Canon 550D versus Canon 500D
The Canon EOS 550D (called Canon XS in some regions) and the Canon EOS 500D (labelled Canon T1i in some countries) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2010 and March 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 550D has a resolution of 17.9 megapixel, whereas the 500D provides 15.1 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Canon 550D vs Canon 500D
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 550D and the Canon 500D. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 550D – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
In this particular case, the Canon 550D and the Canon 500D have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. However, the 500D is slightly lighter (2 percent) than the 550D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 550D nor the 500D 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 find an overview of suitable optics 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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications|
|Canon 550D»||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.7 oz||440||n||Feb 2010||699||-|
|Canon 500D«||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.3 oz||400||n||Mar 2009||799||-|
|Canon 750D« »||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||749||-|
|Canon 760D« »||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.9 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||849||-|
|Canon 1200D« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||16.9 oz||500||n||Feb 2014||449||-|
|Canon G1 X Mark II« »||4.6 in||2.9 in||2.6 in||19.5 oz||240||n||Feb 2014||799|
|Canon 700D« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.5 oz||440||n||Mar 2013||649||-|
|Canon G1 X« »||4.6 in||3.2 in||2.6 in||18.8 oz||250||n||Jan 2012||799||-|
|Canon 650D« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.3 oz||440||n||Jun 2012||849||-|
|Canon 600D« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.1 oz||440||n||Feb 2011||599||-|
|Canon 1100D« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||17.5 oz||700||n||Feb 2011||449||-|
|Canon 450D« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.5 oz||500||n||Jan 2008||799||-|
|Nikon D5100« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.8 oz||660||n||Apr 2011||749||-|
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 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison: Canon 550D vs Canon 500D
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the 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 megapixel, compared with 15.1 MP of the 500D. This megapixel 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). In this context, it should be noted, however, 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.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Canon 750D« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||22.7||12.0||919||71|
|Canon 760D« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/30p||22.6||12.0||915||70|
|Canon 1200D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.9||11.3||724||63|
|Canon G1 X Mark II« »||1.5-inch||13.0||4160||3120||1080/30p||21.5||10.8||581||58|
|Canon 700D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||681||61|
|Canon G1 X« »||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60|
|Canon 650D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||722||62|
|Canon 600D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||793||65|
|Canon 1100D« »||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||720/30p||21.9||11.0||755||62|
|Canon 450D« »||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||-||21.9||10.8||692||61|
|Nikon D5100« »||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.5||13.6||1183||80|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the 550D provides a higher frame rate than the 500D. It can shoot video footage at 1080/30p, while the 500D is limited to 1080/20p.
Feature comparison: Canon 550D vs Canon 500D
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 550D and the 500D 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 550D and Canon 500D along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Canon 750D« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||4000||5.0||Y||n|
|Canon 760D« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||4000||5.0||Y||n|
|Canon 1200D« »||optical||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n|
|Canon G1 X Mark II« »||-||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||4000||5.2||Y||Y|
|Canon 700D« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||4000||5.0||Y||n|
|Canon G1 X« »||optical||n||3.0||922||Swivel||n||4000||1.9||Y||Y|
|Canon 650D« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||4000||5.0||Y||n|
|Canon 600D« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||n||4000||3.7||Y||n|
|Canon 1100D« »||optical||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n|
|Canon 450D« »||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||4000||3.5||Y||n|
|Nikon D5100« »||optical||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||4000||4.0||Y||n|
Both the 550D and the 500D 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.
Review summary: Canon 550D vs Canon 500D
So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 550D better than the Canon 500D or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 550D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 15.1MP) with a 9% higher linear resolution.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/20p).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 920k dots).
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 10 months after the 500D).
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 500D:
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2009).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 550D is the clear winner of the match-up (5 : 1 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 550D or the 500D. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Canon 550D»||HiRec||77/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699||-|
|Canon 500D«||HiRec||74/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799||-|
|Canon 750D« »||-||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749||-|
|Canon 760D« »||Rec||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||849||-|
|Canon 1200D« »||Rec||-||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449||-|
|Canon G1 X Mark II« »||Rec||77/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||799|
|Canon 700D« »||-||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649||-|
|Canon G1 X« »||Rec||76/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799||-|
|Canon 650D« »||HiRec||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849||-|
|Canon 600D« »||rev||77/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599||-|
|Canon 1100D« »||80/100||69/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449||-|
|Canon 450D« »||HiRec||HiRec||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799||-|
|Nikon D5100« »||HiRec||76/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749||-|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.
- Canon 50D vs Canon M50
- Canon 600D vs Sony RX1R II
- Canon 750D vs Canon 70D
- Canon M3 vs Panasonic FZ2000
- Canon SL2 vs Fujifilm X-T2
- Canon T6 vs Sony A7
- Nikon D5500 vs Canon G7 X
- Nikon D7200 vs Panasonic G7
- Nikon P1000 vs Panasonic G9
- Olympus PEN-F vs Leica TL
- Panasonic G85 vs Nikon D7200
- Sony A99 II vs Leica Q Typ 116