Changes in exposure parameters can be measured in steps as well. If we could measure resolutions and shooting rates (when taking RAW photos) in steps, Canon EOS 350D would outscore the 300D by approximately half a step, that is not less than 1.5 times. But a camera "is measured" not only by resolution and rate of shooting - the magic of megapixels seems to sputter out. Megapixel ratings of cameras are certainly easier to build, but it will hardly be correct. 8 or 6 Mp is not the most important difference between the 350D and the 300D. The most important thing is functions and that the commercial strategy of the 350D and the 20D is different from the 300D and the 10D.
It's nearly impossible to tell the advantages of the 350D compared to the 300D on the photos. But you shouldn't draw a conclusion that you can buy a now reasonably priced (available in the black housing at that) 300D and be happy. That's not true. Of course, you can buy this camera but you will regret its deliberate inferiority and slow startup (the 300D wakes up to readiness for two seconds, while the 350D for second fractions - according to the manufacturer, it's 0.2 second; the manufacturer also claims that the shutter lag is decreased from 130 ms to 100 ms). Canon EOS 350D is more powerful and comfortable to use — that's the most important thing. The functional difference is huge, but you can feel it only if you used the 300D. The camera has grown from an amateur reflex camera with deliberately limited functionality into a truly professional model (by functions, not by the housing of course).
As we have already mentioned, it's difficult to tell 6 Mp 300D from 8 Mp 350D on a photo, but it's much easier to take photos with the new camera. If you cannot afford to miss a single moment, the functional difference gets critical - the 300D will probably miss it, while the 350D will most likely get the job done without any special efforts. You cannot set Canon 300D to the necessary exposure metering type beforehand or efficiently (press the exposure lock button "*" to switch to partial metering at center or switch to "M" for center-weighted metering). Even the old non-reflex Canon PowerShot G2 manages exposure in much more flexible and predictable way. Evaluative exposure metering is good for novices and standard scenes, but the 300D often fails at high-contrast scenes with only one attempt. The same concerns autofocus modes - the camera "blocks" shooting moving objects (it blocks any shot, if the object is out of focus). Its automatic mode is designed only for focus priority. Only the Sports mode saves the situation, but it does not allow RAW. There is another "fast" function that makes the 350D superior to the 300D - to take photos in RAW and JPEG simultaneously. In modern field conditions (with mobile communications, TV sets, Internet cafes, etc) you don't need a computer to compress RAW into JPEG (as in the 300D), if you want to show or e-mail "ready" photos. All the above-mentioned functional differences are very important and purchasing the 300D is reasonable only if your tasks allow to shoot without haste.
The same bayonet joint, but it now transmits contacts and the camera uses ETTLII info - distance to the object when you shoot with a flash. The camera may seem too compact - bordering on discomfort. But it's designed for amateurs and shouldn't be too heavy and inconvenient to carry (in a bag or even in a large pocket).
A slightly different design, but the most important changes are Auto Focus and Auto Exposure control. It's now up to you to decide when and how autofocus should work (according to the selected mode or program): One Shot or AI Focus or AI Servo. Exposure metering is not tied to the amateur option - "evaluative" in all modes except "M" and "partially" when you press the exposure lock button (in the creative zone), it's now carried out by your choice. Exposure and focus lock buttons may be assigned to various buttons separately and in various combinations - lock and shutter release.
Canon EOS 350D and 300D, exterior differences:
Strange as it may seem, the significantly modified design exists more on paper than in reality. It looks like they mostly mean the color and smooth surface of the housing. From memory, mind it, not looking at them side by side. It didn't seem to us that the cameras were essentially different by dimensions and design. That's why we took a picture of them side by side. Tastes differ. Some people like the smooth glittering housing, which does not collect dust; the others prefer the inconspicuous black pleasantly-rough housing.
This cannot be said about their technical characteristics, though as we have already written above - it's actually half a step (what is half a step for a photographer?) Note that "amateurs" may significantly expand the functionality of the old 300D by using the alternative firmware. It allows to control the built-in flash and offers custom functions. But unfortunately, this alternative firmware does not solve the problem with exposure and AF control.
The key functional differences:
Canon 350D menu contains a section for user settings: programming the SET button (the central button of the multiselector), noise suppression on/off, flash exposure compensation in the aperture priority mode ("auto" without taking the flash into account or 1/200 s), combinations of exposure and focus lock, AF-assist beam on/off, selecting an exposure correction step, mirror lockup, E-TTL II, flash sync. You can select the Russian interface. The other useful functions and features include: black-and-white photos and digital color filters, 19 steps to fine-tune the white balance (blue/amber bias or magenta/green bias), white balance bracketing (+-3 steps).
It's an obvious progress in everything except the battery capacity. The battery of a lesser capacity is not actually a problem - according to the manufacturer, DIGIC II processor allows this camera to shoot approximately the same number of photos as the 300D. But if it's not your first Canon camera, a different battery is just a minor disappointment; and it's additional profits for the company.
