Canon Xsi Vs Xti Comparison Essay

Compare Canon Digital Rebels: xTi, XS and XSi

This page is for all you folks who are completely baffled by the latest lineup of Canon digital Rebel cameras, with three models that (on paper) are virtually identical: the xTi, XS and XSi.

In the paragraphs that follow, I'll break down the main differences between each of these three cameras so that you can objectively compare them.

The end goal? Hopefully you'll be able to leave this page with a better sense of which Canon digital Rebel is the right one for you.

The Specs

Before we get deep into some comparative analysis of these three cameras, let's find out just how alike they really are.

Fairly similar, aren't they?

One big commonality - as compared to digital SLRs from other manufacturers is that all of the Canon digital Rebel cameras are incredibly small and light.

This is good news for folks who want to carry their SLR around at all times, but it does have a drawback - the reduced size of the grip on these cameras can make them hard to hold, especially if you have large hands or long fingers.

Before you make up your mind about any one of these Canon digital Rebels, I'd recommend that you find a camera shop that sells them and hold one in your hand to make sure it's a good fit.

The Easy Way Out

If you're the type of person who doesn't enjoy reading a lot of technical analysis, then I'll make this quite simple for you: buy the Canon Rebel XSi.

The XSi is the top camera of the three, offering 2 more megapixels, a larger LCD screen and a faster continuous shooting rate.

Simply put, the XSi will out-perform the other two Rebels any day of the week.

However, not everyone needs the extra speed and megapixels that the XSi has to offer. If you really want to get your money's worth (and don't want to pay for features you won't ever use) then read on.

Rebels Compared

Now let's compare these three Canon digital Rebels in a little more depth.

Rebel xTi

The Rebel xTi is the least expensive of the three, and a lot of that has to do with age: it's also the oldest, originally released in October of 2006.

At that time, digital SLRs with live view LCDs weren't the norm as they are now, which is why that feature isn't included on the xTi.

Despite the lack of a live view LCD, the xTi is a very capable digital SLR, and captures images with exceptional color and clarity. Like all other Canon digital SLRs, it produces very low noise even at high ISO settings, good news for low-light photographers.

The most significant drawback of the camera has nothing to do with the camera itself - it's the kit lens.

The kit lens produces sub-par image quality (when compared to other comparable kit lenses for other cameras) and only serves to degrade the Canon xTi's naturally high image quality.

The good news here is that now you can purchase the camera body only, and then buy the Rebel XSi kit lens which is a huge improvement.

Rebel XSi

Next up is the Rebel XSi - the high end of the Rebel line - and the reason for talking about this camera second will make sense in just a moment.

The XSi is a big jump up from the xTi:

  • 12 megapixels instead of 10
  • 3 inch LCD instead of 2.5
  • Live view mode on LCD (not available on the xTi)
  • 3.5 photo per second continuous shooting instead of 3
  • Image Stabilized kit lens

While there may not be enough in these specifications to cause current xTi owners to upgrade to the latest and greatest, there's a lot of compelling features for the new digital SLR camera buyer here.

The XSi remains competitive with other cameras released in 2008, and stands out from the pack (which includes the Nikon D60, Sony A300, Pentax K200D and Olympus E-420) due to it's super-fast 9-point autofocus system and the sharp, colorful images that it captures.

If you've been looking for an SLR that's got it all but doesn't feel like toting around a brick then the XSi should be on your short list of cameras to compare (read the complete Canon Rebel XSi Guide.

Rebel XS

The reason I jumped to the XSi second is because it makes talking about the XS that much easier.

The Rebel XS is positioned directly between the xTi and XSi and is billed as a low-cost "upgrade" to the xTi (while the XSi is clearly a superior camera).

Think of the Rebel XS as a blend between the xTi and the XSi.

To keep costs down, the XS has a 10 megapixel sensor and only 7 autofocus points (vs. 9 on the XSi). However, to make up for some of the features lacking in the xTi, it includes a dust control system, a live view LCD screen and comes packaged with the Image Stabilized kit lens available with the XSi.

