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
|Patrick Finds Inner Peace by ecastellon|
from Your best photo of the week!
|Forks by Kukla|
from Arranged everyday objects
Calumet UK and Wex Photographic, two of the biggest photography retailers in the United Kingdom, are going to officially merge tomorrow.
macOS High Sierra came out today, but if you use a Wacom tablet you need to wait a few weeks before you upgrade. According to Wacom, they won't have a compatible driver ready for you until "late October."
Do you think a $3,000 Canon 80D video rig can compete with an $80,000+ Arri Alexa setup? Well it can't, but check out this video anyway to see how the rigs compare.
Seven simple rules to make sure you get the most out of your next photography outing.
Vitec, the company that owns popular accessory maker Manfrotto, has just acquired JOBY and Lowepro for a cool $10.3 million in cash. The acquisition adds JOBY and Lowepro to Vitec's already sizable collection of camera gear brands.
A master drone pilot has captured one of the most incredible (and highly illegal) drone videos we've ever seen by flying around, inside, onto, and under a moving train.
Intel just debuted their 8th generation desktop CPUs, and the lineup packs a performance boost for 'content creators' that photo and video editors might be intrigued by.
Canon is developing a 'Free Viewpoint Video System' that will turn real life sports games and events into immersive 3D interactive experiences. It's video game-like camera control IRL.
A veteran photojournalist, Rick Wilking secured a spot in the path of totality for the August solar eclipse. While things didn't quite pan out as predicted, an unexpected subject in the sky and a quick reaction made for a once-in-a-lifetime shot.
The new iZugar 3.25mm F2.5 super fisheye lens offers an insane 220-degree angle of view. That means it can basically see behind itself... good luck keeping your feet out of the shot.
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll remember that time you took a picture of the frozen pizza baking directions.
A Craigslist poster has discovered the worst possible way to photograph a car: taking pictures of pictures displayed on a cracked and scratched up smartphone screen.
With the iPhone X coming out soon, the title probably won't last, but the iPhone 8 Plus is officially the best smartphone camera DxOMark has ever tested, and the iPhone 8 is second.
Kodak's new Facebook Messenger chatbot is trying to bring back the 'Kodak Moment' by digging up your old social media photos and trying to sell you prints and custom coffee mugs.
Affinity Photo for iPad was touted as "the first full blown, truly professional photo editing tool to make its way onto the Apple tablet." This update makes it that much more convenient.
Yashica has released a new teaser video, and this one claims they'll be releasing an "unprecedented camera" in October on Kickstarter. Ready... set... speculate!
Storage solutions company Synology has just released its very first 6-bay NAS tower. Combined with the DX1215 expansion units, it can hold and control up to thirty drives.
We're always expanding our collection of product overview content, and we've just added videos for the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, the EOS Rebel SL2 and EOS M6.
The venerable Canon PowerShot G1 was announced seventeen years ago this week, marking the start of a line of enthusiast-focused compacts that's still alive and kicking.
Super macro photographer Can Tuncer captured these incredible close-ups of a single peacock feather using a special setup and three different microscope lenses.
After successfully crowdfunding the Biotar 75mm F1.5, Oprema Jena is at it again. This time they're bringing back the Biotar 58mm F2: the world's only lens with a 17-blade aperture.
Adobe's move to a subscription model is treating it very well indeed. The company has posted record revenue for the second quarter in a row, hauling in a mind-boggling $1.84 billion.
More details have emerged about the potential sale of Blackstone's 45% stake in iconic camera brand Leica.
Popular mobile editing app Snapseed just got a major update that includes a new interface and 11 new presets for both Android and iOS, as well as adding the Perspective tool to the iOS version.
It might sound like a strange idea, but taking macro photos of boiling water can actually result in some really cool photographs. A good photo experiment for a rainy day.
The database was created to "break with the narrow lens through which history… has been recorded" by equipping those who commission photography with "the resources to discover photographers of color available for assignments.
Lensbaby has released two new optics for their special "optic swap system." The Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic gives you that trademark sweet spot of focus, while the Creative Bokeh optic gives you 9 different drop in aperture plate options to play with.
TechCrunch has already posted their review of the upcoming iPhone 8 (not yet the iPhone X), and they're calling it "a look into the augmented future of photography."
Affinity Photo is a $50 photo editing software with no subscriptions. That's it – pay for it once and you're done. And we think it's actually pretty darn good.
Instagram is currently testing a major change to the app's profile layout: replacing the 3-photo across grid with a 4-photo grid... and some users are NOT taking the news well.