Canon’s EOS 350D may have been the biggest-selling DSLR of all time, but that hasn’t prevented it from getting the chop. Well, ‘chop’ is a tad dramatic – it’s been retired and replaced by the 400D.
You can get the 400D in body-only form but, unless you’ve already got some Canon lenses, the camera and lens kit is better value, even though the 18-55mm zoom isn’t the world’s greatest piece of glass. You do get a good manual and Canon’s Digital Photo Pro application for processing RAW files though.
Unfortunately, you may be glad of it because the Canon’s JPEGs aren’t the best. Up close there’s a kind of ‘glassiness’ to ultra-fine detail, though you have to be a bit nerdy to look that hard. RAW shots come really sharp, though.
Canon’s long-running 18-55mm EF-S kit zoom gets a bit woolly towards the edge of the frame, but it’s OK at smaller apertures. The AF’s fast and quiet and the zoom has a sweet action.
It’s also got Canon’s unique A-DEP mode, which checks the distance of near and far objects and comes up with a focus distance and lens aperture that gets both sharp. Now that’s clever.
The 400D’s controls are excellent. Of all the DLSRs we’ve tested, this is the quickest for common adjustments like white balance and ISO.
The overall shape isn’t so good. The grip’s barely big enough for three fingers, though the controls are nicely-spaced. You just press the buttons and turn the dial on top of the handgrip.
The 400Ds controls are clearly labelled, quick to use and make the rest look clumsy as hell. Even pros will be impressed by its design.
It’s also got the classiest display, which shows the current shooting settings clearly and simply. A sensor under the viewfinder means that when you put the camera to your eye the LCD backlight goes off. Canon’s camera designers are smarter than the average.
What a card
Unlike cheapskate rivals, the EOS 400D sticks to CF memory cards. Good news if you’ve got a collection of them, though bad news if you’re upgrading from an SD-equipped compact.
The 400D isn’t the cheapest 10MP SLR you can get, but it’s not far off. It’s good value because it’s such a quick and efficient camera to use, and if you shoot RAW files it takes super-sharp shots.