Canon EOS 400D / Digital Rebel XTi review
Written by Gordon Laing
Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi design and build quality
At first glance the Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi looks no different from its predecessor. Indeed apart from the new screen on the back, it shares essentially the same shape, control layout and build quality. It’s available in black or silver and we’ve pictured the latter alongside the black 350D / XT on this and the next page for comparison. To see how the camera looks in the flesh, and for an overview of its headline features, check our EOS 400D / Rebel XTi video tour.
Measuring 127x94x65mm and weighing 510g for the body alone, the 400D / XTi remains one of the smallest and lightest digital SLRs available. While some have criticised its predecessor for being a bit too small, we have no complaints. On the contrary, the 400D / XTi and its predecessor are great cameras to travel with or carry on hikes. If you’d like more to hold onto though, consider the optional portrait battery grip.
The major physical difference between the 400D / XTi and the 350D / XT is of course its larger 2.5in display (and lack of secondary status screen) which we’ll fully describe in our Features section. Otherwise both cameras are physically almost identical with only a subtly curvier grip, rubber thumb pad and rotated IR sensor on the new model. The build quality is the same on both models, feeling solid without any creaks, although clearly below that of the EOS 30D.
Like the 350D / XT, the main command dial is split between traditional creative modes and automatic presets. On the creative side there’s the usual Program, Manual, Shutter and Aperture Priority, along with Auto Depth-of-field. Shutter speeds range from 1/4000 to 30 seconds plus Bulb in third-stop increments; it’s possible switch these to half-stop increments in a custom menu. Metering options remain the same Evaluative, Partial and Center-weighted; unlike the 30D, there’s no spot metering.
The automatic preset modes consist of Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night portrait, Flash-off and the fully automatic Canon green rectangle. New to the 400D / XTi is a small green LED to the top right of the command dial which indicates the camera’s powered-up and ready for action even if the main display is off.
Like its predecessor, the 400D / XTi’s equipped with a popup flash above its Pentamirror head, with coverage to 17mm (27mm equivalent). There’s red-eye reduction along with a rear-curtain option from a custom menu. A hotshoe supports E-TTL II with EX series Speedlites and wireless multi-flash. The fastest flash sync speed is 1/200.
Round the back, the controls are almost identical to the 350D / XT. Four buttons to the lower right of the main screen access the ISO, AF, White Balance and Metering options, all of which can be adjusted using the finger wheel or the four buttons themselves. Pressing the Set button in the middle also gives direct access to the Picture Styles which we’ll describe in the Features section.
Above this group are the drive mode and exposure compensation buttons, although the 350D / XT’s direct print button has been relocated to the lower left of the viewfinder. In the upper right corner are the same pair of buttons which control AF-point selection and Exposure Lock, along with doubling-up as zoom controls during playback.
As before, five buttons run vertically down the left side of the main screen, with the lower three offering the same Bin, Play and menu Jump options. The 350D / XT’s Info button is now the 400D / XTi’s main Menu button, while the old Menu button has been swapped for one which can switch off the main display, or show the same Info details as before.
Connectivity and battery
As before, all the ports are hidden behind a single rubber flap on the left side; this peels back to reveal the video out and USB 2 ports along with a plug for the optional RS-60E3 remote control. Again like its predecessor, a larger door on the right side slides back and swings open to access the Compact Flash card slot; Type I and II cards are accepted, along with capacities above 2GB.
The 400D / XTi is powered by the same compact NB-2LH Lithium Ion battery pack as its predecessor, which is rated at 720mAh. Under CIPA conditions with 50% flash usage at 23 degrees Celsius, Canon quotes up to 360 shots with a full charge. This is down from the 400 shots of the 350D / XT due to the sensor cleaning unit and larger screen which is also used for shooting information.
Despite a 10% reduction in battery life, a single charge with the 400D / XTi can still last a respectable time and we’re pleased to report Canon’s improved the meter feedback to show four steps rather than the three of before. The camera is also compatible with the BG-E3 portrait grip which can accommodate two NB-2LH packs for extended life along with providing more to hold onto.