Canon EOS 550D Unleashed

The new Canon EOS 550D has arrived just 11 months after the 500D was announced and it’s packing an impressive list of features that are sure to cause a stir in the sub-£1000 digital SLR market. Borrowing components from the EOS 7D and bolstering the video credentials makes the 550D an attractive option for enthusiasts looking to upgrade.

Canon EOS 550DThe new Canon EOS 550D digital SLR

Canon 550D Headline Features:

  • 18.7 megapixel CMOS sensor (APS-C size)
  • 63-zone iFCL metering (from the 7D & 1D Mark IV)
  • ISO 100-6400 (+ H1 expansion, ISO 12,800)
  • 3” LCD screen with 1,040k pixels & 3:2 aspect ratio
  • 1080p video @ 30, 25, 24 fps
  • 720p video @ 50 / 60 fps
  • External stereo microphone support

The 18.7 megapixel sensor found in the EOS 550D isn’t just a resolution boost from the 15 megapixel sensor in the 500D – the 550D sensor features a gapless micro lens design (launched in the 50D) which increases the efficiency of each pixel.

If you fancy donning your director’s cap then the 550D offers great video functionality: Full 1080p HD video at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second with full creative control over the aperture & shutter speeds. Adding external stereo microphone support to the mix gives the 550D the same video capabilities as the 7D.

External changes from the 500D to 550D are subtle; the LCD screen ratio is now 3:2 to match still images (it's 4:3 in the 500D), there’s a new Live View / Movie button and several other buttons have been remoulded into larger & flatter shapes.

The accessory line-up has undergone a revamp too: a new LP-E8 battery (allowing an accurate power-remaining display), a new BG-E8 battery grip (with the ability to adjust the aperture value on-grip) and a new RC-6 remote control with immediate release or a 2 second delay (also compatible with the 450D, 500D, 7D & 5D Mark II).

Ignoring the very best memory card advice – Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – the 550D also supports the new SDXC format, which will eventually support 2TB memory cards. Useful for hours of HD video, but it’s a scary prospect of wading through 2TB of images in one download! Eye-Fi wireless memory card functions are also supported in the user interface for hassle-free image transfer.

Canon EOS 550D Video

Canon 500D vs 550D vs 50D vs 7D Comparison

  500D 550D 50D 7D
Megapixels 15.1 18.0 15.1 18.0
ISO Range 100-3200 + H1/2 100-6400 + H1 100-3200 + H1/2 100-6400 + H1
HD Video Max 1080p @ 20fps 1080p @ 30fps - 1080p @ 30fps
Metering 35-zone SPC 63-zone iFCL 35-zone SPC 63-zone iFCL
Autofocus 9-point 9-point 9-point 19-point
FPS 3.4 3.7 6.3 8.0
LCD Screen (Pixels) 3.0" (920k) 3.0" (1,040k) 3.0" (920k) 3.0" (920k)
Weight 480g 530g 730g 820g

The Canon EOS 550D will be available in the following kits:

  • 550D Body Only - RRP £799.99
  • 550D with 18-55mm IS - RRP £899.99
  • 550D with 18-135mm IS - RRP £1,099.99
  • 550D with 18-55mm IS & 55-250mm IS - RRP £1,199.99

As usual Dpreview have an excellent 550D hands-on preview to keep you going until we get a full review at Wex Photographic!

View the Canon EOS 550D at Wex Photographic