Back in July, we saw the Canon EOS 600D DSLR camera, which offered some pretty amazing performances. The 600D is based on the EOS 550D, which launched at the start of last year. Though the 550D is a bit old, it still continues to sell in the market. Today, we will take a look and see how this fares as compared to the EOS 600D and though old, if it still warrants a purchase.
Comes along with an 18 - 55mm lens
Like its successor - the EOS 600D, the Canon EOS 550D features an 18.0 Megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor. Images can be captured at a native resolution of 5184 x 3456 pixels. This is fairly sufficient for printing the said images captured through it on large format papers. This DSLR features a 3-inch screen, which flushes along the rear of the camera. This is the only noticeable difference between the EOS 550D and the newer EOS 600D. The EOS 600D had a vari-angle flip out screen with the same dimensions i.e. 3-inch. The 3-inch LCD display features approximately 1,040,000 dots, making images appear pretty crisp and clear onscreen.
The EOS 550D uses a DIGIC 4 imaging processor. This is the same processor that is found on the EOS 600D, EOS 500D and a range of Canon PowerShot cameras. By using this processor in their cameras, one can expect faster image processing and improved noise reduction, while clicking images in high ISO sensitivities.The EOS 550D has an increased ISO sensitivity, as compared to the 500D, but remains the same as the EOS 600D at ISO 6400. As with the EOS 600D, we found that scrolling through the different ISO sensitivities was a bit annoying as we could not merely press the down navigational button to quickly reach higher ISO sensitivities.
Easy to use interface
The interface of the DSLR is extremely easy-to-use and one can navigate through it quite easily. The auto mode or auto without flash on is the most basic mode that can be used with this camera, anyone who is new to photography and does not want to play around with the settings too much will find these modes more than capable of handling most scenes. In manual mode or other modes, which are tweakable, all settings, which can be changed are previewed on the screen making it easy to view the settings. The camera supports 1080p video recording at 30fps, which is really good for an entry-level DSLR. 720p HD videos can be recorded at 60fps, which ensures the smooth playback of video files. The camera records videos in .MOV format and these videos can be played back on a PC by using softwares such as Quicktime or VLC.
The EOS 550D features a Canon EF lens mount, making it compatible with EF and EF-S lenses. An 18 - 55 mm EF-S lens comes bundled with the camera and it has an image stabilization functionality, which helps in reducing the amount of blur during image capture. It can be turned on and off using a slider on the side of the stabilizer, itself. Apart from this, the stabilizer also features an option to toggle between either auto focus or manual focus.
EF Lens mount
Besides these features, the EOS 500D has options such as a 9 point auto focus, LiveView mode, sensor cleansing and SD card support. All in all, the features of this camera are pretty good for an above entry- level DSLR.
Design and Build Quality
When it comes to the size of this DSLR, it is relatively small as compared to pricier and higher end models from either Canon or Nikon. Like most DSLRs, this camera has an all black finish with hints of silver. The face of the camera is mainly occupied by the lens and that is the most outstanding design feature of this camera. The front also features a rubberized handgrip, which helps in easily holding the camera. Apart from the lens, the face of the camera features buttons for flash as well as an option for blur reduction.
Sturdy pop-up flash
The rear of the camera features most of the buttons besides the 3-inch display. To the top left of the display are buttons for menu and display and to the right of the screen, all of the other controls lie. There is a shortcut button for recording videos and by merely pressing this, one can quickly record full HD videos. At the top of the camera is the mode dial with vast amount of settings, which one can scroll through. At the side of the mode dial is an on/ off switch, an ISO button as well as a scroll wheel. The shutter release button is also featured in this area of the camera. All the buttons are responsive and there is no resistance while turning the dial. There is a thumb grip at the back to ensure that the camera can be handled with one hand easily. The EVF has a rubber padding over it and this helps when one puts their eye to it.
At the top of the camera is a pop-up flash and it feels sturdy when deployed. Above the flash is a flash mount. One can place an additional flash on it to capture images in low-lit areas, if the camera’s flash is not sufficient enough. On one side of the camera is a memory card slot that can support SD, SDHC and SDXC card formats. On the other side of the camera are the connectivity options, which include ports for mic, mini HDMI, mini USB and a remote control. The flap of the connectivity port is made out of rubber, while the memory card bay is made out of plastic. The flaps flush along the body of the camera making the camera have a neat look to itself. The camera has silver loops on it allowing one to attach a neck strap to it. Canon bundles a strap in the box, as well.
3-inch display on the back
Overall design and build quality of the camera is good and one will enjoy using it even with one hand, as it does not weigh too much at approximately 475g.
While using the EOS 550D, one can take great pictures with the most basic of settings, no matter the lighting conditions. The auto mode and the auto without flash mode were the settings we enjoyed playing with the most, as it was convenient to use and the pictures captured well. To gauge the performance of this camera, we used it in a controlled environment, indoors and outdoors.
ISO sensitivity test
ISO Sensitivity Test
The maximum ISO setting found on this DSLR is ISO 6400, while the minimum is 100. From the image above we notice that at ISO 100, the colours on the blocks appear natural and there is no image noise. At ISO 200, there is a slight amount of noise noticed and from ISO 1600 onwards there is quite a noticeable amount of image noise as well as colours appear paler.
Aperture priority test
Aperture Priority Test
The aperture at its widest is F/3.5 and with ISO set to 100, there was a fair amount of depth of field seen. The aperture at its smallest is F/22 and the image appeared crisp and there was no depth of field noticed.
This camera takes images brilliantly in different light settings. While capturing pictures outdoors, there was no colour fringing noticed and all colours appeared accurately. Indoor pictures captured well, too and there was hardly any grain noticed. During macro shots, there is a fair amount of depth of field, which is seen and with the macro setting available on this camera, one can capture beautiful macro shots easily. However, in this mode there was a bit of focusing issues. While recording video at 1080p, video captured well and the playback was smooth. There were no anomalies appearing onscreen and there were no issues noticed while moving from a dark area to a well lit one. However, the file size, which is 232MB is quite large for a 32 second video . This is the case because of recording videos in full HD and the file size can be reduced by recording at a lower resolution. The flash of the EOS 550D is good and it can easily light up an area of around 12 feet.
Macro images shot well
Canon bundles a LP-E8 battery which is 1120mAh. The company rates the battery at 470 shots, while using the viewfinder and at 170 shots while shooting using the LCD screen on. The performance of this camera is really good and one will certainly enjoy clicking pictures or shooting videos with it.
The flaps at the side flush with the body
The Canon EOS 550D sells at a market operating price in India at Rs.38,700. This is a really good camera and it comes as no surprise that it is still widely sold in the market, despite being almost two years old. This was not intended as a replacement to the EOS 600D and the only real difference between the two is the tilt out screen. This camera costs approximately Rs.10,000 lesser than the EOS 600D and offers equally good features with the same performance. This is an ideal camera for those who are new to DSLRs and willing to make the upgrade from a point and shoot as it is easy to use, as well. If one does not mind purchasing a camera that has been around for a bit and does not mind spending this amount, then the EOS 550D is a good option to consider.
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