Given its ‘baby EOS 7D’ credentials, the 18-million-pixel, video-enabled Canon EOS 550D could be the perfect choice for the enthusiast on a budget. We put it to the test
LCD, viewfinder, live view and video
One of the attractive features of the EOS 7D is its 100% field of view viewfinder, which has 1x magnification. The upper entry-level EOS 550D has a slightly less well-specified viewfinder offering 95% coverage with 0.87x magnification. Many enthusiasts will be familiar with the repercussions of a sub-100% viewfinder and will keep an eye out for objects that may stray into the edges of the final image.
While it isn’t the largest viewfinder, the EOS 550D’s finder is clear enough to allow manual focusing with a high degree of confidence. Helpfully, the LCD screen has the same 3:2 aspect ratio as the images captured by the camera and the class-leading resolution of 1,040,000 dots means that there’s plenty of detail visible.
When shooting indoors, the screen provides a clear view of the scene being composed, and the 5x and 10x magnified views make it easy to position the point of manual focus precisely. However, when shooting outdoors in fairly bright light, I found that reflections on the monitor made it difficult to focus manually in Live View mode without using a shade over the screen.
The EOS 550D can record Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) video with full manual control. While this may not be high on the list of priorities for many enthusiast photographers, I suspect that the high quality of the footage recorded by the EOS 550D will make users grateful they have it. An external microphone socket also allows sound to be recorded without the interference of hand movements, and so on.
Image: As I shot this crocus outside, the LCD screen had lots of reflections over it and I had to use the viewfinder to compose this image with critical focus and shallow depth of field