Canon EOS 500D (Digital Rebel T1i / Kiss X3 Digital) Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Good resolution and detailed output (but only very marginally better than 450D)
- Decent (but not 'best in class') high ISO JPEG performance
- Extended ISO speed up to 12800 (not great quality but it's there for emergencies)
- Good quality HD video (but sound output does not match the image quality)
- Currently the cheapest 1080P video capable DSLR (albeit only at 20fps)
- Overall snappy and responsive performance
- Very clear, high resolution 3.0 inch screen with anti-reflection coating (but still hardly usable in sunny conditions)
- Brightest and largest viewfinder in class
- Good number of external controls provide quick access to all important shooting parameters and the interactive quick control panel is a good alternative for those who prefer the compact camera style of controls
- Intuitive menu system and customizable 'My Menu'
- Good control over High ISO NR
- Fairly efficient Highlight Tone Priority features preserves some additional highlight detail
- Reliable flash exposure
- Peripheral illumination correction
- Optional battery grip
- HDMI output
- Comprehensive software package included
- Good battery life
Conclusion - Cons
- Visibly more noise in RAW files than some of the competition
- Slightly less highlight range in JPGs than the competition
- Relatively limited RAW headroom, channel clipping means color accuracy can often not be maintained when recovering clipped areas in RAW conversion
- Metering has occasional tendencies to overexpose in very bright, contrasty conditions
- Unreliable auto white balance and presets under artificial light
- Still slightly plasticy appearance and surfaces
- Grip is a little small for larger hands
- Flash has to be raised for AF assist (although AF is good even in low light)
- Limited exposure compensation range (+/- 2.0 EV)
- Contrast detect AF so slow it's useless for most types of photography (it's the same for most of the competition though)
- Slightly more expensive than the competition
The EOS 500D is the latest incarnation of a highly successful line of cameras and although the 'entry level' market segment is these days much more crowded than it used to be, we would be very surprised if the new model would not sell like hotcakes.
All the major manufacturers cram more and more new features into their 'budget' offerings but the EOS 500D is arguably the currently best specced camera in the segment, which lifts it some distance above pure 'entry level' territory. It comes with the highest resolution sensor (15.1 effective megapixels) in its class, an excellent 3.0 inch high resolution screen, extended sensitivity up to ISO 12800 and the arguably for many users most attractive new feature, a movie mode that records 1080P/20fps or 720P/30fps High Definition video footage.
It combines all this with decent image quality and while its appearance might be a little plasticy and the handling can be difficult with larger hands the 500D's main problem could be that it's a little pricier than most of its direct competitors which, in these times of economic turmoil, might render it less attractive to some potential buyers.
At base ISO the 500D produces clean and detailed output with natural colors but to make the most of the camera's 15 megapixels for big enlargements or cropping you should invest in good lenses. At least towards the edges of the frame the kit-lenses struggle to resolve all the detail in a scene.
The Canon does a decent job at higher sensitivities and up to ISO 1600 produces perfectly usable output that shows good detail but also visibly more chroma noise than the Nikon D5000 (if you're willing to sacrifice some image detail you get rid of it almost entirely by setting noise reduction to 'Strong' though). ISO 3200 gets visibly softer and the two highest settings produce a very intrusive type of color noise. They should therefore be firmly reserved for emergency situations.
When shooting in RAW the picture changes slightly to the negative. The 'extra quality' you can usually get out of RAW files compared to shooting in JPEG is relatively limited on the 500D. One reason for that is the quality of the camera's JPEG engine. It is doing a pretty good job at 'optimizing' the JPEG output when converting the RAW data. However, the 500D's RAW images are also slightly lagging behind some of the competition and surprisingly even the 450D in terms of high ISO noise and to a smaller degree in terms of pixel level detail. It's not going to be an issue when checking images at screen size but it's certainly visible up-close.
