Canon 550D vs 850D
The Canon EOS 550D (called Canon T2i in some regions) and the Canon EOS 850D (labelled Canon T8i in some countries) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2010 and February 2020. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 550D has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the 850D provides 24 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 550D and the Canon EOS 850D? 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 physical size and weight of the Canon 550D and the Canon 850D are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions 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 850D is notably larger (7 percent) than the Canon 550D. However, the 850D is slightly lighter (3 percent) than the 550D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 550D nor the 850D 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 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|2.||Canon 850D||131 mm||103 mm||76 mm||515 g||800||n||Feb 2020||749|
|3.||Canon 250D||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||449 g||1070||n||Apr 2019||599|
|4.||Canon 4000D||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399|
|5.||Canon 77D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||540 g||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|6.||Canon 800D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||532 g||600||n||Feb 2017||749|
|7.||Canon 750D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|8.||Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|9.||Canon 1200D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|10.||Canon 700D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|11.||Canon 650D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|12.||Canon 600D||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|13.||Canon 1100D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|14.||Canon 500D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|15.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|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 somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the 850D at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.
Technology-wise, the 850D uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 8) than the 550D (DIGIC 4), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 850D offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 17.9 MP of the 550D. This megapixels advantage translates into a 16 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 850D has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 4.31μm for the 550D). However, it should be noted that the 850D is much more recent (by 10 years) than the 550D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 850D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 850D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 550D are 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The 850D has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS 550D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS 850D are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-51200.
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"). 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 cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the 850D provides a better video resolution than the 550D. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/24p, while the 550D is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 550D and the 850D 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 850D (0.54x vs 0.51x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 550D and Canon 850D in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The 850D has a touchscreen, while the 550D has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The 850D has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the 550D does not have a selfie-screen.
The Canon 850D has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 550D and the 850D write their files to SDXC cards. The 850D supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the 550D cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 550D and Canon EOS 850D and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the 850D offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the 550D does not provide wifi capability.
The 850D is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the 550D has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 550D was succeeded 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? Is the Canon 550D better than the Canon 850D or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 550D:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.54x vs 0.51x).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2010).
Advantages of the Canon EOS 850D:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 16%.
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 8 vs DIGIC 4).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/24p vs 1080/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7.5 vs 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (800 versus 440) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 10 years of technical progress since the 550D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 850D is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 2 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 550D and the Canon 850D 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 550D or the 850D. 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], 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 550D||..||+ +||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|2.||Canon 850D||4/5||+||80/100||4/5||3.5/5||Feb 2020||749|
|3.||Canon 250D||..||o||79/100||4/5||4/5||Apr 2019||599|
|4.||Canon 4000D||..||o||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399|
|5.||Canon 77D||4.5/5||..||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|6.||Canon 800D||4.5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||749|
|7.||Canon 750D||5/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|8.||Canon 760D||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|9.||Canon 1200D||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|10.||Canon 700D||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|11.||Canon 650D||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|12.||Canon 600D||3/5||o||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|13.||Canon 1100D||..||80/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|14.||Canon 500D||..||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|15.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. 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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon 550D vs Canon 850D
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 550D||Canon 850D|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2010||February 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 749|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 550D||Canon 850D|
|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||17.9 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||3.72 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||7.22 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||DIGIC 8|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||784||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon 550D||Canon 850D|
|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||1040k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 550D||Canon 850D|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3.7 shutter flaps/s||7.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 550D||Canon 850D|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 550D||Canon 850D|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||800 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
131 x 103 x 76 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||530 g (18.7 oz)||515 g (18.2 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.