Best Buy
  • Price: 553

  • Company: Canon

  • Pros: Small, light and fast handling, the new bargain-priced, entry-level EOS 350D provides class-leading resolution that will appeal to a broad spectrum of users.

  • Cons: Some idiosyncratic menu operation, as well as a small 1.8-inch monitor, do little to spoil the overall effect.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

It’s a fact, not all professional photographers use professional-level cameras. Often there’s sound commercial reasoning behind the choice: why risk an expensive digital SLR when one costing much less will do the job?

And so it is with the new Canon EOS 350D. As an update to their hugely successful EOS 300D, the new model will bring great angst to rival manufacturers. Canon upped the resolution from 6.3mp to 8mp, aping their semi-pro EOS 20D and pro EOS-1D MK II, and the new model outpaces the old with 3fps continuous shooting for up to 14 shots.

Although all three models use different CMOS sensors, the 350D also benefits from the expanded capacity of the new DIGIC II processor permitting a significant increase over the somewhat disappointing four-frame maximum and 2.5fps rate of the 300D. The flash system has been upgraded using the new distance-based E-TTL II technology.

Nevertheless, the 350D mustn’t be thought of as an upgrade – it’s a significant redesign. While the body and layout mimics the 300D it’s actually 25-per cent smaller by volume and at just 485g it’s 75g lighter. It isn’t the smallest digital SLR – that’s the Pentax *ist DS – but it is the lightest.

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<b>Built to last</b>
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Build quality is good and is a notch or two above the 300D. The titanium-coloured plastic panels have been replaced by a discrete matte-finish black poly-carbonate outer. Oddly, it marks easily but the scuffing can be wiped off. Otherwise, the choice of materials and components is good, only the shooting dial up on the top plate seems a little tacky.
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Much of the original body excess has been trimmed, but it’s especially noticed around the hand-grip. Canon’s massive BP-511 Lithium-ion pack has been replaced with the much smaller NB-2LH cell, which accounts for the reduction in body size, without compromising battery-life. 
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Like its predecessor the 350D sports a cheaper pentamirror instead of the conventional but heavier glass penta-prism, and there’s still a tiny 1.8-inch TFT monitor. Still neither of these points seriously detract and the viewfinder is now brighter than that of the 300D.
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Unlike the Pentax *ist DS and forthcoming Nikon D50, the new Canon hasn’t strayed from the choice of CompactFlash media, and although no memory is supplied, the adoption of CF Type II slot brings with it compatibility for hard-disk based Microdrive too. 
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