350D Report


Small Wonder. (March 2005 -- updated frequently)

Take an EOS Digital Rebel 300D, squeeze it into a size five, boost its brain, shrink its battery and perk up its image chip and whadda ya got? The next rebellious offering from the innovative Canon Camera Co.

Obviously the successor to the 300D, this new camera is only fifty nomenclature points further UP the scale as the EOS 350D Digital Rebel XT.


In Japan, it's the Kiss Digital N, but now the Kiss part is in the trademark logo type of the rock group KISS. No mistaking the rebelliousness in their promotional materials. Gene Simmons, you have a camera to call your own. With no less than 15 menu languages, this is a camera that will be Shooting In Tongues ((KISS in-joke. Gene got it).

Black and silver models appeared on Day One and for this debut the Kit Lens is optically identical to the original. Except the current offering is tagged the Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 II with a slightly restyled zoom collar. The new version feels 4.8% more solid. I made that figure up.

Price drove the original Rebel into the world and the 300D continues in Canon's product line, now reduced to a MSRP of $799 including lens with the 350D appearing at the Rebel's original $999 ($899 for the body only). Discounts have already started. Timid at first...

The Rebel XT is a digital single lens reflex. If you have been under a rock for the last few years, this may be news, but it's noteworthy to understand that these DSLRs interchange lenses and offer no live electronic viewing. They don't take movies (except as time-lapse frames) and their image chips are much more vulnerable to dust contamination.


Feature set of the 350D is big. Sorry, I meant to say huge. Except that doesn't begin to cover it. The depth of features and improvements on the 350D is eNORmous. Some of them touch you every instant, but like the expanding feature sets of most technical things, more than 90% of the new features will touch you once a year. Lemme 'splain:

The bigger 8MP CMOS chip is a lift from the Canon 20D. In that camera it shoots a frame 3504 x 2336 pixels large. The same chip is in the 350D but it is masked down to 3456 x 2304 pixels. The smaller camera makes a picture 48 x 36 pixels smaller. Why? Dunno. Canon wanted to differentiate them?

See our Chip Ahoy article for some stunning* revelations.

*Your idea of stunning and mine are probably different.

But there are more new features. In rough order of use frequency:

Fast Digic II processor. Startup time and review functions fly. I swear that some feel faster than with the 20D. It's perhaps a tactile illusion of sorts produced perhaps by surprise in comparison to the computational speed of the 300D.

Smaller battery. Instead of the BP-511A found in the 300D and 20D Canons, the 350D uses the smaller NB2L. It looks like a miniature of the previous cell, but holds only 720MAh compared to the nearly double capacity of the prior battery. The Digic II processor sips energy slower, evening things out. Experience is showing fairly comparable battery life compared to the 300D, perhaps a little less.

Physically smaller body. It's plastic, all right, and not quite the build quality of the original 300D, but it is smaller, lighter and more easily fitted into your digital lifestyle than the original. I'm in awe of the high quality of the 300D's tough, smooth silver finish. The 350D's silver seems rough and much less tumble in comparison.

Menu operation. Many menu operations show up as dedicated buttons are pressed to access specific choices. Press the ISO button and the monitor lights with the choice, called out exactly the way it can be selected by pressing Menu > ISO > (speed). After confirming your desired ISO speed with the center Set button, the rest of the Menu page is available for other choices. White Balance, Auto Focus mode and Meter modes all function this way.

A problem, though: The LCD has the numbers and symbols to show WB, ISO and Frame/Compression settings, but when you actually change these, it doesn't help one bit. In bright Sahara sunlight, good luck seeing what you are doing on the monitor, bro, because that's the only place the information shows up.

AF mode. One can select among One Shot, AI Focus and AI Servo for any of the P, Tv, Av, M and A-Dep "Creative" exposure modes. This parallels the 20D's AF options and gives the photographer a tad more freedom. But I use the 20D every day and virtually never change it from my preference. Huh. One Shot acquires focus and stays put. AI Focus changes to track the subject if it moves after a second while the shutter button is in half-press. AI Servo is tracking auto focus, attempting to predict where the subject will be at the exposure instant.

