Pros Long exposure noise reduction (great for night photography), beautiful RAW, 14-bit A/D processing, very portable, SDHC is cheap, built-in USB 2.0 is actually pretty fast.
Cons hand grip isn't quite bit enough, hunts for focus in low light, 6 continuous bursts in RAW doesn't seem like a lot
Summary I spent a TON of time evaluating all the SLRs in my budget. I just took a film photography class and discovered I loved photography, but I couldn't decide which camera I wanted. I have a lot of friends who went with the Nikon D80, and when I picked up both of them at the store, my hand liked the D80 more than the XSi. However, when I got to the operation of the camera, the XSi made a lot more sense. The operations on the D80 seemed overly-complicated and besides that, it just felt old, considering the XSi was just released. I have to say, I'm loving the XSi, but it wasn't long before I got bored of the kit lens (18-55 EF-S IS). Now, I'm shooting with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 MkI, from the 80s (I think), very nice piece of glass, similar to what I was using for my film camera. I encourage everybody who buys an XSi to buy a 50mm. They're relatively cheap and the optical quality is WAY better than the kit lens.
If you're not going to use the creative modes, you might as well buy another camera. I find that if I put it in Auto mode, it actually feels like a different camera. In the creative modes, it feels nearly identical to shooting on film without all the developing time and chemicals. Almost feels too easy. After doing some night shots with film, I wanted to do some night shooting. Initially, I was disgusted at the noise with long exposures, but turning on the "Long Exposure Noise Reduction" function yields incredible results. A 5-second exposure at ISO 100 looks quite controlled, even for the pixel-picky. I didn't know about that function when I bought it, but I'm so glad it's there.
Shooting in RAW, Adobe RGB, 50mm f/1.8, and processing with Aperture on my Mac (running Leopard) is almost heavenly. Using a new iMac, MacBook Pro, or Mac Pro is the ideal system for the photographer. I thought I would be bummed that there are no FireWire SDHC card readers currently available, but the camera's built-in USB 2.0 is actually not as bad as I feared it would be. It feels really fast.
Here's how I made my decision: The D80: too old and big. The D60: doesn't have a mechanical focus coupling or something like that. If I recall, all the current NIKKOR prime lenses (the ones I would want the most) require focus couplings, if you don't have one, those lenses won't auto-focus (that's a deal-breaker for me).
The XSi is a terrific camera for me. It leaves me lots of room to grow as a photographer without overwhelming me with features and operations I don't need.
Pros Picture Quality
Cons None that I found
Summary Compared to the Rebel XT and XTi, this new XSi with the new 18-55 IS kit lens is superior in every way. The focusing is faster and more accurate. The exposure is right on. I found the spot metering to work well too. Wish the spot area was smaller to be more accurate, but for this price range it is acceptable. The camera has many customizable features that can make your pictures sharper. I am having fun experimenting its many advanced features, and my pictures are superior to the previous models. The new 55-18 IS lens is a fantastic bargain as a kit lens. Grab it, it takes unbelievable sharp pictures. I took a hand-held picture of my dog at 1/8 of a second, and I couldn't believe how sharp it came out. The len's IS feature works great, give you about 3 F stops cushion. I am very impressed with this new camera kit. I highly recommend it for both advanced shutter bugs as well as beginners.
"wonderful dSLR"on by gizabird
Pros Small Size, good ergonomics, simple interface, ability to grow with the camera, great kit lens, clear and large LCD, lightweight
Cons Small viewfinder. lacks 2 dedicated wheels/buttons for aperture/shutterspeed. plastic body
Summary I am very satisfied with my purchase of the XSi. First off, if you are looking for a dSLR, you can read all all the reviews in the world, but what you should focus on first and foremost is how the camera feels in your hand. So, set your budget first, get to a camera store and pick up all of the cameras in your price range and play with them for a while. Once you pick a few that you like, then read the reviews on cnet, etc.
This camera is great for my small hands, and my husband (who had larger hands) states he likes the feel of it. I love the small size and weight. I can carry it around all day without a problem. The kit lens is actually a great lens optically (especially based on the price). The menus are simple the buttons easy to press and change function settings.
HOWEVER*** if you are buying a dSLR (ANY dSLR) solely because you think it will make you take pictures better than your point and shoot camera, you might be disappointed with this or any dSLR. You really do have to be willing to learn how to shoot in manual mode, adjust shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc. You can likely take pictures that are on par with cameras costing several thousands of dollars with this camera, but you have to put in the time to learn photography. A lot of my friends are disappointed with all of their fancy new expensive dSLRs because they only use "program" or "auto" mode. Just some food for thought.
But back to the XSi. I love the camera. Not too much noise at high ISOs, a great dSLR without breaking the bank.
Pros Great Pictures, Great features, and I love the Live View
Cons The kit lens is just OK. Get the body only, and then buy the 17-85m IS lens.
Summary This is my third SLR (xi, Nikon d60 and this xsi) and this is by far the best camera I have ever purchased. The kit lens is ok, but you're going to want one with a little more zoom and clarity almost immediately. That said, you're only paying an extra 100 for it, so I guess it's kinda worth it.
Pros Self cleaning sensor. 3 in display. Good menu layout.
Cons Not as comfortable as my old nikon. Live view is weak.
Summary The xsi, being my 3rd dSLR, is a nice camera with many features. I find that the color reproduction in my pictures are more to my liking than with my old D70(personal preference). I love the larger 3 inch LCD display. 12MP is probably over kill unless you do a lot of cropping or extremely large prints. If you have big hands the camera will probably be a bit uncomfortable to hold, as I have smaller hands and I find it could use a tad bit more on the height. The menu layout is good and easy to navigate. Pictures are written to memory quickly(using Extreme III). The live view is about worthless, to me anyways. Its slow and the auto focus doesn't responded well. The kit lens will be fine if you are a novice or just like to point and shoot. Although this does have improvements over the xti, you'll have to decide if it's worth the extra $$ for the few extra features. The xti can be had for much less and you can get a nice lens with the $$ you save. If you are an hobbiest or experienced photographer I would definitely consider the 40D for not much more.