Shooting mode information and Quick Control screen

The 550D features the same Quick Control screen we first saw on the 50D and 500D, and which is now working its way across the range. This sort of screen is becoming increasingly common on competing entry-level DSLRs, and it's a well-implemented feature, allowing the use of either the four-way controller or the command dial to scroll through the options.

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, and the EOS 550D offers one of the best.

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 You now get four different color scheme options for the Quick Control screen.

Creative Auto mode

Creative Auto, which again first appeared on the 50D, makes a lot more sense on this class of camera, 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 set the aperture and exposure compensation by choosing how blurry they want the background to be, and how light or dark the image should be. (Note screenshots taken from EOS 50D)

Normal display Shooting function display

Record review & play displays

By default the EOS 550D provides a two second review display immediately after the shot is taken, this can be disabled or extended to 4 or 8 seconds or as long as you hold the shutter release button. During record review you can press the erase button to cancel / erase the current image. Record review and play share the same display modes, just press the INFO button to select between the four available modes (see below). The main difference between the EOS 550D and its predecessor is purely cosmetic (and a direct consequence of the change in screen aspect ratio); the information in full-screen mode is now displayed as a white text overlay, rather than in a black status line at the top.

Display modes

There are four display modes available in record review / play, you can also optionally enable 'Highlight alert' (blinking highlights) and / or 'AF point display' (the last two in the table below).

1: Large image, no overlay 2: Large image + basic info + image number
3: Small image + lum histogram + detailed shooting info 4: Small image + status line + lum histogram + RGB histogram + detailed shooting info

Play magnification

The EOS 550D uses the two shoulder buttons to zoom in and out. There are 15 steps of magnification. Rolling the click wheel jumps to one of the neighboring images, retaining magnification and position, to allow images to be compared and focus confirmed.

Play thumbnail index

Like its predecessor the 500D provides two levels of thumbnail index, the initial view being a four image 2x2 index, press the thumbnail button once more to switch to a nine image 3x3 index. You can use the multi-controller or quick command dial to move around images or the main dial to jump images (ideal if you have the 'screen' jump mode selected).