According to Canon, its new EOS 300D is the most important consumer single lens reflex (SLR) camera since its AE-1 helped trigger the SLR revolution in 1976. It was the world's first camera with an embedded microcomputer, says Canon, and the company believes the EOS 300D will have a similar impact through steering the SLR market irrevocably to digital.
The EOS 300D looks very much like a "proper" 35mm camera and uses interchangeable lenses. Being used to Canon's EOS 50E, I found adjusting to the 300D very easy and, having drained the battery many a time by forgetting to turn the camera off, I greatly appreciated the new onoff switch on the 300D.
The menu system is straightforward and easy to use. There are a wide range of exposure modes to cover a variety of situations and abilities. Beginners can start with the picture-based modes that cover settings for landscapes, portraits, night portraits and sport, while most advanced users will opt for the manual, aperture priority, shutter priority and program shift modes.
On a slightly technical note, the 300D uses a CMOS imaging sensor - the same as Canon's EOS 10D which is nearly pound;450 more expensive. This allows the user to capture a high-quality image up to 3072 x 2048 pixels in size, which can be saved in jpeg or RAW format.
The detail in pictures taken of surfers near the harbour entrance in Aberystwyth was stunning. These were taken using different settings, such as sport. Other portrait pictures taken inside were equally of high quality. Those pictures not of such quality could easily be touched up using the included Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 software.
The quality of the printed images, using an Epson Stylus Photo 1290, was as good as any developed in standard film-based labs. With images as large as those generated by the 300D, A4 printouts of an image become common practice and an A3 printout is more than acceptable - a boon for many schools that generate their own posters. Canon EOS 300D Digital single-lens reflex camera Price: pound;999 (body only pound;899) Tel: 0870 727 2100 www.canon.simply.co.uk
Fitness for purpose ***** Ease of use ***** Features **** Quality **** Value for money ****