Canon Digital SLRs > Rebel xSi 450D Guide
Published: July 2008

Canon Rebel xSi 450D Guide

Completing this Canon Rebel XSi guide was no easy task.

Why? The issue is both simple and complicated at the same time: familiarity.

The Rebel XSi - also called the 450D - is the third Canon Digital Rebel that I'll have had the pleasure of using, and I can safely say that it won't be the last.

By now, I've become so used to the controls and features available on these cameras that I have a much harder time remaining impartial when I use one.

Think of it like a movie that you've seen 5 times over: by now the plot is so familiar that it doesn't generate the same level of excitement and suspense as it did the first time you saw it.

Despite this level of comfort using the Digital Rebel cameras, I've tried to approach this XSi guide as if I had never used a Canon digital SLR before.

There are two main goals here:

  1. Those just learning about the Canon XSi will find out why the Rebel cameras are so popular
  2. Anyone familiar with Canon Rebel cameras will learn about the enhancements available in the XSi
canon eos rebel xsi

By the end of this Rebel XSi guide you should have a pretty good sense of what the camera can - and cannot - do, which will hopefully help you determine whether or not this is the best digital SLR for you.

Quick Overview

  • 12 megapixel sensor - for high-quality 20x30 inch prints
  • Compatible with all Canon EOS lenses
  • 3.5 photos per second
  • ISO settings from 100 to 1600
  • Maximum shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second
  • 1.6 times crop factor
  • Stores photos on SD memory cards
  • 9-point autofocus system
  • Dust control system
  • 3.0" live view LCD
  • Enhanced dynamic range

Key Feature

Canon XSi - Front

The Canon Rebel XSi doesn't really have any defining feature that sets it apart from its competition except for its brand name.

The predecessors to the XSi - the Rebel xTi and XT - were at the top of the digital SLR best seller lists for months on end, and I'm sure the XSi will join them.

What the XSi offers is a complete package:

  • Plenty of megapixels for large prints
  • Image stabilization (with the kit lens)
  • Dust control
  • A three inch live view LCD
  • Exceptional image quality (even at high ISO)
  • A compact lightweight frame

In addition to all of this, the Canon Rebel XSi is compatible with a huge number of Canon and third party lenses (made by Tamron, Tokina and Sigma).

This means that if you want to expand your lens collection in the future you'll have plenty of options to choose from.

It also helps if you're looking for some lens bargains, since you can purchased used Canon lenses that will work just fine, or you can purchase a third party lens which often costs less than the lenses made by Canon.

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Who The Canon Rebel XSi is For

I'd say that first and foremost, this camera is a great choice for travel and spontaneous photographers.

  • The small size and low weight make it easy to carry around at all times
  • The low noise at high ISO and image stabilized lens allow you to take photos without flash with little available light
  • The highlight control option improves image quality when you can only have one chance to take a photo
Canon XSi - Flash Up

The first point doesn't really need explaining - if a camera doesn't weigh you down, you're more likely to carry it with you wherever you go. The moment a photo opportunity presents itself, you'll be ready.

The second point highlights one of the key strengths of the Rebel XSi - it's ability to take high quality photos even in dim available light.

When taking photos in dim available light, you need two camera features in order to get a photo that's not a blurry mess:

  1. Low noise at high ISO
  2. Image Stabilization

Since the Rebel XSi generates very little noise even at ISO 1600 (more on this later) AND comes packaged with a kit lens that includes Image Stabilization, it's a low-light photographer's best friend.

This is good news for anyone who can't manipulate light (in places where flash is prohibited) and have to work with what little available light exists.

The highlight control option on the Rebel XSi (called "Highlight Tone Priority") is best suited for those who want to take photos where there's a lot of contrast (bright, direct sunlight) — I'll talk about this feature in greater detail later on in this Rebel XSi guide.

