Canon's EOS 550D offers a more affordable alternative to the top-of-the-range APS-C-format EOS 7D, but can it compete against the slightly more mature Nikon D90? We find out in our test: Canon EOS 550D vs Nikon D90

Canon EOS 550D vs Nikon D90 at a glance

Canon EOS 550D:  Nikon D90:
18 million effective pixels  12.3 million effective pixels
 APS-C-sized CMOS sensor  APS-C-sized CMOS sensor
 1080p (1920×1080 pixels) video at 25fps or 24fps  720p (1280×720 pixels) video recording at 24fps
 3in, 1.04-million-dot LCD screen  3in, 920,000-dot LCD screen
 Street price £736 (body only)  Street price £622 (body only)

Canon EOS 550D vs Nikon D90

Canon’s EOS 550D offers a more affordable alternative to the top-of-the-range APS-C-format EOS 7D, but can it compete against the slightly more mature Nikon D90? We find out.

At its launch in August 2008, the Nikon D90 caused quite a stir because it was the first DSLR to feature video-recording technology. More important for many stills enthusiasts, however, was the fact that it also had much of the same technology as the very successful full-frame D3 and APS-C-format D300 at a more affordable price.

Today, the ability to record HD video with a DSLR is fast becoming commonplace, and several cameras, including the Canon EOS 550D, offer higher resolution video recording.

In addition, Nikon’s assertion that 12 million pixels is enough in a DSLR, provided that noise is well controlled and the images are of a high-enough quality, is starting to look a little out of step with the offerings from other manufacturers. Canon, for example, has been bold enough to push the effective pixel count of two of its APS-C-format cameras, the EOS 7D and EOS 550D, to 18 million, and both have a sensitivity range that can be expanded from its native ISO 6400 maximum sensitivity setting to ISO 12,800.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that the Nikon D90, which is billed as an enthusiast-level camera, now costs around £100 less than the EOS 550D, which sits at the top of Canon’s entry-level DSLR range. However, a good camera is, of course, more than just a sum of numbers, so in this test I’ll compare these two models to find out which is the best option for an enthusiast photographer on a budget.

  1. 1. Canon EOS 550D vs Nikon D90 at a glance
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Build and handling
  4. 4. Resolution, noise and sensitivity
  5. 5. White balance and colour
  6. 6. Page 6
  7. 7. Viewfinder, LCD and Live View
  8. 8. Dynamic range
  9. 9. Autofocus
  10. 10. Verdict
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