With some online retailers listing the Canon 300D (Rebel in the US) at under £500, is it time for you to ditch that £400 prosumer digital camera and upgrade to a DSLR? We take a further look at the Canon 300D now that its price has become a little bit more affordable.
Launched 14 months ago the 300D cost just under £1000. 12 months later the camera has halved in price making this a very attractive offer indeed for those simply fed up of using a digital point and shoot but still a film SLR.
For a Canon SLR user (me being one of them) the controls will make you feel at home straight away. I current use the rather old and discontinued EOS 600, a beast of a machine that is both solid and effective in helping me take great pictures.
It's clear from the start that Canon don't make them like they used to. This model is now light and very plasticky compared to my 35mm SLR. The lightness is a good thing, but the casing, which resembles that found on a mobile phone, is rather cheap and certainly won't give you that all-important SLR feel to it.
Casings aside, the camera's controls are laid out well. The 1.8in LCD for viewing back the images once they are taken is big enough for a quick playback and the relevant buttons are spaced neatly around it. Above the playback LCD is live information regarding f-stops and aperture settings as well as how many images you have left of the CF card.
Beyond the build and the cameras image quality is superb offering a 6 megapixel CMOS sensor to catch all that detail. Images were detailed, crisp and clear with, as you would, expect, plenty of manual control. Even in auto mode, the camera coped well (see images).
The one thing however we did find to be a problem was the shooting speed, especially the 300D's ability to capture moving subjects. In our tests we managed to only take four shots before the camera froze and the pictures had to be written onto the Compact Flash card. If you're trying to take a shot of children or animals, both in our experience never stand still then you've got a problem. Perhaps it's because we are used to an extremely fast shutter speed on our EOS 600 that we noted this as a problem. But when film costs are no longer an issue we would want a camera that can take as many shot as possible in as shorter time as possible. Compare this to the main competitor, the Nikon D70 and the continuous shots mode fairs very poorly.
For all intents and purposes, the 300D is a paired down Canon EOS 10D. The limitation this camera has (by choice through the software) the 10D doesn't. That's not to say that this is a bad camera. Far from it. But when Canon decided to be bold enough to go for the entry-level DSLR market, corners had to be cut to get the price down to something very attractive. Those corners are most notable in the plastic casing, however while the 300D offers a 10D LE on the features, the picture quality is just as good.
Our recommendation would be to stretch to the 10D if you can (again enjoying a price slash since the 20D hit the streets). If you are new to the DSLR market and a Canon user then the ability to use your lenses on this model will certainly the main draw. If, however, you are completely new to this level of camera and don't have a stack of lenses already, then it really has to be the Nikon D70 for its overall performance and superior handling.
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