Canon EOS 450D
A high-performance DSLR with live viewing on a 3.0-inch LCD.Canon is obviously targeting photographers who wish to move into DSLR photography by its choice of SD and SDHC media for its new EOS 450D model. Although it may upset CF card devotees, it’s a smart move. Since SD cards have similar capacities, transfer speeds and prices to CF cards and digicam users can use the same memory cards in their new DSLR, there’s a lot to gain. Furthermore, it has also allowed Canon to produce a body that weighs 35 grams less than the EOS 400D. . . [more]
Canon is obviously targeting photographers who wish to move into DSLR photography by its choice of SD and SDHC media for its new EOS 450D model. Although it may upset CF card devotees, it’s a smart move. Since SD cards have similar capacities, transfer speeds and prices to CF cards and digicam users can use the same memory cards in their new DSLR, there’s a lot to gain. Furthermore, it has also allowed Canon to produce a body that weighs 35 grams less than the EOS 400D.
Slotting in between the entry-level EOS 400D and the pro-sumer EOS 40D, the EOS 450D is a genuine step-up from the 400D. Although the increase in resolution from 10-megapixels to 12.2 megapixels (effective) in the new model is, in practice, smaller than many people think, the lighter, more stylish camera body could be a deal-clincher.
The review camera was supplied with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS and EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS zoom lenses, which will be offered in the twin-lens kit (RRP $1649). The 18-55mm kit lens is small, light – and comes with optical image stabilisation, which is a real bonus. A review of the 55-250mm lens has already been posted (click here) so we decided to concentrate on the 18-55mm lens for this review.
Being slightly taller than the 400D, the 450D’s grip is slightly larger and more comfortable for users with larger hands. Canon has added a textured rubber coating to the grip and rear thumb brace to provide a sure, comfortable feel, particularly when shooting one-handed. Shifting the ISO button from the arrow pad to the top panel has also made it more accessible when you wish to change settings.
The camera body itself is more rounded than the 400D, with a gentle slope towards the strap attachments and a wider flash housing. The pop-up flash rises well above the optical axis of the lens to reduce the risk of red eyes in flash shots. Flash output is adjustable across +/- 2EV in 1/3 EV increments.
The 3.0-inch LCD monitor is the same as the 40D but Canon has redesigned the menu to make it easier to use. This display is significantly brighter than the 400D’s and has a wider viewing angle (claimed to be 170 degrees). Canon has improved the on-screen graphics and given users a choice of four selectable colour schemes and the ability to display the settings of Canon’s external Speedlight flash units on the screen.
Rear view showing the large 3.0-inch LCD and improved on-screen graphics.
Another area of improvement is the viewfinder which, while retaining the pentamirror technology of the 400D, offers a higher 0.87x magnification ratio along with 95% scene coverage. A new highly reflective evaporated-silver mirror makes the viewfinder noticeably brighter than the 400D’s, while the 24.5-degree viewing angle is the maximum width that can be supported without vignetting.
The 19mm eyepoint is marginally lower than on the 400D but does not feel much different in actual use. The data display in the viewfinder has been expanded by adding the ISO setting and an indicator that alerts you when shooting in black and white. The new camera also supports Live View shooting – although only in the Creative Zone (P, Tv, Av, M and A-Dep) modes. (See below for details.)
Top view showing the location of the mode dial and new ISO button.
Another function carried over from the 40D is the My Menu facility, which lets you register up to six of the most frequently-accessed menu and Custom Function settings and arrange them in order. Spot metering is another addition that will please photographers, although the 450D’s 4% spot is marginally larger than the 3.8% spot on the 40D. Partial metering, which covers 9% of the viewfinder’s field, is also provided.
Autofocusing performance has been improved through a new AF sensor with a cross-type sensor in the centre of the AF array that ‘reads’ a wider range of signals than single-axis sensors, thereby allowing faster, more accurate autofocusing. The new sensor also works with lenses that have maximum apertures of f/2.8 and faster.
