|Canon EOS 400D digital SLR - Picture Styles
A key improvement over the camera's predecessor, the EOS 350D, is the use of Picture Styles, which we recognise from other Canon models, such as the 30D. Whilst replacing the old parameters, the Picture Styles take things to the next level. It is now significantly easier to select the correct settings for certain scenes. This includes, among other things, the setting of colour saturation, contrast and sharpening. Although the differences may be subtle, they certainly are noticeable. A black-and-white mode is also present, and even allows you to work with colour filters, just as with analogue black-and-white photography. Canon refer to the Picture Styles as the equivalent of picking film, and to a certain degree it really is. To make more users aware of the Picture Styles, the Set button will now be the standard button to set the Picture Styles. You also have the option to create your own Picture Style, or download one from the Internet. If working in RAW, the supplied Digital Photo Professional software allows you to adjust the Picture Styles afterwards. It certainly pays off to experiment a little, so that you can give the photos your own, personal touch!
Canon EOS 400D DSLR camera - Light metering
The light metering offers a choice between three modes: multi-segment metering, partial metering and an average metering that emphasises the centre. A genuine spot metering option is thus not available, which is likely to be a loss for the more experienced photographer in particular. The partial metering covers approximately 10% of the image to decide the metering, which is a significantly larger area than spot metering, which generally uses only 1 or 2% at most. However, the multi-segment metering is likely to suffice in most cases. There were only very few images in which the multi-segment metering gave the wrong result. Even when working with back lighting, the Canon EOS 400D produced an excellent result. Although it did show a fair share of aperture spots, this was mainly due to the lens and the absence of a lens hood.
Canon EOS 400D reflex camera - Programme modes
To achieve a proper exposure, the Canon EOS 400D offers an abundance of programme modes. Firstly, we have the well-known pictogram modes, which include portraits, moving subjects and scenery. The programme modes do much more than merely alter the aperture and shutter speed; the image styles will also be adjusted. Other familiar features are the automatic programme mode (P), shutter speed priority (Tv), aperture priority (Av), and manual setting (M). The difference between P and the green, fully automatic mode is that P offers greater control via the menu. A feature that is unique to Canon is the A-Dep, an often underappreciated mode we recognize from the analogue EOS era. It allows you to quickly capture an image with the correct depth of field. Simply select a point in the foreground and one in the background, and the Canon 400D will rapidly decide the appropriate aperture and distance. It is a truly easy way to work with the hyper focal distance.
Canon EOS 400D digital SLR - White balance settings
The white balance settings are very extensive. In addition to the pre-programmed and the automatic white balance, the Canon 400D offers a manual white balance and a white balance correction. Each colour can be adjusted at nine levels. One could say this replaces the colour filters we know from analogue photography. The advantage of this solution through software is that you will not encounter a loss of light from using a filter, as well as the fact that the optical quality of the lens will remain untouched. However, this does require a certain level of expertise, and I wonder how many prospective users will actually want, and be able, to use this option. Working with this function in JPEG in particular calls for a bit of caution, as a mistake cannot easily be fixed.
|If desired, you may opt for a white balance correction with bracketing. This will provide you with several steps with correction, whereupon you can simply filter out the best one. This bracketing option is not available in RAW, but that should not present a problem. After all, Digital Photo Professional (DPP) offers you more than enough possibilities to correct. I must say I found the automatic white balance somewhat disappointing in certain light situations (especially when working with fluorescent light). Although it did not cause any problems in normal situations, it often proved a little too warm (orange/red) when dealing with fluorescent light. The manual white balance offers an excellent solution, and eliminates any form of unwanted colour cast.
Canon 400D digital reflex - AE-lock button
The clear, comprehensible menu enables you to set eleven personal functions. Here we find the functions that are generally not often altered, such as flash on the first or second curtain, setting the exposure levels in 1/2 or 1/3 step, and the function of the shutter and AE-lock button. The Canon EOS 400D DSLR camera allows you to set it in a way that enables focussing through the AE lock button instead of through the shutter release button. The exposure lock is then assigned to the shutter release button. This proves very useful when capturing moving subjects; you can simply keep the shutter release button pressed half-way down, without changing the focus. A valuable tool in situations where speed and movement are a main issue; such as during a press conference or when capturing situations in the street. Unfortunately, it is not possible to save the settings to an internal memory bank. As you have different settings for fast moving subjects and regular photography, a memory bank would have allowed swift switching. For now, however, the Canon EOS 400D requires you to dig for the things you want to adjust.
Canon EOS 400D DSLR camera - Dust Delete Data
We have already named the various ways the camera offers to battle dust. The most extraordinary has to be the Dust Delete Data system that can be attached to a photo. This requires a shot of an entirely white subject (grey doesn't really work). The focal point has to be more than 50mm, and the focus must be set to infinity. The menu enables you to select the Dust Delete Data, whereupon the image sensor is cleaned and the image can be captured. The camera automatically sets the aperture to f/22. Should the image fail, a warning will be displayed. If the image is successful, it has to be said it is not stored to the card, the data will be included with every photo. DPP will then filter out the data, which results in a dust-free image. It is tricky to test whether or not this is as effective as it should be in practice, only time will tell. We are at least confident that this innovative solution will be an important contribution in the battle against dust.
Canon EOS 400D SLR camera - ISO sensitivity
The sensitivity of the Canon EOS 400D ranges up to and including ISO 1600. Despite the increased amount of pixels on the image sensor, Canon manage to produce excellent results. The Canon 400D performs superbly when it comes to digital noise. Up to and including 400 ISO, the images show virtually no signs of noise. It isn't until you reach 800 ISO that a certain amount of noise becomes visible, but it has to be said this mainly occurs with images that have not been properly exposed. When working with 1600 ISO, noise clearly has an important part in the image, but it does stay within limits. An A3 size print can still easily be made. Personally, we find the sharpening a little on the high side, which means noise will be slightly more prominent than usual.