Canon EOS 550D

Posted on: 03/14 by Elijah Mendoza

The Canon EOS 550D, aptly named the Rebel T2i in the States, is a certified rule breaker. It's an advanced amateur cam that behaves like a pro shooter, and it's an SLR that shoots 1080p HD videos like a camcorder.

Body talk

The EOS 550D officially ends the "hundred D" (350D, 400D, 450D, etc.) series' stint as as the entry-level EOS, a status which, it now bequeaths to the EOS 1000D.  The 550D is also the first in the line to ship without a kit lens despite the P55,950 price tag. You'll need to buy a Canon EF or EF-S lens separately, a purchase that will cost you at least P3,000.

Despite the move up the ladder, the 550D still looks similar its older siblings. The controls are laid out the same and they're just as easy to use. The absence of a scroll wheel remains our biggest gripe, but that's been going since the days of the EOS 350D so we guess that it's time we let it go.

A playful display

The 3-inch widescreen LCD is perhaps the biggest improvement in the aesthetics. Not only is it wider than the usual display with its 3:2 aspect ratio, the resolution is also higher at 1.04 million dots. That's HD resolution crammed into a very small space.

Image and video playback are amazing, so much so that photos tend to look a lot better on the camera than on your computer. Do not be surprised if your shots look extraodrinarily sharp on the camera's display but a little blurry on your PC monitor.

ISO the light!

Powered by a single Digic 4 image processor (the same one used by the 7D), the EOS 550D is capable of shooting at ISO 6400. Most previous-generation cameras, both compacts and SLRs, can only go as high as ISO 1600 and they're still not good at capturing low light images.

We paired the 550D with an 18-135mm f/3.5 EF-S lens and it was impressive at ISO 1600 for all indoor scenarios. At ISO 3200 we had an 80% success rate of getting minimally grainy shots, not perfect but definitely better than average.

Pushing the camera to its ISO 6400 limit gave us results comparable to an EOS 450 shooting at ISO 1600 - it's hit and miss but at least the high sensitivity gives you the option to shoot at fasth shutter speeds without using the flash.

At normal three-digit levels, the 550D performs exactly as well as you expect it to. Colors come out vivid or neutral-looking depending on your settings. We shot our photos in good old "S" (for standard) and left the color tweaking to Photoshop.

Professional proof

We're no longer surprised to hear that the 5D Mark II and the 7D are being used by pro cinematographers for shooting videos. The 550D however, is the first we've heard to be used by a real television network. According to an industry insider, ABS-CBN cameramen used three 550Ds (which they got from Hong Kong) to shoot their station markers.

Of course, they weren't captured in HD given that the network is still testing the technology. But when the time comes for them to step up their game, the 550D will be more than able to rise to the occassion.

For personal use however, the movie mode is versatile enough for every conceivable situation. You'll need good light to get the best colors and contrast out of every shot. Inside our office/test lab the results are average, but it's nothing compared to those taken outdoors.

You can re-adjust your focus by pressing on the shutter button and zoom in and out using your lens' zoom ring. It takes practice to master this especially since you're essentially turning the SLR (which is purposely-built for still photos) into a whole 'nother beast by shooting videos.

Extended performance

Two more evidences of the EOS 550D giving the up yours to the entry-level market iare its new high capacity battery (LP-E8) and its ability to accept SDXC memory cards. The combination of these two features means you have more juice and more storage capacity, for your 18 megapixel stills and HD videos.

Verdict

There's no doubt that the Canon EOS 550D is an impressive camera for its size. DPReview even went so far as to call it as the baby 7D since it has nearly the same specs and features. We'll be bold when we say that pros and enthusiasts alike cannot go wrong with the 550D. It may be expensive, but there's reason behind it.

Click here to see the Canon EOS 550D in the Buyer's Guide

 

Performance
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Value
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Overall
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+
  • Amazing low light performance
  • HD video capure
  • Easy to use
-
  • Photos look much better on the LCD than they actually are
  • Pricey and it doesn't come with a kit lens
Bottom Line
  • A solid SLR with HD video capture capabilities and great low-light performance
Editor's Pick Yes
Price P55,950 (body only)
Tech Specs
  • Type: SLR
  • Resolution
    • Stills: 18 megapixels
    • Video: 1920 x 2020p (full HD)
  • Zoom: lens-based
  • Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC
  • Screen
    • Size: 3 inches (3:2 widescreen)
    • Resolution: 1,040,000 dots
  • Image Stabilization: lens-based
  • Face Detection: yes
  • Live View: yes
  • ISO Range: 100-6400
  • Shutter Speed: 30 - 1/4000 sec
  • Aperture Range: lens-based
  • Image Processor: Digic 4
  • Interface
    • Hot Shoe: yes
    • USB: mini USB2.0
    • HDMI: mini type C
  • Battery
    • Type: Li-ion LP-E8
    • Life: up to 550 shots (CIPA standard)
  • Size: 128.8 x 97.5 x 75.3mm
  • Weight: 475g (body only)


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