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back to article Canon EOS 550D DSLR

The arrival of Canon’s EOS 550D has been a rather pleasant surprise as, besides being a respectable 18.1Mp stills camera, it also shoots video at a quality that is comparable to the more expensive and technically superior EOS 7D. While the EOS 550D lacks two engines to power the data processing – so it can’t match the 7D’s …

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Boffin

If you’re familiar with the higher end models...

Then you really are not the target for this camera.

As a user of lower Eos models like the 450 the 550 seems like an ideal upgrade, although the temptation of to hold out for a 7 is immense... wonder when the 7 will get the missing features that are included in the 550 like the proper aspect ration on the screen...

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Gold badge

No use to a xxD or xD user

Completely agree with the AC in the goggles.

I have a 50D (and have used a 5D a bit) and the misses has a 450D. I can't use the 450D at all. You have to use the screen and menus to change even simple things that are just a button push and spin the wheel on the back of the larger models. Then there are a lot of settings that don't exist on the smaller ones, not to mention how small the body is on a larger lens.

I think that the 550D is a fine camera, but I'd say that a 50D or 7D is a better 2nd camera for a pro user.

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Exciting Camera

Mine arrived literally 15 minutes ago and will be my 350D replacement, so I'm approaching from a hobbyist angle.

It's not great that they changed the battery deisgn, although I have found non-Canon spares for £15. They also changed from CF to SD and that cost me £80 for a decent 32GB card.

The only feature I'd really have loved to be included would be GPS for geotagging images, but I can live without it.

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i-gotu

Consider getting an i-gotu 120 -will cost around £50, best look for a bargain and buy from a legit vendor (i.e. not an eBay reseller) as they do have their issues and warranty (2 years) replacements have to go through the shop you bought it from.

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Silver badge

I wouldn't recommend that card

I'd definitely recommend against getting a 32GB card, especially SD which isn't as hardy as CF. 4x8 or 4x4 would be better - I have no issues with the size of a 4GB when out shooting with a 5d MkII. You'll stand a good chance of losing an awful lot of data if/when that card fails. I, personally, would load up with a few Sandisk Extreme cards of smaller size and a Gepe Card safe to store them in.

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Silver badge

Card failure

Just how often do you suffer a card failure?

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Card Failure

With a 32GB, are you willing to take the risk? They fail more often than you think, especially flimsy little SD ones.

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free extra magnification

"With its sensor crop factor it would do well to be used with telephoto lenses to gain that free extra magnification."

Isn't that a bit like arguing for "digital zoom"?

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Silver badge

Sort of but not really

Digital zoom takes a crop from a sensor and then resamples it to match the sensor's original pixel count. In this case a full frame sensor with equivalent pixel density would be about 46MP, which doesn't exist and won't for a good few years. This camera places more pixels on a target object with a given lens than any other camera on the market.

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J 3

Isn't that a bit like arguing for "digital zoom"?

Not at all.

Digital zoom is... well, digital.

The crop factor is an optical effect. You have a lens capable of covering a full, 35mm frame, but you are using a portion on the center of that field. Therefore, it looks bigger -- it's *analogous* to cropping a file and printing it at full size, but better in the sense that you have all the pixels being used in that optical crop. So no loss of quality and nothing to do with the atrocious "digital zoom".

Or so I understand.

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Silver badge

Noise comparison

ISO 12,800 looks pretty usable (presumably these are out of camera JPEGs, with all the jiggery-pokery of the camera's post-processing engine that that entails) providing your metering is good and you don't intend to print too large.

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Screen is 3:2 aspect

You missed the one key feature about the screen. It's the first DSLR (as far as I'm aware) to have an aspect ration of 3:2 to match the sensor. So no black bars at the top and bottom when viewing your images.

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Anonymous Coward

James Cumpsty

James, Please, Please, Please, get yourself a Canon EF-S 10-22 Lens!! If you own a 7d or have a 550/500/450/1000 as a second, then I cannot recommend this lens highly enough. Yes you need a wide for a crop, and canon make this superb lens for that purpose!

