Canon 400D vs 550D
The Canon EOS 400D (called Canon XTi in some regions) and the Canon EOS 550D (labelled Canon T2i in some countries) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2006 and February 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 400D has a resolution of 10.1 megapixels, whereas the 550D provides 17.9 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 400D and the Canon EOS 550D? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 400D and the Canon 550D. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 550D is notably larger (19 percent) than the Canon 400D. However, the 550D is markedly lighter (5 percent) than the 400D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 400D nor the 550D are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon 400D||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|2.||Canon 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|3.||Canon 750D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|4.||Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon 700D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|6.||Canon 650D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|7.||Canon 600D||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|8.||Canon 1100D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|9.||Canon 500D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|10.||Canon 450D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|11.||Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|12.||Canon 350D||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|13.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 550D was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the 400D, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the 550D is 1 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, the 550D uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 4) than the 400D (DIGIC II), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
With 17.9MP, the 550D offers a higher resolution than the 400D (10.1MP), but the 550D has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 5.71μm for the 400D). Yet, the 550D is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 5 months) than the 400D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 550D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 550D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 400D are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.4 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.6 x 10.4 inches or 39.5 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 13 x 8.6 inches or 32.9 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 400D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS 550D are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-12800.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the 550D has a markedly higher DXO score than the 400D (overall score 4 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The 550D indeed provides for movie recording, while the 400D does not. The highest resolution format that the 550D can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 400D and the 550D are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the 550D has a higher magnification than the one of the 400D (0.54x vs 0.49x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 400D, the Canon 550D, and comparable cameras.
The 400D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the 550D uses SDXC cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 400D and Canon EOS 550D and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
Both the 400D and the 550D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 400D was replaced by the Canon 450D, while the 550D was followed by the Canon 600D. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 400D or the Canon 550D – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 400D:
- More compact: Is smaller (127x84mm vs 129x98mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2006).
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 550D:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (17.9 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 33%.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 4 vs DIGIC II).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.54x vs 0.49x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.7 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (440 versus 370) out of a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 5 months of technical progress since the 400D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 550D is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 2 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 400D and the Canon 550D place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 400D or the 550D perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 400D||..||+ +||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|2.||Canon 550D||..||+ +||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|3.||Canon 750D||5/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|4.||Canon 760D||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon 700D||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|6.||Canon 650D||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|7.||Canon 600D||3/5||o||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|8.||Canon 1100D||..||80/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|9.||Canon 500D||..||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|10.||Canon 450D||..||+ +||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|11.||Canon 40D||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|12.||Canon 350D||..||80/100||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|13.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Canon 400D vs Canon 550D
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 400D||Canon 550D|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2006||February 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 400D||Canon 550D|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.2 x 14.8 mm||22.3 x 14.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||328.56 mm2||332.27 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.7 mm||26.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.1 Megapixels||17.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3888 x 2592 pixels||5184 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.71 μm||4.31 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.07 MP/cm2||5.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC II||DIGIC 4|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||62||66|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.0||11.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||664||784|
|Screen Specs||Canon 400D||Canon 550D|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 400D||Canon 550D|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||3.7 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||50 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 400D||Canon 550D|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 400D||Canon 550D|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||370 shots per charge||440 shots per charge|
127 x 84 x 65 mm
(5.0 x 3.3 x 2.6 in)
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
|Camera Weight||556 g (19.6 oz)||530 g (18.7 oz)|
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