Can the Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T21 in the US) beginner-to-amateur level DSLR match up to the hype? Our Canon EOS 550D review finds out more about the Canon 550D...
Canon EOS 550D features
Stepping up from 15 to 18MP puts the Canon EOS 550D resolutely above its Nikon rival, the Nikon D5000, which sits at 12.3MP. Much of the chasing pack fail to even come close to this impressive resolution, with the 14.2MP Sony Alpha a450 and a550 being of a few to get close. The Canon 550D’s DIGIC 4 processor is carried over from the previous Canon EOS 500D, as is the nine-point AF focus system, but the metering system has taken an impressive jump from a 35 to a 63-zone iFCL system, similar to the one used in the Canon
EOS 7D. The ISO range remains unchanged, although now the Auto setting does make up to 6400 available instead of needing to be accessed manually.
The burst mode sits at 3.7fps, which is relatively impressive for the price range, although the large file sizes produced by the 18M
P CMOS chip reduces the burst capacity to either 34 maximum resolution JPEGs or six Raw files. One of the most significant features on the Canon 550D’s spec list concerns the movie mode.
The top 1080p HD movie
resolution now has the choice of
30, 25 and 24fps capture so the frame rate of traditional camcorders and cine cameras can be replicated, as well as a hi-speed rate for the lower 720p mode to capture faster-moving action, at either 60 or 50fps. This means the overall motion should be smoother than the EOS 500D’s 20fps, giving the likes of fast action a more natural appearance when being recorded. Having a mic port means a more f
ocused manner of recording sound can be used via a 3.5mm jack and is connected via the hotshoe. See videos taken by people who own a Canon EOS 550D on our Canon 550D user videos page.
The AF system will only focus on a button press rather than constantly when filming, so it’s far better to rely on the manual focus. Full manual control is also available within the movie mode, as is the ability to lock exposure to prevent unwanted changes.
The 3in, 1040k-
pixel screen is superbly detailed in both live view and basic menu mode, and the viewing angle of 160 degrees matters little in real-world usage, in spite of being marginally narrower than its rivals. The alternative to th
e screen is the 9
5% approximate coverage viewfinder complete with light sensor to ensure the LCD isn’t active when not being used.
The Creative Auto mode on the Canon 550D allows the likes of depth of field and exposure to be changed using sliding scales via the rear display, and benefits hugely from being based in a primarily visual manner as it gives those unfamiliar with depth of field and exposure an easily understandable system. Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, and 3 User Defined Picture Styles are also available, accessible via the interactive display on the rear screen.