Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why You Shouldn't Buy a Canon 450D (Digital Rebel XSi)

Or, more correctly stated: "Reasons You Might By a 450D That Aren't Necessarily Good Reasons"

You Foolish 40D Owner! You Just Bought an Over-Priced 450D!

Since Canon announced the 450D in January, there's been a lot of online digital photography forums flooded with recent buyers of a Canon 40D ruing their misfortune. After all, the 450D includes almost all of the features that made the 40D better than the 400D. Doesn't it? Or did you miss something?

Well, yes and no. Let's review the features that weren't in the 400D, are in the 40D, and have now been copied to the 450D: you've got Digic III, 14-bit, Highlight Tone Priority, spot metering, 3" LCD, Live View. All of which are great features.

But review the reasons I bought a 40D: Metal body, bigger grip, room to grow as a photographer. I don't think the 450D has any of these features that were my deciding factors. Besides which, I'd been doing my pre-purchase research for about 4 months and by the time the 450D was announced I was ready to buy a camera and not ready to wait another three months.

But, But... 12 Megapixels!

Yes, the 450D has 12.2 megapixels over the 40D's 10.1. That should make it the better camera, right? Well, before you answer that question, you need to know what those two extra megapixels are going to get you and when you're going to use them.

So, what DO the two extra megapixels get you? They get you an image that's 20% bigger, don't they? Well, it depends on what you mean by bigger. Your image will be 20% larger by area, but because that increase has to be shared between the horizontal and the vertical dimensions, you actually end up with an image that's a little under 10% wider and taller (see the graphic).

Well, 10% is still 10% isn't it? But when are you going to use that 10%? There's only one time when you need to be worried about the number of megapixels in your camera, and that's when you're printing. If we look at this 10% increase in terms of printing, then instead of being able to make a high-quality (300 PPI) print with with a maximum width of 13 inches (33 cm), you'd be able to make one that's 14+¼ inches (36 cm) wide. Do you need both hands to count how many times you've printed one of your photos that big? Do you need any hands at all? If you are one of the one in a million peole that regularly prints your photos big enough to fill an iMax screen, then this 10% increase might come in handy. But for people who are normal, I reckon the difference between 13 inches and 14+¼ inches is minimal if anything, and it's not the kind of figure you want to use to decide which camera to buy.

Disclaimer: Cropping

It's important to realise that when you crop a photo on your computer, you are reducing the amount of information (i.e. pixels/megapixels) that the photo contains. Hence, if you commonly frame your photos poorly and find you are doing a lot of cropping on your computer then having a few extra pixels in your cropped photos may come in handy if you crop them really severely and still want to print them big. Even at this level, though, you'll still only be getting 10% more size (per dimension) than you would with 10 megapixels.

Copyright (c) 2008 Graham Lea. All rights reserved.

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