Whether you call it a paired-down XSi or an enhanced xTi, the bottom line is this: the XS costs less.

If you don't need the bonanza of features available on the XSi, then the XS gets you a camera that's virtually equivalent and saves you about $100.

Help! I'm Still Confused!

Not to worry - I'm here to help out.

There's one last way to compare these Canon digital Rebels that should help you make up your mind once and for all.

Rather than tunneling into more technical details, I'm going to match these three different cameras to your photographic needs.

Before I do that, let's quickly review the needs that are met by ALL of these cameras. Any Canon digital Rebel will be a good fit for you if:

  1. You want a digital SLR that's small and light
  2. You want exceptional image quality even at high ISO
  3. You want the colors in your images to really pop
  4. You want to buy a camera that thousands of other photographers are happy with

Now that we've gotten the commonalities out of the way, let's talk differences.

If Your Needs Are...The Rebel for You Is...
  1. Want to spend the least amount for a great camera
  2. Don't need a live view LCD (perfectly happy taking photos using the viewfinder)
  3. Don't want to print at enormous sizes
  4. Don't need this year's model
Rebel xTi
  1. Want dust control and live view
  2. Don't want to print at enormous sizes
  3. Intend to take photos in JPG not RAW
  4. Want no limit on continuous JPG shots
Rebel XS
  1. Want dust control and live view
  2. Want to print at huge sizes or crop photos aggressively
  3. Want the fastest digital Rebel for action shots
  4. Want a larger LCD screen size
Rebel XSi

There — did that help?

Comparison Shop

Whether you've made up your mind about which camera to get or still want to evaluate prices (to decide if one REALLY is worth the additional cost), the following links will help you with your comparison shopping.

Canon xTi
Canon XS
Canon XSi

Related Links

The Great Compromise : Canon EOS 60D

Since the arrival of the Canon EOS 7D and subsequent release of the T2i / 550D there has been a gap in the Canon lineup. Buying the 50D no longer seemed practical to many advanced amateurs, since it was so outclassed by the features of the T2i, but the price of the 7D put it just beyond the range of what many were willing to spend (and the weight and size beyond what they were willing to tote around). Yet, the advanced amateur still yearned for more features and ease of control, and frankly, more status than is offered by the entry level “Rebel” line.

[Update: The release of the Rebel T3i has added an interesting new dimension to this discussion. See how the T3i and 60D differ, here]

The Canon EOS 60D, announced about recently, is clearly intended to fill this gap. Available since September, its price of $999 falls nicely between the Rebel T2i ($799) and the 7D ($1535). Its features, also, are largely intermediate between the two cameras that were already very similar. The controls are similar, but not identical, to the 7D, while the construction is much more in line with the T2i than the 7D (or the 50D, for that matter).

Lets take a quick look at the differences, side-by-side:

