The Canon EOS 350D is a speedy performer. It offers a lot of creative control and boasts an 8-megapixel CMOS sensor and Canon's Digic II processing engine. It has a smaller, lighter body than its predecessor, the EOS 300D; it's nearly as small as you can get in a digital SLR. While this might appeal to the small handed and nimble, the EOS 350D's compressed, lightweight, and slightly chintzy frame will be a hindrance to others who prefer a solid grip and a balanced camera body -- particularly if they're using a lens any heavier than the mediocre 18mm-to-55mm f/3.5-to-f/5.6 unit included in the kit.
In terms of image quality, the EOS 350D is a bargain, delivering wonderfully detailed and colourful images for a competitive price. While the EOS 350D lacks some features found on the more solid and slightly pricier Nikon D70, the EOS 350D is the clear winner when it comes to resolution and dynamic range.
The matte black all-plastic Canon EOS 350D is extremely lightweight for an SLR. Without a lens, it weighs only about 482g. The only dSLR that's more compact is Pentax's *ist DS.
While the camera's size and weight make it wonderfully portable for travel, we found it a little uncomfortable for prolonged use. The hard plastic and only slightly textured grip aren't ergonomically designed for average-size hands, and the limited space makes it too easy to accidentally press buttons. That's particularly true of the autoexposure-lock button on the upper right-hand side of the camera back, which sits where your thumb needs to be to keep the camera balanced. These quirks become much more noticeable when you're using a Canon EF-mount lens other than the very lightweight zoom included in the kit.
Most of the controls are well laid out. There isn't enough space on top of the camera to display camera status, but a status readout appears above the rear LCD monitor. The power switch is secure and out of the way alongside the top command dial, which is logically labelled with standard exposure abbreviations and six scene-mode icons (although one of those 'scenes' is Flash Off, the only flash adjustment you can make without menu surfing). On the back, there's a pad of four-way directional buttons designed to enable quick adjustments of ISO, autofocus, white balance, and metering mode. While you must make these adjustments within the LCD menu system, pushing the buttons brings you directly to them. The control dial located on top of the grip primarily changes aperture, shutter speed, and when used in tandem with a button on the back, exposure compensation.