To summarize: the Rebel XSi is a great digital SLR for anyone who has little or no control over the available light - in short, people who travel and only have once chance to take a photo and spontaneous photographers who often don't plan or set up their shots.

But what about action photography?

While the Rebel XSi can definitely be used to capture shots of fast-moving action, if that's your primary reason for owning a digital SLR, you'll be better off with the speedier Canon 40D.

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In Comparison

Canon XSi vs. XTi

The XSi is the fourth digital Rebel to hit the shelves, and its closest alternative in the Rebel line is the highly regarded xTi.

Let's take a quick comparative glance at the features available on each camera:

Release DateMarch 2008October 2006
Max FPS3.53
AF Points99
ISO100 - 1600100 - 1600
Max Shutter Speed1/40001/4000
LCD Size3.0 in.2.5 in.
Dust Control
Image Stabilization 
Live View 
Highlight Control 
Dimensions5.1x 3.9x2.4in
Weight18.5oz (524g)19.6oz (556g)

The additional 2 megapixels in the XSi is of relatively little consequence (it's not that big of a difference), and simply allows you to make larger size prints.

The relative importance of the other differences between the XSi and xTi depend a lot on your style of photography:

The XSi has live view while the xTi does not Live view is really only important if you want to compose your photos using both the viewfinder as well as the LCD. While composing with the LCD does allow you to take photos at odd angles (without having your face pressed up to the camera) it does come with its limitations, which I'll describe in more detail in just a moment.
The LCD on the XSi is larger A larger LCD is a great thing if you're changing menus a lot and reviewing your photos. It's also good for live view mode. If you don't see yourself using live view or changing menus a lot, then the larger LCD won't have a huge impact.
The XSi has highlight control while the xTi does not Highlight control preserves details in the bright areas of your photos when there's a lot of contrast (when taking photos on a sunny day). The effect is pretty subtle, and you may not notice the difference between photos taken with highlight control vs. those without it.
The XSi kit lens includes image stabilization This is a big deal for photographers who take photos in low available light without flash. The stabilization helps to ensure that even photos taken with slow shutter speeds turn out clear. Of course, you can always buy an xTi camera body only (without the kit lens) and then buy a separate image stabilized lens to go with it.

Bottom Line: if you want to use both the viewfinder and LCD to compose images and expect to take lots of photos in extreme light (very bright or very dim), then the XSi is a better bet than the xTi.

Canon Rebel XSi vs. Other Manufacturers

The current cameras competing with the Rebel XSi include the Nikon D60, Olympus E-520, the Pentax K200D and the Sony DSLR-A300.

There are several advantages and disadvantages of these other camera models relative to the Rebel XSi:

Nikon D60 The LCD on the D60 displays camera settings in a graphical format that makes them easier to understand for beginning SLR photographers. The D60 is only 100% compatible with a limited number of Nikon lenses (any with the AF-S or AF-I designation). By contrast, the XSi is compatible with any Canon EF lens (including old ones from film SLR cameras).
Olympus E-520 The stabilization on the E-520 is built into the camera body so it works with any new 4/3 lenses. With the XSi, only the kit lens has stabilization - many other lenses don't include it. There are not as many new 4/3 lenses for Olympus as there are EF lenses for Canon - if having lens alternatives is important to you, then the Rebel XSi definitely has more.
Pentax K200D The K200D has in-body stabilization, is weather sealed and it's compatible with virtually every lens ever made by Pentax. Has two less megapixels (10.2), a slightly smaller LCD, and has a slow continuous drive speed (2.8 photos per second vs. 3.5 on the XSi).
Sony DSLR-A300 The live view LCD on the A300 flips out from the camera body, allowing you to compose photos from high and low angles. Sony digital SLRs have yet to achieve the extremely low noise at high ISO settings that can be achieved with the XSi.

This is the quick overview.

In reality, how the Rebel XSi compares to cameras from other manufacturers has a lot more to do with your own personal preferences than what can be gleaned from the specifications alone.

