The back of the camera body is dominated by the large monitor screen, which has a diagonal size of three inches and 230,000-dot resolution. It is a particularly nice screen, with a wide angle of view and good contrast. This is fortunate, because of course the EOS 450D's main party trick is its live monitor view feature. This is not a new innovation, having been seen on several Olympus DSLRs many months before the launch of the 450D. Canon has clearly seen it as the new "must have" feature, and implemented it on its new camera. However I get the feeling it has been somewhat rushed, because it really is rather crude, especially when compared to the much more sophisticated live view system on Sony's Alpha A350.
Live view is activated by pressing the Set button in the centre of the D-pad, which flips the reflex mirror up and activates the image sensor, providing a through-the-lens view on the monitor screen. Unfortunately this means that the main autofocus sensors, which are mounted in the viewfinder light-path cannot be used. To compensate for this the 450D has a secondary contrast-detection AF system, but it is very slow and not terribly reliable, especially in low light. This unfortunately means that shooting in Live View mode is really not practical unless the focus is fixed, such as shooting in a studio with the camera on a tripod.
The 450D also features an integrated sensor cleaning system, which employs anti-static materials and a vibrating filter layer to shake off dust particles. All the major DSLR manufacturers have similar systems, and Canon's appears to work as well as any of the others. I noticed no problems with sensor contamination while I was testing the camera.
Unlike Sony, Pentax and Olympus, Canon doesn't use body-integral image stabilisation, instead using optical stabilisation built into most of its lenses. It can be argued that this makes the lenses heavier and more expensive, but there's no denying that it is a very effective system. The standard kit for the 450D includes an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens. I found that with some care I was able to take shake-free hand-held shots at some very low shutter speeds, even as low as 1/8th of a second.