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Canon digital SLR upgrade - EOS 350D / XT versus EOS 5D Gordon Laing, November 2006

Canon EOS 350D / XT vs EOS 5D: size and weight

If you’re upgrading to the Canon EOS 5D from a Canon EOS 350D / Rebel XT, the most obvious difference you’ll notice is the former’s a considerably bigger and heavier camera to carry around. The 350D / Rebel XT remains one of the smallest digital SLRs at just 127x94x64mm. The 5D at 152x113x75mm is noticeably larger in every dimension, most obviously the width. Weighing in at 810g, the 5D body’s also much heavier than the 485g of the 350D / Rebel XT.

Add their respective batteries along with the lenses we’ve selected for each, and their weights increase to 1015g for the 350D / Rebel XT plus 17-85mm lens, and 1565g for the 5D plus 24-105mm lens. This extra half kilo on the 5D combination makes a world of difference, especially if you enjoyed travelling light with the 350D / XT. It’ll certainly also occupy a larger proportion of your bag.

The size and weight differences are much smaller though for anyone trading up from the 30D which measures 144x106x74mm and weighs 706g excluding battery; or indeed the 20D which is only 2mm shorter and 20g lighter than the 30D. See our Canon 30D review for comparison images between it and the 5D. Interestingly anyone upgrading from the Canon 10D will find both bodies virtually the same size and weight – this body measured 150x107x75mm and weighed
790g excluding battery.

Canon EOS 350D and 5D - top view

Canon EOS 350D / XT vs EOS 5D: design and build quality

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Once Canon EOS 350D / Rebel XT owners have got over the size and weight differences though, it’s immediately obvious the 5D boasts considerably superior build quality and ergonomics. Its magnesium alloy shell is tougher and the mottled rubber finish easier to hold than the 350D / Rebel XT. The additional width has also allowed the 5D to sport a much larger grip with plenty of room for your finger tips. It’s simply a much more solid and comfortable camera to use.

We reckon it’s quicker and easier to use too: the 5D employs a thumb-operated command wheel on the rear to quickly cycle through menus and settings which is both tactile and intuitive. The LCD information screen on the 5D’s upper right surface also boasts much greater detail than the 350D / Rebel XT’s modest rear info screen. Overall it’s a big improvement in ergonomics.

While the 5D’s design, controls and build quality are a massive upgrade from the 350D / Rebel XT though, they’re virtually indistinguishable from the 20D and 30D. Certainly if you’re a 20D or 30D owner looking for a tougher Canon camera, you’ll need to upgrade beyond to the 5D to the 1D / 1Ds ranges.

That said, despite looking and feeling very similar to the 20D and 30D, the 5D sports at least three physical differences which align it more closely to the professional 1D / 1Ds lines: first, the 5D has a simpler mode dial with no scene presets; secondly it features a soft-touch shutter release, which while no reason to upgrade, is certainly nicer to press; and third, it doesn’t feature a popup flash.

The lack of popup flash may not sound like a particularly big deal, but can prove one of the major hurdles 5D upgraders face. Popup flashes may not be that powerful, nor avoid casting shadows from larger-barrelled lenses, but they can be a genuinely useful facility. For example they’re great to have on-hand for occasional fill-ins, without having to splash out on – or lug around – a separate Speedlite flash gun.

We certainly wish Canon produced a really compact Speedlite for the 5D to satisfy the basic flash cravings of those upgrading from bodies with popups. One small consolation in the 5D’s favour is the lack of popup flash at least makes the camera’s head section stronger. People upgrading from the 350D / Rebel XT may also benefit from the 5D’s PC Sync port for other lighting options, although this connectivity is also offered by the 10D, 20D and 30D.

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All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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