Abstract: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT Review (Canon EOS 350D)

Photography - Canon EOS, digital, nature, Canon EOS 20D

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT Hands-on Review (EOS 350D)

Front view of Digital Rebel XT in Black
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (EOS 350D)

Above is a shot of the Digital Rebel XT in black with the EF-S 18-55/3.5-5.6 Kit lens attached. I think it looks better than the silver version shown down below.

General Impressions

It's small. Significantly smaller than the 20D. In fact on the verge of being too small for me. Now I'm 6ft tall and I have much larger hands than someone who is 5ft tall, so comments about size are relative. However I wouldn't want to see it get any smaller! The camera seems less "substantial" than the 20D, probably because of the light weight and more "plastic" finish. The 20D has textured rubber grips. The Digital Rebel XT is slightly roughened plastic.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) Review
The viewfinder image is noticeably smaller, though probably good enough unless you're a real stickler for large viewfinders. The illustration above gives an approximate idea of the relative viewfinder sizes of the EOS-3, EOS 20D and Digital Rebel XT.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (EOS 350D)
Rear view of Digital Rebel XT in Silver

I find the menu screens a little less convenient than on the 20D and the menus are a little harder to read in daylight, because they are slightly "grayed out" until selected. The menu structure resembles that of Powershot cameras with several selectable "pages" of settings, whereas the 20D has all the options in a long list on one page. To get from a setting in one page to a setting in another, you have to scroll up to the top of the page, then over to the next page, then down to the menu item using the 4 direction buttons on the back of the camera. With the 20D you just turn the rear control dial to get to any item.

Just playing briefly with the camera it's evident that some things you can do on the 20D using control buttons and dials, you have to do on the Digital Rebel XT by going into menus and selecting options. This is slower and less convenient, but at least you can do them (you couldn't on the 300D without hacking the firmware).

Here are some of the main features of the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT:

  • High-performance digital SLR with 8.0 Megapixel CMOS Sensor and DIGIC II Image Processor
  • Smallest and lightest EOS Digital SLR
  • Fast 3 frames-per-second shooting with a 14 frame burst and 0.2 second startup time
  • High-speed, Wide-area 7-point AF with superimposed focusing points
  • User-selectable metering patterns, AF modes, custom functions and flash exposure compensation
  • Direct Print support with PictBridge compatible printers
  • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed interface for quick downloads
  • Compatible with more than 50 EF and EF-S Lenses and most EOS System accessories including EX-series Speedlites and a dedicated Battery Grip

Image Quality

This is the $64,000 question. How does the image quality of the Digital Rebel XT compare to that of the EOS 20D? Well, I took a few shots with both cameras in normal daylight set to the same ISO, parameter settings (contrast, sharpness, saturation etc.) and using the same lens.

My conclusion is that both cameras produce images of essentially the same quality, both at ISO100 and at ISO 1600. Color and noise levels were very similar indeed. Without doing scientific tests, they look identical, even at 200% enlargement. Any fears about higher noise or lower sharpness than the EOS 20D seem totally unfounded.


Quite a few people have commented on the difference in shutter sound of the Digital Rebel XT and EOS 20D. Below are plots of the recorded audio of each shutter.
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) Review Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) Review

Click for sound of Digital Rebel XT shutter

Click for sound of EOS 20D shutter

If you click on the links you should hear a sequence of 4 shutter firings for each camera. They were recorded with the microphone about 2" behind the camera. [Note: these are 250KB .wav files]

Image Noise

Here's a set of images showing noise levels at various ISO settings, from 100-1600 for the Digital Rebel XT and from 100-3200 for the EOS 20D. These are shots of a gray card and each is a 100% crop from the center of the image.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) Review

As you can see, noise levels are very similar. If there are differences, they're too small to matter.

Image Resolution

Below are two shots which are 200% crops from the center of the image of a resolution test chart, shot with a Canon EF 300/4L at f8.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) Review

It's pretty clear that there's no significant difference in resolution between the 8.2MP EOS 20D and the 8MP Digital Rebel XT.

Continuous Shooting

I checked the frame rate on the Digital Rebel XT to see if it met the Canon spec of 3 frames/second. Below are the first and last shots of a 9 frame burst (large/fine JPEGS). That's as much as the XT buffer holds.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) Review

As you can see the 9 frames took just about 3 seconds, so it does indeed shoot at 3 frames/second.

NEXT - Part II - White Balance, IR capabilities and Conclusions

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