Most of the rest of the functions of the 350D parallel the 300D in a practical sense. Shutter release response seems identical to the 300D's, but the 350 ups the frame rate from 2.5/sec to 3/sec.

B&W image gathering options.

Yep, you can shoot in B&W and tint your image sepia (above), metal, green and blue right in the camera.

You can even select an invisible color filter effect to precede the panchromatic image gathering.

Think color filter on B&W film. Here's a for instance: Select the Red filter and shoot B&W, then shoot a color image and examine the Red channel in Photoshop. Pretty close, but the Red filtered image is more complete and shows higher resolution overall.

Yet the coloration of high chroma subjects is very nearly the same. The difference? The color filtered image is a luminance image painted with the Red channel's tonalities, and the Red Channel is just straight out of the box.


Longer continuous sequences.

With the 350, Canon lets you gather much longer strings of shots in Continuous FPS mode. It will gather at least 8 Large/Fine images before beginning to slow down --on the slowest of CF cards. With a Sandisk Extreme that sequence more than doubles.

In Large/Normal mode, this moves up to 15 fast frames. Even faster when you fill it up with a wicked fast card.

When you shoot in Small/Normal, the image is only a paltry 1728 x 1152 pixels (makes a killer 5 x 7 though and is high enough resolution to use in major motion picture special effects) but you can shoot --get this-- at least 118 frames in a row at full speed (again, a slow card). To put it into graphic terms:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

That many shots in a row.

You could animate them at 15 fps with QuickTime Pro ($30, Apple) and turn the string into a 7.2 second scene, if you wish. Or use a fast card and shoot a very long scene. With a 1.0GB Sandisk Extreme, I was able to capture one long scene of no less than 1840 frames at 3fps. Talk about agony on the shutter button finger! Animated at 3fps, this makes a stop motion movie over 10 minutes long--and it takes that long to shoot the scene. At 15 fps, the single scene runs two full minutes and at 30 fps it's still over a minute long. Like all of Canon's DSLRs, the Rebel XT exposes long strings of frames with perfectly consistent mutual exposure.

Putting all the above features into a single scene, you could shoot a Sepia Time-Lapse sequence that emphasized the blue sky by using an internal Red Filter over the monochrome result and the image would be HD video quality or better with a screen time of at least a full minute while using a 1GB memory card. Whew!


Notable new minor or invisible features include:

  • Custom functions that let you assign operations to the Set button. Image quality/size or color parameter settings can be quickly engaged this way.
  • My preference for this has already shown up. I like it to facilitate quick selection of image size and compression quality.
  • Very long exposures can now have a noise reduction mode engaged.
  • Flash sync shutter speed can be locked to 1/200th sec or float with ambient light.
  • Flash metering can switch between 35-zone Evaluative and Center Average.
  • Flash sync can be switched to Rear Sync, trailing the ambient exposure.

Invisible to you are the improvements at the sensor level.

For instance, the microlenses above each photosite pass more light.

That helps reduce noise, and with more photosites per image chip, every little bit helps.

Small improvements to the anti-alias filtering above the sensor array help avoid moiré and infrared contamination.

Separate horizontal and vertical low pass laminations fight the tendency of tiny detail to land on only a single photosite, and while this may sound like intentionally blurring the image, it actually has the effect of allowing greater electronic sharpening without introducing artifacts.

Image quality, by the way, gets a good, solid A*. But before you rush out to get a 350D because of its megapixels, the differences between its 8MP image and the 300D's "merely" 6.3MP image are vanishingly small.

The Kit Lens performs far better than any $100 zoom lens has any right to.

It's a tad tighter than the Version I 18-55mm Kit found on the 300D and both lenses are made in Taiwan. Camera bodies are made in Japan.

