Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi Roadmap

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It's time for you to get to know your Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi up close. Unfortunately, there are so many buttons and dials and knobs on this camera that many new owners—especially those coming to the XTi from point-and-shoot models—find the array of controls bewildering. What you really need is a roadmap, showing you where everything is and how it's used.

Unfortunately, the diagrams provided in the XTi's manual have more resemblance to a world globe than a roadmap: everything is there in great detail, but you almost have to know exactly what you're looking for to find it. You're supplied with two main black-and-white outline drawings that cover the front, back, two sides, and top and bottom of the camera in a single pair of views, adorned with several dozen labels per illustration. The print and drawings are so small and cramped that you might have some difficulty sorting out individual features. The only good thing about the manual's global view is that each label is supplemented with one to five page cross-references, so you can flip back and forth through the pages to retrieve the information you really wanted to know. Several of the third-party books aren't much better, featuring black-and-white photos of front, back, and top views, and lots of labels.

I'm out to atone for those deficiencies. In this chapter, I'm going to provide a street-level roadmap, rather than a satellite view, using several different views and lots of explanation, so that by the time you finish this chapter, you'll have a basic understanding of every control, and what it does. I'm not going into menu functions here—you'll find a discussion of your setup, shooting, and playback menu options in Chapter 3. Everything here is devoted to the button pusher and dial twirler in you.

The Canon Digital Rebel XTi's Public Face

The front of the XTi (see Figure 2.1) is the face seen by your victims as you snap away. For the photographer, though, the front is the surface your fingers curl around as you hold the camera, and there are really only three buttons to press, all within easy reach of the fingers of your left hand, plus the shutter button and Main Dial, which are on the top/front of the handgrip. Additional controls are on the lens itself. You'll need to look at several different views to see everything.

Figure 2.2 shows a three-quarters view of the left side of the Digital Rebel XTi (when viewed from the front). You can see the flash hot shoe on top and the door for the Compact Flash card at the left edge. The other components you need to know about are as follows:

■ Shutter button. Angled on top of the handgrip is the shutter button. Press this button down halfway to lock exposure and focus (in One Shot Mode and AI Focus with non-moving subjects).

■ Main Dial. This dial is used to change shooting settings. When settings are available in pairs (such as shutter speed/aperture), this dial will be used alone to make settings such as shutter speed, or used with other buttons to make additional settings such as f/stop.

■ Red-Eye Reduction/Self-Timer lamp. When activated, this LED provides a blip of light shortly before a flash exposure to cause the subjects' pupils to close down, reducing the effect of red-eye reflections off their retinas. When using the self-timer, this lamp also flashes to mark the countdown until the photo is taken.

■ Infrared sensor. This sensor activates the remote control features of the camera when a signal from an infrared remote control is received.

■ Handgrip. This provides a comfortable handhold and also contains the XTi's battery.

Eos Digitalrebel Remote Control
Figure 2.1
Canon Eos 400 Digital

Compact Flash Infrared

Door Handgrip Sensor

Compact Flash Infrared

Door Handgrip Sensor

You'll find more controls on the other side of the XTi, shown in Figure 2.3. You can see the rubber cover on the side that protects the camera's USB, TV, and remote control ports. The main buttons shown include:

■ Flash button. This button releases the built-in flash so that it can flip up (see Figure 2.4) and starts the charging process.

Flash button Lens switch

Flash button Lens switch

Canon Eos Rebel Xti
Figure 2.3

Lens release

Depth-of-field preview

Canon Rebel Xti Camera Settings
Figure 2.4 Pressing the Flash button pops up the built-in flash unit and starts the charging process.

■ Lens release. Press and hold this button to unlock the lens so you can rotate the lens to remove it from the camera.

■ Depth-of-field preview. This button adjacent to the lens mount stops down the lens to the taking aperture so you can see in the viewfinder how much of the image is in focus. The view grows dimmer as the aperture is reduced. It also displays exposure status information in the viewfinder.

■ Lens switches. Canon autofocus lenses have a switch to allow changing between automatic focus and manual focus and, in the case of IS lenses, another switch to turn image stabilization on and off.

The main feature on this side of the Digital Rebel XTi is a rubber cover (see Figure

2.5) that protects the three connector ports underneath from dust and moisture.

