The 500D uses essentially the same body as the 450D with a slight peachfuzz texture to the plastic, which makes a bit of a difference in terms of perceived quality but the camera feels, compared to some of the competition, still a little plasticy. An 'EOS' name badge and eight tiny holes are the other noticeable differences. These holes are all movie-related and cover the microphone on the front of the camera and the speaker on the reverse. Other than that, a little bit of button shuffling is all that's changed, externally - the 500D loses a dedicated metering mode button (though retains direct access to the arguably less useful 'Picture Styles'), which now becomes a White Balance button. The Print Button, which handled White Balance on the 450D now provides access to movie recording and live view.
The 500D inherits the 450D's body and construction, and other than the surface finish and minor tweaks to the casing (microphone and speaker holes, HDMI port and recess for mounting the 'EOS' badge), it stays essentially the same. As such, it's primarily made from three materials; a stainless steel chassis (blue in this diagram), the mirror box which is made of high-strength 'engineering plastic' (red in the diagram) and the body made of a special lightweight 'engineering plastic' which also provides some electromagnetic shielding. Construction is good (considering the budget price) with no creaks or rattles. (Diagram provided by Canon, our colorization).
In your hand / grip
As as a result of the rather subtle nature of the changes made over the 450D, its fit in the hand is unchanged. It's got a slightly better grip than the first three generations of Rebels but it's still far from being the camera's design highpoint, and your hands don't have to be terribly large before you risk the camera becoming a touch awkward or uncomfortable after extended use. It's by no means terrible, but it's worth handling one to find out if you're someone who can't live with it.
Side by side
Here we show the 500D against its most obvious rivals - the Nikon D5000 and the Olympus E-620 - and its predecessor, the EOS 450D. We've also included the dimensions and weight of the Sony A350 in the table.
(W x H x D)
(inc. battery & card)
|Canon EOS 500D||129 x 98 x 62 mm (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)||524 g (1.2 lb)|
|Nikon D5000||127 x 104 x 80 mm (5.0 x 4.1 x 3.1 in)||611 g (1.3 lb)|
|Olympus E-620||130 x 94 x 60 mm (5.1 x 3.7 x 2.4 in)||521 g (1.1 lb)|
|Canon EOS 450D||129 x 98 x 62 mm (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)||524 g (1.2 lb)|
|Sony DSLR-A350||131 x 99 x 71 mm (5.2 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)||664 g (1.5 lb)|