Canon EOS 400D In-Depth Review

Canon EOS 400D Review

by Regie Fernando 9/21/06

Introduction
Canon announced the EOS 400D last August 2006, making it their 3rd generation entry level DSLR. The 400D boast a 10.1 megapixel CMOS sensor with DIGIC II imaging processor. It has three significant new features from its predecessors which are 2.5” LCD, ICS (Integrated Cleaning System) and Picture Styles. The EOS 400D is also known as Rebel XTi.
Canon asked me for deep insights about the 400D that was used yesterday on its launching. I’ve shot foliage & trees at UP Diliman, took some sunset from our rooftop and still life in my studio. I’ve gone more further and reviewed it for www.PinoyPhotography.Org (PiPho) which you are reading now. This review was based from my field testing and personal overview of this camera, its actually a simple review with comparison and thorough observation how the 400D handled my needs. Just like many may ask; Is the 400D a logical upgrade from the 350D? In my review Il discuss things which I think will minimize your decision making dilemma.

EOS 400D Specifications

Type: Digital, single-lens reflex, AF/AE camera with built-in flash
Recording media: Type I or II CF card
Image sensor size: 22.2 x 14.8mm
Compatible lenses: Canon EF lenses (including EF-S lenses) (35mm-equivalent focal length is approx.1.6 times the lens focal length)
Lens mount: Canon EF mount

•Imaging Element

Type: High-sensitivity, high-resolution, large single-plate CMOS sensor
Pixels: Effective pixels: Approx. 10.10 megapixels
Total pixels: Approx. 10.50 megapixels
Aspect ratio: 3:2
Color filter system: RGB primary color filter
Low-pass filter: Located in front of the image sensor, non-removable
Dust deletion feature: (1) Sensor cleaning: Auto
(2) Sensor cleaning: Manual
(3) Dust delete data appended to image data
Recording format: Design rule for Camera File System 2.0 & EXIF 2.21
Image type: JPEG Type, RAW Type
RAW+JPEG Type
simultaneous recording: Provided
File size: (1) Large/Fine: Approx. 3.8MB (3888 x 2592 pixels)
(2) Large/Normal: Approx. 2.0MB (3888 x 2592 pixels)
(3) Medium/Fine: Approx. 2.3MB (2816 x 1880 pixels)
(4) Medium/Normal: Approx. 1.2MB (2816 x 1880 pixels)
(5) Small/Fine: Approx. 1.3MB (1936 x 1288 pixels)
(6) Small/Normal: Approx. 0.7MB (1936 x 1288 pixels)
(7) RAW Type: Approx. 9.8MB (3888 x 2592 pixels)
*Exact file sizes depend on the subject, ISO speed, Picture Style, etc.
File numbering: Consecutive numbering, auto reset, manual reset
Color space: sRGB, Adobe RGB
Picture Style: Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Def. 1 – 3
Interface: USB port (USB 2.0 Hi-Speed): For connection to a personal computer
and direct printing Video OUT terminal (NTSC/PAL)
Type: Auto, daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, white fluorescent light, flash,
custom
Auto white balance: Auto white balance with the image sensor
Color temperature compensation: White balance correction: ±9 stops in full-stop increments
White balance bracketing: ±3 stops in full-stop increments
* Blue/amber bias or magenta/green bias possible
Temperature information transmission: Provided

•Viewfinder
Type: Eye-level pentamirror
Coverage: Vertical/Horizontal approx. 95%
Magnification: Approx. 0.8x (-1 diopter with 50mm lens at infinity)
Eyepoint: Approx. 21 mm
Built-in dioptric adjustment: -3.0 – +1.0 diopter
Focusing screen: Fixed, precision matte
Mirror: Quick-return half mirror (Transmission: reflection ratio of 40:60, no
mirror cut-off with EF600mm f/4L IS USM or shorter lenses)
Viewfinder information: AF information (AF points, focus confirmation light), exposure
information (shutter speed, aperture, AE lock, exposure level, exposure
warning), flash information (flash ready, high-speed sync, FE lock, flash
exposure compensation), white balance correction, maximum burst, CF
card information
Depth-of-field preview: Enabled with depth-of-field preview button

•Autofocus
Type: TTL secondary image-registration, phase detection
AF points: 9 AF points
Metering range: EV -0.5 – 18 (at 23°C/73°F, ISO 100)
Focus modes: One-Shot AF, AI Servo AF, AI Focus AF, Manual focusing (MF)
AF point selection: Auto, manual
Selected AF point display: Superimposed in viewfinder and indicated on LCD monitor
AF-assist beam: Small series of flashes fired by built-in flash
Effective range: Approx. 4.0m/13.1ft. at center, approx. 3.5m/11.5ft. at
Periphery

