Canon 500D review (EOS Rebel T1i in the US) - the DSLR bringing Full HD video to the masses; the What Digital Camera test of the Canon 500D DSLR reveals all...

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Canon EOS 500D

Overall score:90%
Image Quality:90%


  • High resolution LCD screen, HD Video, ISO range, compact build


  • AF motor noise in Movie mode, no update to AF, current high price


Canon EOS 500D Review


Price as reviewed:


Image Quality & Value For Money

Canon EOS 500D review – Image quality

Canon EOS 500D review – Raw & JPEG

The Canon EOS 500D offers both Raw and Jpeg files which share the same softness to them from the default settings – but once processed the results are crisp. The advantage of the Raw file really comes through for processing, as you can fine-tune your sharpening and other adjustments at full 12-bit resolution before converting.

Canon EOS 500D review – Tone & Exposure

The Canon 500D’s images appear very natural in tone and colour in standard mode – though there are options to boost the contrast in camera using one of the picture style modes, or fine-tuning. Exposure is generally very good, however it does err on the side of caution to protect shadows and highlights, even with the Auto lighting optimizer set to Normal. This however, is better than losing detail and it takes just a quick tweak in software to fine tune. In more contrasting light conditions it does have a tendency to overexpose slightly, and is therefore best to stop down by up to one stop before shooting.

Canon EOS 500D review – Noise

Noise starts to become evident at 800 ISO but retains its integrity up to 1600 ISO. Beyond this, levels increase more rapidly and at the highest 12800 ISO setting the image shows some serious signs of break up.

As Canon has suggested by offering a standard ISO range of 100-3200, and the others as an expansion, these higher settings (6400 and 12800) are to be treated as a compromise. For when raising to that level of ISO is the only way to get the picture. Though this may seem a little harsh when most of the 500D’s adversaries struggle beyond 1600 ISO.

ISO 100

Canon EOS 500D review – Sharpness and Detail

The Canon 500D has a 15.1 megapixel sensor which certainly delivers on account of pixels – but it also lives up to expectations in terms of detail. On close inspection the images have exceptional levels of detail, and holding up to scrutiny even at 200%. Images have been left with very little in terms of sharpening however, which means they can appear slightly soft straight from the camera. This treatment does mean that it can withstand greater adjustment in processing, and ‘straight-to-print’ users can adjust sharpening setting in camera if needed.

Canon EOS 500D review – ISO

The Canon EOS 500D generally provides impressive results on the noise front, though at 6400 and 12,800 ISO deterioration occurs – particularly in shadow areas where the detail is notably lacking. However, the results compare well to equivalent models and offer much the same performance as the new full frame Canon EOS 5D MkII.

Canon EOS 500D review – Value For Money

This year’s stable of price increases continues to confuse any comparison on value for money between new and older models. While the manufacturers’ recommendation for retail prices to rise, in most cases the prices on the high street have not. This means a greater gap between SRPs and street prices, and therefore an anomaly in the price of a new camera as, at least initially, it will sell for close to the retail price.

For this reason the new Canon EOS 500D seems expensive against current street prices – you can buy the superior EOS 50D for £45 less, or the Nikon D90 at a fraction of the price, if you want the movie options. But based on SRPs it sits neatly at £100 cheaper than the EOS 40D, and £200 dearer than the EOS 450D.

Over the next couple of months these street prices should start to even out but the real question comes from another new camera, offering a competitive specification. The new Nikon 5000D is set to be £150 cheaper and when we test it we’ll see how the Canon 500D fairs against it. For now however, this is a great camera for the money – especially for those looking to upgrade an older Canon body, and use the movie functions.

  1. 1. Canon EOS 500D review - Features
  2. 2. Design & Performance
  3. 3. Image Quality & Value For Money
  4. 4. Verdict
  5. 5. Canon 500D manual
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