Note: This review appears in the Digital SLRs Group Test in PC Authority Magazine. For the full feature, read the December issue of PC Authority.
The 450D is the latest in the line of EOS models that kick-started the affordable DSLR revolution, with the 300D back in 2003. At the time, the 300D was the cheapest DSLR, but its successor is now very much in the middle ground, price-wise.
Basic specifications are among the best, starting with a CMOS sensor sporting 12.2 megapixels – second only to the Sony A350’s 14.2 megapixels. Burst rate is 3.5fps, making it the joint-best – along with the Olympus E-420 – if you want to shoot live action. Note, though, that its maximum RAW buffer depth is only six shots, after which it will slow down while the buffer flushes to SD card. In JPEG mode that isn’t a problem, with at least 50 shots on offer before you experience any slow-down.
The 450D is the first in the range to include spot metering, rather than the “partial” metering mode of its forebears.
When it comes to reviewing your shots you’ll find a 3in screen on the back of the 450D’s body. It’s also a boon when it comes to the live-view mode. With onscreen live-view magnification of 5x or 10x, fine focusing is easy. But it lacks the superb hinging screen of the Sony A350, and can’t use the super-fast “native” focus and metering sensors like the Sony can, either. That makes live-view far more sluggish than using the viewfinder.
There’s no in-body image stabilisation, but as with the EOS 1000D, Canon partially compensates with the 18-55mm kit lens. It isn’t as sharp as Nikon’s, though, and appears marginally more prone to chromatic aberrations.
Where the 450D excels is as a platform for more expensive lenses, either from Canon itself or third parties such as Sigma and Tamron. The reason for that is the superb CMOS sensor, which delivers better high-ISO results and the best rendition of detail of any camera this month.
Where once Canon dominated the scene, it’s no longer nearly so clear-cut. There’s no way the 450D can win on value compared with the Sony A200. But for the best quality below $1500 the 450D has the edge, and that means it walks away with an award.