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Canon 550D vs XTi

The Canon EOS 550D (called Canon T2i in some regions) and the Canon EOS Rebel XTi (labelled Canon 400D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2010 and August 2006. 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 XTi provides 10.1 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 XTi
Canon 550D   Canon XTi
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
17.9 MP – APS-C sensor 10.1 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 2.5" LCD – 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.7 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
440 shots per battery charge370 shots per battery charge
129 x 98 x 62 mm, 530 g 127 x 84 x 65 mm, 556 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 XTi? 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

The physical size and weight of the Canon 550D and the Canon XTi 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

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

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon XTi is notably smaller (16 percent) than the Canon 550D. However, the XTi is markedly heavier (5 percent) than the 550D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 550D nor the XTi 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 XTi can take 370 images on a single charge of its NB-2LH power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras 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 XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 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 T6i 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749ebay.com
7.
 
Canon 1200D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449ebay.com
8.
 
Canon 700D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649ebay.com
9.
 
Canon 650D 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 500D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799ebay.com
13.
 
Canon XS 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449ebay.com
14.
 
Canon XSi 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799ebay.com
15.
 
Canon XT 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899ebay.com
16.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899ebay.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.

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 XTi, 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 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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the XTi 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 XTi (DIGIC II), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon 550D and Canon XTi sensor measures

With 17.9MP, the 550D offers a higher resolution than the XTi (10.1MP), but the 550D has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 5.71μm for the XTi). However, the 550D is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 5 months) than the XTi, 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 XTi are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.4 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.6 x 10.4 inches or 39.5 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 13 x 8.6 inches or 32.9 x 21.9 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 XTi 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 XTi MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the 550D has a notably higher overall DXO score than the XTi (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. 0.5 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 XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
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 T6i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
7.
 
Canon 1200D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
8.
 
Canon 700D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
9.
 
Canon 650D 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 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
13.
 
Canon XS APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.010.971962
14.
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
15.
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
16.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
17.
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The 550D indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the XTi does not. The highest resolution format that the 550D can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 550D and the XTi 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 XTi (0.54x vs 0.49x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 550D, the Canon XTi, 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)
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 XTioptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/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 T6ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
7.
 
Canon 1200Doptical n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
8.
 
Canon 700Doptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
9.
 
Canon 650Doptical 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 500Doptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4/s Y n
13.
 
Canon XSoptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
14.
 
Canon XSioptical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
15.
 
Canon XToptical n1.8 / 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
16.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/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 XTi uses Compact Flash 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 XTi 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 XTiY- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon 4000DYmono / mono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 750DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon 760DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon T6iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon 1200DYmono / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 700DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 650DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon 600DYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
11.
 
Canon 1100DYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Canon 500DYmono / mono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Canon XSY- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Canon XSiY- / ---mini2.0---
15.
 
Canon XTY- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Canon RebelY- / ----1.1---
17.
 
Nikon D5100Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---

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

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 550D or the Canon XTi – 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 550D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 10.1MP) with a 33% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 4 vs DIGIC II).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.54x vs 0.49x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.7 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (440 versus 370) on a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 5 months of technical progress since the XTi launch.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel XTi:

  • More compact: Is smaller (127x84mm vs 129x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2006).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 550D is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 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.

550D 11:02 XTi

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 550D and the Canon XTi 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 550D or the XTi 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 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 XTi..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799ebay.com
3.
 
Canon 4000D2.5/5o3/5..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 T6i5/5....75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749ebay.com
7.
 
Canon 1200D3/5+....4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449ebay.com
8.
 
Canon 700D......76/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649ebay.com
9.
 
Canon 650D4/5+ +..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 500D..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799ebay.com
13.
 
Canon XS..82/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449ebay.com
14.
 
Canon XSi..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799ebay.com
15.
 
Canon XT..80/100..+ +o.. Feb 2005 899ebay.com
16.
 
Canon Rebel......+ +.... Aug 2003 899ebay.com
17.
 
Nikon D51005/5+ +..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted 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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

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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 550D vs Canon XTi

    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 XTi
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2010 August 2006
    Launch Price USD 699 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Canon 550D Canon XTi
    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 10.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3456 pixels 3888 x 2592 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.31 μm 5.71 μm
    Pixel Density 5.39 MP/cm2 3.07 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 II
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 66 62
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 22.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.5 11.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 784 664
    Screen Specs Canon 550D Canon XTi
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.54x 0.49x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 550D Canon XTi
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.7 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations50 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF cards
    Single or Dual Card Slots Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 550D Canon XTi
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 550D Canon XTi
    Battery Type LP-E8 NB-2LH
    Battery Life (CIPA)440 shots per charge370 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 129 x 98 x 62 mm
    (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
    127 x 84 x 65 mm
    (5.0 x 3.3 x 2.6 in)
    Camera Weight 530 g (18.7 oz) 556 g (19.6 oz)
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