The three connectors, shown in Figure 2.6, are as follows:

■ USB port. Plug in the USB cable furnished with your Digital Rebel XTi, and connect the other end to a USB port in your computer to transfer photos.

■ Video port. You can link this connector with a television to view your photos on a large screen.

■ Remote control terminal. You can plug various Canon remote release switches, timers, and wireless controllers into this connector.

Figure 2.5
Cannon Rebel Xti Camera Settings

The Canon Digital Rebel XTi's Business End

The back panel of the Digital Rebel XTi (see Figure 2.7) bristles with more than a dozen different controls, buttons, and knobs. That might seem like a lot of controls to learn, but you'll find that it's a lot easier to press a dedicated button and spin a dial than to jump to a menu every time you want to change a setting.

You can see the controls clustered on the left side of the XTi in Figure 2.8. The key buttons and their functions are as follows:

■ Viewfinder. This is your window to the through-the-lens view of your image. The rubber eyecup blocks extraneous light from entering when your eye is pressed up against the viewfinder. It can be removed and replaced by the cap attached to your neckstrap when you use the camera on a tripod to ensure that light coming from the back of the camera doesn't venture inside and possibly affect the exposure reading. Figure 2.7

Figure 2.8

■ Print/share button. Press to select images for print orders.

■ Display off sensor. Senses when the camera is brought to your eye, and turns off the LCD display to save power. You can disable this feature in Setup Menu 1, as described in Chapter 3.

■ Menu button. Summons/exits the menu displayed on the rear LCD of the XTi. When you're working with submenus, this button also serves to exit a submenu and return to the main menu.

■ Display Info button. When pressed repeatedly, it changes the amount of picture information displayed on the LCD; from no information, brief information, and detailed information (including histograms).

■ Jump button. Skips a specified number of images among the shots you've already taken; choose from 10 images, 100 images, or jump by date. After the Jump button is pressed, press the left/right cross keys to jump forward or back. To change the jump method, press the Jump button, and then press the up/down cross keys until the desired jump method is displayed.

■ Playback button. Display the last picture taken. Thereafter, you can move back and forth among the available images by pressing the left and right cross keys. To quit playback, press this button again. The XTi also exits playback mode automatically when you press the shutter button (so you'll never be prevented from taking a picture on the spur of the moment because you happened to be viewing an image).

■ Erase button. Press to erase the image shown on the LCD. A menu will pop up with Cancel, Erase, and All choices. Use the left/right cross keys to select one of the three actions, and then press the Set button to activate your choice. If you want to erase an image other than the one displayed, use the left/right cross keys to scroll to the image to be removed, and then press the Erase button.

■ LCD display. Shows a review image of pictures you've taken; displays menus for changing camera settings; and shows current shooting status information, such as shutter speed, f/stop, and focus mode.

More buttons reside on the right side of the back panel, as shown in Figure 2.9.

The key controls and their functions are as follows:

■ Diopter adjustment knob. Rotate this knob to adjust the diopter correction for your eyesight.

■ AE/FE (auto exposure/flash exposure) lock/Thumbnail/Zoom Out button. This button has several functions.

In shooting mode, it locks the exposure or flash exposure that the camera sets when you partially depress the shutter button. The exposure lock indication (*) appears in the viewfinder. If you want to recalculate exposure with the shutter button still partially depressed, press the * button again. The exposure will be unlocked when you release the shutter button or take the picture. To retain the exposure lock for subsequent photos, keep the * button pressed while shooting.

When using flash, pressing the * button fires a preflash that allows the unit to calculate and lock exposure prior to taking the picture.

In playback mode, press this button to switch from single-image display to nine-image thumbnail index. Move among the thumbnails with the left/right cross keys. When an image is zoomed in, press this button to zoom out.

