Compared to... Canon EOS 500D (Rebel T1i)

From a sensor spec point of view there's not a lot between the Alpha 550 and its equivalent in Canon's perennially popular EOS range (15.1 million pixels on the Rebel vs 14.2 on the Alpha 550). With its in-body stabilization, sophisticated live view system, 7fps burst mode and articulated screen the Alpha outguns the Rebel in many ways (though lacks the Canon's movie mode and isn't so customizable), something that's reflected in its significantly higher price.

Studio scene comparison (JPEG)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

Sony DSLR-A550 vs Canon EOS 500D

Camera settings:

  • Sony Alpha 550: Sony 50 mm F1.4 lens, Aperture Priority, ISO 200 JPEG Large/Fine,
    Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard, DRO auto), Self-Timer

  • Canon EOS 500D (Rebel T1i): Canon EF 50 mm F1.4 lens, Aperture Priority, ISO 100 JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard), Self-Timer (with MLU)
Sony DSLR-A550

Canon EOS 500D

4.1 MB JPEG (4592 x 3056)
5.6 MB JPEG (4032 x 3024)

Although you're unlikely to see a significant difference between these two cameras at base ISO at normal viewing magnifications, it's clear when you get up close that the EOS 500D's JPEG output is crisper and has noticeably better resolution. The A550's output looks very similar to the A380 we tested a few months back; it's a little on the soft side (viewed at 100%), but unless you're producing poster prints or cropping heavily it just isn't an issue. Detail and sharpness aside the A550's color rendition is, typically for a Sony, slightly more saturated (enough so that the red channel is close to clipping). As with virtually all digital SLRs you can of course use the extensive in-camera image controls to fine tune the output to your own needs.