The differences I have listed above are the BIG ones - but sometimes, the reason you like a camera comes down to something as simple as "the menus are easier to read."

Since that's the case, the best way to compare these cameras is to head on down to your local camera store and ask the clerk to let you try each one out.

In the end, the "look" or "feel" of the camera might be much more important to you than what it's capable of.

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How It Works

In Use

The hallmark of the Canon line of digital SLR cameras is that they are easy to use — and the Rebel XSi is no exception.

Canon XSi - Top With Lens

Its compact frame fits easily into the hand (although might be a bit small for those with large hands or long fingers) and all of the primary settings are within easy reach of either your thumb or index finger.

This easy access to the common camera settings is more important for those who want to manually control the XSi — if you shoot in AUTO mode all the time, quick access to the white balance and color mode settings is pretty irrelevant.

If you do want to tinker with manual controls, the Rebel XSi improves over its predecessors by letting you change the ISO setting without taking your eye away from the viewfinder: with older models, you can only set the ISO by checking the values on the camera's LCD screen.

This is a welcome improvement, since the ability to change ISO on the fly is one of the more powerful features available in digital SLR cameras.

Controls and Operation
Canon XSi - Back - Camera Settings

Like the other Rebels before it, the XSi includes dedicated buttons for virtually every camera setting you'd want to quickly change in the middle of a photo session.

The nice part about this is that you can just press a button, change a setting and go right back to shooting, without having to dig through a lot of menus.

The dedicated buttons include:

ISOSet the camera's sensitivity from ISO 100 (low sensitivity) to ISO 1600 (high sensitivity).
Metering Mode Choose one of four different metering modes:
  1. Evaluative
  2. Partial
  3. Spot
  4. Center-weighted
Autofocus Mode Choose one of three different autofocus modes:
  1. One Shot
  2. AI Focus (a one shot/continuous hybrid)
  3. AI Servo (continuous)
Picture StylesControl how the camera captures color by selecting from a variety of color modes including neutral, landscape and portrait.
Drive Mode Choose one of five different drive modes
  1. One Shot
  2. Continuous (3.5 photos per second)
  3. 10 second timer
  4. 2 second timer
  5. 10 second continuous timer

While taking photos for this Canon Rebel XSi guide, I found that the easy access to these features allowed me to make quick adjustments to the settings as my subject and lighting changed.

One day I was taking some photos of my kids at a local park. My daughter was crawling around in the grass with a nice blue sky overhead. In order to give the primary colors some kick, I quickly switched to the Landscape Picture Style.

Right in the middle of that, I heard my son coming toward me on his tricycle. Within seconds I was able to switch to continuous drive mode with AI servo autofocus (in order to keep focus on him as he rode toward me), and I fired off a quick burst of shots.

This video demonstrates the one-touch controls available on the Rebel XSi:

If you're not inclined to adjust all of these individual settings as you're taking photos, then you can also select from any one of the Rebel's five "Image Zone" settings: Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait and Flash Off.

These Image Zone settings automatically apply the same changes to features like ISO, drive mode and Picture Style that you can manually change yourself.

Live View

I used the live view mode quite a bit for this Canon Rebel XSi guide, and found that it operates much like many other live view systems on other digital SLR cameras.

Simply put:

  • Live view is great for portraits and for taking photos of non-moving subjects from odd angles
  • Live view is not very useful when it comes to action photography
canon-eos-450d-090 canon-eos-450d-051
canon-eos-450d-595.JPG canon-eos-450d-397.JPG

The reason that live view isn't the best for action photography is due to its sluggish performance.

The sluggish performance is directly related to the mechanism that a digital SLR uses to display an image in the viewfinder: a small mirror sits inside the camera that reflects the image captured by the lens up to the viewfinder. This mirror flips up every time you take a photograph to expose the digital sensor inside the camera to light.

This causes a problem for any live view system: when the mirror is down, it blocks the digital sensor that's required to display a live view image.

