The 12-megapixel Canon EOS 450D (Rebel XSi in the US) features live view, 9-point AF and a 3in LCD.
Tone and Exposure
Studio tests show that the camera has an impressive dynamic range, with exposures in general being pretty much spot on – even when strong backlighting is present. There were a few occasions where highlight detail was lost though the Highlight Tone Priority does a good job of toning this down, and found itself useful under harsh, midday light.
White Balance and Colour
White balance is also generally accurate, and performed well in both natural and artificial lighting. Occassionally, there was the odd slightly warm magenta cast, but this is not unusual. When used in conjuction with the Standard Picture Style setting, colours can look a little flat, though; using the Landscape Picture Style mode helps inject a little more warmth into images, while saturating blue skies and foliage.
Canon’s DSLRs have previously demonstrated how well they can control noise, and the 450D is no exception. This is where the camera really excels and even when noise does appear it’s just a fine-textured cast of chroma noise. Detail holds up better than expected at ISO 1600, with slight contrast and sharpening adjustments bringing a bite back to images. High ISO noise reduction does a good job of removing some of the noise without softening detail too much, particularly in shadow areas. Such an impressive performance is relative to the limited sensitivity range on offer, though, and so it would have been nice to see a further ISO 3200 option which, judging by these results, would have a lot of potential.
At the default ‘Standard’ mode, JPEGs show a distinct softness and general lack of detail. The excpetion to this is in highlit areas, where the camera manages to do a good job of regaining an adequate amount of otherwise blown-out detail. For JPEGs it’s advisable to increase the sharpening slightly in the Picture Style menu while Raw images benefit from a little sharpening in post-production. Fringing and traces of moiré, meanwhile, appear subdued rather than completely removed.
Sharpness and Detail
The sensor is capable of capturing clean and detailed images, even more so with a quality lens in front of it. The 18-55mm IS kit lens does seem more capable than Canon’s previous kit incarnations, but soft, washed-out detail still prevails, even when stopped down. Centre sharpness is good, but corners aren’t too great.