Xsi vs. 40D

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Macrimonious, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. Macrimonious macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2008
    Here's the situation, and sorry if I'm long winded, but my head is spinning with options right now.

    I'm new. I got hooked when I started using a d90, 35mm prime lens. I loved the stuff I was able to do with it.

    I've got access (potentially) to some kick ass Canon glass, and this guy, a professional, only uses Canon, so that's what he recommends.

    I'm interested (for now) in shooting low light candids (bars, parties, bedrooms) and nighttime urban stuff. Natural light,

    I've got about 1k to throw around for now, but would like to spend as little as possible (not swimming in dough atm). The xsi seemed like a good fit, as the price is right ($630) with kit lens.

    Add in the cheap 50mm f/1.8 or the 28mm f/2.8 or 35mm f/2.0 and I'm off and rolling in that 1k ballpark.

    Problem is, the xsi doesn't feel nearly as good in the hand as the D90. The grip on the xsi is somewhat uncomfortable. I'm a guy and my hand size is right in the average range, but it just felt cramped and the pinch is so narrow and deep. I'm just not sure if that's a deal breaker, the comfort / build issue.

    Plus, if I decide down the road to purchase nice glass, I want a body capable of exploiting that upgrade. The most important thing for me, even more than comfort, is image quality.

    My question to you all: What's the best set up for me. Should I get something like a refurb 40d? Anyone out there with the xsi that can chime in on the comfort issue?

    Is the xsi ok for the stuff I'm trying to do?

    Is the kit lens worth the 90 bucks? Or should I just put that toward the prime lens. Which prime lens should I get?

    Or, given the kind of stuff I've listed that I'm interested in, would you recommend a different set up entirely.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. anubis macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2003
    $630 w/ kit for an xsi seems kinda high to me.. then again, I haven't been in the market for a rebel for a while. If you check out Adorama or B&H you can usually find a factory refurbished 40D for $700 no lens.

    Honestly, pretty much all kit lenses are trash. Fine for consumers and non-serious amateurs, but if you have any level of desire or interest to move beyond the "automatic" settings, you'll want to get better glass. For low light on a budget, 50mm, 35mm, or 28mm f/1.8 or slower will probably be good. I think the 35 and 28 are around $300-$400 so you'd only be able to get one. I think the 50mm f/1.8 is a must, of course.

    I'll be the first to to tell someone "spend money on glass, who cares about the body" but I'll admit, the 40D does feel like quite a luxurious upgrade over the XT I have (same construction to xsi).

    Another option: used rebel XT. You can probably find one off craigslist or similar for $250-$300. Then you'll have $$$ for glass.
  3. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    if it's uncomfortable, then just go for the 40D. or a 20/30D if you wanna save some cash.
  4. pvalpha macrumors newbie

    Aug 25, 2009
    Canon is very good. I've been using a 10D (I spent the money when it came out and it was worth it.) for years, and I got cheap lenses with it... eventually I figured out it was not the camera but the lenses that were limiting my photography. *sigh* So I decided to go with a canon lens for walk-around, and shelled out the cash for the 28-135 IS EF lens. I've not taken the lens off the camera for almost 2 years. (Which has made keeping the dust out significantly easier)

    IMHO, its probably the best affordable lens any new photographer can purchase if they want to have flexibility in their shooting. Because of the X0D/Rebel series APS-C image sensor, there is a 1.6x crop on any lens attached - which means instead of acting like a 28mm-135, it acts like a 45-216. (Something to keep in mind) which makes it solidly a medium telephoto lens... which is not bad for most people who like to take pictures of objects, pets and people - since it gives you the ability to take a picture of a subject without having to be "in their face". But its not the best for taking images of wide vistas or trying to get the "Entire Family" in the shot in a very small room.

    As you probably felt when you picked up the two cameras, the difference between the Rebels and the X0D series is pretty obvious - the Rebels are ballistic plastic construction with a light metal frame while the X0D series is a full metal frame with magnesium alloy covering 70-75 percent of the body - its a much more solid camera. LOTS of people find the extra weight of the X0D series to be annoying, and prefer the Rebels. People like me who grip the plastic of the Rebel and hear it audibily creak prefer the solid feel of the X0D series - especially when you consider how much the glass you're putting on the front both costs and weighs (the lenses aren't light and the weight of the heavier camera makes balance easier).

    Both the 40D and XSi are excellent cameras, and will produce nearly identical quality of pictures (as they are mostly the same hardware). The 40D (like the rest of the series) has more control over manual function and gives the user a quick-read LCD display on the top of the camera to allow the main display to be dedicated to menu functions and live-preview. The Rebel series, however, are usually 10-15 months ahead in using the latest technology and are updated more frequently. (the newest rebel can shoot HD video, while the 50D can't...)

