Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T2i / Kiss X4 Digital) In-depth review
The Canon EOS 550D is a difficult product to categorize. Ostensibly designed to appeal to first-time DSLR buyers and enthusiasts, it offers a lot more technology, and at a higher price, than we might expect for a camera aimed squarely at this sector. Although it might seem logical for the 550D to replace the EOS 500D, the older camera is set to continue in Canon's lineup, which leaves the 550D pinched between its entry-level (represented by the still-current EOS 1000D and the 500D) and nominally enthusiast (the EOS 50D) peers. Confusingly however, apart from build quality (which is all but identical to the EOS 500D), the 550D has more in common with the prosumer EOS 7D, and - perhaps even more confusingly - it out-specifies the EOS 50D in many areas.
Central to the impressive specification of the EOS 550D is a high-spec movie mode which offers full HD capture at up to 30 fps, manual control over exposure, and the option to use an external stereo microphone. The new camera also inherits the EOS 7D's sophisticated metering system (which brings it a lot closer to similarly positioned Nikon SLRs).So why has Canon apparently risked cannibalizing 7D sales by releasing such a similarly-specced, lower-end model? Well, Canon might have invented the 'entry-level' DSLR way back in 2003 with the attractively priced (for the time) EOS 300D, but these days, this sector of the marketplace is pretty crowded. Far from enjoying a monopoly, Canon, like all manufacturers, faces a stiff battle to make its products stand out amongst their numerous peers. To this end, Canon has pulled out all the stops with the EOS 550D and produced the most highly-specced Rebel we've ever seen. Now that a production sample has arrived in dpreview's offices, we've had the chance to subject it to our full in-depth test procedure. Read on to find out how it performs.
A brief history; Canon entry level digital SLR series
- 20/08/03: Canon EOS 300D / Digital Rebel (6 mp)
- 17/02/05: Canon EOS 350D / Digital Rebel XT (8 mp)
- 24/08/06: Canon EOS 400D / Digital Rebel XTi (10 mp)
- 24/01/08: Canon EOS 450D / Digital Rebel XSi (12 mp)
- 10/06/08: Canon EOS 1000D / Digital Rebel XS (10 mp)*
- 25/03/09: Canon EOS 500D / Digital Rebel T1i (15.1 mp)
- 08/02/10: Canon EOS 550D / Rebel T2i (18 mp)
* The Canon EOS 1000D represents a sub-class of the Rebel series and hence should be considered a parallel series.
- 18 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
- DIGIC 4 processor with ISO 100-6400 (Expansion to 12800)
- Continuous shooting at 3.7fps
- Full HD movie recording with manual control and selectable frame rates
- 7.7cm (3.0”) 3:2 Clear View LCD with 1,040k dots
- iFCL metering System with 63-zone Dual-layer Metering Sensor
- Quick Control screen to change shooting settings
- Exposure compensation +/-5 stops (although viewfinder scale is still +/-2 stops)
- Select maximum value for Auto ISO
- External Microphone socket
- Movie crop function
- Eye-Fi connected functions compatibility
EOS 550D vs EOS 500D Key differences
- Higher resolution 18MP CMOS with gapless micro lenses
- ISO 6400 no longer in 'expanded' range (12,800 max remains the same)
- Redesigned buttons and new movie/live view button
- Customizable auto ISO ranges
- Improved 63 zone metering (iFCL)
- 3:2 format screen with more pixels
- Improved movie functionality
- Slightly higher burst shooting rate (though buffer holds fewer shots)
- HDMI control (CEC)
- SDHX Compatible
Technology in Detail/What's New
Foreword / notes
If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read some of our Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).
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Dpreview use calibrated monitors at the PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally also A, B and C.