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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.

Headline Specifications
Canon 500D
versus
Canon 550D
Canon 500D   Canon 550D
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
15.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 17.9 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/20p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 12,800) ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 12,800)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 920k dots 3.0 LCD, 1040k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.4 shutter flaps per second 3.7 shutter flaps per second
400 shots per battery charge440 shots per battery charge
129 x 98 x 62 mm, 520 g 129 x 98 x 62 mm, 530 g

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.

Body comparison

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.

Size Canon 500D vs Canon 550D
Compare 500D versus 550D top
Comparison 500D or 550D rear

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.

Concerning battery life, the 500D gets 400 shots out of its LP-E5 battery, while the 550D can take 440 images on a single charge of its LP-E8 power pack.

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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 500D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
2.
 
Canon 550D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
3.
 
Canon 750D 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749i
4.
 
Canon 760D 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 649i
5.
 
Canon 1200D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449i
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 n Feb 2014 799i
7.
 
Canon 700D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649i
8.
 
Canon 650D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
9.
 
Canon G1 X 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 n Jan 2012 799i
10.
 
Canon 600D 133 mm 100 mm 80 mm 570 g 440 n Feb 2011 599i
11.
 
Canon 450D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
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.

Sensor comparison

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.

Canon 500D and Canon 550D sensor measures

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.

500D versus 550D MP

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.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
2.
 
Canon 550D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
3.
 
Canon 750D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
4.
 
Canon 760D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
5.
 
Canon 1200D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
7.
 
Canon 700D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
8.
 
Canon 650D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
9.
 
Canon G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
10.
 
Canon 600D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.579365
11.
 
Canon 450D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261

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.

Feature comparison

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.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 500Doptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
2.
 
Canon 550Doptical n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
3.
 
Canon 750Doptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 760Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon 1200Doptical n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2 Y Y
7.
 
Canon 700Doptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
8.
 
Canon 650Doptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/4000s 1.9 Y Y
10.
 
Canon 600Doptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
11.
 
Canon 450Doptical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n

The 500D writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the 550D uses SDXC cards.

Connectivity comparison

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.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 500DYmono / mono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Canon 550DYstereo / -Y-mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon 750DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 760DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon 1200DYmono / mono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon 700DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 650DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon G1 XYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon 600DYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
11.
 
Canon 450DY- / ---mini2.0---

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.

Review summary

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.

500D 01:06 550D

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.

Expert reviews

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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 500D..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
2.
 
Canon 550D..+ +..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
3.
 
Canon 750D5/5....75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
4.
 
Canon 760D5/5+..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
5.
 
Canon 1200D3/5+....4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II3/5+..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799i
7.
 
Canon 700D......76/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
8.
 
Canon 650D4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
9.
 
Canon G1 X5/5+..76/1004/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799i
10.
 
Canon 600D3/5o..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599i
11.
 
Canon 450D..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
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.

Canon 500D:
Check Ebay offers
Canon 550D:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    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 Specifications
    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 Technology CMOS CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.6x
    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%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.54x 0.54x
    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 Expectancy100 000 actuations100 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
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    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 Type LP-E5 LP-E8
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge440 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 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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