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

Sensor and processing / Screen and viewfinder / Lens features

Canon EOS 350D / XT vs EOS 5D: Sensor


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The major reason for upgrading to the Canon EOS 5D is of course its sensor. In terms of resolution, the 5D’s 12.8 Megapixel sensor delivers files with 4368x2912 pixels which at 300 dpi can make prints measuring around 14.5x10in.

Canon 350D / XT quality settings   Canon EOS 5D quality menu  
       

The 8.2 Megapixel Canon EOS 20D and 30D both deliver files with 3504x2336 pixels, while the EOS 350D / Rebel XT is slightly lower at 3456x2304 pixels. At 300 dpi, each of these three cameras can produce prints measuring around 11.5x7.5in. That allows the 5D to make prints at 300 dpi which are around 3in wider and 2.5in taller.

The difference is even greater if you’re upgrading from the EOS 10D or EOS 300D / Rebel, which both employed 6.3 Megapixel sensors delivering images with 3072x2048 pixels. At 300 dpi, these could be printed at around 10x7in. In contrast, the 5D’s images can be output 50% taller and wider. Either way, the 5D represents a significant resolution increase from any of the lower Canon EOS bodies.

The 5D isn’t just about higher resolution though. Its sensor is physically larger too at 35.8x23.9mm compared to the 22.5x15mm of the 20D and 30D or the 22.2x14.8mm of the 350D / Rebel XT. This means although the 5D has more pixels, the individual photosites on its sensor are physically larger than those on the lower-end bodies. In terms of physics, this should allow the 5D to enjoy lower noise levels, especially at higher sensitivities.

This theory certainly holds up in practice as you can see on our noise results page. Another point worth remembering is since the 5D has a higher resolution, any artefacts will also appear smaller than those from lower resolution bodies on prints made the same size.

The 5D’s physically larger sensor also has important implications when it comes to lenses, which we’ll discuss on page three of this Features section.

Canon EOS 350D / XT vs EOS 5D: Metering and exposures

Upgrading from the EOS 350D / Rebel XT to the EOS 5D will double your fastest shutter speed to 1/8000, although the flash sync remains the same at 1/200. This would actually be a slight downgrade for 20D or 30D owners who enjoy a slightly faster 1/250 flash sync along while matching the same 1/8000 top shutter speed.

Owners of the 300D / Rebel, 350D / Rebel XT and the 20D will appreciate the inclusion of spot-metering on the EOS 5D, although this is now offered on the 30D and we wouldn’t be surprised to also find it on the 350D / Rebel XT’s successor.

Upgrading to the EOS 5D from any of the other models will get you a wider ISO range from 50 to 3200 ISO. The 20D and 30D may also sport a 3200 ISO mode, but start at 100 ISO. The 350D / Rebel XT sensitivity runs from 100 to 1600 ISO. Number aside, the 5D’s physically larger sensor means higher sensitivities can be used with less noise than any of the other bodies.


Canon EOS 350D / XT vs EOS 5D: Handling

In terms of handling, all of Canon’s current DSLRs perform very well, starting quickly with low shutter lag. Anyone upgrading from the 350D / Rebel XT, 20D or 30D to the 5D is unlikely to notice a great deal of difference in these respects. If you’re coming from the 300D / Rebel or EOS 10D though, any of the more recent Canon DSLRs will feel much faster in terms of startup.

Upgrading from the 350D / Rebel XT to the 5D won’t get you faster continuous shooting either: both are rated at 3fps, although the 5D has a larger buffer. Annoyingly if you’re upgrading from the 20D or 30D, you’ll actually lose-out on continuous shooting performance, as both bodies are capable of firing-off 5fps. If you regularly use this capability, you’ll find the 5D quite sluggish in comparison.

In terms of focusing, the 5D enjoys a more sophisticated 11-point AF system compared to the 350D / Rebel XT’s 7-point system, along with more professional-looking indicators in the viewfinder. It’s much better in use than the 350D / XT, but only slightly more sophisticated than the 9-point AF system of the EOS 20D, 30D and the 400D / Rebel XTi. See page three of the Features section for specific lens focusing differences.



Features continued...

Sensor and processing / Screen and viewfinder / Lens features
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