Canon has also added a couple of new features for protecting stored images. If you accidentally open the memory card cover while saving shots, writing stops until the cover is closed, preventing files from becoming corrupted. The card-writing LED indicator is also close to the SD card door as a visible reminder that writing is in progress. In addition, the SD card formatting options now include a low-level format for more thorough data deletion to prepare the card to accept new image files.
The 450D also comes with Canon’s EOS Integrated Cleaning system, which was first introduced on the 400D. This two-way system combines a vibrating low-pass filter with an adhesive dust trap in its base with Dust Delete Data recording, which allows users to s subtract dust spots from images during post processing.
Supplied with the camera is a new high-capacity LP-E5 lithium ion battery pack, which claims to provide 50% more exposures per charge than earlier models with minimal increase in size or weight. Unfortunately, it’s not compatible with the batteries used in the 400D or 40D. The new camera is fully compatible with all Canon EF and EF-S lenses, as well as EX-series Speedlites, an optional Battery Grip, and remote control and viewfinder accessories.
Sensor and Image Processing
The CMOS sensor in the EOS 450D is a Canon-developed and manufactured chip that measures 22.2 x 14.8 mm and supports an effective resolution of 12.2 megapixels. While retaining the standard 1.6x focal length crop factor of the 400D and 40D models, it has larger microlenses over each photosite to reduce noise and support sensitivity settings up to ISO 1600.
For photographers who shoot raw files, the most noteworthy enhancement in the new model is the upgrade of the Analog-to-Digital (A/D) conversion process to a 14-bit A/D processor. This allows the camera to record up to 16,384 colours per channel and greatly increases its ability to produce finer and more accurate hues and tonal gradations.
The new camera also comes with the latest DiG!C III image processor, which provides support for a several of the 40D’s Custom Functions – notably the Auto Lighting Optimiser (dynamic range expander), Highlight Tone Priority (for ensuring detail is recorded in highlights) and High ISO Noise Reduction. Another addition is the Add Original Decision Data Custom Function setting for image verification (although using it requires the optional OSK-E3 security kit).
Three file size options and two compression levels are available for JPEGs but only Large/Fine JPEGs can be captured simultaneously with CR2.RAW files. JPEG compression is relatively high, particularly with the Normal compression setting. Typical file sizes are shown in the table below.
4272 x 2848
3088 x 2056
2256 x 1504
4272 x 2848
Live View shooting with the 450D is similar to the 40D, with support for two focusing modes. The Quick Mode uses phase-detection and the dedicated AF sensor that is used for normal focusing. The array of AF points is displayed on-screen and photographers can select the AF point they wish to use. The mirror flips up briefly to permit autofocusing, blacking out the LCD display. But when it drops down again, the subject should be sharply focused (and a focus confirmation beep will sound).
The second, Live Mode is contrast-based and operates without blacking out the viewfinder. Although autofocusing is possible in this mode, it’s relatively slow and more difficult to achieve than with the Quick View mode. The AF points array is not displayed; instead there’s a single AF point in the centre of the field.
To focus a shot, simply position the AF point over the subject and press the * button. The AF point turns green when focus is achieved and the beeper sounds. (An orange AF point indicates that focus was not achieved.) The AF point can be moved about the field of view with the arrow pad keys and re-centred by pressing the delete button. Pressing the magnify button can enlarge a part of the subject by 5x or 10x.
Manual focusing is possible with both Live View settings, although the switch on the lens must be set to Manual beforehand. You can check depth of field in Live View mode by pressing the depth-of-field preview button. Continuous shooting is also supported, with focus and exposure settings locked on the first frame of the sequence.
Another benefit of Live View shooting is Exposure Simulation, which has also been carried over from the 40D.
When Live View is engaged, the real-time image on the LCD shows the brightness level that corresponds to the exposure setting. It doesn’t work for flash shots but provides a useful guide for available-light photography.
