Secrets of Digital Photography
Digital Rebel in China!    6 / 6 / 2004



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Working With the Canon Digital Rebel EOS 300D Kiss Digital Camera

After taking off the Olympus E-1 and picking up the Canon Digital Rebel / EOS 300D / Kiss Digital (take your pick) the first impression is, "Why, it's so light! Especially for a camera that lives under three completely different names!" even when fitted with the Sigma 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspherical Hyperzoom Macro Internal Focus lens (I see that Canon isn't the only company that likes to over-name things). Lightness around the neck or shoulder is a definite Good Thing.

I have to say that this Sigma lens has turned out to be a genuine winner (right). It is light, long range (7.14:1) and crisp enough for editorial work. It also exhibits a magical quality that makes it ideal for EOS 300D buyers: The punishment fits the crime. In other words the value match between initial camera purchase price and the value of this lens compared to its purchase price are both extremely high. You won't feel like the lens is wagging the camera, if you catch my drift.

The blow to your wallet or credit card is low (under $180 in several Internet stores) and you will be capable of very fine images with it. Since the zoom range overlaps the Canon Kit Lens range, you will be able to shoot slightly wide (45mm equivalent) to long tele (320mm equivalent) images and those cover the greatest range of focal lengths I typically go for. The zoom is fast and positive, Auto Focus operations are solid for the most part (see my note, earlier) and the longer I used it, the better I got at holding it steady. Think you're hot? Try holding a 320mm lens during a 1/50 sec exposure ten times. Now see why practice makes perfect? But I digress...

My Canon 50mm f/1.8 fixed focal length lens operates as would an f/1.8 80mm lens on a full-frame camera. That's an ideal focal length for portraits and the bokeh (look of the blur behind sharp focus) is good. That said, I must admit that I hardly ever used it. For situations that needed extra light, bracing the camera at a wider angle usually did the trick. What would really feel useful to me is a 20mm f/1.2 with good digital MTF and low cost, but that's just a dream.

With the 18-55mm Kit Lens, 28mm (equivalent) wide angle through 88mm (equivalent) telephoto shots are covered, so swapping lenses becomes less frequent due to the overlapping range between the two zooms. That proved handier with the Canon DR/EOS/300D/KD than working with the E-1, but mid way through the trip a blob of dust showed up on the image sensor. If I had not been prepared with the sensor cleaning kit from Copperhill, I'd have been sunk. One moist swipe of the swab and my troubles were over. This kit plus some Lens Cleaning Solution (everything from Kodak to LensCrafters seems to work) is a vital, must-have, are you listening to me mister, indispensable, fundamental, crucial, required, important and primary accessory for your Canon DR. Dust happens. You must make dust un-happen.

Performing manual custom White Balance adjustments with the Rebel is a pain. You have to shoot an image of something white in the light you wish to measure, open the menu, scroll to Custom WB, select it, scroll to the image that contains the WB you want to compensate for, confirm your choice and scroll to the Custom WB icon before taking a shot.

That's neither easy nor friendly, and if you have read my comments on the lack of camera interface ergonomics, you might find that I give low marks for this sort of obstructive option selection procedure.

One can conceive of a camera that is pointed at a white subject while a special WB button is pressed, this causing a non-recorded exposure that sets up the Preset WB and switches on the Custom WB register(s). Nope, that would be too darn simple, direct, ergonomic and easy. Never mind that this is the exact way you do manual white balance functions with a $125,000 HDTV studio camera...

No emotional baggage here. (Canon Kit lens)

But all the other functions within the Digital Rebel seem to be quite well thought out, so my grumble over this feature is minor. Accessing all other WB settings is super swift and the need for Manual WB is not as great in still image gathering as it is in movie production.

Wan Zhou, a small city of 1.6 million people and 8.2 million photographic situations showed us that the ergonomics of dSLR image gathering are well implemented in the Canon 300D, here shooting through the Sigma 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 Hyperzoom lens.

From viewfinder to final image, the Canon 300D is a diamond with very few flaws. It was always there for me when I needed it to deliver and the images it collected were as good as my eye can orchestrate through any camera. Its simplified menu system and dedicated controls go far in assuring that photography is enhanced while fiddling with the camera, or waiting for it to achieve some function was minimized. As a price to performance combination it seems that the Kiss Digital is the Kiss Of Life.

China Trip Entrance.

Olympus E-1 Gallery.

Canon Pro1 Gallery.

Nikon CP5400 Gallery.

Winner's Circle.

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