Canon EOS 400D - a classic good value camera
I have used Canon cameras for 30 Years (starting with an FD series AE-1, then the excellent A-1 and the stunning T90) briefly dallying with the EOS 35mm film models which were no great advantage over the FD series, so I reverted to the older type, resisting the move to Digital until image quality began to approach that of film (at around 5mp)and lenses improved. A Minolta Dimage 7i with its excellent 28-200 (35mm equivalent) optical zoom lens was my foray into digital, and a Canon S80(8MP)but I missed the interchangeable lenses so I recently purchased a Canon 400D on ebay.
The 400D is excellent. You get a few more megapixels and a few more features on the newer 450D or 500D but I find that most cameras these days have loads of features you will never use anyway. Its controls are well laid out, almost intuitive in use. One feature it does not have is an ability to use the LCD screen to compose the picture, which most digital camera users will be used to today. Later Canon DSLRs have a 'mirror-lockup' feature so you can use the LCD as a viewfinder, but I don't see the point since the optical viewfinder is excellent, and does help you to think more about composition, exposure and focus, and the camera does give an immediate image on the LCD after exposure so you can check the picture. Battery life is good. Exposure modes are versatile and easy to use. Features are accessed via the 'menu' and for the most frequently needed ones, by clearly labelled dedicated control buttons on the camera body.
It feels robust and is an excellent platform for a camera system, which after all is all about a)lenses, of which there are many on the market both new and second-hand and b) image resolution. So far as image is concerned 10.5mp is plenty, and the camera's ability to record as jpeg at a range of resolutions is what most will use, although it will capture RAW format images for those who are really serious. The ISO range from 100 to 1600 is more than adequate (ok you can get cameras which will go up to 3200 or even 6400, but this is only equivalent to one or two stops, will have lots of digital noise, and you still will not be able to photograph your black cat in a coal cellar at night!)
The camera came with the EF-S 'image-stabilised' lens, which is supposed to reduce the effect of camera shake. Any effect is so marginal it seems no more than a pointless marketing gimmick (this applies to other manufacturers too) It would be better if manufacturers simply gave us faster lenses rather than cramming in some sort of electronic gizmo to compensate for the fact that their lens offerings are too slow - whatever happened to the old 35mm prime lenses that functioned at f1.8 as standard,or in some cases f1.4 or even f1.2. Oh dear I guess I am showing my age!!
Anyway the 400D is an excellent piece of kit and when new was good value, and in today's second-hand market, even better. Don't be conned by claims from some online traders still trying to sell them as 'new' since they are not made anymore so you end up paying a premium price for what is at best 'old stock'. You should pay in the region of £250 +/- about10-12% for a good second-hand one with the standard lens(maybe a bit more from a dealer)- make sure you get all cables, connectors, charger, software etc. I paid £310 for mine with all the bits and manuals, but that also included a second lens (55-200mm), remote control, extra battery and case. Good luck!
76 of 77 people found this review helpful.
Canon EOS 400D Review
Conclusion - Pros
* Excellent resolution, lots of detail, not a leap from eight megapixels, but certainly from six
* Good color with selectable PictureStyles for different subject types
* Good dynamic range (more than peers) with soft roll-off of highlights
* 'Integrated Cleaning System' designed to keep dust at bay
* Widest range of image parameter adjustments among its peers
* Low noise throughout the sensitivity range, noise reduction maintains detail well
* Good in-camera image processing, resolution advantage shooting RAW is slight
* Larger, brighter and more detailed LCD monitor
* Re-designed user interface a great improvement over the EOS 350D
* On-screen setting adjustment (ISO, WB, etc.) surprisingly quick and easy to use
* Updated nine point AF system, proved fast, accurate and still good in low light
* Very fast off to shot time (virtually instant), slightly slower if you want to read screen
* Numerous small bug fixes improve usability
* Magnification available in record review (although requires two button press)
* Small and light but hand grip is still too small, can be uncomfortable for large hands
* Excellent supplied software bundle, two RAW conversion options
* Remote capture software included for computer controlled shooting
* Unique JUMP mode in playback (by date, 10 or 100 images)
* Value for money
Conclusion - Cons
* Kit lens disappointing, better to buy body only and spend more on a good lens
* Sporadic continuous shooting once buffer is full
* Occasional under-exposure issue with Evaluative metering
* Average automatic white balance performance, still very poor under incandescent light
* ISO, WB, Metering mode etc. not displayed on viewfinder status bar during change
* Flash must be raised for AF assist
* No Kelvin white balance selection in-camera
* No spot metering
* No mass storage device USB driver, poor WIA transfer rates (and awkward to use)
* Opening the CF compartment door shuts camera down, loses any buffered images
* Small viewfinder view
Canon changed the entire digital camera market when they revealed the EOS 300D. Launched in a huge way, they clearly expected it to be a big success. The ripples of that day forced prices lower and removed an entire category of camera (the 'prosumer' all-in-one compact). Canon put digital SLRs into the hands of people who would otherwise never had considered one. For better or worse the sub-$1000 digital SLR had arrived. Of course the EOS 300D was a huge commercial success, as too was its successor, the EOS 350D, which followed eighteen months later.