•Exposure Control
Metering modes: 35-zone TTL full aperture metering
• Evaluative metering (linkable to any AF point)
• Partial metering (approx. 9% of viewfinder at center)
• Center-weighted average metering
Metering range: EV 1 – 20 (at 23°C/73°F with EF50mm f/1.4 USM lens, ISO 100)
Exposure control: Program AE (Full Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night
Portrait, Flash Off, Program), shutter-priority AE, aperture-priority AE,
depth-of-field AE, manual exposure, E-TTL II autoflash
ISO speed: Basic Zone modes: ISO 100 – 400 set automatically
Creative Zone modes: Equivalent to ISO 100 – 1600 (in 1-stop
increments)
Exposure compensation: Manual: ±2 stops in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments (can be combined with
AEB)
AEB: ±2 stops in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments
AE lock: Auto: Applied in One-Shot AF mode with evaluative metering when
focus is achieved
Manual: By AE lock button in all metering modes

•Shutter
Type: Electronically-controlled, focal-plane shutter
Shutter speeds: 1/4000 to 30 sec. (1/3- and 1/2-stop increments), bulb, X-sync at 1/200
sec.
Shutter release: Soft-touch electromagnetic release
Self-timer: 10-sec. Delay
Remote control: Remote Switch RS-60E3
Remote Controller RC-5/RC-1

•Built-in Flash
Type: Retractable, auto pop-up flash
Flash metering: E-TTL II autoflash
Guide No.: 13/43 (ISO 100, in meters/feet)
Recycle time: Approx. 3 sec.
Flash-ready indicator: Flash-ready icon lights in viewfinder
Flash coverage: 17mm lens angle of view
FE lock: Provided
Flash exposure compensation: ±2 stops in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments

•External Speedlite
EOS-dedicated Speedlite: E-TTL II autoflash with EX-series Speedlite
Zooming to match lens focal length: Provided

•Drive System
Drive modes: Single, continuous, and self-timer
Continuous: Max. 3 shots per sec.
Maximum burst: JPEG (Large/Fine): Approx. 27, RAW: Approx. 10, RAW+JPEG
(Large/Fine): Approx. 8
*Based on Canon’s testing conditions with a 512MB CF card
* Varies depending on the subject, ISO speed, Picture Style, etc.

•LCD Monitor
Type: TFT color liquid-crystal monitor
Monitor size: 2.5 in.
Pixels: Approx. 230,000
Coverage: Approx. 100%
Brightness adjustment: 7 levels provided
Interface languages: 15

•Image Playback
Display format: Single image, shooting information, 9-image index, magnified view
(approx. 1.5x – 10x), autoplay, image rotation, and jump (by 10 or 100
images, by date)
Highlight warning: In the shooting information mode, any overexposed highlight areas with
no image information will blink
Histogram: Brightness, RGB

•Image Protection and Erase
Protect: Single images can be erase-protected or not.
Erase: One image or all images in the CF card can be erased (except
protected images)

•Direct Printing
Compatible printers: PictBridge, CP Direct, and Bubble Jet Direct-compatible printers
Printable images: JPEG Type images (DPOF printing possible)
Easy Print feature: Provided

•DPOF: Digital Print Order Format
DPOF: Version 1.1 compatible

•Direct Image Transfer
Compatible images: JPEG Type and RAW Type images
* Images to be used for wallpaper on the personal computer screen
must be JPEG Type images

•Customization
Custom Functions: 11 Custom Functions with 29 settings

•Power Source
Battery: Battery Pack NB-2LH, quantity 1
* AC power enabled with AC Adapter ACK-DC20
* With Battery Grip BG-E3, size-AA batteries can be used
Battery life: [Number of shots • approx.]
Shooting Conditions Temperature No Flash 50% Flash Use
At 23°C / 73°F 500 360
At 0°C / 32°F 370 280
* The above figures apply when a fully-charged Battery Pack NB-2LH is
used
* The figures above are based on CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products
Association) testing standards
Battery check: Auto
Power saving: Provided
Power turns off after 30 sec., 1, 2, 4, 8, or 15 min.
Date/Time battery: One CR2016 lithium battery
Startup time: Approx. 0.2 sec.

•Dimensions and Weight
Dimensions: (W x H x D): 126.5 x 94.2 x 65 mm / 5.0 x 3.7 x 2.6 in.
Weight: Approx. 510 g / 18 oz. (body only)

•Operation Environment
Working temperature range: 0°C – 40°C / 32°F – 104°F
Working humidity: 85% or less

*All the specifications above are based on Canon’s testing standards.
*The camera’s specifications and exterior are subject to change without notice.

