On August 24, Canon announced a new version of its always-stellar Digital Rebel SLR, the Rebel XTi. In a lot of ways, it looks great: 10-megapixel resolution, 2.5-inch LCD, and a supersonic vibrating image sensor to shake off picture-ruining dust particles. (Plus an algorithm to remove artifacts from dust blobs that don't shake off.) These are all great, and they certainly make the new Rebel better than its predecessor. But not that much better.
Ten megapixels is simply overkill. It's just more data to hog up hard drives. The 8-megapixel Rebel XT is already a stellar camera. According to pro photog Mark Rutherford:
The EOS Rebel has identical image quality to the 20/30D. Which is virtually identical to the $30K medium-format backs up to letter size or more. Rebel truly is the outstanding value on the market.
So why not just snap up a current XT at the significant discount that will likely be coming from stores once the XTi is out?
The counterargument to that would be: Why settle for good technology, when you can get the very best? Well, if you are looking for the absolute cutting edge, remember this: New Rebels tend to come out in late summer, followed by semipro models in Canon's XXD line (20D, 30D) in the late fall or Winter.
The next model (40D?) is obviously going to have all the features of the new Rebel, plus at least one extra killer feature. What could that be? I don't know -- even under NDA. But here's a theory: Canon's DigicII processor -- the superfast brains of it camera -- is getting old. And the competition has recently been revving up its processors. (Sony put a new processor in the Alpha A100 SLR. And Panasonic just introduced a whole line of cameras with its new Venus Engine 3 chip.)
And Canon's photo processing, though pretty good, could use an upgrade. Shooting speed is great, and pixel noise is very minor. But color is still funky (to warm) -- especially with automatic white balance. And the on-screen menus are a usability disaster.
Is a DigicIII slated for a theoretical-but-almost-guaranteed 40D release late this year or early next? I suggest waiting to see.