Aperture/Exposure Compensation button

Drive button

Compact Flash access lamp

Aperture/Exposure Compensation button

Drive button

Compact Flash access lamp

Canon Rebel Xti Ports

Figure 2.9

AE-Lock/FE-Lock/ Index/Reduce button

AF Point Selection/ Enlarge button

Cross keys/ Directional control


Set autofocus mode

Set button Set white balance

Figure 2.9

AE-Lock/FE-Lock/ Index/Reduce button

AF Point Selection/ Enlarge button

Cross keys/ Directional control


Set autofocus mode

Set button Set white balance

■ Aperture/Exposure Compensation button. Tap the shutter release to turn on exposure information in the viewfinder. In Manual mode, press this button and turn the Main Dial to adjust the aperture. (To set the aperture in Av mode, just turn the Main Dial without holding down any button.) In P, Tv, Av, or A-DEP modes, hold this button and turn the Main Dial to add or subtract from the metered exposure.

■ Drive button. Press repeatedly until single shot, continuous, self-timer/remote control icons appear in the LCD.

■ Cross keys. Use the up/down/left/right cross keys to navigate on the color LCD screen. Each has a second function, too: up (ISO), down (White Balance), left (Metering mode), right (Autofocus mode).

■ AF Point Selection/Zoom In button. In shooting mode, this button activates autofocus point selection. (See Chapter 4 for information on setting autofocus/exposure point selection.) In playback mode, this button zooms in on the image that's displayed or the highlighted thumbnail index image.

■ Compact Flash Access lamp. When lit or blinking, this lamp indicates that the Compact Flash card is being accessed.

■ Set button. Selects a highlighted setting or menu option.

Going Topside

The top surface of the Canon Digital Rebel XTi is fairly sparsely populated by controls. The key controls and components, shown in Figure 2.10, are as follows:

■ Mode Dial. Rotate this dial to switch among Basic Zone and Creative Zone modes. You'll find these modes described in more detail in Chapter 4.

■ Sensor focal plane. Precision macro and scientific photography sometimes require knowing exactly where the focal plane of the sensor is. The symbol on the top left side of the camera marks that plane.

Canon Rebel Xti Camera Settings

■ Hot shoe. Slide an electronic flash into this mount when you need a more powerful speedlight. A dedicated flash unit, like those from Canon, can use the multiple contact points shown to communicate exposure, zoom setting, white balance information, and other data between the flash and the camera. There's more on using electronic flash in Chapter 7.

■ Main Dial. This dial is used to select many shooting settings.

■ Shutter-release button. Partially depress this button to lock in exposure and focus. Press all the way to take the picture. Tapping the shutter release when the camera has turned off the auto exposure and autofocus mechanisms reactivates both. When a review image is displayed on the back-panel color LCD, tapping this button removes the image from the display and reactivates the auto exposure and autofocus mechanisms.

LCD Panel Readouts

The back panel of the Digital Rebel XTi (see Figure 2.11) contains a color LCD readout that not only shows your pictures for review, and displays menus as you change settings, it provides a constant update of your current shooting settings when the metering system is active. This display turns off after a specified number of seconds (I'll show you how to do the specifying in Chapter 3), or, if you have the automatic display off feature activated, vanishes when the sensor under the viewfinder detects that you have brought the XTi to your eye. All of the information segments available are shown in Figure 2.12. I've color-coded the display

Iso Aperture Shutter Speed
Figure 2.11

Shooting mode

White Exposure Shutter balance level Metering setting indicator Aperture Mode

Shooting mode

Figure 2.12

AF mode

Drive mode

Cara Setting Burst Mode


Shots remaining/ Shots remaining during white balance bracketing/ Self-timer countdown

Custom function

AF point selection

Figure 2.12

Automatic Exposure Bracketing

Flash exposure compensation

AF mode

Drive mode

Monochrome mode reduction

Shots remaining/ Shots remaining during white balance bracketing/ Self-timer countdown

Custom function

AF point selection to make it easier to differentiate them; the information does not appear in color on the actual Digital Rebel XTi. Many of the information items are mutually exclusive (that is, in the White Balance area at left center shows AWB (automatic white balance), but if another setting is used that readout will be replaced by a different icon or text message). Some of the items on the status LCD also appear in the viewfinder, such as the shutter speed and aperture (pictured at top in blue in the figure), and the exposure level (in yellow just below the shutter speed/aperture).

Lens Components

The typical lens, like the one shown in Figures 2.13 and 2.14, has seven or eight common features:

■ Filter thread. Lenses have a thread on the front for attaching filters and other add-ons. Some also use this thread for attaching a lens hood (you screw on the filter first, and then attach the hood to the screw thread on the front of the filter).

