Canon EOS 350D

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Canon EOS 350D

Pros

  • Lightning quick, larger sensor

Cons

  • Not much

Bottom Line

One of the best value for money products available in the digital SLR range.

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Canon's EOS-350D is the successor to the enormously popular 300D, the first truly affordable digital SLR. Compared to its predecessor, the new 350D's smaller, lighter, quicker and sports two extra megapixels, but the improvements don't stop there.

Starting with resolution though, the 350D has an 8 megapixel CMOS sensor which delivers images with 3456 x 2304 pixels and enough detail to make great-looking A3 prints. Like other Digital SLRs, the sensor's physically larger than those in consumer cameras, delivering lower noise levels even at high sensitivities.

Like most D-SLRs though, the 350D's sensor is smaller than a frame of 35mm film, so all lenses effectively have their focal multiplied by 1.6 times. Consequently the 18-55mm f3.5~5.6 EF-S lens included in the bundle has an effective range of 29-88mm. The 350D is also compatible with both EF and EF-S lenses.

Images are recorded onto Compact Flash memory cards and again like other D-SLRs, you'll need to supply your own. There are three resolutions and two JPEG settings for each, with best quality files measuring around 3.5MB each. There's also a RAW mode with an optional JPEG. Physically the 350D's noticeably smaller than the 300D. Weighing just 540g though (or 724g with 3X lens), the 350D is comfortably one the lightest DSLR on the market.

Impressively this hasn't meant a compromise in build quality - indeed the 350D feels much sturdier than the 300D and thanks to leaner electronics, delivers long life despite a smaller battery. The black finish also looks more professional, although a silver option is also available.

There's the usual Program, Auto, Manual, Shutter and Aperture Priority modes, along with five scene presets. Exposures range from 1/4000 to 30 seconds and bulb, while sensitivity runs from 100 to 1600 ISO. The popup flash has higher clearance for bigger lenses and there's a hotshoe for flashguns. Two welcome improvements over the 300D are flash compensation settings and a 3fps burst mode with a 14 image buffer - much better than the 300D's maximum of three frames at 2.5fps.

In use the 350D is a world apart from its predecessor. It's ready for action in just 0.2 seconds, compared to the often excruciating two or three second wakeup of the 300D. It handles much faster overall too and given the right lens can even be a realistic proposition for wildlife and sports photographers. The small size and weight also make it a great option for travellers.

Image quality is excellent with the two extra megapixels resolving measurably higher detail than existing six megapixel D-SLRs. Despite the higher pixel count, noise levels remain low, and the use of Canon's DiGiC II processor (from its Pro cameras) ensures natural-looking results; the overall picture quality is essentially the same as the Canon 20D. Finally, the bundled 3X lens delivers surprisingly good results considering its low weight and price.

In short, there's little not to like about the 350D. Sure the screen's a bit small at 1.8in and it's possible to inadvertently switch into self-timer mode with your nose, but otherwise it's a great product. 18 months ago, Canon proved a digital SLR could be affordable and now it's shown a budget model needn't be compromised in terms of performance. The 350D is by far the best Digital SLR at the price and comes highly recommended to both SLR beginners and experienced photographers.

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