Metering is generally reliable but, like the 450D, in bright conditions the EOS 500D has a tendency to overexpose resulting in clipping of highlights. And although the JPEG dynamic range in the highlights is slightly smaller than on the predecessor there's enough headroom in raw files to pull back highlight detail in most of those shots. It's therefore recommendable, especially in bright and contrasty conditions, to always shoot JPEG + RAW. Otherwise you'd better check your exposures carefully and apply some negative exposure compensation where necessary.
We have in the past been slightly critical about the handling of the 500D's predecessors and we're still not too keen on the camera's ergonomics. The grip is comparatively small and, especially for photographers with larger hands, the camera doesn't sit as comfortably in the hand as, for example, the Nikon D5000 or Olympus E-620. The external controls give you good access to the most frequently changed shooting parameters but we'd love to see a 50D style second control wheel. Having said that we are looking at a budget camera here and the manufacturers have to draw the line somewhere.
The menu design is very intuitive and for everybody stepping up from a digital compact camera the Quick Control Screen will be a welcome alternative to changing settings via the hard buttons. All in all the EOS 500D is a camera that, after some initial adaption time, you will find easy to use. Just make sure you hold one before you buy and check if its smallish grip is suitable for you.
Like most current SLRs the live view feature is, mainly due to the very slow AF, of limited use outside the studio and while the video mode delivers excellent quality footage it offers very little manual control. None of these points are deal breakers though and Canon might even, like it did in the case of the 5D Mark II, at some point offer a new firmware to allow for more manual interference.
The final word
If you currently own an EOS 450D or another fairly recent entry-level DSLR from an image quality point of view there is not necessarily a need to upgrade to the EOS 500D. However, the HD video mode, new high-resolution screen or extended ISO range make it easier to justify the expense if you're likely to use these features. For anybody buying their first DSLR the 500D is an easy recommendation but you might want to have a look at the Nikon D5000 as well. It comes with a similar feature set to the 500D ('only' 720P video though) and performs slightly better in low light.
Canon EOS 500D (EOS Rebel T1i / EOS Kiss X3)
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
Canon's popular consumer model takes another step away from the 'entry level' with an impressive spec sheet and consistently good performance, across the board. It may struggle to excel in any particular area, but taken as a whole it's one of the strongest contenders in this category.
Original Rating (June 2009): Highly Recommended
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean
- 16 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 17 Photographic tests (DR)
- 18 Photographic tests
- 19 Movie Mode
- 20 Compared to
- 21 Compared to (JPEG)
- 22 Compared to (JPEG)
- 23 Compared to (JPEG)
- 24 Compared to (RAW)
- 25 Compared to (RAW)
- 26 Compared to (Higher ISO)
- 27 Compared to (Resolution)
- 28 Compared to (Resolution)
- 29 Conclusion
- 30 Samples
|Something Blue by Gerard Beullac|
from Your City - One Way Only
|Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River by wam7|
|Volvo by Jill Hancock|
from V is for...
One of the weirdest copyright cases in the history of photography is finally over. The courts have sided with photographer David Slater and rejected PETA's claim that the monkey who took the infamous selfie has any claim over the photograph's copyright.
In his latest video, Ted Forbes of The Art of Photography shares his thoughts on how equipment nowadays is seen less as a means to an end, and more as the end in and of itself.
The latest update to Lightroom Classic CC brought with it a slew of major bugs, including some that would cause the program to crash. Adobe has now released an update to address these bugs, along with an apology.
The new drives come in the M.2 form factor and with the latest PCIe Gen 3×4 lane interface, offering NVM Express (NVMe) bandwidth. In other words: they're an interesting option for anyone editing large batches of photos or 4K/8K video.
Photographer Alexander Gee has created something pretty cool: the first (to our knowledge) E-Mount film camera. It's called LEX, and when it's finished, Gee intends to make the camera's design files open source so that anybody can built their own from scratch.
Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a low-power HD video streaming method that could eventually allow tiny, maybe even battery-free wearable cameras to stream high definition video.
Nikon Corporation has warned investors that an assessment of its Belgium-based metrology business based is worth much less than expected, and that they should brace themselves for an 'extraordinary loss' of 10,343 million yen.
