Although purists could argue that the LCD Screen doesn't make your pictures better, it's hard to go back to a 230,000 dot screen once you've spent some time using one of the 920,000 dot, VGA panels that have started to appear on recent DSLRs. The one Canon has incorporated into the 500D includes the anti-reflection layers that made the 50D's screen a particular pleasure to use. If it's the only factor that distinguishes between two cameras, we'd usually err towards the one with the nice screen.
Camera settings displayThe settings display, as well as getting a Digic 4 makeover, is now interactive. Moving Live view off to its own button leaves the 'Set' free to give access to the key shooting settings. This means the four-way controller can either give direct access to its four assigned functions or, once 'Set' has been pressed, can be used to scroll around the all the shooting settings.
The 500D inherits the 450D's viewfinder, which is one of the better pentamirror finders out there. However it's still not as big or bright as the pentaprism finders generally found in more expensive cameras.
The viewfinder view is almost identical to the 450D's, the only new element is the highlight tone priority indicator. As on the EOS 450D the focusing screen has a circle indicating the spot metering location. The AF areas are indicated by a small LED dot in the center of the AF point rectangle. With a depression of the shutter release button (half or full) this dot will briefly light to indicated the selected AF point (either automatic or manual) and then blink again once AF has been achieved.
One figure hidden away in every SLR's spec is the size of the viewfinder (often in a format that makes comparison between competing models impossible). The size of the viewfinder is a key factor in the usability of an SLR - the bigger it is, the easier it is to frame and focus your shots, and the more enjoyable and involving process it is.
Because of the way viewfinders are measured (using a fixed lens, rather than a lens of equivalent magnification), you also need to take the sensor size into account, so the numbers in the diagram below are the manufacturer's specified magnifications divided by the respective 'crop factors'. Both the 500D and its most obvious competitor (the Nikon D5000) are roughly in the middle of the viewfinder pack, below the high end models in their respective ranges, but above most Four Thirds or Sony models. The other camera we've used in our comparisons (later in this review), the Olympus E-620, has a noticeably smaller viewfinder.
The diagram below shows the relative size of the viewfinders of the 500D, Nikon D5000, Olympus E-620 and - for reference - the EOS-1Ds Mark III (currently the biggest viewfinder on the DSLR market).
|The EOS 500D's viewfinder magnification- just over 0.54x - is fractionally larger than the Nikon D5000 (though the difference is impossible to see). Both are slightly larger than the E-620's viewfinder, thanks mainly to the wider aspect ratio they use.|
Most cameras at this level crop the frame slightly when you look through the viewfinder - in other words you get slightly more in the final picture than you see through the viewfinder. In common with most of its competitors the 500D only shows 95% (vertically and horizontally) of the frame.
|Canon EOS 500D: 95% viewfinder.|
Battery Compartment / Battery
The EOS 500D's battery compartment is located in the base of the hand grip behind a metal hinged plastic door. The battery fits horizontally into the base and is held in place by an white clip. The 500D uses the same battery as the 450D, the Lithium-Ion LP-E5 battery pack which offers 1080 mAh capacity.
The charger has also been taken over from the EOS 450D. A full charge from flat takes approximately 90 minutes on the LC-E5E charger.
Battery Grip (optional)
Secure Digital Compartment
The EOS 500D sports an SD memory card slot and of course supports both SD and SDHC cards providing capacities over 4 GB. Like on the EOS 450D there is a 'beware I'm still writing to the card' warning screen and beep if you open the card door to soon.
On the left side of the camera are all of the cameras connections, these are protected by a rubber cover which fits flush when closed. In summary from top to bottom: Remote terminal (E3 type), a combined USB and A/V output, and an HDMI socket (replacing the 450D's video out).