Canon EOS Rebel XSi review: Canon EOS Rebel XSi

On the other hand, it lacks common perks Sony, Pentax, and Olympus include in their cameras, like in-body mechanical stabilization and a wireless flash controller in the body, a feature I occasionally find quite useful. The inclusion of an image-stabilizing kit lens doesn't quite compensate, since additional optically stabilized lenses tend to cost more in the long run. The XSi's sensitivity range also tops out at ISO 1600, when others routinely reach as high as ISO 3200, and a spot meter that uses a whopping 4 percent of the viewfinder--that's even larger than the 3.8 percent I complained about for the EOS 40D. Though it offers a Live View shooting mode with contrast-detection AF, Live View's usefulness is limited without support from an articulating LCD. Furthermore, all the manufacturers seem to incorrectly think the equivalent of Canon's Picture Styles, custom contrast, sharpness saturation, and color tone, are more important in this market segment than the ability to save groups of custom exposure, white balance, metering, drive mode settings, and so on.

Overall, in CNET Labs' tests the XSi just edges past its competitors for shooting speed. It goes from power-to-photo in a hair more than 0.2 second. At 0.5 second in good conditions, the XSi's JPEG shooting lag is a bit longer than the rest; its 1.2-seconds duration in dim conditions, while not very zippy, is about average for its class. Once focused, shot-to-shot time typically takes about 0.4 second for RAW or JPEG, and adding flash recycling time bumps it to only 0.7 second, which is very good for any class. It's also the fastest burst shooter among entry-level dSLRs, snapping 3.4 frames per second, for more than 60 JPEGs in testing. The buffer maxes out at six RAW frames, however, so you'll have to move to another class of camera if you take shooting your children's soccer games really seriously.

Photo samples from the Canon EOS Rebel XSi

Regardless of the other entries in the XSi's pro and con columns, it delivers hands-down, best-in-class photo quality, surprising given the higher-resolution sensor. It does tend to underexpose--I rarely use exposure compensation, but bumped it up a stop for many of my shots with the XSi--and you might need to kick the sharpness settings up a little to your taste. But its color accuracy, dynamic range, and consistently good noise profile up to the maximum ISO 1600 clearly put this model in front of the pack. With both built-in and external flash, as well as without, it delivered even exposures, and the lenses rendered extremely good edge-to-edge sharpness.

Though it'll run you a few bucks more than competitors such as the Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 or the Nikon D60, the Canon EOS Rebel XSi will deliver slightly better performance and noticeably better photo quality in return, making it a worthwhile trade-off.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Raw shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim light)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Sony Alpha DSLR-A200
Nikon D60 (with 18mm-55mm lens)
Olympus Evolt E-510 (dual lens kit)
Pentax K100D
Canon EOS Rebel XSi (with 18-55mm lens, black)

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Apr 27, 2008
  • Digital camera type SLR
  • Optical Zoom 3 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CMOS
  • Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical
  • Lens 29 - 88mm F/3.5
  • Optical Sensor Size 14.8 x 22.2mm