What are the pros and cons of each?
In this post, I attempt to compare and summarize the benefits of, and the differences between these two digital SLR cameras from Canon and hopefully, this will help those who are researching whether to get the XSi / 450D or the XS / 1000D.
You’ll have to make the final decision on which camera to buy.
Canon XSi / 450D Advantages
Can be operated with a wireless IR remote
The Canon XSi / 450D comes with an infrared sensor on the front of the hand grip, and this allows you to use low cost infrared remotes to trigger the XSi.
The XS / 1000D doesn’t have this option, but rest assured that both the XSi and XS can be controlled remotely via third-party Radio Frequency (RF) shutter release remotes such as the Phottix Cleon C6.
You might like to read my post on using the Phottix Cleon C8 with the Canon 40D to get a better idea of how these RF shutter triggers work.
3 inches on the XSi vs 2.5 in. on the 1000D.
A bigger LCD simply makes previewing images a nicer experience, but half an inch difference isn’t a deal breaker.
12 MP on the XSi / 450D vs 10 MP on the XS / 1000D.
If you think you’ll be shooting lots of nature, landscape or product photos which need to be printed really large, every extra bit of resolution helps, and this is where the XSi is the more logical choice, assuming photos are shot with the same caliber lens mounted on both.
Higher number of AF points
The XSi / 450D has 9 vs the XS / 1000D which has 7.
The main advantage of more AF points boils down to whether you’d need to track a moving subject across the frame, or whether you prefer to have more AF points which tend to reduce the need for focus-and-recompose techniques.
Having more AF points enables ensures a higher probability that a moving subject is always tracked by at least one point.
Better center AF point sensitivity
The XSi / 450D has a high-precision sensor in the center AF point which gives greater autofocusing accuracy with fast lenses, that is, lenses with a maximum wide-open aperture of f/2.8 or greater.
If you shoot a great deal of moving subjects and anticipate purchasing these (very often) more expensive fast lenses to take advantage of the greater AF accuracy, then the XSi / 450D is the camera to get as the 1000D / XS does not have this high-precision center AF sensor.
Pedro has more to say on the differences between f/2.8-sensitive and non-f/2.8 sensitive AF sensors in Canon DSLR cameras:
A — If the cross-type sensor is f/2.8 sensitive it means that when used in conjunction with lenses whose luminosity is equal or bigger/better than 2.8 (1.4, 1.8, 2.0) it will AF in between the 1/3 DOF of the lens widest aperture, regardless of the used/chosen aperture.
B — If the cross-type sensor is not f/2.8 sensitive it means that when used in conjunction with lenses whose luminosity is equal or bigger/better than 5.6 (3.2, 4.0) it will AF in between the DOF of the lens widest aperture, regardless of the used/chosen aperture.
C — Keep in mind, that except in the professional line (1D…), Canon AF will not work accurately with lenses whose luminosity is smaller/worst than f/5.6…
Better burst rate
On paper, the XSi / 450D is only slightly faster at 3.5 fps (frames per second) than the XS / 1000D which manages 3 fps, but this is only applicable to shooting in JPEG mode.
Where the really XS / 1000D pales in this comparison is the burst rate in RAW mode — it’s only 1.5 fps.
In contrast, the XSi / 450D manages the same 3.5 fps in RAW mode.
This is a big deal if you’re going to be shooting bursts in RAW mode a lot.
A built-in spot meter in the camera is a boon to photographers who like to set the exposure from a small spot in the frame rather than letting the camera evaluate the entire scene and deciding on the exposure for you.
Up until the Canon 30D, spot metering was only available in the higher-end 1D-series DSLR models from Canon.
For the Digital Rebel series, spot metering was introduced with the 450D / XSi.
The 1000D / XS does not have this capability, but it shouldn’t be a deal breaker if you don’t plan on using this feature in your photography.
14-bit vs 12-bit
This is definitely an advantage for the XSi / 450D, but what’s debatable is whether you would benefit from the additional two bits.
More bits help a lot when you’re post-processing a image which is underexposed or have limited tones. If you push the curve or level adjustment hard for such low-contrast images, the additional two bits help to reduce the occurrence of banding.
Plus, the benefit also can only be enjoyed if you shoot in RAW mode. You don’t get this benefit if you shoot in JPEG mode as the camera would internally process the files into 8-bit JPG anyway.
Again, many photographers simply cannot see the difference in their photos (yes, even owners of high-end digital SLR cameras which permit the user to select either 12 or 14-bit image processing), but you might want to just read this and this forum post which has a more detailed explanation and sample photos to illustrate (in theory) what impact the additional 2 bits should have.
HIghlight Tone Priority
This feature found on the XSi (but not the XS) helps retain detail in the highlights by deliberately underexposing the RAW image and then using a tone adjustment to bring up the gamma. The process happens the instant the photo is taken, although it will slow down the continuous shot performance as the processor has to do extra work processing the image.
By the way, the RAW to JPEG conversion engine in the Canon-supplied Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software is able to process the underexposed RAW file correctly, while opening that same RAW image in other photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop CS3 will only show you an underexposed image, which you’ll have to manually correct using the curve or levels tool.
The viewfinder coverage is 95% for both the XS and XSi, but the XSi gives you 87% viewfinder magnification while you only get 81% magnification on the XS’s viewfinder.
In short, you’ll get a slightly better viewfinder experience in the XSi with less tunnel vision.
Canon XS / 1000D pros
It makes sense to buy the XS / 1000D if you’re just beginning photography and don’t have a set target on how advanced you want to get with your photography.
The money saved can go towards purchasing an external flash, accessory or a better lens. This is the more practical approach to take for budding photographers.
After a year or two of taking lots of photographs, you’d then be in a better position to decide which advanced model to upgrade to.
When we’re talking day-to-day consumer photography, the slight advantages of the XSi / 450D won’t be practically apparent. If you really needed super-fast focusing and faster frames per second, you should be looking at the Canon 40D or a used 30D anyway, as they can blast off 6.5 fps and 5 fps respectively, and these figures are generally acknowledged to be the bare minimum burst rate for sports photography. The xxD class of Canon digital SLR cameras also tend to have more robust shutter mechanisms with longer life spans to support the higher fps rate.
To expand further on the huge performance advantage the 40D has over the XSi, please read Canon 40D vs Canon XSi / 450D.