Physical Impressions


Larger version

The EOS 400D body is made of hard plastic and has a stainless steel frame. It looks exactly the same as EOS 350D’s body. Small and light to describe it by words. There are a number of refinements in its ergonomics, one is the improved grip at the back (See above photo), the rubber pad for the thumb and the increased distance between the fingers and lens mount. Overall the handling has improved although still one finger short if you don’t have a battery grip.


In front of the 400D you will notice the new graphite emblem and the black shutter button instead of silver. Nothing has changed here and you can see the usual infra red receiver, AF assist lamp, DOF preview button seen in 350D.


From the back, the buttons on the left side are now rounded, plus they’ve included the DISP button for the LCD display. I also noticed that the delete button now has a dot sized protrusion to let you distinguish it without looking.

You will never look back to smaller LCD’s once you get the hang of bigger displays, since I reviewed EOS 5D for one week and another week for the EOS 400D, Im now longing for that big view. Its very useful in checking the sharpness and details of your shots. There is a big improvement on the brightness of 400D’s LCD, It is now 40% brighter. I tested it in broad daylight and still usable unlike the 5D. Canon took away the separate LCD panel for your settings to give more space for the 2.5” LCD. You can now see the settings in the integrated LCD display.

It has a brilliant Display-Off sensor below the eyecup to save battery life and eliminate glare while looking in the viewfinder. The LCD panel is animated; you can see the usual settings here like AF points, metering, white balance, ISO and other essential settings. If you are changing AF points and exposure compensation the indicator turns yellow and return back to its normal color black.

The four navigational buttons are now black making it monochromatic with the body. It has the same functions like the 350D, up for ISO, down for WB, left for metering and right for AF. You can assign the set button as your quick button for picture styles, AF selection and quality settings. I normally configure the set button as my quality setting so that I can quickly change from RAW to Jpeg in just one push. Although I like doing it on single click, I tried assigning it with picture styles and just do the quality settings in the menu selection. It would be perfect if Canon made the print button (DPOF) assignable to either picture style or quality settings. The direct printing button can also be used as image previews zoom shortcut. After each shot you need to hold it then you can zoom immediately.


There’s a green led indicator beside the dial mode on top of the camera. It indicates whether the camera is on or not. I would say useful, but the led indicator gives the 400D looked like a toy. On the top center of 400D you can find the pop-up flash and hot shoe for external flash.

A practical thing that Canon made was using the same form factor of the 350D. I was happy to use my 350D’s battery grip BGE3 with no problems. The battery is the same with 350D (NB2LH) . I noticed that it eats more battery juice more than the 350D maybe because of the energy demand of the new brighter and bigger LCD and not to mention the ICS.

Functionality & Usage

The Rebel XTi has a 10.1 megapixel CMOS sensor, the controversial Integarted Cleaning System or ICS and being the fourth Canon DSLR to use the 2.5” LCD. Powered by Digic II imaging processor and compatibility with EF-S and EF lenses. These are some of the new and basic features of this camera

I salute Canon for returning the no confirmation button for changing settings like I use to have on my 300D. For example, you are adjusting your ISO from 100 to 400 you no longer have to push the set button for confirmation, you can now go straight and click the shutter and shoot.

Same like its predecessors, the 400D will turn on in just a few milliseconds approximately 0.2 sec, it is fast and you wouldn’t miss a moment. It has three metering modes which are evaluative linkable to any AF point, partial metering that meters approximately 9% of the center of the viewfinder and center weighted average metering. Unfortunately there’s still no spot metering on this model. The 400D now has 9 AF points, I didn’t played much with the new AF system because I still find selecting one AF point to be more accurate.

Seeing thru the viewfinder is still a pain for me it is still the small and cumbersome viewfinder like the 350D. There’s no ISO indicator inside the viewfinder but instead the usual exposure level, FEC, shutter speed, aperture, available shots, flash, FE/AE lock and red eye.

Shooting modes are as follows:

• Auto
• Program AE (P)
• Shutter priority AE (Tv)
• Aperture priority AE (Av)
• Manual (M)
• Auto depth-of-field
• Portrait
• Landscape
• Close-up
• Sports
• Night portrait
• Flash off

As you clearly see, this camera is also designed for newbies, it can act just like a regular point and shoot camera by shooting with one of the basic zone modes. In this zone, the ISO automatically change from ISO 100 – 400. The in camera flash pops up whenever the camera detects you need it. For the advanced users the creative zone will give you what you need from P (program) to M (Full Manual).

