Here’s my thought for both……….
Canon EOS 550D
The price for this beauty is lower than what the 500D was when it was released last year. The improvements of 550D over 500D are not as great as 500D over 450D but they are noteworthy, especially the buttons, the button placements and the overall refinement of the FEEL.
The 63-zone metering system is certainly an improvement, over 500D. I was using the 550D at the Lenovo F1 2010 Garage Tour with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 and it performed well despite the strong sunlight and dark shades. I never expected it to capture the details under the shade that well.
Comparing both, I do find that they meter differently. The 500D is often 1/3 stop below the 550D, despite having the same lens mounted.
At RRP of RM 2,799 for the body alone, it’s a great camera. We’ve seen street prices come to even RM 2,750 for the body + EF-S 18-55 IS set.
Canon EOS 500D
I’ve used the 500D for about 5 months now and I still think it’s a great camera. What the EOS 550D can do, the 500D can do most of it as well. I used the 500D for the event coverage such as Intel All-New Core Processor Family Launch and The PC Fair Experience and more.
I know I’ve said before that RM 200 difference is too little between the 550D and 500D, that you’re better off paying RM 200 more to get the latest with all the improvements. I believe this is still true if you’re getting the body alone.
However, I had a long thought over this matter and it might not be that clear cut as the 500D is currently at RRP of RM 2,599 for the body alone but I’ve seen street prices for as low as RM 2,450 for the body + EF-S 18-55 IS set – that’s about RM 300 apart.
RM 300 could mean an EF-S 50mm f1.8 II lens for you, or a better bag and higher capacity SDHC.
Now consider this – what if you wanted a battery grip?
Last I saw, the BG-E8 costs about RM 200 more than the BG-E5. Factoring all that together, going the 500D path could mean TCO (total cost of ownership) reduction by RM 500 or more. Then of course, there’s the option for a used BG-E5 as the BG-E5 has been around for quite some time, catering for users of 450D and 1000D. So it is entirely possible to acquire a used BG-E5 (lowers the TCO even further) while used BG-E8 are still pretty rare since it’s only been introduced with the 550D.
If cost is not an issue, do yourself a favour and get the 550D.
If you’re looking at lowering cost, then 500D could be the one for you. Not everyone needs 1080p video, I use 720p mode even on 550D for the overall smaller video size for smaller file size (faster upload time too), works fine on Class 2 and 4 cards and less demanding when it comes to playback on my computers. 😀
The photos of the EOS 550D and EOS 500D were taken with the EOS 350D. 😀
And the EOS 550D, 500D and 350D group photo was taken with the Powershot A1000 IS, yes – that same little fella that took the videos of burst mode test. The lighting was done by manually (yes, hand trigger) a 430EX II.