I really believe that Canon need to introduce a New 'L' for EFS lenses (pink/blue/yellow/white stripe???) I'd have to count the 17-55 F2.8 as an L equivilent EFS Lens and the 10-22 F3.5-4.5 is so very close (if it were a fixed F4 throught the zoom).

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Silver badge

They'd have to up the build quality too

The cost of high-end EF-S lenses relative to their build quality is a bit of a sore point for some users. They're not significantly cheaper than equivalent full frame L lenses, but the build quality just isn't comparable.

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Next year’s ‘must have’ feature? - an articulated LCD screen please

I've been waiting for this to come out to upgrade my 400D.

Ticks most of the boxes, more pixels (yes I know but occasionally they are what you need), much improved top end ISO performance (which looks really impressive in your sample shots) and an improved LCD screen.

It's a shame GPS tagging isn't there, but more a nice to have for me.

The one feature I was waiting for, which will probably make me postpone my upgrade, is an articulated LCD screen. I seem to spend a lot of lying on wet ground trying to get low level shots. The upgrade would get me live view, which might help, but I was really, really, hoping they would follow the Nikon D5000 and make the screen articulated. Maybe on the 600D...

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Anonymous Coward

Hah! Good call, Author.

I can probably be categorized as semi-pro, since I do shots of the machines my business builds. And I just got a 550d to supplement my Nikon D80... Actually, I got it to do HD video; it wasn't any more expensive than a normal camcorder that can do 1080, and is vastly more flexible.

The video is quite good, though I was forced to shoot fairly high ISO; I haven't had much time to evaluate its photo ability yet. Compared to the D80, though, it shoots MUCH faster, the AF is a ton faster and more reliable, and it focuses much more closely - maybe 15cm as opposed to 50cm for the Nikon's kit lens. High ISO performance seems a lot better at first blush, and it seems to do a better job of handling exposure in full auto mode as well - the D80 will reliably blow out fluffy summer clouds in a landscape shot, and the Canon seems to handle that well.

But... it's tiny, the lens is tiny, and the ergonomics are truly awful. The conniptions required to change settings, and the truly bizarre UI quirks (three buttons are required to delete an image, as opposed to one double-press on the D80) are kind of crippling for serious use. It's a shame that a camera with such potential is such a pain in the ass to use.

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Silver badge

Common issue

I've always regarded the lower end models as chick's cameras - not in a derogatory way, as they are highly capable, but for a guy with normal sized hands they are just so uncomfortable to hold and use for any period of time. The ergonomics of a lot of canon's cameras improves massively for those with larger paws by the addition of a battery grip. The weight and cost doesn't however.

I've heard some suggest that because these cameras are targeted at those moving up from compacts they are made smaller so as not to overwhelm the user. However I don't buy into this as SLRs have never been pocket sized so why bother hamstringing the ergonomics?

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FAIL

d'oh

"I've always regarded the lower end models as chick's cameras - not in a derogatory way"

Right there is the point where you applied your head to your desk with massive force.

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Silver badge

Not really

Especially if you read the rest of the post. Chicks generally, at least ones I've dated - can't speak for you, have smaller hands than blokes.

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J 3
Happy

or, better still, be more careful with how you light things

Er... I'll remember that next time I'm in the streets, or the bush...

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Hmm....

£700 if you shop around?, is a 7D worth an extra £400? double the frame rates, better AF (with microadjust), integrated speedlite transmitter there's also a couple of minor things such as 100% viewfinder, dual layer meter, so, any vaguely serious sports it's much better, it's far more hardy (weather sealed and mag body) apart from full frame it's better than a 5D (to be fair this is a big thing!). The 7D also "feels" nicer (maybe too chunky,especially with a battery grip, £141 from jessops delivered).

I bought a 7D, because the differences were important to me, I have a 400D as a spare, as nice as a 550D would be as a spare it's too much for a just in incase, I'd rather have another 7D, Canon have been quite clever with their pricing, too low on the 7D and nobody getsa 550D, too high and people get a 5D (the IQ is far better when cropping).

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Thumb Down

too many pixels

Sorry, 18mp is way too much for my liking. I think canon are racing too far ahead on the pixel count, and they need to slow down and let some aspects of the sensor technology catch up.

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