Canon 500D vs 550D
The Canon EOS 500D (called Canon T1i in some regions) and the Canon EOS 550D (labelled Canon T2i in some countries) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2009 and February 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 500D has a resolution of 15.1 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 500D 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 500D and the Canon 550D is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
In this particular case, the Canon 500D and the Canon 550D have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. However, the 550D is slightly heavier (2 percent) than the 500D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 500D 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 500D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||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 1200D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||116 mm||74 mm||66 mm||553 g||240||n||Feb 2014||799|
|7.||Canon 700D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|8.||Canon 650D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|9.||Canon G1 X||117 mm||81 mm||65 mm||534 g||250||n||Jan 2012||799|
|10.||Canon 600D||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|11.||Canon 450D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|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 retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The 550D was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the 500D, 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.
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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 550D offers a higher resolution of 17.9 megapixels, compared with 15.1 MP of the 500D. This megapixels advantage translates into a 9 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 550D has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 4.69μm for the 500D). However, it should be noted that the 550D is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the 500D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
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 500D are 23.8 x 15.8 inches or 60.4 x 40.2 cm for good quality, 19 x 12.7 inches or 48.3 x 32.2 cm for very good quality, and 15.8 x 10.6 inches or 40.2 x 26.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 500D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The Canon EOS 550D offers exactly the same ISO settings.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||1.5-inch||13.0||4160||3120||1080/30p||21.5||10.8||581||58|
|9.||Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the 550D provides a faster frame rate than the 500D. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the 500D is limited to 1080/20p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 500D 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%), as well as the same magnification (0.54x). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 500D, the Canon 550D, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon 500D||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4||Y||n|
|2.||Canon 550D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 750D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 760D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 1200D||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||5.2||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon 700D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|8.||Canon 650D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|9.||Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon 600D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n|
|11.||Canon 450D||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n|
The 500D writes its imaging data to SDHC 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 500D and Canon EOS 550D and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 500D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Canon 550D||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 750D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon 760D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon 1200D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon 700D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 650D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon G1 X||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 600D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 450D||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the 550D has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The 500D does not feature such a mic input.
Both the 500D and the 550D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 500D was replaced by the Canon 550D, 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 500D or the Canon 550D – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 500D:
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2009).
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 550D:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (17.9 vs 15.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 9%.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/20p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 920k dots).
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (10 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 550D is the clear winner of the contest (6 : 1 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 500D 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 500D or the 550D perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 500D||..||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||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 1200D||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||3/5||+||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||799|
|7.||Canon 700D||..||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|8.||Canon 650D||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|9.||Canon G1 X||5/5||+||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799|
|10.||Canon 600D||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|11.||Canon 450D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Canon 550D
- Canon 500D vs Canon 60D
- Canon 500D vs Canon 850D
- Canon 500D vs Leica C-LUX
- Canon 500D vs Leica V-LUX 2
- Canon 500D vs Nikon D5600
- Canon 500D vs Nikon D780
- Canon 550D vs Canon SX420
- Canon 550D vs Nikon D3100
- Canon 550D vs Nikon D5
- Canon 550D vs Nikon D600
- Canon 550D vs Olympus E-P3
Specifications: Canon 500D 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 500D||Canon 550D|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2009||February 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 500D||Canon 550D|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||22.3 x 14.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||332.27 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||26.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.1 Megapixels||17.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4752 x 3168 pixels||5184 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.69 μm||4.31 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.53 MP/cm2||5.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/20p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||DIGIC 4|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||66|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.7||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||11.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||663||784|
|Screen Specs||Canon 500D||Canon 550D|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 500D||Canon 550D|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.4 shutter flaps/s||3.7 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 500D||Canon 550D|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 500D||Canon 550D|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||440 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
|Camera Weight||520 g (18.3 oz)||530 g (18.7 oz)|
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