So in order for live view to work, the mirror must be up - but when the mirror is up, this limits the functionality of the camera's 9 point autofocus system.

It's a bit of a catch-22.

The Rebel XSi handles the autofocus-in-live-view dilemma in two different ways:

  1. MODE 1 - in this mode you can use the full power of the 9 point autofocus, but it's a three step process: 1) mirror snaps down (live view goes blank), 2) autofocus engages and locks, 3) mirror snaps up (live view re-appears).
  2. MODE 2 - this mode uses the same type of autofocus system that you'll find on many compact digital cameras, and suffers from a limitation: it's pretty slow to lock autofocus on a subject

I quickly found that mode 2 was not to my liking - it's just too slow to acquire focus on ANY type of subject, even if the subject is not moving about.

Mode 1 did work pretty well for a variety of shots, including ones with slight subject motion (my daughter playing with her toys in the living room) - I just had to make sure that I kept pressing the autofocus button between shots to keep the focus dialed in.

The following video will show you how the live view on the Canon Rebel XSi performs, which should clearly demonstrate why it's not so good for rapid-fire action photography.

ISO Performance

If you want to take a lot of photos in dim light without flash and still capture high-quality images, then the Rebel XSi should be high on your list of possible camera options.

In the introduction to this Canon Rebel XSi guide, I mentioned that high ISO settings are used to capture images when there isn't a lot of available light.

Unfortunately, high ISO settings often come with a drawback: the image appears speckled, the result of something called "digital noise".

The big news for anyone considering the Rebel XSi is that it produces very little image noise, even all the way up to ISO 1600.

This gives you a lot of leeway to take photos indoors without a flash - great news for people who photograph in museums and galleries or for anyone who wants to take photos of children indoors.

Many of the sample photos in the image gallery associated with this guide use ISO settings of 800 and 1600, since I take a lot of photos of my two kids when they're playing inside the house (and the only available light is through windows). High ISO settings can also be leveraged to capture clear action shots if you take photos of indoor sporting events and even outdoor sports on overcast days.

If you take a quick look through the sample photos, I challenge you to figure out which photos leverage the high ISO setting on the Rebel XSi.

Exposure / Dynamic Range

The Rebel XSi includes a new feature for the Canon Rebel line - something called "Highlight Tone Priority".

This control is really a fancy name for a fairly simple solution to a common problem that has plagued digital SLR cameras of the past.

When you're taking a photo of a bright sunlit scene, there is a wide range of contrast (also called wide dynamic range): this makes shadows appear very dark and highlights appear quite bright.

In some cases of extreme contrast a digital SLR will lose some of the detail in the scene:

  • The shadows will lose detail and will appear as pure black
  • The highlights will lose detail and will appear as pure white

The second one is more severe than the first: when a digital SLR camera loses detail in the shadows, it's actually possible to re-gain some of that detail using image editing software. The camera still captured the detail, it just rendered it very dark.

But when a digital SLR loses detail in the highlights (rendering them pure white), that detail is lost forever. No amount of fiddling in Photoshop is going to bring it back.

Since that's the case, the "Highlight Tone Priority" control on the Rebel XSi effectively ensures that you'll never have this problem.

It sets an upper limit for the highlights, and adjusts exposure accordingly so that detail is always preserved in areas that are very bright.

This does not mean that high-contrast images will look completely balanced - some parts of your photo will still be very bright. Only upon close inspection will you notice that there's a tiny amount of detail in those bright spots.

Click on the image above to turn Highlight Priority on and off and pay attention to the bright area - you'll see the brick detail on the ground when Highlight Tone Priority is turned on.

The best use of Highlight Tone Prority that I could find was when taking photos of cities/landscapes where I had no control over the light falling on the scene — if I saw something interesting to photograph, I just had to accept the existing range of contrast.

