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Canon 5D vs XSi

The Canon EOS 5D and the Canon EOS Rebel XSi (labelled Canon 450D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2005 and January 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (5D) and an APS-C (XSi) sensor. The 5D has a resolution of 12.7 megapixels, whereas the XSi provides 12.2 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 5D versus Canon XSi
Canon 5D Canon XSi
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
12.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor 12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 (50 - 3,200) ISO 100-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3.5 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
400 shots per battery charge500 shots per battery charge
152 x 113 x 75 mm, 895 g 129 x 98 x 62 mm, 524 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 5D and the Canon EOS Rebel XSi? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 5D and the Canon XSi. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 5D vs Canon XSi
Compare 5D versus XSi top
Comparison 5D or XSi rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon XSi is notably smaller (26 percent) than the Canon 5D. Moreover, the XSi is substantially lighter (41 percent) than the 5D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 5D is splash and dust resistant, while the XSi does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor (as in the 5D) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (XSi). You can compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 5D gets 400 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the XSi can take 500 images on a single charge of its LP-E5 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 5D 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299i
 
Canon XSi 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.5 oz 500 n Jan 2008 799i
 
Canon 6D Mark II 5.7 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i
 
Canon 5DS 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i
 
Canon 5DS R 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i
 
Canon 5D Mark III 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499i
 
Canon 6D 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Canon T4i 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.3 oz 440 n Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon T3 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 17.5 oz 700 n Feb 2011 449i
 
Canon T1i 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799i
 
Canon 5D Mark II 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499i
 
Canon 40D 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Canon XTi 5.0 in 3.3 in 2.6 in 19.6 oz 370 n Aug 2006 799i
 
Canon 1D Mark II N 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.2 oz 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999i
 
Canon 1Ds 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999i
 
Nikon D700 5.8 in 4.8 in 3.0 in 37.9 oz 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The XSi was launched at a markedly lower price (by 76 percent) than the 5D, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 5D features a full frame sensor and the Canon XSi an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the XSi is 62 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, the XSi uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 3) than the 5D (DIGIC 2), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon 5D and Canon XSi sensor measures

With 12.7MP, the 5D offers a slightly higher resolution than the XSi (12.2MP), but the 5D nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.25μm versus 5.19μm for the XSi) due to its larger sensor. However, the XSi is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 5 months) than the 5D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The Canon EOS 5D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 50-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS Rebel XSi are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

5D versus XSi MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the 5D has a notably higher overall DXO score than the XSi (overall score 10 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Canon 5D Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912none22.911.1136871
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
 
Canon 6D Mark II Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
 
Canon 5DS Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.712.4238187
 
Canon 5DS R Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.612.4230886
 
Canon 5D Mark III Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
 
Canon 6D Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
 
Canon T3 APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
 
Canon 5D Mark II Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
 
Canon 1D Mark II N APS-H 8.2 3504 2336none22.311.297566
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328none23.311.3148074
 
Canon 1Ds Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704none21.811.095463
 
Nikon D700 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2230380
The XSi offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The 5D lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 5D and the XSi are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the 5D offers a wider field of view (96%) than the one in the XSi (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the 5D has a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.54x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 5D and Canon XSi along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Canon 5Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
 
Canon XSioptical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
 
Canon 6D Mark IIoptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.5 n n
 
Canon 5DSoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Canon 5DS Roptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 n n
 
Canon 6Doptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 n n
 
Canon T4ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon T3optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon T1ioptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
 
Canon 5D Mark IIoptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 3.9 n n
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
 
Canon XTioptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon 1D Mark II Noptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 8.5 n n
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIoptical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
 
Canon 1Dsoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
 
Nikon D700optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n

One feature that is present on the 5D, but is missing on the XSi is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The 5D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the XSi uses SDHC cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 5D and Canon EOS Rebel XSi and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Canon 5DY-----2.0---
 
Canon XSiY----mini2.0---
 
Canon 6D Mark IIYstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Canon 5DSYmonomonoY-mini3.0---
 
Canon 5DS RYmonomonoY-mini3.0---
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Canon 6DYmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Canon T4iYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon T3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon T1iYmonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 5D Mark IIYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
 
Canon XTiY-----2.0---
 
Canon 1D Mark II NY-----1.1---
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIY-----2.0---
 
Canon 1DsY-----FW---
 
Nikon D700Y----mini2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 5D (unlike the XSi) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 5D and the XSi have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark II, while the XSi was followed by the Canon T1i. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 5D better than the Canon XSi or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 5D:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1 stops ISO advantage).
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (96% vs 95%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.54x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2005).


Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel XSi:

  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 3 vs DIGIC 2).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (129x98mm vs 152x113mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 371g or 41 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (500 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (76 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 5 months of technical progress since the 5D launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (9 points each). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

5D 09:09 XSi

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 5D and the Canon XSi place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 5D and the XSi in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 5D88/100+ +oo.. Aug 2005 3,299i
 
Canon XSi+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
 
Canon 6D Mark II+80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i
 
Canon 5DS+83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i
 
Canon 5DS R+83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i
 
Canon 5D Mark III+ +82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499i
 
Canon 6D+ +83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Canon T4i+ +77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon T380/10069/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
 
Canon T1i+ +74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
 
Canon 5D Mark II91/10079/1004/55/5.. Sep 2008 3,499i
 
Canon 40D+ ++ +4.5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Canon XTi+ ++ +o4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799i
 
Canon 1D Mark II N.......... Aug 2005 3,999i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II..+ +...... Sep 2004 7,999i
 
Canon 1Ds..+ +...... Sep 2002 8,999i
 
Nikon D70089/100+ +4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon 5D:
Check Ebay offers
Canon XSi:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

~

    Specifications: Canon 5D vs Canon XSi

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 5D Canon XSi
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2005 January 2008
    Launch Price USD 3,299 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Canon 5D Canon XSi
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 22.2 x 14.8 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 328.56 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 26.7 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.6x
    Sensor Resolution 12.7 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4368 x 2912 pixels 4272 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 8.25 μm 5.19 μm
    Pixel Density 1.47 MP/cm2 3.70 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 3,200 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DIGIC 2 DIGIC 3
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 71 61
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.9 21.9
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.1 10.8
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1368 692
    Screen Specs Canon 5D Canon XSi
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.71x 0.54x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 5D Canon XSi
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3.5 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 5D Canon XSi
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 5D Canon XSi
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type BP-511A LP-E5
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge500 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 113 x 75 mm
    (6.0 x 4.4 x 3.0 in)
    129 x 98 x 62 mm
    (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
    Camera Weight 895 g (31.6 oz) 524 g (18.5 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

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