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Canon 550D vs XSi

The Canon EOS 550D (called Canon T2i in some regions) and the Canon EOS Rebel XSi (labelled Canon 450D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2010 and January 2008. 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 XSi provides 12.2 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 550D
versus
Canon XSi
Canon 550D   Canon XSi
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
17.9 MP – APS-C sensor 12.2 MP – APS-C sensor
1080/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 12,800) ISO 100-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD – 1040k dots 3.0" LCD – 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.7 shutter flaps per second 3.5 shutter flaps per second
440 shots per battery charge500 shots per battery charge
129 x 98 x 62 mm, 530 g 129 x 98 x 62 mm, 524 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 550D and the Canon EOS Rebel XSi? 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 550D and the Canon XSi is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

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

In this particular case, the Canon 550D and the Canon XSi have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. However, the XSi is slightly lighter (1 percent) than the 550D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 550D nor the XSi 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 550D gets 440 shots out of its LP-E8 battery, while the XSi can take 500 images on a single charge of its LP-E5 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 550D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699ebay.com
2.
 
Canon XSi 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799ebay.com
3.
 
Canon 4000D 129 mm 102 mm 77 mm 436 g 500 n Feb 2018 399 amazon.com
4.
 
Canon 750D 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749ebay.com
5.
 
Canon 760D 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 649ebay.com
6.
 
Canon 1200D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449ebay.com
7.
 
Canon 700D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649ebay.com
8.
 
Canon 650D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849ebay.com
9.
 
Canon T4i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849ebay.com
10.
 
Canon 600D 133 mm 100 mm 80 mm 570 g 440 n Feb 2011 599ebay.com
11.
 
Canon 1100D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449ebay.com
12.
 
Canon T3 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449ebay.com
13.
 
Canon 500D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799ebay.com
14.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799ebay.com
15.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299ebay.com
16.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799ebay.com
17.
 
Nikon D5100 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 n Apr 2011 749ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The 550D was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the XSi, 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

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the XSi is 1 percent smaller. 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.

In terms of chip-set technology, the 550D uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 4) than the XSi (DIGIC 3), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon 550D and Canon XSi sensor measures

With 17.9MP, the 550D offers a higher resolution than the XSi (12.2MP), but the 550D has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 5.19μm for the XSi). However, the 550D is a much more recent model (by 2 years) than the XSi, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

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 XSi are 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.3 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.1 x 11.4 inches or 43.4 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.5 inches or 36.2 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

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 Rebel XSi are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

550D versus XSi MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 review, the 550D has a notably higher overall DXO score than the XSi (overall score 5 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.2 bits higher color depth, 0.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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 550D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
2.
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
3.
 
Canon 4000D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.469563
4.
 
Canon 750D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
5.
 
Canon 760D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
6.
 
Canon 1200D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
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 T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
10.
 
Canon 600D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.579365
11.
 
Canon 1100D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
12.
 
Canon T3 APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
13.
 
Canon 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
14.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
15.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
16.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
17.
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 550D indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the XSi does not. The highest resolution format that the 550D can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 550D and the XSi 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 550D and Canon XSi in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 550Doptical n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7/s Y n
2.
 
Canon XSioptical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
3.
 
Canon 4000Doptical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
4.
 
Canon 750Doptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
5.
 
Canon 760Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
6.
 
Canon 1200Doptical n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
7.
 
Canon 700Doptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
8.
 
Canon 650Doptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
9.
 
Canon T4ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
10.
 
Canon 600Doptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/4000s 3.7/s Y n
11.
 
Canon 1100Doptical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
12.
 
Canon T3optical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
13.
 
Canon 500Doptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4/s Y n
14.
 
Canon T1ioptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4/s Y n
15.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5/s Y n
16.
 
Canon XTioptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
17.
 
Nikon D5100optical n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

The 550D writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the XSi uses SDHC 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 550D and Canon EOS Rebel XSi 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 550DYstereo / -Y-mini2.0---
2.
 
Canon XSiY- / ---mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon 4000DYmono / mono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 750DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon 760DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon 1200DYmono / mono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 700DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 650DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon T4iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon 600DYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
11.
 
Canon 1100DYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Canon T3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Canon 500DYmono / mono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Canon T1iYmono / mono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Canon 40DY- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Canon XTiY- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Nikon D5100Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---

Both the 550D and the XSi have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The XSi was replaced by the Canon T1i, while the 550D was followed by the Canon 600D. Further information on the features and operation of the 550D and XSi can be found, respectively, in the Canon 550D Manual (free pdf) or the online Canon XSi Manual.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 550D or the Canon XSi – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 550D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 12.2MP) with a 21% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 4 vs DIGIC 3).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years of technical progress since the XSi launch.


Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel XSi:

  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (500 versus 440) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in January 2008).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 550D is the clear winner of the match-up (8 : 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

550D 08:02 XSi

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 550D and the Canon XSi 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 550D and the XSi in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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 550D..+ +..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699ebay.com
2.
 
Canon XSi..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799ebay.com
3.
 
Canon 4000D..o3/5..3.5/53.5/5 Feb 2018 399 amazon.com
4.
 
Canon 750D5/5....75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749ebay.com
5.
 
Canon 760D5/5+..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649ebay.com
6.
 
Canon 1200D3/5+....4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449ebay.com
7.
 
Canon 700D......76/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649ebay.com
8.
 
Canon 650D4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849ebay.com
9.
 
Canon T4i4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849ebay.com
10.
 
Canon 600D3/5o..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599ebay.com
11.
 
Canon 1100D..80/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449ebay.com
12.
 
Canon T3..80/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449ebay.com
13.
 
Canon 500D..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799ebay.com
14.
 
Canon T1i..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799ebay.com
15.
 
Canon 40D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299ebay.com
16.
 
Canon XTi..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799ebay.com
17.
 
Nikon D51005/5+ +..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749ebay.com
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

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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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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.

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    Specifications: Canon 550D vs Canon XSi

    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 550D Canon XSi
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2010 January 2008
    Launch Price USD 699 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Canon 550D Canon XSi
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 22.2 x 14.8 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 328.56 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 26.7 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.6x
    Sensor Resolution 17.9 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3456 pixels 4272 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.31 μm 5.19 μm
    Pixel Density 5.39 MP/cm2 3.70 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 6,400 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 3
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 66 61
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 21.9
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.5 10.8
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 784 692
    Screen Specs Canon 550D Canon XSi
    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 1040k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 550D Canon XSi
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.7 shutter flaps/s 3.5 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDHC cards
    Single or Dual Card Slots Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon 550D Canon XSi
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 550D Canon XSi
    Battery Type LP-E8 LP-E5
    Battery Life (CIPA)440 shots per charge500 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 530 g (18.7 oz) 524 g (18.5 oz)
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