Magnification Factor

Just like its predecessor, the published spec on Magnification Factor (A.K.A. Crop Factor or Compensation Factor) is 1.6. Shooting with a 50mm f/2.5 Canon Macro reveals a hidden truth: The new 8MP chip doesn't cover EXACTLY the same area of the prior 6.3MP. I guess when you are engineering microns into an array, getting it within a few tiny ticks is close enough.

RAW Deal

Sure, it shoots RAW, and those are great images, too. The Digital Negative has come of age. Each shot consumes 12.4 megabytes. A lossless compression utility, DropStuff, crushed this down to 12.2 megs, but that's as far as it would go.

At this writing (May 10, 2005) Photoshop has just caught up with their RAW Interpreter, but only for PS CS2, not PS CS. To be fair, PS CS2 has major new improvements in its RAW interpretation. Worth the upgrade ($150US -ish).


Scene modes (PIC modes in the Canon vernacular) are identical to those on the 20D and 300D. Handy macros for fast set up of predictable situations.

Sports Scene Mode is a favorite, though I rarely shoot sports. It's really a "Continuous Predictive Auto Focus / High Shutter Speed / No Flash / Motor Drive" macro that has tremendous use in any fast moving situation. Kids are especially Sports Mode subjects.

By the way, motor drive mode doesn't require shooting strings of shots. you can let off the button and just get one or two.

Another fave is Portrait Scene Mode. It also turns on the motor drive but this time it pops the flash (only if it's dark enough) and keeps the aperture wide open as much as possible to make a nice bokeh of out of focus -ness behind your subject. That's the amateur rationale. For me its a "Flash / Wide Open / Motor Drive" macro to be used in all sorts of ways.

BTW, if you want flash fill outdoors, use the Program mode and pop the flash up manually. Now it participates in the sunlight.


The 350D's camera speedlight is not the brightest student in the class. It's fine for ISO 100 within about 8 feet (3 meters is pushing your luck) but greater distance comes with higher ISO.

If paparazzi is your style, then you deserve all the flash and dazzle you can get. Canon's own external flash units intimately connect to the TTL sensors through extra contacts in the hot shoe. Like the 20D, this camera accesses many of the TTL II features of the advanced Canon flash units.

Like the bill of a cap, the internal flash unit overhangs the top of the lens. One can release it into working position with a dedicated button, or let it deploy automatically when available darkness calls for it.

Two flashes fire from the on-board unit with every exposure. %$#@!! That simply kills off-camera slave function. I wish it were selectable to an alternate mode, but that might create as much confusion as it solved.

We have a work-around for this that allows the 300D / 350D to function as a single pulse flash camera for use with inexpensive slave flashes. Read all about it in the DSLR: Digital Rebel eBook.

In available darkness, the camera flash can become a rapid-fire focus assist light, and that will freak out your subjects! The manual says to warn your subjects not to break pose when they see flashing.

External simple units only fire once, so if you need to shoot with slave flash units, you could buy a cheap hot shoe triggered unit and cover its tube with a chunk of 35mm black slide film (not negative) to turn it into a slave trigger -er. Or, just get the 300D eBook. The cost is around the same and the eBook gives you much more than an occasional flash unit would bring into your life. End of advertisement.

It Keeps Getting Better Department:

Firmware Update 1.0.3 for the 350D. Just CLICK and follow instructions.

As experience grows with this most welcome camera, I'll revisit this report and update it. If you are looking for your first dSLR experience, this is the one to get until some future camera displaces it from its current throne.

--Peter iNova (


Complete Digital here for an informative comparison of the 20D and 350D.

Imaging Resource here for a report on the 350D.

Digital Photography Review here for their preview look.

Luminous Landscape Field Report here on the 350D.

itscanon is © 2005, Peter iNova. All rights reserved. Images by the author. They're © 2006, too.
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