Interfaces: video, remote control, USB-2.
Resolution of a reflex camera depends much on the interchangeable lenses. Nevertheless, a test object is a good way to evaluate a matrix as well, in particular such effect as the diffraction effect on the resolution when stopping down the lens. Then you can see 1:1 fragments of the center and upper right edge of a photo taken with the Canon EF 18-55 mm lens (ETTL II), bundled with the camera. All the fragments are shot at f=47 mm, the upper fragment is shot in the manual focus mode, the rest are shot in the AF mode.
"Optimal" aperture, when the center is sharp, and the depth-of-field is enough to make the edges sharp as well - f/8 - f/11.
Canon 300D owners are probably interested whether the advantage of Canon 350D due to its 8 Mp is large. The test object was shot using the same lens (from the EOS 350D bundle), from the same point, and with the same focus length. Then we scaled the Canon 300D shot up to 8Mp. Fragments of the test objects for the center and the upper right edge of the photo (it is mirrored for EOS 300D) are published on the same picture to make them easy to compare. Focusing is manual, because AF is not always stable with this relatively small test object.
The resolution difference is small at the apertures of less than f/8-f/11. The difference is larger at wider apertures, but it's mostly determined by the manual focus errors - it's not easy to focus Canon 300D and 350D manually even with the magnifying ocular extension.
The same comparison was carried out with the Industar 61L/Z-MS lens:
It's a pity, but digital reflex cameras (at least these two models) are not intended for manual focus mode. Even with the magnifying ocular extension it's practically impossible to focus precisely at the test object with a completely open aperture (even f/5.6 with the standard lens). Precision matte in both Canon models is not intended for this task. That's why large-aperture lenses for these cameras must provide the auto focus feature. If you switch to manual focus at apertures of up to f/8, there is just no point in speaking of megapixel differences.
In order to evaluate the matrix noise in the cameras along the entire sensitivity range, we shot the Kodak Q13 chart. The photos were taken in RAW format under tungsten light for short exposures and under a daylight lamp for long exposures. Images were processed in the proprietary editor Canon DPP 1.6.1, the gray spot was set by the Kodak grayscale chart.
Fragments of Kodak Q13 scale, enlarged twofold in HTML. The fragments shot by Canon EOS 350D and 300D are published in turn. The inferiority of the 300D is noticeable only at ISO 1600, while the 300D demonstrates even a clearer picture at long exposures.
We evaluated the rate of shooting at manual 1/1000 exposure, the shots were written to a CF Kingston 256 MB memory card. Here is the record of shutter releases:
Shooting in JPEG format with the best quality and highest resolution, the 300D is on the left, the 350D is on the right, timeline in seconds.
Shooting in RAW format, the 300D is on the left, the 350D is on the right, timeline in seconds.
There is a great difference between the cameras in continuous JPEG mode - in fact the 350D shoots 3-4 shots per single shot made by the 300D. The 350D advantages are not that obvious in the RAW format.
The camera comes shipped with the following software: Digital Photo Professional RAW, Canon ZoomBrowser EX 5.1, Remote Shooting (to control shooting from your PC), ImageBrowser 5.1, PhotoStitch (to create panoramas), ArcSoft PhotoStudio (image editor). You can also convert RAW into JPEG and TIFF in Canon ZoomBrowser and in Digital Photo Professional RAW (Canon DPP). Canon DPP can process separate files as well as batches; it can save and apply saved settings; it has separate windows to process files as RAW as well as RGB with curves and histograms. Unlike Adobe RAW, Digital Photo Professional does not try to guess colors, where a channel value exceeds 255, that's why bright objects (glares, the Sun within the photo) do not look iridescent.
Canon DPP 1.6.1, settings, full screenshot.
Canon DPP 1.6.1, settings for brightness, white balance, and color space, full screenshot.
1/500 s, f/14, 100 mm (Canon EF 100-300 mm) , iso 200, full sized photo — 3 MB.
1/800 s, f/9, 300 mm (Canon EF 100-300 mm) , iso 800, full sized photo — 3 MB.
1/30 s, Industar L/Z 61 MS, iso 200, full sized photo — 1.8 MB.
1/125 s, f/14, 55 mm (Canon EF 18-55 mm) , iso 100, full sized photo — 3.5 MB.
We could forgive the first digital reflex camera under the conventional borderline price of 1000 USD for many things. But still, the commercial limitations of the functionality were too obvious. Good similar cameras from the competing manufacturers and alternative firmware versions seem to have changed the company's position on the state of affairs. And here is a fast and full-featured 8Mp camera in the same "below $1000" class. If you have been waiting for a sterling reflex camera at a reasonable price, this camera is worth a closer look. It is hardly possible to manufacture a better camera in this class (relatively inexpensive reflex cameras).
Sensor: CMOP 8.2/8.0 Mp 22.2x14.8 mm, 3456x2304 photo
Sergei Scherbakov (email@example.com)
April 27, 2005.
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