Rear of camera controls

The positions of the buttons on the rear of the EOS 500D have not changed at all (compared to the EOS 450D), but some of the functions have been juggled around which has mainly to do with the 500D's new movie mode. The direct print button now doubles as the movie record button, and its prior function of white balance has moved onto the top button on the four-way controller. This means that there is not a dedicated metering mode button any more, but nevertheless the nine buttons to the right of the LCD plus the ISO button on the top of the camera provide a very useful range of 'hard button' direct access to the most commonly changed camera settings. Pressing the SET button while in shooting mode displays a Quick Control menu which allows you to change a large range of shooting parameters (the same ones shown in the control panel display, above).

On-screen settings adjustment

When pressed the camera's hard buttons activate an adjustment screen (on the LCD) where a setting change can be made using the cursor buttons. Options are changed using the arrow buttons (left / right / up / down) or (new on the 500D) the main dial.

Quick Control screen

The 500D receives the Quick Control menu we first saw on the 50D, an interactive version of the existing settings display screen, bringing it into line with most other entry-level DSLRs. It's a well-implemented feature, allowing the use of either the four-way controller or the command dial to scroll through the options. You'll be flicking between settings in no time.

The ability to quickly see and change shooting settings is fundamental to getting the most out of a DSLR, because it encourages the use of a wider range of settings and functions. We're glad to see these interactive screens have become all-but-universal.

Normal display Interacting with the settings
Dedicated pages for most settings are accessed either via the Quick control menu or by pressing the relevant button Pressing the 'DISP' button from a menu page brings up the settings screen

Creative Auto mode

Creative Auto, which again first appeared on the 50D, also finds its way to the 500D. It makes a lot more sense here (and will make even more sense when it filters down to the 1000D/XS level), by giving a beginner-friendly front-end to basic exposure controls. The screen gives control over a selection of image settings but, most importantly, gives a results-orientated approach to the shooting parameters. This effectively allows the user to change the aperture by choosing how blurry they want the background to be, and set exposure compensation by deciding how light or dark the image should be. It's a mode begging to be combined with exposure simulation and depth of field preview in Live View, but unfortunately Canon has decided that the two can't be used together.

Normal display Shooting function display

Shooting mode buttons

The EOS 500D is a "shooting priority" camera, which means that no matter what mode you are in you can always still take a photograph by pressing the shutter release button.

Button Operation 
Camera Menu

Pressing this button enters or leaves the camera menu, described in more detail on the following pages of this review.

Pressing the DISP button shows or hides the camera setting screen (which is shown by default), you can define whether the status of the screen (on or off) is recalled at power off via C.Fn 12.
Exposure compensation / Aperture

Hold this button and turn the main dial to change exposure compensation in the range -2.0 EV to +2.0 EV, steps of either 1/3 or 1/2 stop, C.Fn 1. In manual exposure mode hold this button while turning the main dial to change the aperture.
Live View / Movie record

In shooting mode a press of this button takes you in and out of Live View. The 'Live View function setting' option on the setup menu controls if Live View is available, whether a grid overlay is shown, how long the metered value is displayed and the type of Auto Focus used in Live View mode; Quick mode (Passive; mirror-flip), Live mode (Contrast detect; like a compact camera) or Face Detect.
WB White Balance

 • Auto
 • Daylight
 • Shade
 • Cloudy
 • Tungsten
 • Fluorescent
 • Flash
 • Custom

Drive mode

 • Single
 • Continuous
 • Self-timer (10 sec) / Remote control
 • Self-timer (2 sec)
 • Self-timer (10 sec): Continuous (2 - 10 shots)


A press of this button takes you into the now interactive Quick Control menu where you can change a large range of shooting parameters. In Live View a press of the same button will open a short list of Live View shooting options (AF mode, picture style, white balance, drive mode and image quality).

AF AF mode

 • One shot
 • AI Focus
 • AI Servo

Picture Style

 • Standard
 • Portrait
 • Landscape
 • Neutral
 • Faithful
 • Monochrome
 • User def. 1
 • User def. 2
 • User def. 3


Enters play mode which displays the last image taken or the last image on the card.

Erase (during record review)

Press the Erase button during record review to display a Cancel / Erase option, selecting OK removes the displayed image before it is finalized to the card.

Play mode buttons

Button Operation 
Camera Menu

Pressing this button enters or leaves the camera menu, described in more detail on the following pages of this review.

Toggles between four different play display modes:
• Single image view with no overlay
• Single image view with folder, file number, exposure and frame count
• Thumbnail image with exposure information, luminance histogram and blinking highlights
• Thumbnail image with exposure information, lum & rgb histograms and blinking highlights

Direct Print / PictBridge

If the camera is connected to a PictBridge printer or PTP connection to a computer pressing this button initiates printing / image transfer.

Jump (Main dial)

Turn the dial left or right to jump through images, the dial can also be used to navigate menu options.
Cursor buttons

Press the left or right buttons to browse through images, also be used to navigate menu options. Press the up button to change the jump mode.

Return to shooting mode, the same can be achieved by simply half-pressing the shutter release button.


Press the Erase button to display a Cancel / Erase option. The 450D doesn't provide an 'All' option from the Erase button, instead you use the 'Erase images / All images on card' option from the Play menu or Format option from the first setup menu.

Front of camera controls

On the front right side of the camera are the final set of camera controls. First is the flash open button, a press of this will electronically release the flash unit. Below the lens release button is the depth of field preview button, hold this and the lens stops down to the indicated aperture to give a preview of the depth of field, either through the viewfinder or in Live View.