    Still, I'd take a X0D series camera over a rebel any day of the week. Its an entry level pro camera that is just a few steps below the 5D and 1D and 1Ds.

    Sorry if my response was a bit long-winded, but that's my analysis of the situation. Don't skimp too much on the glass for either the Rebel or the 40D - I still take amazing pictures with my 10D and it hasn't failed me yet - something I credit to shelling out the extra $$$ for the Canon lens. There is a 17-85 IS EFs lens that is sold and bundled with the medium-high end kits - its essentially the 28-135 IS EF, adjusted for the 1.6x crop factor. There are also some Kits that bundle the 28-135 IS. I prefer the 28-135 because its an awesomely constructed lens - with metal mounts and a solid feel. There's usually only one or two shots out of every 1000 I take where I feel a slight longing for a wider lens (like the 17-85), but that's made up for by the 100s of shots I wouldn't have got had I not had the extra 71 mm on the opposite end of the zoom. Plus, its an EF lens, so when I finally go to a 5D Mark II (or III if its out when I finally have enough money), the EF lens will fit the full-size sensor perfectly, as EFs lenses only work with the rebels and the X0D series because of the crop-sensor.

  5. elmateo487 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 12, 2008
    A little less than a year ago I bought a 40D with the 18-55mm kit lens, used on ebay for 600 bucks shipped. Killer deal. I have seen similar deals go, you just need to be confident and competent enough to know how to score such deals. No problems, great condition, low shutter count etc.

    Also, everyone downs on the kit lenses. They are very good lenses in comparison to any other non-dslr camera you probably have used, and are definitely good enough for someone who wants to learn. The 50mm is also a wonderful lens, sharp, and the 1.8 is REALLY good for creativity and low light. Plus I got mine new for 70 bucks.

    Don't let everyone make you believe that you need to instantly shell out hundreds and hundreds of extra bucks AFTER you get a camera and lens. I am doing alright with the kit (although I am LONGING for something much better) but will wait for funds to accumulate.

    The 40D is much nicer than the Xsi. The Xsi is much smaller, lighter, cheaper. Thats all it's got.
  6. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."

    I've taken some awesome pics with the "trash" kit lens, in Manual Mode.

    Not everyone can afford a $1,600 lens...
  7. JFreak macrumors 68040


    Jul 11, 2003
    Tampere, Finland
    Get the 40D, it feels a lot better to you. Refurbs and 2nd hand are great deals.
  8. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    I'll throw in the recommendation to get a battery grip for either camera body. I have one on my XSi, and it makes the camera so much more comfortable and well-balanced. Most importantly, a grip makes shooting in vertical orientation more stable and more comfortable (you don't have to hike one elbow way up in the air; you can keep both elbows down and against your body). Oh yeah, and you can have the extra battery in there too, but since I get about 1,000 shots per charge on a single battery, that's hardly an issue.
  9. FX120 macrumors 65816


    May 18, 2007
    The biggest reason to get the 40D over the XSi is the vastly better viewfinder. Not only is it bigger, but it is brighter, clearer, and covers more of the frame.

    Other reasons to get the 40D are the dual control dials, top LCD, faster continous shooting (6.5FPS for 60+ JPG frames), better build, better menus, and tons of other things I am probably forgetting right now.
  10. GT41 macrumors regular

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I think the comfort of the camera in your hand is very important especially if you are going to be holding it for hours at a time. On that note I'm a big guy and absolutely love the XTi in my hand so its a personal preference thing. Its such a lovely small camera and yet it felt more comfortable than some of the bigger cameras out there (That said moving from a 1930's Kontax to a camera with a grip automatically made for nicer holding).

    I don't know why everyone suggests the 50mm for these crop bodies, especially if you are going to be doing candid photos inside. The 28mm 1.8 if a much better lens for that in my opinion, though costs 4x as much.
  11. steeveage macrumors member

    Sep 23, 2004
    Redwood City, CA
    I second the top LCD. I tried using my friend's T1i after I'd used my 40D for a while, and only at that point did I realize how indispensable the top LCD is -- you can make adjustments (especially in M mode) so much faster.
  12. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    Regarding image quality, this comparison may be of interest to you:

  13. SansCrainte macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2008
    Dalton, Oh
    I have the Xsi and I like it a lot. I kept looking at a 50D just for the size, but I recently got a battery grip for the Xsi. Makes the camera feel like a whole different camera in your hands. If you go with the Xsi or even the 40D I would still get a battery grip. Once you shoot with one you wont be able to go back in my opinion.

    I'll probably shoot the Xsi until I can make the big jump into the full sensor range.
  14. Macrimonious thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2008
    Thanks for all the responses, I really appreciate it.