Since I couldn't come back to the same spot at a later time when the light was more appealing, it was good to know that the highlight control on the Rebel XSi was preserving as much detail as it could.

Later on - if I so choosed - I could edit the photos with a program like Adobe Elements to balance the shadows and highlights even further.

While good for spur-of-the-moment landscape and cityscape photography, this feature is also especially helpful for anyone who enjoys outdoor portrait photography: it ensures that the faces of your subjects retain their detail, so they don't come out looking like pasty white zombies.

Image Quality and Size

In terms of megapixels, the Canon XSi comes in right in the middle (12) - it's neither one of the more common 10 megapixel digital SLRs, nor does it have the high 14 megapixel count of cameras like the Pentax K20D or the Sony DSLR-A350.

While the 12 megapixel files will allow you to print your images all the way up to 18 by 24 inches with no loss of image quality, these large files will also quickly use up memory card and hard drive space.

On the plus side, you can reduce the image size and quality captured by the XSi if you're taking photos that won't be blown up into poster-sized prints.

Let's take a look at some of the different image setting available, and how each one impacts the file size and the number of shots that you can fit onto a standard 2 GigaByte SD Memory Card.


The good news here for the indecisive is that you can switch the quality settings at any time.

Let's say that you're going on a long vacation with your 2GB SD card and expect to take more than 400 photos during the trip.

If you reduce the size of the image being captured down to 6.3 megapixels, you'll still be able to make great prints at 11x14 inches AND you'll be able to take almost 700 shots.

When you come across subjects that might be worthy of large-scale enlargements, swith to 12 megapixel mode, capture a few shots, and then drop back down to 6.3 again.

Of course, if you shudder at the idea of all this switching back and forth, just spring for a 8GB SD card which should give you plenty of storage space.


I believe that Canon digital SLR cameras are so popular in part because of the punchy way in which they capture color.

Primary colors in particular are vibrant and saturated, making images "pop" more than they might with cameras made by other manufacturers.

Of course, if you're not completely pleased with the colors that the camera is capturing for a particular subject, you can adjust them using a feature called Picture Styles.

Picture Styles only applies if you're saving your digital SLR photos as JPG files (the other option is RAW), and it simply "tweaks" the way in which the sensor captures color.

The picture style you choose depends a lot on the subject:

StandardCreates sharp, colorful images for general purpose photography.
PortraitCaptures more accurate skin tones - colors are less vivid
LandscapeSaturates blues and greens to create more dramatic landscape images
NeutralAn unmodified color mode for those who want to adjust color using image editing software
FaithfulSimilar to neutral - captures muted colors with little sharpening applied
MonochromeFor black and white photos (more on this in the next section)

As if this weren't plenty, you can also set three user-defined Picture Styles where you can specify exactly how the camera processes images, AND you can adjust any one of the pre-set Pictures Styles to your liking.

The paramaters that you can adjust include:

SharpnessControls the definition of edges - low sharpness images look "soft" while high sharpness images appear "crisp"
ContrastAffects the balance between shadow and highlight - low contrast images look dull while high contrast images look clear
SaturationControls how vividly a color is captured - the color of low saturation images appears almost monochrome, while high saturation color is extremely bright
Color ToneAffects the appearance of colors and can be set to "warm up" (enhance reds and oranges) or "cool down" (enhance greens and blues)
Black and White (Monochrome)

In the previous section on Picture Styles, I mentioned that one of the settings was for Monochrome images.

This setting allows you to capture black and white photos at the moment of exposure, rather than having to remove color from your photos using editing software.

It comes with its plusses and minuses: on the pro side, it allows you to immediately see how the image turned out (when it displays the photo on the LCD). If you're new to black and white photography, this can be a real benefit to help you improve your composition when taking photos in black and white.

The con here is that when you take photos in black and white, the camera isn't capturing ANY color information. If you decide at a later date that a black and white photo would have been better in color, there's no way to retrieve the color.

