On the other hand, the XS 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 that 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 XS' sensitivity range also tops out at ISO 1600, whereas some others go to ISO 3200 (but those models generally don't have usable photo quality at that level). Though it offers a Live View shooting mode with contrast-detection AF, Live View's usefulness is limited without support from an articulating LCD, and it functions too slowly to be of any use with live subjects. Furthermore, all the manufacturers seem to incorrectly think that the equivalent of Canon's Picture Styles--custom contrast, sharpness saturation and color tone--are more important in this market segment than the capability to save groups of custom exposure, white balance, metering, drive-mode settings, and so on. My biggest peeve, though, is the lack of a spot meter--not even the huge 4-percent spot from the XSi.
Another attribute of the XSi but that the XS lacks is the Highlight Tone Priority mode, which helps preserve detail in the brightest portion of a scene. And the XS has a 2.5-inch LCD compared with the XSi's 3-inch version (the A200 and K200D have 2.7-inch LCDs).
Overall, in CNET Labs' tests the XS outperforms all but the D60 for shooting speed. It goes from power-to-photo in a bit less than 0.2 second. At 0.4 second in good conditions, the XS' JPEG-shooting lag matches the rest; its 0.8-second duration in dim conditions is quite good for any class--just a bit slower than the D60 and inexplicably far better than the XSi. Once focused, shot-to-shot time typically takes about 0.7 second for raw shots--oddly, JPEG shooting is a much faster 0.4 second (these days there's typically no difference between raw and JPEG speed in dSLRs). Adding flash-recycling time bumps it to only 0.8 second, which is also very good for any class, and is the same as the D60. Burst JPEG shooting outpaces all but the K200D, however, that camera is limited to about five shots per burst--the XS goes to at least 85. It's pretty close to the D60's burst rate, however. The raw shooting slows after three frames and, like the XSi, maxes out at six frames; you'll have to move to another class of camera if you take shooting your childrens' soccer games really seriously.
The Rebel XS' only really obvious advantage over the competition is its photo quality, which is quite good, especially at high ISO sensitivities. In general, color and exposures are accurate (as accurate as you can get when the situation doesn't require a spot meter), it renders a relatively broad dynamic range, and the kit lens delivers sharp photos for its class.
All of which leads us to two burning questions: is it worth the extra bucks for the XSi over the XS? And how does the XS stack up overall compared with its sub-$700 competitors? As to the first: if you crop a lot, need a spot meter, or merely want the larger LCD, then it's worth paying a little extra for the XSi; otherwise, the XS will probably serve your needs well. (For more information, check out EOS mio! Which Canon dSLR?) And if you want the best photo quality and/or need fast, low-light focus, the Canon Rebel XS outshines its competitors. However, it doesn't deliver the best value for the money overall; that nod goes to the Pentax K200D. You can read more about the competition in Digital SLRs on a shoestring.
(Smaller bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Raw shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim light)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)