Review: The Canon Digital Rebel XSi/450D Companion

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There are a lot of guide books on the market for different camera models. I personally find these books to be just glorified versions of the manual that comes with the camera. Unless you’re really new to photography and can’t distinguish between a shutter and function button, you’re really just wasting your money with these books. Enter The Canon Digital Rebel XSi/450D Companion.

O’Reilly sent us this book for a possible review and I was hesitant to start reading it for the reasons stated above but I was pleasantly surprised when I did. The book is written by Ben Long who has authored several photography books such as Real World Aperture and the Apple Pro Training Series. He currently maintains a blog over at completedigitalphotography.


1.    Getting to Know the Rebel XSi

The book opens with the basics of camera operation, from taking a photo to reviewing your images. The author also adds some basics of composition such as filling the frame and how to lead to your subject.

2.    Anatomy of the Rebel XSi

This chapter gives a lot of in-depth information regarding all the parts of the Rebel XSi. Beginners might find the section on how to properly hold a camera and the different lenses that you can use. The chapter closes with some basics of camera care like lens and sensor cleaning.

3.    Playing Back Images

I just quickly skimmed through this chapter. It discusses, well, how to view your images.

4.    Image Transfer

There is a lot of information here that a beginner can find useful. Not only does it go through all the options you have in moving your photos from your camera to your computer, it also gives a nice introduction to media card care and organizing your photos.

5. Photography 101

Here you will learn the fundamentals of exposure and how ISO, shutter speed and aperture interact with each other. The author also gives a brief overview on what happens when you play around with the different shutter speeds and aperture settings.

6. Program Mode

Here, the author then goes back to camera operation and functions. You’ll find information regarding focus modes, white balance, drive modes and image stabilization.

7. Advanced Exposure

This is the part of the book that it starts to become more of a beginner photography book. Ben Long discusses how a DSLR’s light meter works and how to expose your subject properly using exposure compensation. He then tackles the subject of histograms and how to interpret them. I was surprised to find that there are only four pages dedicated to aperture/shutter priority and manual shooting.

8. Finding and Composing a Photo

Here you’ll find some seeing exercises to learn how to see photographically. You’ll also find some tips on how to recognize a potential photo and how to work your subject. The author also goes into how the camera position and focal length will affect the final outcome of your photo.

9. Specialty Shooting

The chapter opens with a discussion on Live View. It then moves to the subject of panoramas from how to capture the different frames and how to stitch it together. It ends with a short discussion on low-light shooting and the different approaches you can use from pumping up your ISO to using flash.

10. Flash Shooting

A big part of this chapter talks about how to control light and how to effectively use the Rebel XSi’s pop-up flash. There is minimal information on how to use the camera with an external flash.

11. Raw Shooting

This is great chapter for beginners to really start learning about shooting in Raw. The author gives the pros and cons of shooting in Raw and how to process these images after capture.

12. Customizing the XSi

This, again, is one of the chapters I quickly skimmed through. Mostly because I don’t own an XSi. It basically talks about customizing the different menus on the Rebel XSi. There are some interesting information near the end on how to choose and evaluate a camera lens.

At first glance, the book looks like any other specific-camera-model-guide-book out there but then you realize that it’s almost three times thicker than the rest. This was what compelled me to start reading it. I read the book in a day and I found that not only does give very detailed information on camera function for the EOS Rebel XSi/450D but it also offers easy to read information on the basics of photography. If you’re new to photography and have a Rebel XSi then I would recommend this book. You’re actually going to be getting two books for the price of one.

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