The next Rebel

Engadget scooped the next Canon Rebel (Canon 400D dSLR) that everyone has been speculated would be released for Photokina.

If the specifications are true, I’ll have to eat a little humble pie. I was predicting the 9 point AF system (as Nikon has switched to the CAM1000 11 point AF system with the D80), but I wasn’t predicting the following:

  • 10.1 megapixel CMOS.
  • Anti-dust removal. I thought this was a feature that Olympus/Panasonic and Sony would want to keep away from the big boys (Canon and Nikon).
  • Shitty shot buffer.

The rest of the specs listed are no different the the Rebel.

I’m really surprised with that. For the record I was thinking the following:

  • Same 6 megapixel CMOS. I was thinking Canon would put a 10+ megapixel CMOS in a 30D replacement this year instead of the Rebel this year
  • Same plastic body and design. Some people really like how small and light the Rebel XT is. Better keep with what works.
  • Same 3fps frame rate. I predicted the same for the D80, why would I predict otherwise for the cheaper Rebel 400D?
  • 9 point AF system like the 10D/20D/30D (a no brainer given Nikon’s move). The current Rebel line has a 7-point AF. It’s only useful for sport and wildlife photography but it is important to keep up with the jones.
  • Larger LCD in the back. Canon sorely needs this, it makes a huge difference for photography. The 30D has this upgrade which keeps up with the D200 and D80 on Nikon’s side.
  • Larger shot buffer. (They should also upgrade the PIO/ATA system but they probably won’t.)
  • A real spot metering, instead of partial metering.
  • Maybe 3200 ISO. Doesn’t really matter as it’s very noisy at this point
  • Possibly a pentaprism and better viewfinder instead of a pentamirror and tiny viewfinder. However, I don’t think Canon anticipated this move by Nikon in the D80 so I have my doubts.

A 10.1 megapixel 1.6x CMOS from Canon out this year, if true, is a great thing for the industry. It shows Canon is really serious about APS-C. Something I’ve been saying was in the cards for the last year now.

(BTW, read the original Engadget post. You can see how deluded people are about thinking that Canon could introduce a 35mm frame camera in a Rebel designation. The power of magical thinking.)

If I have to eat a little humble pie about the timing, I’m happy to.

(I don’t want everyone buying Nikon—how then would I stand out? ;-))

New lenses

There are two lenses to be introduced. Strangely both are EF, not EF-S lenses. So it shows Canon is still trying to maintain the perception of “waste money on EF lenses now on the off chance that someday you can afford a 5D later.”

A 70-200mm f/4L IS (a “baby L”) which in general I find very uninteresting because it’s just an image stabilized version of a lens already out and really about trying to get quality on a tight budget. Obviously the IS is going to push up that price a notch which IMO goes against the point.

The other lens is a 50mm f/1.2L USM. Besides incorporating a piezoelectric motor in a normal prime (not the first time, btw, see below), the other thing is the “L” designation and the 1.2 aperture. (Nikon has a 1.2 in that range, but it’s manual focus only.) That’s pretty cool, but I’ll have to see the results. Unlike Nikon, Canon is notorious of making their wide aperture stuff “too hot” in that they perform worse stopped down than a much, much cheaper lens—I’m specifically thinking about the $2500 50mm f/1.0L USM, or, as I like to call it: the craptastic craptastic.

Here is a relevant quote:

The EF 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/1.4 produced images almost indistinguishable from those produced by the 1.0L lens at the same aperture. At f/1.0, images were soft to the point of being almost useless for any uses I would have for images. This lens may be a collectors item because it is rare and no longer in production. However, because of its poor performance at apertures wider than f/1.4 and the improved performance of high ISO digital cameras, there is little or no photographic rationale to own one.

My hope is that Canon learned from this mistake, because if this lens does well, Nikon will take a look at wide aperture DX normals.

6 thoughts on “The next Rebel

  1. An $800 price point is a great idea since it puts it $100 less than the Nikon D80, just like the days of the Rebel/Rebel XT vs. D70/D70s.

