Canon EOS 450D review

£510
Price when reviewed

Canon’s budget DSLR range, starting with the Canon EOS 300D, has been Canon’s best-selling DSLR since its launch back in 2004. At the time, it had no competition at the price point, but things have moved on significantly since then.

The new model sports 12.2 megapixels to the old Canon EOS 400D’s 10.1, but that’s actually one of the least interesting changes. There are several new features that will have far more impact in everyday use.

First is the imposing 3in LCD monitor. Hold a 450D next to an old EOS 350D with its 1.8in screen and the difference is huge. The size of the screen is important when it comes to the second new feature, the Live View mode.

This lets you operate the 450D like a compact camera, using the monitor to frame and focus shots rather than the optical viewfinder. Thanks to the screen size, focusing manually is fairly easy, and the ability to digitally zoom in at 5x and 10x assists further.

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As well as making the transition easier for compact owners, Live View takes some of the hit and miss out of awkward over-the-head shots, too. It will even have its uses in standard shots: in Live View you can use the four-way selector buttons to move a target box to the exact area you want to focus on and expose for.

The 450D marks the abandonment of Compact Flash – it now accepts only SD card memory. This leaves room in the body for a larger battery with almost double the capacity of the 400D’s and it makes up for increased power consumption using Live View – a weekend’s worth of shooting didn’t trouble the camera at all.

Last on the list of major new features is the standard kit lens. It still has an 18-55mm zoom range, and it still feels lightweight and a little on the under-built side, but crucially it now comes with optical image stabilisation. That gives around two stops of leeway and mitigates the relatively slow f/3.5 maximum aperture, allowing for practical indoor shots without flash in moderate light.

Beyond the headline stuff, Canon has made some genuine improvements to the 450D’s features. Our favourite is the addition of a spot-metering mode, which has always been artificially absent from the range. On top of that, look through the viewfinder and you can now see the ISO sensitivity setting as well as aperture and shutter-speed information, which should eradicate a major cause of accidentally less-than-perfect shots.

The physical design continues to evolve, with a slightly more curvy body and – when you press the shutter release – a more muted shutter sound. It’s a little faster, too, with a burst rate of 3.5fps over the 3fps of the previous models – enough to make a noticeable difference to action shooting.

The only disappointment is that while the JPEG buffer depth gives you at least 25 shots in burst mode, the increased pixel count means you’ll still only get five frames if you shoot RAW rather than JPEG.

That’s a shame, since there’s now even more reason to shoot in RAW, with the sensor’s analogue-to-digital converters producing 14-bit output to give 16,384 levels per channel. That’s four times higher than the 4,096 levels of the previous 12-bit system.

The bigger screen has led to a re-arrangement of the controls, with the loss of the space down the left-hand side of the rear. But an ISO button has appeared on the top plate in front of the mode selector – a great addition now ISO information is shown in the viewfinder.

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