Detail (D-SLR) Rating (out of 10)
Build quality 8.0
Ergonomics & handling 8.0
Image quality 8.5
Performance (speed) 8.0
18 of 21 people found this review helpful.
Solid entry level camera
I've had my 400D since mid 2007 when I bought it on ebay from Canon as a refurbished model. It hasn't let me down since, despite some quite heavy use. I've gone from the stock lens, to an old mkI 18-55, own a sigma 18-200 and now use a sigma 18-55 DC EX MACRO and 50mm 1.4 prime. This change in lenses really reflects what this camera has taught me. It really is great for getting into photography, which, thanks to camera's like these, is no longer so clique and elitist as it once was.
I'm getting ready to buy a 40D as I feel I've learnt enough to justify it and squeezed the best out of the little 400D I can, which has it faults, but is great at making you work for your shots.
The ISO above 400 is a bit iffy, 1600 is unusable, the focusing can be a bit off (you'll soon get very good at shooting in P, Tv or Av and slipping it to M to open the apature and get a focus lock after it passes in and out couple of times) and the lack of spot metering really makes you think about an exposure, custom functions give a great deal of additional control and the user defined picture styles really help. The bottom line is the camera can take some stunning pictures, the stock lens desperately lets this camera down. A decent screen and a decent lens and this camera can impress anyone.
I have had some slip ups with the Canon though, the spring attached to the mirror decided to come off after a trip and mess up the sensor so that all needed replacing but apart from that its done very very well, I have no idea how many shots its taken but the bin I dump to has 30+gb of pictures in it.
I never want to own a camera or lens I'm afraid to chuck in my bag and walk around with everywhere I go and in that regard, the small size of the camera makes it really useful, its light enough to wrap the strap around your wrist and carry the camera with just your finger tips on the grip and forget about it but when you want to take a picture the power button is right next to your thumb, its a great camera for spontaneous pictures.
If you're reading these reviews and playing with the idea of getting an older semi pro camera like the 20/30D or an entry level ***D and are just getting into DSLR photography, my suggestion is to get one of the latter. You will learn far more from one of these camera's. As the semi pro camera's are capable of taking such amazing shots, the line between good and amazing is far less defined. With a 400D esque camera you will know when you've taken a great picture because you'll have had to think about it. It not that the 400D is less forgiving, its more as though the semi pro camera's help out more. My suggestion is to buy something like this and then put your money into getting some great lenses.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
Good for it's time but newer models aren't much more expensive.
| Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
|Size / weight|
|Value for money|
I originally purchased this item as I enjoy taking photographs of the people around me, my pets and my BJDs (small dolls; think porclein doll has a baby with an action figure). Sufficing to say portrait and macro are the most important forms of photography to my interests and enviroment.
As somebody completley new to DSLRs (just moving up from a point and shoot) I found the view finder incredibly easy to adapt too and was glad of the LCD screen's automatic shut off when I put the camera close to my eye to compose a photograph. I found myself enarmoured with the very proffesional sounds of the shutter which are reminiscent of old time press and journalists. Although several reviews on the internet at large complain about size I found it to be enjoyable to hold without the extra battery grip(and I'm 6ft, with long thin hands and fingers). The camera itself is incredibly light; it looks very grand but feels like a point and shoot, which is great for carrying it around for extended periods of time. The menus are tricky to navigate as a beginner but the pe-programmed modes are fairly easy to learn how to use - even venturing on to manual is Ok, if not a bit daunting at first. I didn't receive the user manual with this, so bare that in mind.
The image quality was surprising to me. I used only a 50mm f/1.8 Canon lens and not the kit lens. The colours are certainly more true to life than from my P and S, and reflections in glass and water appear sharper and much more vivid. You can see tiny details and if Depth of Field is something you've been lusting after then boy have you got it in this 400D. There's a slight under exposure problem in the automatic mode and for low light you'll still need a tripod and the included self timer to keep things sharp. The onboard flash is surprisingly mild which is actually a good thing; it illuminates without washing out. The image quality was better than my P and S in terms of colour and depth of field and I was complimented on my test photographs by several more professional aquaintances; however I do find that in good lighting conditions my P and S (which has 12.2 megapixels) far out preformed the 400D in terms of overall sharpness when cropping, blowing up the image to a larger size and even just reviewing in general.
Sadly I only had this camera for a day and thus can't really say I learned too much from it, nor that I checked out every feature in extensive detail. I do feel if I'd had more time with it my own skills could have improved and thus I would have gotten more out of the camera. In terms of image quality though (which I'm sure most newbies can be accused of coveting the most) I definitley think somebody with a newer point and shoot model will find this a step down once you get past all of the fancy effect and bells and whistles of this DSLR and see the 10 megapixels for what they truly are. If however you have an older or more basic point and shoot this will render you pretty much sppechless when you first review your photographs. I'm going to try out the T3i next as I just want more resolution for my money. Certainly though if you're looking for something about £100 cheaper then the 400D will make you smile without making your wallet cry when it comes to purchasing a DSLR. But do make sure you get an extra battery and CF cards as you'll probably be taking a lot of photographers to get the hang of this at first.