Toggling the Display button takes you through four settings: no overlay on the LCD, shooting data overlay, grid overlay and histogram overlay. Neither the data nor histogram overlay is translucent. The 450D also supports tethered Live View shooting. You simply connect the camera to a computer via a USB 2.0 cable and view the live image on the computer screen. You can also control the camera from the computer.
The EOS 450D is supplied with the standard Canon EOS Digital Solution Disk (Version 17.1), which contains the following applications:
Digital Photo Professional 3.3 (Windows and Mac)
EOS Utility 2.3 (Windows and Mac)
Picture Style Editor 1.2 (Windows and Mac)
WTF Utility 3.2 (Windows and Mac)
Zoom Browser 6.1 (Windows)
Image Browser 6.1 (Mac)
PhotoStitch 3.1 (Windows), 3.2 (Mac)
Original Data Security Tools 1.3 (Windows) and drivers for Windows.
A software instruction manual is provided on a separate disk. We’ve covered most of these applications in previous Canon DSLR reviews, the latest being the EOS 40D. (Click here for the EOS 40D review).
Images from the test camera were sharp and, in the main, colour accurate, although Imatest showed slightly elevated saturation in the red colour band, which was most visible in JPEG shots (see the sample close-up image below for an example). However, other colours were very close to spot-on. Autofocusing was generally fast and accurate, with little ‘hunting’ in dim lighting.
The test camera’s ability to record subtle tonal nuances was impressive and output quality was high enough to produce excellent prints. Files captured in CR2.RAW format and converted into TIFF format with Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software had the best colour accuracy and the red saturation was better controlled, making it easier to produce natural-looking prints.
Imatest showed resolution to be slightly below expectations for JPEG files but well above expectations for raw files. Interestingly, there was only a slight decline in resolution as ISO sensitivity increased, as shown in the graph below, which plots Imatest values for both JPEG and raw files.
The kit lens delivered its best results with the mid-range focal lengths and at apertures between f/5.0 and f/16.0. However, the 55mm focal length setting proved incapable of matching the resolution of the shorter focal lengths. The graph below plots the results of our Imatest tests using JPEG files.
Lateral chromatic aberration was generally low but strayed into the ‘moderate’ band with the 27mm focal length setting. The results of our Imatest assessments are shown in the graph below. The red line delineates the boundary between ‘negligible’ and ‘low’, while the blue line divides ‘low’ from ‘moderate’.
We found no evidence of coloured fringing in test shots in bright, contrasty conditions and only a suggestion of edge and corner softening. Slight barrel distortion was observed with the 18mm setting but it was no longer evident at 24mm. Pincushion distortion was not observed.
Low-light performance was outstanding, with no apparent noise right up to ISO 800 and very little noise thereafter. Shots taken at ISO 1600 were sharp and colour-accurate with only a hint of visible colour noise. This was eliminated with the high ISO noise reduction setting. Long exposure noise reduction produced little in the way of image softening but wasn’t really necessary in most situations.
We found the usual auto white balance problems in test shots taken under incandescent lighting but shots taken under fluorescent lighting were free of colour casts. Both the pre-sets and manual measurement produced good results under incandescent lighting. Flash output was well-balanced and exposures were evenly balanced throughout the camera’s ISO range. The flash was able to illuminate an average-sized room at ISO 200.
The test camera powered-up immediately and capture lag was negligible, both with and without pre-focusing. It took just under two seconds to process a JPEG file and approximately 4.5 seconds to process each RAW+JPEG shot. The continuous shooting mode recorded JPEG files at 0.3 second intervals and it took six seconds to process a burst of 10 JPEG files. RAW+JPEG files were also recorded at 0.3 second intervals, although the buffer memory was full at four shots. It took 13 seconds to process a burst of four RAW+JPEG shots.
Interestingly, the test camera’s battery ran out after 172 RAW+JPEG shots in our field tests (which involved no use of flash). Whether this was due to a faulty battery, low ambient temperatures or other factors we cannot say. However, this performance fell well below the CIPA rating for the battery, which is 500 shots/charge with 50% flash use. We have not had this experience when using other Canon DSLRs at low temperatures – even in Antarctica.
