Gear Geek: First thoughts on the Canon Digital Rebel XTi

Well, a week on and I’m loving my new Digital Rebel XTi. I got it with the 18-55mm kit lens (which is…okay but not great) and I bought a 70-300mm zoom lens, which I’m using almost exclusively. The 70-300, I’m finding, is good for portraits where I don’t want to be right up in someone’s face (say, for example, my cats, or this hawk) and it is, of course, great for landscape–or skyscape–photography.

I absolutely love the large LCD screen! It makes reviewing my shots a dream and it’s easy to read what my settings are. The controls are easily reached (once I memorize where everything is) and easy for me to understand. I think anyone with experience using a “modern” camera–film or digital–should have a fairly easy time learning the XTi. Inexperienced photographers, or people who haven’t picked up a camera since they stuck their K-1000 in a shoebox at the back of their closet, might have a steeper learning curve, but it shouldn’t be too difficult.

I have noticed one “dust” spot in the viewfinder, but it doesn’t appear on any of my images, so either it’s on the mirror, or the self-cleaning sensor (which I really should read up on because it seems to be rather a Big Deal on the XTi) is keeping my images dust-free.

One consistent complaint I read in the reviews of the XTi is that it tends to underexpose images. I’ve noticed this in my initial shots with the camera as well. Of course, I can crank the EV up +1/2 or +1 stop and futz with the metering to compensate, but I do hope Canon addresses the issue in a firmware update sooner rather than later. The other complaint I’ve seen has to do with the size of the camera. It’s on the small side, which is really nice for those of us with smallish hands. For those of you with bigger hands, you might want to play with it in a store before buying, or check into getting the battery grip.

So far, the plusses far outweigh the minuses with the Digital Rebel XTi. I’m already budgeting for lenses and accessories (i.e., a servicable 50mm and the sweet, sweet 85mm 1.2L and a nice flash unit). I would recommend the XTi for anyone looking to upgrade either from film to digital or from their digital point-and-shoot to a DSLR.

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