Canon EOS 550D

  • Features:
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Price as Reviewed:


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

White balance and colour

Canon’s white balance system is one of the best around, but that doesn’t mean it is advisable to set the EOS 550D to its automatic white balance setting and forget about it. There are many occasions when the automatic system delivers satisfactory results, but it doesn’t completely remove the colour cast from a scene, and while this retains some of the atmosphere it may not always be what you want. In some more ‘non-standard’ lighting conditions using the auto white balance option results in images that are a little too far from neutral.

On the whole, Canon appears to have calibrated the camera towards producing warm images – which is not surprising, as many people prefer a warmer, cheering image. When shooting inside a church on a bright sunny day, my images taken using the EOS 550D’s automatic white balance system are a bit too warm and the best results were produced with the camera set to its daylight setting. When shooting in late afternoon light that was filtering through cream blinds, I found it is best to set a custom white balance value.

Setting the custom white balance is easy provided you know that the option to select the calibration image is located in the main menu and not in the white balance submenu along with the preset values. I am sure many first-time users would find it more easily if it could be accessed from the white balance short-cut button or the Quick Menu. The usual Canon picture style options of Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful and Monochrome are provided for EOS 550D users to determine the overall look of their images.

Control is provided over the sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone of colour images, and the sharpness, contrast, filter effect and toning effect of monochrome shots. In many instances the Standard mode produces print-ready results, and although they are sometimes a little oversaturated, when I adjust the more subdued results from using the Neutral or Faithful options I often find they end up being quite close to the Standard mode images. However, these adjustments are easy to make and files do at least give some scope to manoeuvre.

Image: While the Faithful picture style has produced a muted image, the Landscape setting has made the blue of the water go a little over the top. I prefer the Standard picture style image

  • External mic: Yes
  • Video: 1920x1080pixels (at 30fps, 25fps or 24fps), 1280x720pixels (at 60fps or 50fps), 640x480 pixels (at 60fps or 50fps), MOV files with MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression
  • Dioptre Adjustment: -3.0 to +1 dioptre, 19mm eye point
  • White Balance: Auto, 6 presets, plus custom setting
  • Built-in Flash: Yes – GN 13m @ ISO 100
  • Shutter Type: Electronically controlled focal-plane shutter
  • Memory Card: SD, SDHC or SDXC
  • Viewfinder Type: Penta mirror
  • Output Size: 5184x3456 pixels
  • LCD: 3in LCD with 1,040,000 dots
  • Field of View: Approx 95%
  • AF Points: 9 (with centre-cross sensor) individually selectable points, auto or manual selection possible
  • White Balance Bracket: Yes over 3 images
  • Sensor: 18-million-effective-pixel CMOS sensor
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/200sec
  • Focal Length Mag: 1.6x
  • Exposure Modes: Auto, program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, 6 scene modes and Creative Auto
  • Weight: 530g without battery or card/s
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion LP-E8 battery
  • File Format: Raw, JPEG, raw + JPEG simultaneously
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/4000sec in 1⁄3EV steps plus bulb
  • Drive Mode: 3.7fps for 34 large/fine JPEG files or 6 raw images
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Dimensions: 128.8x97.5x75.3mm
  • Metering System: 63-zone evaluative metering (linked to any AF point), centreweighted, partial (9%) and spot (4%)
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
  • Compression: Two-stage JPEG
  • Exposure Comp: ±5EV in 1⁄3EV or 1/2EV steps
  • RRP: £799.99 body only
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF-S (compatible with EF)
  • Focusing Modes: Manual, single-shot AF, automatic AF, continuous AF
  • ISO: 100-12,800
  • DoF Preview: Yes
  • Tested as: Entry-level DSLR

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