklong July trip on the Green River in Utah, I looked at all the pictures I had shot on my handheld Olympus camera and was quite pleased. Hum, I thought, maybe I ought to be taking the whole idea of handheld photography a little more seriously. So I looked back at a picture I had shot in Colorado last year. I remembered handholding the shot with my Canon 1Ds Mark II that I decided was too much trouble to use a tripod for. Also pretty darn good. The pictue is below on the left.

However, even though my Olympus was doing a pretty good job, I thought that maybe I needed a camera that had a little larger image size than the Olympus but that would still be very light, easy to handle and could be taken on long backpacking trips. Also, when shooting in RAW format, the Olympus is unbelievably slow and I really wanted to be able to shoot in RAW.

After a bit of research on my favorite camera reviewsite, dpreview, I came up with the Rebel Xsi, also called the 450D. This is actually last year's Rebel, but for my use it looked better than the newer one. The newest Rebel costs a bunch more but its only real improvement seemed to be a measly 3 extra megapixels and a greatly improved video function. I figured the 3 megapixels weren't worth that much and I didn't really want a video function. The Rebel 450D has 12 megapixels and my big Canon only has 16. Also, I liked the fact that the Rebel only weighed a pound.

Here is the dpreview review of the Rebel 450-D if you are interested. Be sure and read the conclusions page at the end, as this is the most important part of their reviews. The camera has a "Highly Recommended" rating, which coming from dpreview really means something. Also the image quality is rated as 9.0 which dpreview rarely awards. If you are interested in this camera you should go to the conclusions page and read it as there are some cons as well as a lot of pros. For me, the pros easily outweighed the cons.

Now I had a camera but I still needed a lens. The Rebel is not a point and shoot camera like my Olympus, it is what is called an SLR, a single lens reflex. This means that it will take exchangeable lenses. Going along with my idea that I need a very easy-to-use camera, I decided to get just one lens for this camera, one that would zoom from very wide angle to a pretty decent telephoto. I wanted to be able shoot with every focal length I might need without breaking my concentration by fumbling around for a new lens when I needed one.

Generally speaking, trying to get all the focal lengths needed in one long zoom lens is not all that great an idea. The longer the zoom, the less image quality a lens usually has. However, I was willing to compromise on this lens.

I wanted a system that would allow me to shoot light and free and be creative. I knew I would have to sacrifice something and it was going to be a little bit of image quality. I knew I would lose a little image quality going from my Canon 1DS MarkII to the Rebel and I knew I would lose a little more going from my large, heavy, short-zoom Canon lenses to the new long-zoom lens. And also, I found what looked like a very good lens with as good as or better reviews than most of the rest.Placitas, NM Sunset

The lens I finally picked after looking at the dpreview lens reviews was the Tamaron 18-270. The review was very good, the lens had the zoom length I needed, it had a built in vibration stabilizer and it was light. Here is the dpreview discussion of this lens.

The Rebel and Tamaron combination weighs 2.5 pounds which is much, much better than the 17 pounds for my large Canon, three lenses and my lightest tripod and head. And this doesn't count an extra battery which weighs another pound.

I paid $648.00 for the Rebel and $601.00 for the Tamaron Lens at Amazon.com. Amazon tends to be my favorite place to buy camera equipment. There are places where you can buy cameras for less but I trust Amazon and I have a free two day shipping deal with them.

The picture above is the almost first picture out of the new Rebel-Tamaron outfit. I took the picture in the New Mexico desert behind our home in Placitas.


Go to the fifth part of the hand held camera series.