Choosing a digital camera is inherently more complicated than choosing a film camera for the simple reason that, in addition to considering features and controls that you like, you have to pick a camera that yields acceptable image quality. With a film camera, this last parameter is determined by choice of film.
For maximum flexibility of features and performance, nothing comes close to a true SLR camera with interchangeable lenses. And for image quality, few cameras come close to the standards delivered by Canon’s digital SLRs. Therefore, the release of Canon’s new £899 EOS 300D marks a dramatic shift in the entire digital camera landscape.
This 6-megapixel SLR follows the same body design as Canon’s popular Rebel film camera. Measuring 142-x-99-x-72mm, it weighs in about 230g lighter than its larger, more expensive brother, the EOS 10D. However, the 300D contains the same image sensor and image processing DIGIC chip as the 10D, meaning it delivers identical image quality.
Though housed in a plastic body, the 300D is unexpectedly solid and comfortable, while the camera’s economical, effective control layout doesn’t require you to delve into the menu system to change common settings. Our only complaint with the camera’s control system is the lack of a wheel on the back of the body, à la Canon’s other D-SLRs. Without the wheel, you have to use a slightly cumbersome combination of controls to adjust exposure compensation.
So what differentiates the 300D from its £1,399 brother, the 10D? In addition to its silver colour, there are some slight performance differences. Among other things: burst rate is shorter, roughly four frames per second, rather than eight; ISO settings max out at 1600; and there’s no flash exposure compensation. But for most users, these differences won’t matter – certainly not for a £500 saving.
There is simply no other camera on the market at this price (and very few at higher prices) that can deliver images as good as the 300D (or Canon’s other D-SLRs). In addition to its extraordinary colour reproduction, the profound lack of noise even at ISOs up to 800 is startling.
Because the 300D is an SLR, you’ll need to buy lenses in addition to the body. As with the 10D, the focal length of all lenses gets multiplied by 1.6 when attached to the 300D, because of its small sensor size. But, with the 300D, Canon has introduced a new mount – the EF-S. Compatible with all Canon EF and L-series lenses, the 300D can also use the new EF-S lenses, which fit closer to the camera’s body, allowing for shorter lenses. For £999, Canon is offering a new 18-55mm lens that offers an ideal focal range and excellent quality.
At this price, the only reason not to buy the 300D is if you need a smaller camera. Even then, you might consider sending Canon a thank you card, because the 300D’s extraordinary quality and low price should force a re-shuffling in the rest of the market.