This just means that when you set the XSi's Picture Style to Monochrome, you had better be certain that color is not the most compelling part of your subject.

For those of you who'd like a little color in your images, the XSi lets you adjust the Monochrome Picture Style to "tint" your images:


If you're making the move from film SLR to digital SLR and are a black and white enthusiast, then you'll already be aware that there are LENS filters that can alter the tones in your black and white images.

The Canon EOS Rebel XSi allows you to digitally filter your black and white photos to create the same visual effect:


While these monochrome color tones and filter settings are quite common on all digital SLR cameras, the difference with the Rebel XSi is the fact that you can save up to THREE custom settings.

For example, if your enjoy taking portraits with a Sepia tone and Green filter, then you can set this as User Picture Style #1.

For dramatic landscapes, you may opt for a Blue tone and Red filter, which you can set as User Picture Style #2.

Once set, it's easy to select your custom Picture Style with the press of one button on the back of the camera (so you can change back and forth as often as you like without having to dig through a lot of menus).

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The Canon Rebel XSi stays competitive in the marketplace with the addition of an image-stabilized (IS) kit lens.

This is due to the ever-increasing number of cameras from other manufacturers (including Olympus, Pentax and Sony) that include image stabilization in the camera body.

Older Canon Digital Rebels do not include an IS lens - while it's easy enough to purchase the camera body and an IS lens separately, this will ultimately cost more than the XSi with its kit lens.

So is Image Stabilization just a gimmick to attract attention or does it really work?

While taking some sample photos for this Rebel XSi guide, I decided to put the stabilization system through its paces.

The trick to any image stabilization system is that it should help you take clear photos of non-moving subjects even when using very slow shutter speeds.

The issue here is this: when the camera's shutter stays open for a long time, even the VERY slight motion of the camera in your hands can be perceived as motion. This motion becomes evident in your photos as blur.

The general rule of thumb when using cameras without IS systems is that you can only use shutter speeds faster tha 1/[focal length] of the lens that you're using.

Some examples:

18mm1/15th of a second or faster
55mm1/60th of a second or faster
100mm1/125th of a second or faster
300mm1/350th of a second or faster

These example should help to lend a little context to my next statement: I was able to get clear photos with the XSi's image stabilized lens set to 18mm even with the shutter open for one full second (sample below).


But how far past the typical setting of 1/15th of a second is this?

The following table shows a typical shutter speed scale. I've indicated the shutter speed that you can safely use without stabilization in orange italics, and the shutter speed that you're able to use with lens stabilization in bold (this assumes the lens focal length is 18mm or wide angle).

400020001000500250 12560 30 15  8  4  2  1  

If we change to the telephoto setting of the lens (55mm) the numbers shift accordingly:

400020001000500250 12560 30 15  8  4  2  1  

The real benefit of all these slow shutter speeds is that you can take photos in low available light with the camera in your hands and still expect to get plenty of clear shots.

This is why this feature is of real use to travel photographers who enjoy taking photos inside buildings where flash is not allowed.

With dim natural light, no tripod and your flash disabled, the only way you're going to capture any photos worth keeping is by leveraging the IS system in the lens.

Zoom Range

The kit lens that comes with the Rebel XSi has a fairly standard zoom range between 18mm (wide angle) and 55mm (telephoto).

This makes it a good lens for landscape and portrait photography, but not so good if you want to take photos of your subjects from a distance (i.e. wildlife).

Here's an example of the zoom range of this lens:

canon-eos-450d-022 canon-eos-450d-023
No Included Hood

I do have one small gripe about this lens (and this is a common issue with Canon lenses) — it doesn't include a lens hood.


A lens hood connects to the front of the lens and "shades" the lens from direct sunlight. This prevents lens flares when you're taking photos in the direction of the sun.

In the sample photo at right, the sun was behind a tree to camera right.

Despite my best efforts to keep the lens pointed away from the sun, you can still see the flare in the final image.

