That first year of shooting digital had so much more of an impact on me than the entirety of the seven previous years, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without this camera. However, bias aside, it is still a very capable camera, and very budget-friendly for someone just starting out, and concerned with learning above all else.
This is the camera that pretty much started everything for me, so it holds a special place in my heart. I picked up the Canon XTi in 2009, when Circuit City was liquidating prior to closing its doors for good, and got a great deal on it. It’s now almost considered a dinosaur when compared to current available technology, but due to that, it can be very easy to afford.
Some of my older camera reviews won’t be as detailed as the reviews I do on newer cameras, but rather more of just a chat about the camera: what might make it worth buying, and why you might want to avoid it.
Tasia – Canon XTi – 40mm f/2.8 – Flashpoint II 1250 – Flashpoint 86″ Silver Parabolic Umbrella.
The Canon XTi is definitely capable of producing beautiful images, especially at lower ISOs (100/200.) Beautiful images were produced when it came out, and nothing has changed to make it less capable than it was in the past. At 10 megapixels, there’s pleny enough there for printing. I’ve shot double trucks for magazines (both pages, 11″x17″) as well as 20″x30″ posters, and everything has been more than acceptable.
Being available as cheap as it has been lately is definitely a plus. Amazon usually has a few in the $200 range, with $150-$300 bouncing around on eBay – though finding them locally through Craigslist or similar sites might be the most beneficial option.
These elements (cheap, but providing good images, with full manual control) make it an outstanding camera on which to learn. I actually recommend using older cameras, rather than newer, when someone is learning because of their limitations. By hitting those walls you know where your gear is holding you back. You learn to overcome those challenges in fun and adventurous ways, and progress as a photographer much more than had you simply bought a nicer camera to start out with.
By identifying the weak points in our equipment, finding out what’s holding us back the most, and replacing these elements first, we’re making ourselves better in a smart manner. This also leads to making better purchases, since we’re more familiar with what our actual needs are. (My personal opinion of course.)
It’s 7 years old (that’s what… 50 in digital camera years?) so as you might expect, it doesn’t perform to the level of the six cameras that have directly replaced it (XSi, T1i, T2i, T3i, T4i, and T5i) Newer models have 18mp and can print larger, with more detailed retouching. If that fine detail, or higher quality large prints are important it might not be the camera for you (though as mentioned previously, 10MP is plenty for a lot of peoples’ needs.)
The autofocus is slowish with limited (9) AF points, and I believe only the center is cross-type, but don’t hold me to that. Outdoors, or in studio with modeling lights, the focus works well, but in general low light the AF hunts quite a bit.
The image quality is quite nice at ISO 100/200, but noise starts to show up at 400, and by 1600 it’s just plain bad. Newer models are cleaner at ISO 3200 than this is at 400/800, so if clean images in low light are a priority, you might want to pass on this one. If you’re like me, and shoot in daylight/shade, or with artificial lighting, and consider anything other than ISO100 to be “low light,” it’s less of an issue.
As a camera to use for the sole purpose of learning about photography, and to develop an initial portfolio of work, it is a fantastic option for those on a budget. Under the right conditions, it is brilliant enough to justify the few points where it is lacking. And for those conditions in which it performs less than newer models, it still works… it’s just less pretty, and/or slower.
If your budget will only stretch enough to get a Canon XTi, get one and learn the basics of photography. Older cameras like this one have pretty much bottomed out in regards to pricing, so when you do decide to upgrade, you should be able to make back quite a bit of your initial investment.