Canon EOS 550D and 500D Digital SLR Camera Review

Noise Control

This is probably what everyone’s most interested in.

Just mouse over to see the difference, the images from 550D seems to have better contrast, despite same settings for all …..

ISO1600 | f/5.6 | 1/25
ISO3200 | f/5.6 | 1/50
ISO6400 | f/5.6 | 1/100
ISO12800 | f/5.6 | 1/200

430EX II in E-TTL mode. 550D images resized to 500D’s resolution for easier comparison.


Lovely isn’t it? Both have great ISO control on ISO1600 and ISO3200 but the 550D outshines the 500D in ISO6400 and ISO12800 by far and it looks pretty usable too. Notice how the 550D doesn’t have the random white specs on the darker area at higher ISO range.

There’s no reason to shy away from pumping ISO. 🙂 Even at ISO6400, the 500D’s image is usually usable when resized.

Burst Mode Tests

I thought it’ll be fun to know how these 2 compare in terms of burst mode, and also viewing their writing speed over a Class 4 SDHC card.

For this test, I set the ISO to 12800 – that makes the file size really big. 😀 The shooting mode was set to and burst up to 10 frames.

Don’t get the video wrong people, in actual usage of lower ISO – both cameras do bursts of 10 easily. The 550D is slightly behind the 500D, not surprising since the 18MP RAW file would surely take longer time to write compared to 500D’s 15MP.

Next up, Large JPG. That’s 18MP vs 15MP.

The 550D seems to settle the task faster.

We try Medium JPG next, that’s 8MP for both.

Again, the 550D was faster. A LOT faster in fact.

Besides the 3.7 FPS burst on 550D against the 3.4 FPS burst on 500D, I believe something was improved on the 550D that it performed fast despite the increased megapixel.

SDHC Card Issues

Someone on Facebook approached me about the 550D video recording issue, he was using a Sandisk 4GB Class 2 card and he couldn’t even record 1920×1080 25fps video for more than 4 seconds.

I thought it odd so I gave my Kingston 4GB Class 2 card a try, in this case it’s a MicroSD with adapter.

And here’s the video recorded.

Looks fine. 😀 Well not exactly, there is some slight flaw in the video which I suspect due to the nature the Class 2 medium.

What about Class 4? Here’s a video recorded with Class 4 card.

Subtle jerking frames here and there. In the end, while both Class 2 and Class 4 cards are usable – they’re not for you if you want jerk-free 1080p videos.

From my experience, 720p (1280×720) works fine as the 1080p videos are the one pushing the limit.

So from what I gathered from my own tests and a bit of research over the Internet, the video recording issue (eg, record for a few seconds and coming to a halt) is not due the camera but due to the card.

There are people with Class 4 or higher cards with brands like Sandisk and Transcend that couldn’t record more than a few seconds while my Sandisk Class 2 recorded for a really long time. I currently have the Sandisk 4GB Class 2 MicroSD as seen on the video, and also a Kingston 4GB Class 4 SDHC and Toshiba 16GB Class 10 SDHC that works just fine.

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  1. read liao tulan liao….buy bo gao 1months launch, then 1 more month on shelf liao…grrr

    movie nvm…but better ISO and auto max ISO is goodie leh….

  2. Author

    yeah the ISO settings are clearly better. I don’t use Auto Max ISO but this is the feature even the higher range Canon users wish they have. 😀 Probably they’ll introduce it in future firmware update.

  3. Hi,

    I also have problem with the card to record HD video .BTW,what is the price of Kingston 4GB Class 2?

    .-= kurt´s last blog ..Lan & Yaya 1 =-.

  4. Beware of using some of the faster cards, the 550 can be picky.

    I recently bought a T2i(US version of the 550d), a patriot 32gb class 10 card, battery grip with 2 more batteries, 580ex II and a Sigma 10-22 for a trip to China. This was upgrading from an ancient 300d with the usual cheap lenses, 18-55, 55-250 IS, and 50 1.8 with a 420ex. Last month I went to Jiuzhaigou Valley in China. I made it through 2 days taking some of the most beautiful pictures I could have ever imagined with absolutely perfect weather. The last day I was there, I returned to 5 flower lake to recompose some of my earlier photos. I got a strange error on the 550 telling me about a corrupt photo. I tried to review the previous photos and many were also corrupt. My heart was racing so I put in my trusty 8gb sandisk extreme and took a few pictures with no problem. I put the 32gb card into my little casio ex-fc100 and could take more photos with no problem but most of the previous photos from the 550 were showing as corrupt.