■ Lens hood bayonet. This is used to mount the lens hood for lenses that don't use screw-mount hoods (the majority).

Reset Stabilized Oscillator

■ Zoom ring. Turn this ring to change the zoom setting.

■ Zoom scale. These markings on the lens show the current focal length selected.

■ Focus ring. This is the ring you turn to manually focus the lens.

■ Distance scale. This is a readout that rotates in unison with the lens's focus mechanism to show the distance at which the lens has been focused. It's a useful indicator for double-checking autofocus, and for roughly setting manual focus or depth-of-field.

■ Autofocus/Manual switch. Allows you to change from automatic focus to manual focus.

■ Image stabilization switch (not shown). Lenses with IS include a separate switch for adjusting the stabilization feature.

Canon Digital Rebel Xti 400
Figure 2.14

Looking Inside the Viewfinder

Much of the important shooting status information is shown inside the viewfinder of the Digital Rebel XTi. As with the status LCD above, not all of this information will be shown at any one time. Figure 2.15 shows what you can expect to see.

Autoexposure lock/ Flash

Automatic exposure exposure Spot meter Autofocus bracketing in progress compensation circle Points

Canon Meter

Figure 2.15

Focus confirmation

Flash ready/ Hi-speed FP flash sync./ Improper FE lock Flash exposure lock/ warning Flash exposure r in process

Maximum burst available

Flash ready/ Hi-speed FP flash sync./ Improper FE lock Flash exposure lock/ warning Flash exposure r in process

Other messages: ISO Speed/ Flash Exposure Lock/ Busy/CF card full/ CF card error/ No CF card

Maximum burst available

Figure 2.15

Shutter speed t Aperture f Exposure level indicator/ EV amount/

Flash exposure compensation/ AAutomatic exposure bracketing range/

Red-eye reduction lamp on

Focus confirmation

Tap the shutter release to turn on the information in the viewfinder. These readouts include:

■ Autofocus zones. Shows the nine areas used by the XTi to focus. The camera can select the appropriate focus zone for you, or you can manually select one or all of the zones, as described in Chapter 4.

■ Auto exposure lock. Shows that exposure has been locked. This icon also appears when an automatic exposure bracketing sequence is in process.

■ Flash ready indicator. This icon appears when the flash is fully charged. It also shows when the flash exposure lock has been applied for an inappropriate exposure value.

■ Flash status indicator. Appears along with the flash ready indicator: the H is shown when high-speed (focal plane) flash sync is being used. The * appears when flash exposure lock or a flash exposure bracketing sequence is underway.

■ Flash exposure compensation. Appears when flash EV changes have been made.

■ Shutter speed/aperture readouts. Most of the time, these readouts show the current shutter speed and aperture. This pair can also warn you of Compact Flash card conditions (full, error, or missing), ISO speed, flash exposure lock, and a buSY indicator when the camera is busy doing other things (including flash recycling).

■ Exposure level indicator. This scale shows the current exposure level, with the bottom indicator centered when the exposure is correct as metered. The indicator may also move to the left or right to indicate underexposure or overexposure (respectively). The scale is also used to show the amount of EV and flash EV adjustments, the number of stops covered by the current automatic exposure bracketing range, and is used as a red-eye reduction lamp indicator.

White balance correction. Shows that white balance has been tweaked.

■ Maximum burst available. Changes to a number to indicate the number of frames that can be taken in continuous mode using the current settings.

■ Focus confirmation. This green dot appears when the subject covered by the active autofocus zone is in sharp focus.

Underneath Your Digital Rebel XTi

There's not a lot going on with the bottom panel of your Digital Rebel XTi. You'll find a tripod socket, which is also used to secure the optional battery grip. To mount the grip, slide the battery door latch to open the door, and then push down on the small pin that projects from the hinge. That will let you remove the battery door. Then slide the grip into the battery cavity, aligning the pin on the grip with the small hole on the other side of the tripod socket. Tighten the grip's tripod socket screw to lock the grip onto the bottom of your XTi. Figure 2.16 shows the underside view of the camera.

Canon Rebel Xti Camera Settings

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  • Pupa
    What does the knob on top of canon rebel xti do?
    1 year ago

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