In 2009, photographer Michael Benanav joined a family from the nomadic Van Gujjar tribe on their annual journey from the lowland jungles of the Shivalik Hills to the alpine meadows of the Himalayas. This is the story behind the images he captured.
NVIDIA's Content-Aware Fill competitor is getting better and better. A new demo from shows how the latest version can fill in entire chunks of a person's face, or pieces of an image that are missing, with incredibly realistic results.
This hacked Polaroid Sonar Autofocus 5000 puts a digital spin on instant photography, but not in the way you're used to seeing. It's one of the most ambitious and well-executed DIY camera projects we've seen.
Chinese smartphone manufacturer Meizu has launched a new high-end model, the Meizu 15 Plus. And based on specs alone, the phone is well-worth a closer look for mobile photographers who are open to buying from a less established brand.
Open source photo editor GIMP is a popular (and free) Photoshop alternative, but can it really be used on a professional edit? In this video, photographer Shane Milton shows you that it most certainly can.
Photographer Jolyon Ralph pit the new Huawei P20 Pro against his beloved Canon 5DS R, and was "somewhat stunned" by how well the 40MP smartphone performed against the 50MP DSLR.
Thanks to a low-res proxy version of the Insta360 Pro 8K footage, stitching times and computer processing requirements are reduced significantly when editing 360° footage from the six-lens system.
DxO Labs has filed the initial proceedings to start the bankruptcy process in France. The company is currently under "judicial administration," which allows it some time to restructure and find a buyer before the liquidation process occurs.
SmugMug has acquired struggling photography site Flickr for an undisclosed sum, with CEO Don MacAskill promising to give the neglected photo sharing service "the resources that it deserves."
YouTube channel Filmmaker IQ has put together a very interesting, technically detailed, and scientifically accurate description of exactly how various image sensors (and photographic film) work. One of the best overview videos we've seen.
In Part 1 of his series on photographing Greenland in winter, landscape photographer Erez Marom shares the freezing details of his arrival on the town of Uummannaq where the temperature was -25°C. Still, he went out shooting.
The APO-Makro-Plasmat 105mm F2.7 is Meyer Optik's latest Kickstarter lens revival, and it promises "natural sharpness, unbelievable color reproduction, and a glowing bokeh united at every step of the aperture" ... whatever that means.
The update also comes with "post-scan cloud processing," which allows you to render 3D models with 4K resolution textures for better detail and realism.
Chinese accessories brand Meike has announced it will introduce an 85mm F1.8 lens for Canon and Nikon full frame DSLRs that will feature autofocus. This will be the company’s first AF lens.
The World Photo Organization has finally revealed the overall winners for the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards, including the coveted Photographer of the Year, Open Photographer of the Year, Youth Photographer of the Year, and Student Photographer of the Year winners.
Venus Optics has unveiled four new lenses that will ship later this year: a wide-angle zoom for Sony FE, a circular fisheye for Micro Four Thirds, a wide-angle lens for the medium format Fujifilm GFX, and a 2x Ultra Macro for multiple full-frame mounts.
The One Backpack is a 5-in-1 modular backpack that can be used as a camera bag, work & gym pack, suit carry backpack, travel pack or tech-backpack.
This highly-specialized lens is perfect for sports, action and wildlife photography. Check out these first sample images for a taste of what it's capable of.
For KFC Hong Kong’s latest ad campaign, New York City-based advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather used Photoshop to magically morph pieces of flaky fried chicken into fire and smoke in various scenes.
The Android and iOS app from Surpuba AR lets you place animated 3D models in real-world environment using augmented reality technology. You can alter poses and location, insert lighting equipment, and more... right from your phone or tablet.
Under the agreement, the two companies will work together to develop Oppo's smartphone camera roadmap, covering optical zoom, depth mapping and other innovative imaging features that dual cameras allow.
Canon is jumping into the portable printing game with the new IVY Mini Photo Printer: a rechargeable battery-powered printer for creating 2x3 prints and stickers of your smartphone snaps on-the-go.