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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: Screen

The Canon EOS 300D / Rebel, 350D / XT, 10D and 20D all employ paltry 1.8in colour screens which on the more recent models were really beginning to look small. Thankfully the EOS 5D addressed this with a much larger 2.5in screen, and if you’re upgrading from these earlier models you’ll certainly appreciate its larger size. The EOS 30D and 400D / XTi also have 2.5in screens so there’s no upgrade benefit here.

Before moving on, it’s also worth mentioning the small joystick on the back of the EOS 5D, 20D and 30D models which makes scrolling round images in playback a breeze. This isn’t used on the 10D, 300D / Rebel, 350D / XT or 400D / XTi.

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Canon EOS 350D and EOS 5D rear view

Canon EOS 350D / XT vs EOS 5D: Viewfinder
You only have to look through the EOS 5D’s viewfinder to appreciate the great benefit it has over almost every other DSLR: the view is simply much bigger. This is because the 5D’s viewfinder shows the full coverage of the full frame sensor, as oppose to the cropped views of the other bodies.

While it’s easy to get used to the cropped view of most DSLRs, many are akin to peering through a letterbox compared to using a full frame body like the 5D. In contrast, the 5D’s view is larger, brighter, easier to compose and focus. It’s a small point, but ultimately the 5D is much easier and more enjoyable to look through.

In terms of the information you see through the viewfinder though, the 5D is essentially the same as the 20D and 30D. There’s basic exposure information below and the 11 AF points are illuminated by red rectangles when active. This is more professional-looking than the red dots employed by the 350D / XT’s seven AF points.

Another benefit of the 5D over the other Canon bodies mentioned in this feature is its ability to change focusing screens. There’s three available including one with a grid to aid composition. While this gives the 5D an advantage over the lower-end Canon bodies, we’d still prefer to see on-demand LCD grids as implemented on Nikon’s mid to high-end DSLRs – you don’t have to pay for accessories, nor fiddle inside to fit them.

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

Canon 350D / XT main menu Canon EOS 5D main menu

The menus of the 20D, 30D and 5D are arranged as one long list as oppose to the separate pages of the 350D / XT. While this may sound like the latter has the advantage, it’s actually much quicker to navigate the long lists with the thumb-operated command wheel on the back. We also believe the actual design of the menus is more attractive, but it’s no reason to upgrade from the 350D / XT.

Canon 350D / XT parameter menu Canon EOS 5D Picture Styles menu

One big difference between the 5D and 350D / Rebel XT though is how they handle the brightness, contrast, colour and sharpness settings. The 350D / XT’s Parameters have been replaced by the 5D’s Picture Styles, which the 30D and 400D / XTi now also share. Again the later Picture Style system works a little better, but it’s no reason to upgrade.

Features continued...

Sensor and processing / Screen and viewfinder / Lens features

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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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