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Canon EOS 550D DSLR Review

By on August 5, 2010
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Possibly the best entry level camera in the market right now

Editor's Score

Features:
Performance:
Value:
The Verdict:
You get what you pay for and honestly you get a lot of it

Launched in February 2010, The Canon EOS 550D (also known as the Rebel T2i) enters the market with a bang making it a revolutionary upgrade to the almost one year old Canon EOS 500D (also known as the Rebel T1i).

Initially dubbed as the baby 7D, the Canon EOS 550D is a huge step up from the 500D with its new features that seem to have been borrowed from the 7D while being packaged into a smaller body. Starting off, the most obvious changes on the EOS 550D are the higher resolution sensor, unrestricted HD video mode, a wider LCD display and improved metering system.

The table below lists more of the changes Canon has made.

Camera EOS 500D EOS 550D
Sensor 15.1 million effective pixels 18.7 million effective pixels
Image processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 4
Image sizes 4752 x 3168
3456 x 2304
2353 x 1568
5184 x 3456
3456 x 2304
2592 x 1728
ISO range ISO 100 to 3200, expandable to 6400 and 12800 ISO 100 to 6400, expandable to 12800
LCD display 3.0 ” TFT LCD, 4:3 aspect ratio, 920,000 dots 3.0 ” TFT LCD, 3:2 aspect ratio, 1,040,000 dots
Video mode 1080p @ 20fps
720p @ 30fps
VGA @ 30fps
MOV (Video: H.264, Sound: Linear PCM)
1080p @ 30, 25 or 24fps
720p @ 50/60fps
VGA @ 50/60fps
MOV (Video: H.264, Sound: Linear PCM)
High-speed continuous 3.4 fps
170 JPEG/Fine frames
9 RAW frames
3.7 fps
34 JPEG/Fine frames
6 RAW frames
Connections USB 2.0
Video output
HDMI Type C
USB 2.0
Video output
HDMI Type C
Stereo Microphone

Package

The Canon EOS 550D, like its predecessor is available in two kits- one that is a body only option while the other one available is packaged with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS lens. You’ll also find a LP-E8 lithium-ion battery, LC-E8E battery charger, body cap, shoulder strap, USB cable, video cable, printed camera manual and two CDs containing the Canon EOS Digital Solution software and documentations.

Canon does not provide a memory card with the camera so you’re going to have to buy one unless a local retailer gives one as a freebie with the camera. With the camera’s capabilities of taking 18MP images that translate into huge file sizes, it would be recommended to buy a 4GB or a higher capacity memory card. The camera uses SD, SDHC or SDXC memory cards and Canon recommends Class 6 card for HD movie recording.

The camera body

The 550D like the 500D is Canon’s entry-level camera which means it is made up of a stainless steel frame and a polycarbonate shell making it feel lightweight and a little delicate. It’s also quite small and the grip will seem inadequate for people with bigger hands so I recommended you to try the camera out before buying it just to get a feel of it’s size. The camera looks well put together and the built quality seems perfect.

With the launch of various mirror-less cameras, the Canon EOS 550D isn’t the smallest or lightest camera though it still holds its ground well with other ‘real’ DSLRs. Irrespective of everything; it is effortless to carry around and perfect for people who don’t want the bulk of a heavy professional camera.

The following are some of the specific physical features of this camera:

  • The camera supports both the EF and EF-S lens and has a crop factor of 1.6x which basically means it’ll give you a field of view of almost 29mm if you mount an 18mm lens.
  • The electronically released pop up flash has a guide number of 13 meters at ISO 100 with field of view coverage of up to 17mm. It also doubles as an AF assist lamp.
  • The camera’s microphone records sound in mono can be found on the front above the EOS label.
  • Unlike several older DSLRs, the LCD can be used to compose shots through the Live view option just like a point and shoot camera though it isn’t as quick at locking focus.

You have three auto focus options in live view:

  • Live: This uses the contrast detect AF which is quite slow. It takes the camera a few seconds to lock focus.
  • Live with face detection: Same as the Live AF mode but with the ability to detect a face. Unlike the face detection of a point & shoot, this system isn’t accurate as it detected a face even in scenes that did not have a person in it.
  • Quick: In this mode, to focus, the camera flips the mirror down, uses the cameras AF points to lock focus, flips the mirror back up and returns to Live view. A faster way to focus if you don’t mind the short period of blackout and the sound the flipping mirror makes.
  • In Live view, you can zoom in by 5x to 10x that allows you to make sure your subject is perfectly in focus especially when focusing manually.
  • A dedicated live view button can be found on the right side of the viewfinder though the button is a bit small.
  • A quick control button found on the right side of the screen enables you to change camera settings with the 4 way controller.
  • The buttons on the rear of the camera are now larger and square instead of being round.
  • Unlike the 500D, live view is available in all the shooting modes.
  • The external microphone port found on the right side of the camera is a welcome addition and compliments the cameras video capabilities.
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