    I returned to Chengdu and went to my friends bungalo to use his computer and was horrified to find that about 90% of my photos were corrupt. I sent emails to Patriot and Canon, but of course they both blamed each other :p I tried to RMA the Patriot card but the replacement has given me the same problems. I have since purchased a Sandisk 32gb class 10 and haven’t had a single issue. I now use the patriot 32g in my Casio which has no problems with it. Very odd.

    I guess there is an upside to this, because now I am planning to return to Jiuzhaigou this fall to take more pictures, and I have heard that during the fall it is absolutely breath taking 🙂

    I’m not sure which lenses you have, but if you don’t have the cheap 50mm 1.8, go buy one NOW! You will be amazed what that one little lens can do. Ultra low light, very sharp, and at 1.8 the the depth of field is so low it’s amazing. I love playing with the DoF at 1.8. I can focus on someone’s nose and only the tip of their nose is in focus, a few mm away is already out of focus 🙂

    Also you should try the 24fps mode. Turn down saturation a bit, darken it by maybe 1 stop and take some movies. They look fantastic, almost as good as real cinema. With the kit lens the built in mic picks up the IS noise really bad, but a cheap stereo mic cures that.

  5. Author

    i got a Toshiba 16GB Class 10 recently, records well. 😀

    i suppose your 24fps refers to 1080p video. the 550D has 24fps, 25fps and 30fps. i usually use 30fps.

    tip for you – use manual focus. the video mode / live view focus is just horrible and as you said, picks up mic noise. it’s the same for 500D as well.

  6. oh the t2i only does 24fps and 30fps at 1080p, no 25. I’ve made a little focus bar(a thick paper clip using electrical tape to hold it. with tape markers so I can pull focus really fast.Setting the 50mm at 1.8 makes very dramatic focus pulls and there’s enough light that no IS is still smooth, plus I don’t have to hear the IS.

    There have been a few mainstream TV shows in the US that use the T2i and 7d for recording HD TV shows, of course they use a motion rig that costs more than the cameras, but they get great results.

  7. Author

    It does 25. 🙂 You’re not seeing it because you’re under NTSC. You just have to change for videos system to PAL in one of the menus.

  8. do you where in KL/PJ can get lowest price for 550D? hope u can point out those shops for me 😀 thanks…

  9. Hey dude,can the 550D remotely using a speedlite?

  10. Hey dude,can the Canon EOS 550D remotely using a speedlite??

  11. HI,
    I am having 500D & used take lot of landscape pics. I am facing an issue of contrast especially light green and dark green part it doecnt reaaly capture what i am seeing, is this a camera limit or do i need to change some settings.
    Please suggest.

  12. my first digital SLR camera was an EOS450D, now i have an EOS550D which also shoots high resolution video ,.~

  13. Hey guys ..
    m bout to buy a new dslr (earlier i’ve used Canon1000D)..
    my range is any where b/w 25k to 45k.
    m struck b/w Canon n Nikon..
    whch one to gO for????
    LIke name a few..
    EOS 500D Kit EF-s 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 IS
    EOS 550D or EOS 550D (Kit)
    EOS 500D
    D5000 ??
    Whch one to go for??
    also..r Canon n Nikon goin to launch ne new DSLR in market widin 1-2 in between 2011 n 2012??
    Reply me at – [email protected]

  14. Hi! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa? My blog discusses a lot of the same topics as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you’re interested feel free to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Wonderful blog by the way!

  15. Thanks for the review – my nephew is looking at buying the 550D (slightly used) as his first camera and I just wanted to refresh my knowledge on whether it would suit what he was looking for. Thanks

  16. Nice review. I had 550D, i must say that lens kit are the worst part. I was forced to replace it with 15-85 mm, and done wonders with that camera.

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