Resolution with JPEG file.
Centre and edge resolution from CR2.RAW files that were converted into 16-bit TIFF files with Digital Photo Professional software.
Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.
Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.
Close-up showing the rather high red saturation levels found in JPEG shots.
(55mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/7.1)
30-second exposure at ISO 1600 without noise reduction.
30-second exposure at ISO 1600 with high ISO and long exposure noise reduction.
55mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/150 second at f/9.9.
18mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/25 second at f/6.4.
Backlighting. 18mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/100 second at f/6.4.
18mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/9.9
Image sensor: 22.2 x 14.8 mm CMOS sensor with 12.40 million photosites (12.2 megapixels effective)
Lens mount: Canon EF mount (accepts EF-S lenses)
Focal length crop factor: 1.6x
Image formats: CR2.RAW (14-bit), JPEG, RAW+JPEG
Image Sizes: 4272 x 2848, 3088 x 2056, 2256 x 1504
Image Stabilisation: Lens-based only
Dust removal: Canon Integrated Cleaning System
Shutter speed range: 30-1/4000 second plus Bulb, X-sync at 1/200 sec
Exposure Compensation: Manual, AEB ±2EV in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments
Self-timer: 2 or 10 second delay or 10-sec. delay plus continuous shooting
Focus system: TTL secondary image-registration, phase detection autofocus with 9 AF points
Focus modes: One-Shot AF, AI Servo AF, AI Focus AF, Manual focusing (MF); AF-assist via built-in flash
Exposure metering: 35-segment TTL full-aperture metering; Evaluative, Partial, Spot, Centre-weighted modes
Shooting modes: Program AE (Full Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait, Flash Off, Program), shutter-priority AE, aperture-priority AE, depth-of-field AE, manual exposure, E-TTL II autoflash
Picture Style/Control settings: Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Def. 1 – 3
Colour space options: sRGB, Adobe RGB
Custom functions: 13 (34 settings)
ISO range: Basic Zone modes: ISO 100 – 800 set automatically; Creative Zone modes: ISO 100 – 1600 (in 1-stop increments), Auto
White balance: Auto, daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, white fluorescent light, flash, custom; +/- 9 steps of colour correction in full step increments; +/- 3 steps of white balance bracketing
Flash: Retractable, auto pop-up flash, GN 13; coverage up to 17mm lens; recycle time approx. 3 sec.
Flash exposure adjustment: +/-2 stops in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments
Sequence shooting: 3.5 fps for up to 6 CR2.RAW files, 4 RAW+JPEG or max. burst of 53 shots (JPEG)
Storage Media: SD and SDHC Memory Card
Viewfinder: Eye-level pentamirror with approx. 95% coverage; 0.87x magnification and approx. 19mm eyepoint; fixed, Precision Matte focusing screen
LCD monitor: 3.0-inch TFT colour liquid-crystal monitor with approx. 230,000 dots; 7 levels of brightness adjustment
Live View modes: Live View shooting, Remote Live View shooting
(with a personal computer installed with EOS Utility)
Data LCD: no
Playback functions: Single image, Single image + Image-recording quality, shooting information, histogram, 4- or 9-image index, magnified view (approx. 1.5x – 10x), rotated image, image jump (by 1/10/100 images, or shooting date); highlight alert available
Interface terminals: Hi-Speed USB, mini B port; Video OUT (NTSC/PAL); Wireless (RS-60E3 remote control compatible)
Power supply: LP-E5 rechargeable lithium-ion battery; CIPA rated for 500 shots/charge (50% flash use)
Dimensions (wxhxd): 128.8 x 97.5 x 61.9 mm
Weight: 475 grams (without battery and card)
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RRP: $1,149 (body only); $1,449 (as tested with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens)
Rating (out of 10):
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- Ease of use: 9
- Image quality: 9.5
- OVERALL: 9