Thursday, January 10, 2019

An even Rebel-er Rebel...

When Canon introduced an inexpensive version of their EOS (Electro-Optical System) autofocus, auto-wind, auto-everything SLR cameras in North America back in 1990, they branded it the "Rebel" line. These are the ones that are marketed to Joe and Jane Consumer as a step up from point & shoot cameras.

Wonders are promised if you will just step up to the SLR, with pictures of mom snapping beautiful pics of dance recitals and dad catching dramatic shots of birthday candles being blown out. (Of course these are both super tricky lighting situations, and the slow zoom lens that ships with the Rebel kits is wholly incapable of achieving these results.)

In the early digital era came the first digital Rebel, notable for being the first DSLR with a price tag under a grand.

The Rebel had several cost-saving features, some more obvious than others, when compared to the contemporary semipro EOS 10D, which stickered for twice the dough. The body was plastic rather than magnesium, the LCD readout on the top was deleted, and the viewfinder used a pentamirror rather than a pentaprism.

Since then, the constant race between Canon and Nikon to get people into mass-market DSLRs has resulted in ever-increasing ways to de-content entry level models and drive the price through the floor.

The current bargain basement offering from Canon, sold as the 4000D overseas and referred to as the Rebel T100 in North America (where it's not officially available yet, so if you get one, it's gray market), takes the previous bargain-grade Rebel, and finds novel ways to cut production costs even further. The color LCD display on the back is shrunk from a 3" 640x480 to a 2.7" 320x240 unit, which is lower resolution than my Series 1 Apple Watch. The separate on-off switch is eliminated in favor of "OFF" just being another position on the mode dial.

The Near Field Connectivity that is common on current Canon DSLRs is also deleted, and a cost-cutting feature from the days of the old film Rebels makes its return: A plastic lens mount. It also uses an upgraded version of the old DIGIC 4 image processor, which was state of the art a decade ago, but hasn't been used in more expensive Canons for six or seven years.

One cost-saving measure I found interesting is the markings on the back of the camera. The more expensive 2000D has each button stenciled with its function, while on the 4000D, the buttons are all black and the back of the camera is stenciled in one pass.