This could have easily been avoided with the inclusion of a lens hood - something you can get for this 18-55mm lens but for an additional cost.

Why do I bring this up as an issue?

A lens hood is pretty standard issue these days with consumer SLRs, and if you check out cameras from other manufacturers like Olympus, Pentax and Sony you'll find that every kit lens includes a lens hood.

Heck, even if you purchase a Canon SLR lens made by a third party like Tamron, Sigma or Tokina, those ALSO include lens hoods.

It would have been quite simple - and cheap - for Canon to include a lens hood with this kit lens and not having it can impact the quality of your images of you take a lot of photos in direct sunlight.

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The Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
  • 12 megapixels allows for large prints and lots of cropping options
  • Extremely low noise at high ISO settings
  • Kit lens includes image stabilization
  • Snappy performance prevents missed photo opportunities
  • Quick access to important settings (ISO, white balance, etc.)
  • Massive LCD makes changing menus and reviewing photos easy
  • Live view mode only good for static subjects
  • Kit lens should include a lens hood
  • Small grip may not be comfortable for all hands

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In a nutshell, the Canon EOS Rebel XSi is an exceptionally responsive digital SLR that also is easy to use and easy to carry around.

The inclusion of a dust control system, large live view LCD and image stabilized lens keep the Rebel XSi competitive with other similar cameras like the Nikon D60, Olympus E-520, Pentax K200D and Sony DSLR-A300.

The speedy and accurate autofocus system is paried with one-touch feature buttons (for ISO, white balance, metereing, etc.) which both help when capturing images of fleeting moments.

While Canon seemed to skimp on the kit lens for the Rebel xTi, the image stabilized kit lens included with the XSi captures images that are clear, vibrant and colorful (but the inclusion of a petal lens hood would have been a nice addition).

This camera should be fairly high on your list if your photographic passion is any one of the following: travel, portraits, low-light or spontaneous.

You not only get a camera that is compatible with a huge number of Canon and third party accessories, you also get an SLR from one of the most popular line of digital SLRs available today.

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Canon Rebel XSi Photo Samples

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As is true with many other digital SLR cameras, buying the camera and lens is just the tip of the iceberg.

There are a wide variety of additional accessories that can be paired with the Canon XSi that will expand and enhance what you can do with the camera.

Memory Card
transcend 8gb sdhc memory card

The first thing that you're going to need for your Canon XSi is a decent size memory card, since no memory card comes packaged with the camera (unless you buy a special combination kit that includes one).

The XSi uses SD memory cards, and is compatible with both the regular flavor as well as the high-capacity versions (also called SDHC).

For maximum write speed to the memory card, you'll be looking for a Class 6 SDHC card, since these cards have the fastest read/write speed of the available SDHC options.

Two options - for a relatively low price - are the Transcend 4GB SDHC ($13) and the Transcend 8GB SDHC ($33).

canon lp-e5 battery

The Canon Rebel XSi uses a rechargeable LP-E5 lithium ion battery.

While it doesn't look like all that much the first time you see it, this tiny lightweight battery holds a charge for an incredibly long time.

Despite the amount of use I put the Rebel XSi through for this guide, the battery charge never seemed to run out.

It finally did, but only after I'd racked up 780 photos, with extensive use of the LCD screen (a battery drainer) in live view mode, to review photos and when changing settings using menus (which I do quite often).

As if this weren't enough, you can get even more time with your Rebel XSi between charges if you opt for the BG-E5 battery grip.

With the grip in place you can use two of the standard LP-E5 batteries, or you can also opt to power the camera with six AA batteries - good news for those who like to travel in remote locations where a standard power outlet (for recharging the LP-E5) is not always available.

There's another benefit to the grip: it helps you keep ahold of the camera when you're taking pictures in the portrait orientation (rather than landscape).

The grip includes a shutter release button, plus some of the other dials and buttons that you use to change camera settings like shutter speed and aperture.

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