Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi. Rear View.
I am not going to buy one, let's get that straight right from the start. But since it is much talked about nowadays, at the very least among Canon shooters, I cannot deny that it has aroused my curiousity as well. So here's what I think of the new EOS 400D / Rebel XTi.
It came as a surprise to me because I was expecting a 1Ds MKII replacement and I have heard rumors about a Canon EOS 3D. But, none about a 350D upgrade. It cannot be denied that the kind of technology that Canon has put into it is nothing short of impressive.
The anomaly here now is that the EOS 400D has a higher resolution than the higher spec and higher priced 8.2Mp EOS 30D. Other than a high speed shooting rate of 5 FPS vs 3 FPS, there really aren't much REALLY meaningful features which the 30D can offer over the 400D. The 30D has a more rugged magnesium alloy body, but to most users (especially those who treat their cameras like babies), to what extent is this an issue? The 30D has a slightly larger and brighter viewfinder but it also has a bigger and heavier body. The 400D with an effective dust removal system, a higher resolution, and a sub US$ 1,000 price tag, it may actually be a very compelling proposition over the 30D, especially if you don't shoot at 5 FPS.
It is, therefore, interesting to note that Canon has chosen to seriously improve the Rebel line in favor of the 2 years old 20D. (The 30D is really a 20D with a bigger LCD screen and a few minor updgrades.) I believe that marketing has a big part to do with such a move. I think Canon got caught up with the introduction of the Nikon D80 and the Sony Alpha A100 - both are 10Mp and both are compelling competitors. The 350D was simply outclassed.
Of course there's also the Nikon D200 for Canon to challenge BUT, Canon must have realized that the real commercial battlefield is at the lower end of the market, not the higher end. Add to the fact that the 1Ds MkII is now 2 years old or a full 4 years since the 1Ds was first introduced and the difficulty of competing in all markets becomes quite clear, even if you're the superpower of the DSLR industry.
It is, therefore, not likely that a 20D/30D replacement, not even a 3D, will be announced at this time. Perhaps in another 6 months or so. It has been observed that Canon seems to put new technology to their lower end cameras first, than implementing the things that work to their higher end and pro level cameras on their next generations. I think this will be the case with the new dust removal system and higher resolution sensor. Think about it, with the small photo sites and greater fill factor found in the 400D sensor, a full frame sensor with this technology would produce something between 22 - 24Mp. But the Digic II processor cannot support high enough frame rates at this data volume to meet the demand of professional users. (Which is why there's the 1D MkIIn for pro speed shooters). And so a Digic III has to be developed to solve that problem.
Oh dear . . . I hope this does not start a rumor of what the next 1Ds will be like.
With that said, a new 1D series body is also unlikely for another 6 months at least.
Photo source: www.dpreview.com