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
I like the Canon EOS 550D, and although £750 is by no means a small amount of money, it does seem to buy a lot of technology. Importantly, the EOS 550D also delivers excellent image quality making it a good choice for enthusiasts looking for a sub-£1,000 camera and novices who want a little more headroom along with the satisfaction of owning the very latest equipment.
Those who are concerned that the EOS 550D only has nine AF points rather than the 19 of the EOS 7D should remind themselves that a nine-point AF system has served enthusiast photographers very well in cameras such as the EOS 40D and EOS 50D, so there is no reason why it shouldn’t continue to do so.
Although I like the EOS 550D’s build and its stocky little shape, like the rest of Canon’s entry-level cameras its control layout is much better suited to right-eyed shooters than left-eye users. The larger form, combined with the mini-joystick control, of Canon’s enthusiast cameras, is easier to use when holding the camera up to the left eye. Therefore, I suggest that unless the prospective left-eyed buyer is looking specifically for a small DSLR, they wait for Canon to refresh the cameras that sit between the EOS 550D and EOS 7D. The time would seem ripe to replace one or both of the EOS 40D and EOS 50D.
Canon EOS 550D – Key Features
These two sensors detect when the camera is held to the eye and automatically turn off the LCD screen to prevent the photographer being dazzled.
Live View/Movie button
In stills mode, pressing this button activates the Live View so that images may be composed on the LCD screen. However, when the mode dial is rotated to the Movie option, pressing it starts video recording.
This is used to connect the camera to an HD TV via the optional HDMI HTC-100 cable (RRP £61.41).
The look of JPEG files may be adjusted by selecting the picture style via this button. The styles may also be edited for a personal look via the menu.
Digital Photo Professional
As well as supporting the EOS 550D, the latest version (308) of Digital Photo Professional (DPP) allows images to be rotated and automatically cropped to correct sloping horizons. It’s a useful feature that takes the software one step closer to be all the raw shooter needs.
Canon introduced the new LP-E8 Lithium-Ion battery for the EOS 550D to meet Japan’s Electrical Appliance and Material Safety Law, which came into effect in November 2008. This law limits the voltage of each cell to 2.5volts though the overall battery voltage is 7.2V.
Although the EOS 550D’S 3in LCD has a higher pixel count (1,040,000 dots or 346,666 pixels) than the EOS 7D, the gap between the cover and the crystals is not filled with optical plastic.
Lens correction data
Canon supplies the EOS 550D with peripheral illumination correction data for around 25 lenses installed. Data for additional lenses may be downloaded and installed via the supplied EOS Utility software.