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Quick Canon EOS 300D/ Digital Rebel Review

 
 
Todd H.
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      09-21-2004

The short story: I like it and am glad I bought it.

The longer story:

I'm a Canon EOS fan since I jumped aboard with the original Elan and a
430EZ flash back in 1990, amid 3 years of being photo editor at a
collegiate yearbook and shooting a lot of film.

Upon exiting college, my setup consisted of the
EOS Elan body (which has never once required service by the
way),
two hunks of big glass (no way to afford Canon f/2.8's at the time!):
Sigma 70-210 f/2.8 and
Sigma 28-80 f/2.8 non-HSM lenses
one hunk of an old standby:
Canon 50mm f/1.8 non-USM lens
Canon 430 EZ flash
Canon Off shoe cord
Canon RC-1 infrared remote control
Stroboframe camera/flash mount (keeps flash above camera
during veritcal shots)

Thanks to Kodak PhotoCD service, I managed to stay out of digital
cameras during its rapid growth phase. Recently, things have settled
out to where I jumped on board buying a Canon G2 a few years ago (when
it was 2 genreations old). I really like the G2, especially with the
addition of the 550EX flash (darned Canon changed the flash system so
my 430EZ did nothing but dump full power when used with the G2), but
what I was missing was:
1) use of my interchangeable f/2.8 big glass (the G2's f/2.0
lens was fast enough, but focal length on the long end left
me quite wanting)
2) the focus predictability that an SLR provides
3) faster focusing and recovery for taking multiple shots
4) wanted faster start up times and faster transitions from
review to shooting.
5) reuse of other accessories from my Elan rig.
6) better balance in the hand when fitted with the massive
550EX flash.

The Digital Rebel delivered on all these expectations except #1. My
1994 vintage Sigma EOS mount lenses turned out not only to be
incompatible with the Elan7 and beyond Canon firmware change which
renders the Sigmas unable to respond to aperture information from the
camera. As a result I can only shoot with my Sigma lenses in Av mode
at f/2.8... which actually doesn't upset me too badly given how old
the lenses are, and the $1400 in 1994 dollars I've saved without
consequence until now, 10 years later. As expected however, my
1994 Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens works fine with the 300D.

Photo quality wise, the only disappointment thus far has been harsh
flash look due to fill/flash balance, and some underexposure of some
bounce flash photos. This never happened with my Elan+430EZ system
where I typically overexposed the main by +1 and underexposed the
flash by -1 to get a warmer available light balance. I've since read
a review that suggested a +0.7 exposure compensation for bounce flash
photos. Hopefully this will correct that issue. Much of this might
be that I can't currently use my f/2.8 glass with the camera for flash
photography as I'm used to--instead most of my flash shooting has been
with the slower EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens which leaves my photos
with more a flash-blasted look than the Elan/430EZ/Sigma f/2.8 lens
combination.

This will be an issue, however, I'll be able to work out as I gain
familiarity with the equipment, and dial in acceptable flash and main
exposure compensation (FEC) and learn how much to trust the display on
the camera for judging exposure. I am disappointed that Canon didn't
include FEC on this camera and that I have to use the flash's control
panel to dial it in, but I also understand that folks have had some
success with hacked firmware for the 300D to enable that feature a la
the 10D.

Other than that, I'm happy as a clam with the functionality and value
the Digital Rebel represents, and would recommend it to anyone seeking
to stay in the Canon family and make the jump from their 35mm Canon
branded EOS system up to digital. The only caveat would be for those
with investments in third party lenses older than 1998--know that your
money savings in the past may push you into the market for new lenses
that are compatible with the current Canon standard, or hamstring you
to shooting with the maximum aperture of the lens. Go go Aperture
priority mode.

Best Regards,
--
Todd H.
http://www.toddh.net/
 
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