    OTOH, it means they’re ceding the entire budget market to the D50 and the *st DL (and corresponding Samsung rebadge) which are getting cheaper and cheaper. Sub $500 kits are going to look very attractive vs. a $1000 Canon EOS 400D.

    I’m curious whether or not the Canon has a pentaprism and eyepoint that is like the 30D. I’ll bet that’s going to account for the majority of the cost savings right there. That’s going to make the D80 a superior camera in almost every way, for $100 more.

    +: FEEL (all caps), viewfinder, 100 shot buffer (JPEG fine), fast writes to CF, spot metering, matrix meter, iTTL, top LCD
    -: $100 more, weight/size, doesn’t meter with manual lenses

    At this price point, I’d pay $100 more for the better viewfinder alone. Don’t you think?

    Do you now if the 400D or the D80 have ISO readout in the viewfinder? That’s super important. How about if either have RGBL histograms?

    So many questions… But the end result is competition is afoot again and APS-C is alive and stronger than ever.

  2. Here is the Canon 400D announcement (Canon XTi in the U.S.).

    One thing I want to point out here is the removal of the non-backlit LCD (in order to go to 2.5″. The Nikon’s avoid this by having a top mounted LCD, but the compact size of the Canon precludes this.

    I mention this because not more than one month ago, I saw a number of Canon photographers on the message boards dissing the Sony Alpha A100 because it lacks this non-backlit LCD. Now I’ll see those same people raving about how great the Canon 400D is. And this is despite the fact that the Sony A100 implementation is superior! The eyepoint AF system in the Sony turns off the main LCD when it detects your eye against the viewfinder.

    This just goes to show you that you should evaluate things honestly instead of according to brand identity or you’ll be very big hypocrite.

    As for me, I wasn’t a hypocrite by thinking the 10 megapixel Canon’s would be out next year, not this one: I was simply wrong.

  3. CameraLabs review:
    “Most people won’t be surprised to learn the 400D / XTi now features a larger 2.5in screen and Canon’s Picture Styles, but following the earlier EOS 30D, many equally expected the new entry-level body to employ the same sensor as its predecessor.

    “But instead of re-using the 350D / XT’s 8 Megapixel sensor, Canon’s developed a brand new 10.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor for the 400D / XTi. This makes it Canon’s highest resolution digital SLR with an EF-S lens mount to date.”

    Here was a neat point I should emphasize: The SSWF (anti-dust shake) can be overridden by half pressing the button on startup. Nice! It also does the Nikon reference frame trick for dust removal.

    BTW, the difference between it and the D80 is $200, not $100. It is clear that the D80 is a much better camera:

    – build quality
    – worse digital-specific lens selection (in particular, no 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR)
    – flash can command others remotely
    – viewfinder is larger
    – viewfinder is brighter (uses pentaprism)
    – XTi doesn’t show ISO or metering in viewfinder
    – XTi no monochrome LCD/backlit rear LCD is on too much (battery drain on an already weak Rebel XT battery). Interestingly they’re using the eye-start system that the A100 uses to conserve battery life so there might be a patent issue here down the road.
    – XTi has no gridlines option (no biggy, but I use them)
    – 14-27 frame buffer vs. 90-100 for the D80.
    – I wonder the speed of the UI. The Nikon D200 is very fast (it’s no Casio, but it really makes a difference). I have no idea of the D80 or the 400D.

    IMO, despite this the $200 is significant enough to a difference to a number of people. The Rebel XTi should sell a lot better. It’d be nice if the D50 got a minor update, and it will continue to outsell the Rebel XT, but I think a number of people will move to the Rebel XTi.

    (Usually cheaper cameras outsell the more expensive ones by a lot.) If I had gobs of money and wanted a third body though, it would be the Pentax K100D, not the D50 or Rebel XT. Who thinks Pentax should make a mid-level pro body (a la D200, 30D, 5D)?

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