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Canon EOS 450D review
|DATE REVIEWED: 1st Jan 2009||Add Camera To Comparison Chart|
|Camera Type||DSLR||Shutter Speeds||30 - 1/4000 sec|
|RRP||£670||ISO Range||100 - 1600|
|Megapixels||12.2||Focal Length||By lens|
|Dimensions||129 x 98 x 62mm (WxHxD)||Focus Distance||By lens|
|LCD Size||3 inches||Zoom (Opt)||By lens|
|Zoom (Dig)||None||Storage||SD / SDHC|
|Max Resolution||4272 x 2848||Battery Type||Li-Ion|
The Canon EOS 450D updates the rather underwhelming EOS 400D with a set of new features that finally make it worth upgrading from the companies EOS 350D. For a kick off, you’ve got a 12.2 million-pixel CMOS sensor to play with, which sports a self-cleaning system that can be manually invoked via menus or activated automatically every time the camera is switched on and off.
The latest DIGIC III image processor has been ladled into the new camera and provides faster, cleaner image processing, while the focusing system gets a cross type AF sensor (for F/2.8apertures) at the center of the nine, wide-zone user selectable AF points on offer.
The size of the spot metering point has been tweaked (now it’s 4% at the center of the frame) and both exposure compensation and bracketing now have more flexible 1/3rd increment steps.
The new lightweight 475g body also has an interesting “highlight tone priority” custom mode that helps get more detail out of highlights in shots such as the notorious subtle detail in a wedding dress. It seems to work well enough but as I found, it can skew exposures slightly into overexposure.
Other key improvements include the excellent 3-inch colour screen and its eye sensor on/off system situated just below impressively clear (for a the pentamirror) viewfinder .The finder’s also the recipient of an improved 19mm eye point (for easier use with spectacles) and an improved magnification factor of 0.87x. The large screen doubles as both a large information display (switched off by those eye sensors, as you bring your eye to the viewfinder) and the Live View screen that also provides a 100% field of view for more accurate image framing.
Live View is activated via the “Set” button that sits in the middle of the four-way jog buttons; press it once and the Live View’s activated, press it again and it switches off. Live View’s usefulness is well documented and here the 450D’s version has AF in two modes, a slow option via Live View itself activated by pressing the AE-Lock button and there’s a Quick AF setting, that blanks the screen, prevents you from shooting as it does so, but certainly does more quickly.
Either way, I found Live View AF a bit of a handful at first, in either mode it requires selection of the relevant Live View custom option, in the custom mode menus, and then there’s an unfamiliar set of button presses – not simply a half press shutter release, for example – to get focusing.
In terms of other custom options, you get 13 custom modes presented in a series of numbered options each with a variety of options depending on the custom mode in question; from the aforementioned Live View to exposure level increment selection, the priority of certain flash modes, image noise reduction, auto highlight optimisation and sequences of operations for such button presses for, say, the shutter/AE Lock button, for example.
Other key features are sorted in the enhanced menu systems and include metering modes, AF set up, Picture Styles (see below) and drive features and via the four-way jog buttons. The menu button (placed rather oddly, high up on the left of the screen) brings up the menus in a horizontal set of tabbed, colour coded options, which provides a page of options for each tab. Menu’s are simple to navigate and use and lack the older Canon menu systems multiple presses to get an option selected, a refreshing change indeed.
In terms of general handling, the Canon EOS 450D's single control dial sits proud of the top plate behind the shutter release, with the ISO adjust button just behind. You get a sensitivity range that starts at ISO 200 and runs to ISO 1600; wisely, Canon has avoided a very high setting, noise can become very poor with such a high pixel density. The large on/off switch is more akin to a paddle, and sits below a large mode dial that hosts the usual auto and manual settings and a green point and shoot mode.
Subject programs include portrait, landscape and macro to name a few while the manual P, A, S and M settings are joined by the A-DEP (Auto Depth of Field) mode. This useful feature (in theory at least) aims to ensure the correct depth of field for any subject by measuring all nine AF points and calculating an aperture and shutter speed to ensure a depth of field that keeps all the points within the AF zones, sharply rendered even if they’re spaced widely apart within the view.
And it works well for more widely spaced subjects, but a single subject that falls within all nine AF zones will not benefit. The focus system, though, is very fast and accurate too; it left me without any complaints even shooting a football match at local club, Dover Athletic, proved to be no problem it’s predictive focus system, however the modest buffer memory (see below), shooting RAWs became a real issue as sequences of six RAWs are limiting for such work
The camera’s deeply sculpted handgrip houses both the rechargeable battery pack (underneath) and the SD/SDHC storage (the side) but their respective hatches are flimsy affairs compared to the strong build of the rest of the camera.
The 18-55mm, F3.5 to F/5.6 IS kit lens is typical of many kit lenses on offer at this level in the D-SLR market in terms of focal length and aperture ranges but, it stands out because it benefits from image stabilisation – hence the IS in its moniker.
Other performance enhancements, particularly over the 400D, include a good 3.5-fps continuous shooting mode for up to 53 JPEGs and that modest, six RAW frames when the camera locks up. Delving a little deeper, the 450D can automatically create either FAT 32 (File Allocation Table) files or FAT 16 files, depending on the size of the storage employed making optimising the use of available storage.
In terms of image parameters, there’s a great range of custom options including neat Picture Styles. You get nine built in, from standard to landscape or portrait, each with colour, contrast, and brightness tweaks plus three user definable modes. You can also create Picture Style “recipes” and swap them online, using Canon’s Image Gateway website, so there’s an (almost) infinite adjustment at your finger tips, if you want to ‘play’.
The shutter speeds on offer are a semi-pro range from 30-seconds to 1/4000th sec., plus bulb and you get an excellent 35-zone metering system that can be linked to any focus point for very fine control if needed. Partial metering (9% of center) and spot (4%) are in there (of course) along with Centre-weighted average for a more flexible but centrally biased metering option.
In terms of final image quality, the 450D does rather well for an APS-C sized sensor with such a high pixel density. The 14-bit RAWs help, sRGB and Adobe RGB colour profiles can speed up workflow too and using the default set up, sharpness, contrast and colour are all good. The range of custom options available for tweaking, offer bags of flexibility for those wanting to set things differently.
Noise is thankfully well controlled and the DIGIC III processing works well enough, although, once you get over ISO 800, noise is evident and noise reduction processing can smooth detail, particularly in the auto mode and at ISO 1600.
Overall, the Canon EOS 450D is an excellent little camera that provides a decent balance of semi-pro, enthusiast, and point and shoot options, the small size may not be to everyone’s liking but it’s worth serious consideration particularly if you already have some Canon EF fit lenses in your arsenal already.
The Canon EOS 450D is an excellent little camera that provides a decent balance of semipro, enthusiast and point-and-shoot options
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|The Canon EOS 450D is an excellent little camera that provides a decent balance of semipro, enthusiast and point-and-shoot options|
Debbis passionate about all things photographic: from the latest digital kit to the greatest techniques to capture a scene. Shes been at the helm of the photography portfolio of magazines, websites and more for three years.
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