 Canon 7DCanon 60DCanon Rebel T2i / 550D
Amazon Price$1599$999$715
B&H Price

$1599$999 (rebates available)$719
Body MaterialMagnesium AlloyPolycarbonate and Stainless SteelPolycarbonate, Fiberglass Resin and Stainless Steel
LCD Size / Resolution3.0"
920,000 pixels
1,040,000 pixels
1,040,000 pixels
LCD Articulated?NoYesNo
Sensor Size14.9 x 22.3mm (APS-C)14.9 x 22.3mm (APS-C)14.9 x 22.3mm (APS-C)
Crop Factor1.6x1.6x1.6x
Sensor Resolution18 Megapixels18 Megapixels18 Megapixels
ISO Range100-6400
Total AF Focus Points1999
Cross-Type AF Sensors19 (dual diagonal)91
AF Light Level Range-.05 to +18 EV-.05 to +18 EV-.05 to +18 EV
Metering System63 Zone Point Linked Evaluative
9.4% Center Weighted
2.3% Spot
63 Zone Point Linked Evaluative
6.5% Center Weighted
2.8% Spot
63 Zone Point Linked Evaluative
9% Center Weighted
4% Spot
Exposure Compensation1/2 or 1/3 stops via thumb dial1/2 or 1/3 stops via thumb dial1/2 or 1/3 stops
/ HDR Options
Max Frame Rate : RAW (14-bit)8 fps5.3 fps3.7
Max Frame Rate : RAW (12-bit)n/an/an/a
Max Frame Rate : JPG8 fps5.3 fps3.7
Max Burst Duration RAW (at highest frame rate)15166
Max Burst Duration JPG (at highest frame rate)945834
Shutter Speed Range1/8000th - 30 sec.
1/8000th - 30 sec.
1/4000th - 30 sec.
Maximum Flash Sync Shutter Speed (standard flash)1/250th sec.1/250th sec.1/200th sec.
HD Video Resolutions1080p, 720p1080p, 720p1080p, 720p
Available HD Video Frame RatesPAL and NTSC
24/25, 30 at 1080p
24/25, 30, 60 at 720p
24/25, 30 at 1080p
24/25, 30, 60 at 720p
24/25, 30 at 1080p
24/25, 30, 60 at 720p
Firmware Sidecar AvailableUnder DevelopmentNoNo
Media TypeCompact FlashSD / SDHC / SDXCSD / SDHC / SDXC
Weight820g (body only)675g (body only)530g (with battery and SD card)
Viewfinder Coverage100% Frame,
1.0x magnification
96% Frame,
.95x magnification
0.87x magnification
Built-In Wireless Strobe ControlYesYesNo

Probably the most important change between the 60D and the previous models in its line is that it does NOT have a metal body. Instead, Canon opted for a lighter, less expensive polycarbonate body which, although lighter than the magnesium 7D, still feels quite sturdy.

And perhaps just as significant, Canon has designed the 60D with a fully articulated, 3″ LCD screen for use in “Live” viewing mode and for video… the first ever on an SLR. Since I never use “Live” mode, and rarely use video, it’s hard for me to get excited about this feature, but perhaps for some photographers out there, it’s just what they’ve been waiting for.

The Deciding Factors

All three cameras share the same basic CMOS sensor, providing very similar resolution and high-ISO performance. All three cameras share the same video capabilities. So which should you get?

Buy the Canon 7D ($1535) if :

  1. You are a professional or use your camera daily. It is the most robust of the three, with a magnesium alloy body that will stand up to the wear and tear of daily use. This is especially important if you’re a journalist and your camera equipment suffers undue abuse.
  2. If you are primarily an action or sports photographer. The dual digic-4 processors of the 7D make it the fastest, and its 19 cross-type point focusing system is the most reliable in difficult situations.
  3. Because the 7D has two Digic-4 processors, it is likely to be able to handle high definition video files better than single processor models, though I’d be surprised if there’ll be much of a practical difference.

Buy the Canon 60D ($999) if:

  1. You want the 7D but can’t afford it. The differences are minimal, and a good photographer can easily work around them.
  2. You shoot a lot of video and the articulated LCD would be helpful to you.
  3. If you’re upgrading from the Rebel line and would like to keep using your SD cards.
  4. You shoot a lot of action. The 9 cross-type focusing points are a major improvement over the Rebel T2i (9 point, but only one cross-type) and even the 5D Mark II, (9 point, one cross-type). It does have the same AF system as the 40D and 50D.
  5. You’re looking for a lighter alternative to the 7D.
  6. You want to wirelessly control Canon speedlites using a built-in pre-flash system.

Buy the Canon Rebel T2i / 550D ($799) if:

  1. You’re on a tight budget but still want an awesome 18 megapixel sensor, full features, and 1080p video.
  2. If you’re looking for a lightweight camera for travel and will be able to treat it with a bit of care, or a backup for your usual camera.
  3. If you primarily shoot portraits or products rather than action, or shoot landscapes/art.
  4. If you aren’t interested in shooting with wireless flash, would prefer to use radio triggers, or wouldn’t mind adding the wireless control unit (Canon ST-E2 transmitter).


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