Unfortunately, like the Rebel XT, the XTi lacks a spot meter; it supplies only evaluative, center-weighted average, and partial center-weighted metering. There is simply no substitute for a spot in tricky lighting situations. In fact, I couldn't avoid severe underexposures of a backlit subject with the available metering tools, which is inexcusable for a camera of this class.
In general, the XTi's measured speed fell short of the D80's as well. My experience bears that out: though it felt as if it were fast and responsive, I frequently found the shot was captured just a fraction of a second too late. Keep in mind that it takes a while to adjust to the pace of a camera and get a feel for its shooting rhythm--and I've been shooting with faster pro models such as the Canon 30D and Olympus E-1--and it's fast enough so that, in time, the number of missed shots would have dropped.
Continuous-shooting performance has been tweaked a bit. Though the speed remains the same as in the XT, Canon rates the XTi to shoot as many as 27 frames of JPEG or 10 frames of raw before the camera hits a bottleneck and slows. It fared slightly better in our testing, though the 7-second lag before you can continue shooting can be a bit frustrating. The XTi uses Canon's Digic II chipset rather than the newer Digic III, and I wonder if the company might have been able to eke out better performance and noise suppression with the latter.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Raw shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (dim light)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
I did most of my testing with the kit lens. I love how small and lightweight it is but still find it too slow--the maximum aperture of f/3.5 simply doesn't let in enough light and doesn't allow for a shallow enough depth of field for my purposes. Furthermore, there's far more chromatic aberration--in this case, purple fringing--than I'm used to seeing in a dSLR. Even catchlights in eyes from the add-on flash had fringing. If you have the dough, I'd recommend the EF-S 17mm-to-55mm f/2.8 IS USM instead. I didn't get a chance to try it with the XTi, but it should be lightweight enough to not overpower the body and fast enough to provide more exposure latitude. Plus, it has the advantage of optical image stabilization and a quieter motor.Despite my few complaints, the Canon EOS Rebel XTi still shoots some very nice photos, with good color rendition, broad dynamic range (when there's sufficient illumination), and accurate automatic white balance. Shots taken at ISO 100 and ISO 200 were very clean, but beyond that, the photos couldn't take much retouching without drawing attention to the noise.
Canon is not planning to do away with the Rebel XT, and the presence of a new model doesn't make that great model obsolete. If you don't change lenses that often, don't mind the smaller LCD, don't need the slight bump in continuous-shooting speed, and don't need the higher resolution, then you don't really need to pay extra for the Canon EOS Rebel XTi. Furthermore, if you don't yet have an investment in any particular manufacturer's lens system and want this year's best model for less than $1,000, you might consider the Nikon D80.