It now has picture styles which is one of my favorite nifty features of this camera. Picture styles replaces the normal parameter settings. I first used it when I reviewed the EOS 5D and loved it even more on the 400D because of the improved LCD. You can select from one of the 6 preset picture styles that suits your taste. These are standard, portrait, landscape, neutral, faithful and monochrome. There’s an additional 3 User defined picture styles that you can save. Plus additional 3 presets that you can download from Canon’s website.

See sample photos:


Landscape

Neutral
Standard

Portrait
Shade

Click on the image for a larger version

One of most frequently asked question from my initial preview was the noise at high ISO. ISO settings are still from 100 to 1600 nothing too different and in fact I find the noise just the same as the 350D. Theres a weird thing i observed, the 400D tends to underexpose at half stop.

Here are the out of the camera samples from both 350D and 400D
WARNING BIG SIZE

350D ISO 800

400D ISO 800

350D ISO 1600

400D ISO 1600

ICS or Integrated Cleaning System

From its specs:

EOS Integrated Cleaning System

Automatic sensor cleaning (high speed LPF vibration) during startup, shutdown or manually activated via menu

Dust Delete function (camera records dust position and size. Resulting data is appended to image. Application software uses the embedded data to automatically remove dust shadows from image)

Manual sensor cleaning available

I was very optimistic when I first read this feature. Well apparently, yes, the system works. I interchangeably switch lenses to another without powering off the camera. I even changed lenses in an upright position. After 3 days of doing it indoors and outdoors I only got few specs visible at f22. Tested the dust delete data option which was my last resort of removing sticky dusts. Imagine the dust delete data option like an automatic cloning feature. The results were convincing. I hope this system will be incorporated in the coming generations of Canons DSLR line up. If you are an outdoor photographer and shoot at small aperture this feature will help you a lot. It’s not perfect but from my brutal testing it manage to minimize the worst dust collection.

The EOS 400D is not built for sports, but the large buffer memory of this camera won’t let you down with most fast moving subjects. I’ve taken a straight 24 images at jpeg large fine from one continuous click of the shutter. Like the 350D it has an AI servo that helps in shooting moving subjects especially when the movement is towards the camera. The 1.6x crop factor or FOV crop adds an additional reach for telephoto lenses.

White balance options are AWB (Auto), daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, white fluorescent light, flash & custom. AWB still not very accurate you still need to customize it especially with mixed lighting condition. With outdoor daylight AWB would be fine. I noticed that the white balance settings has now a Kelvin information beside the WB icons. There’s also the WB shift configuration inside the settings menu.

In preview mode you can select to view it by 9 thumbnails or jump by 10 or 100. You can zoom in from 1.5x to 10x. It is now very easy to view and check the images especially with the 2.5” LCD. Highlight warning is still there and it now has two type of histogram RGB and luminance. Luminance is the traditional spikes that we see while RGB is the histogram information of each color that overlaps to one another.

With custom functions the 400D extends its capabilities for an additional 11 custom settings. You can enable mirror lockup, slow synchro , set button assignment, exposure compensation increments are some of the features that you can change here.

Conclusions

After a week of testing and playing with the 400D Im now convinced that it is the best Rebel ever. The 400D is the equivalent of 300D+350D. This camera has a 10.1 megapixel resolution making it 2 megapixel better than the 350D and also 30D. The 2 megapixel extra will not be useful for an average Juan who uses their DSLR to print their photos in 4R to 8R, while others might find it useful for cropping. The viewfinder should have increased; spot metering would be nice but not essential.

My three favorite features are ICS, 2.5” LCD and picture styles. It’s also worth noting that the better handling makes a difference in using the 400D for long hours. It seems very logical that if you are a first time DSLR buyer the 400D is the way to go. But for the current owner of EOS 350D that’s looking for an upgrade you should ask yourself first if you need those three important features that I’ve mentioned. For me the LCD and picture styles alone will help me a lot for my needs. The additional megapixel will surely count for stock & commercial photography. You can readily use your existing 350D accessories, battery grip and battery. What’s more good to say about it is that the price tag of this camera is just tempting for a second body or for an upgrade.
Whether you are a hobbyist, serious amateur or even a pro, the EOS 400D will give the basics that you need. Honestly now I missed the 400D.

Published by

Regie Fernando

Head creative artist and director at Imagesmith. Founder of Pinoy Photography Org (PiPho). Loves gadgets and tech hence the alt name "tekgik". Interested on techie stuff? follow me on Twitter. Wanna see latest photo / video musings? follow me on Instagram. Wanna hire me? :) inquire at www.imagesmith.ph.