    I'm now on the hunt for a used or refurb 40D.

    andorama has one for 700 bucks, body only. But that means I'm looking at a nice body and a 99 dollar piece of glass (50mm f/1.8) as my only option for a while, and that sounds really limiting.

    If anyone comes across a 40D with kit lens in that 700 ballpark, or wants to sell one, please let me know. Or, if anyone would like to chime in further, I would love to hear your experiences with these cameras.

    Thanks again!
  15. JFreak macrumors 68040


    Jul 11, 2003
    Tampere, Finland
    It is not that limiting you first think of. It has relatively wide aperture so you can learn lots of things and I bet you have more joy with good aperture than good focal length range (zoom).

    If your budget permits, I would however recommend Sigma 30mm or 50mm prime instead of the plasticky cheapo Canon. Those Sigmas are miles better glass, probably keepers for life, but they are also more expensive than 99 dollars.

    I have a Sigma 30mm and I love it.
  16. Ambrose Chapel macrumors 65816

    Ambrose Chapel

    Jul 24, 2002
    looks like you've made your choice already, but i'll just add a quick note -- last year I upgraded from an XT to a 40D and immediately I knew i made the right choice. every aspect to shooting felt improved with the 40D; the viewfinder, the dedicated controls, the wheel. it made the whole experience more enjoyable.

    as for your glass question - i got a lot of use out of the 50mm/1.8 when i used my XT, and got some really nice shots with it. i had purchased the rebel with the kit lens, and started shooting with it, but once i got the 50 i never used the kit lens again. as for the 50 being limiting, it won't be as much as you might think. and the lack of zoom will help you improve as a photographer. instead of standing still and zooming in and out, you'll have to move to frame your shot.

    my favorite lens now is the 35mm F/1.4L; on the 40D it basically functions as a normal lens, and the IQ is fantastic.

    good luck!
  17. dmmcintyre3 macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    I have too but my "kit" lens came from an old 35mm film rebel. Don't put down the option of a used XT. I have one and it is great.
  18. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    I personally love 50mm, and I have learned to deal with 80mm focal length (1.6x crop). If you need something wider, you can look at other prime lens, such as EF 35mm f/2.0. But all costs considerably more without offering as much bang for the buck (in terms of performance anyway). And you may decide adding a zoom lens down the road would be more useful.

    Another value option is EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (which is the kit lens on XSi), which has very good center performance and very good value for money.
  19. JFreak macrumors 68040


    Jul 11, 2003
    Tampere, Finland
    Congrats! It must feel very similar than my Sigma 30mm on my 40D -- though the image quality should be few steps up compared to the 3rd party lens...

    Should I have the money, I'd upgrade that Sigma to a Canon 24mm f/1.4L and I'm going to eventually buy a 16-35 mark1 that's for sure :)
  20. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    I'd just like to point out the DXOMark is full of crap. using those numbers to make an educated buying decision is simply stupid.

    if you can only have one lens, don't get the 50mm. Get an 18-55 IS used or something.
  21. romanaz macrumors regular


    Aug 24, 2008
    Ok so I'll chime in here seeing as I own both cameras in question and three of the lens mentioned here.

    IQ wise I can hardly tell the difference between my xsi and my 40d. The 40d is my main camera though for many reasons. Better autofocus, rear dial and feel. Lens aside I don't like the 18-55 all that much. It's slow and plasticky. I find it's only good at f8-11 range. The 28-135 is good throughout f3.5-16 or so. And the 50 1.8 is nice but so slow to focus in low light.

    Go for the 40d IMO
  22. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    Really? Why? Please elaborate. They supposedly do objective testing of RAW sensor data, which seems quite valuable information to inform any purchasing decision.
  23. Kebabselector macrumors 68030


    May 25, 2007
    Birmingham, UK
    The figures are probably valid, however just because a camera scores bad doesn't mean it can't produce good images.
  24. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    Of course not, but if you're trying to decide between two cameras, isn't it helpful to know their relative strengths and weaknesses?
  25. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    Well, I think even if there are such tests which try to be objective, the way that measured results are converted into scores are somewhat arbitrary. Especially if the difference is in the single-percent range -- variations in the production of the camera can account for that already.

    In any case, a few percent of difference in some abstract score says that under realistic conditions, you will not be able to tell pictures apart taken with either of the cameras. The most significant differences between the two cameras has already been mentioned: first and foremost, the viewfinder. This will have a lot more impact on the quality of the pictures than anything else. The second one is the user interface and built quality.

    However, even more important than either of that is glass. I'm surprised nobody has advised the OP to skip the kit lens and get a cheaper body with a better lens (e. g. Tamron's 17-50 mm f/2.8). If you put a cheap kit lens on a 40D, you will do nothing to use its potential.

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