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Canon EOS 500D review
|DATE REVIEWED: 1st Jul 2009||Add Camera To Comparison Chart|
|Camera Type||DSLR||Shutter Speeds||30 - 1/4000 sec|
|RRP||£870||ISO Range||100 - 3200|
|Megapixels||15.1||Focal Length||By lens|
|Dimensions||129 x 98 x 62mm (WxHxD)||Focus Distance||By lens|
|LCD Size||3 inches||Zoom (Opt)||By lens|
|Zoom (Dig)||None||Storage||SD / SDHC|
|Max Resolution||4752 x 3168||Battery Type||Li-Ion|
Unlike the majority of digital compacts, DSLRs don’t get the opportunity to have major design overhauls or take on a raft of different colours, so year-to-year the aesthetics rarely change. Where the camera bodies do alter is inside, taking on features and extra functionality should the user need them. The EOS 500D certainly has its work cut out on this front as it’s predecessor, the EOS 450D, was one of the biggest selling DSLRs of all time.
Canon has responded by keeping the body weight and shape much the same, but adding a couple of interesting extras. The high-def movie mode will doubtless attract those wanting to ditch the camcorder in favour of a single device, and at the highest possible 1080p resolution the gadget aficionados have little room to complain either. As is the norm with any new model the CMOS chip has been improved, now offering 15.1MP, and the DIGIC processor is now its fourth incarnation. Elsewhere the alterations are much of a muchness, with the screen gaining almost three times the sharpness while the burst mode has a fractional loss but is able to shoot for longer. For those looking at the now huge price difference between the EOS 500D and 450D the benefits of going for the more recent model may not leap out screaming, but for a DSLR this is rarely the case. Instead the refinements come through when using the 500D, especially for anyone a few generations behind looking to update.
The most striking first impression from the EOS 500D is the weight, of which there is very little. 480g is feather light for a DSLR and with a smaller lens, such as the 18-55 kit option, even a child would have no problems lugging it around. The balance is disrupted somewhat when the larger zoom lenses are attached, as the front end is overly favoured. For those looking to upgrade beyond the cheaper-end lenses it’s worth considering that the 500D doesn’t have the bulk necessary to keep the handling the same regardless of the optics, so be prepared to use a monopod or tripod. This isn’t to say that the EOS 500D feels at all flimsy though, as other than the rubbery side panel which surrounds the connections all is sturdy. Regardless of continuing the switch from Compact Flash to SD, which is both practical and cost effective, the body isn’t ridiculously small in the hand. For those with larger digits it is more cramped, although the increased ridging at the rear makes it far less likely to mash the D-pad with your palm.
The amount of space at the rear isn’t exactly plentiful, especially as the 3” LCD hogs the lion’s share. Rather than filling the rest of the body with a head-spinning amount of buttons and dials the amount available have been reduced and combined into multi-function options. The only option looking like it’s been short changed is the ISO control, which sits between the Mode Dial and Function Dial. Thankfully it sits proud enough not to cause an issue, minimising the amount of movement away from the viewfinder between shots. Thankfully, in spite of having a huge LCD to call upon, the functionality remains to display all of the necessary information in the viewfinder when the necessary button is pressed. For compact users the 3” display will doubtless be the first port of call though, and both the sharpness and unfussy nature of the information on offer making it extremely simple for a beginner to get to grips. With a single press of the Set button the standard display becomes interactive, allowing the values to be changed using either the D-pad or scroll wheel once selected. Although it takes longer to select and alter the values in question, it’s a far more beneficial to learning how the various settings work than an overbearing or longwinded ‘help’ option, which often causes delays and little else. Other than the playback functionality the LCD also supports Live View, which benefits from the impressive sharpness and size of the screen. The autofocus functionality is also active, although instead of reacting to a half-press of the shutter the functionality is shifted, rather confusingly, to the Zoom Out button at the top left. As the Zoom In is still active in its original form, it means the entire range must be cycled through before reverting to the standard view. The shutter also retains the ability to take photos, meaning focusing and taking a shot is a two button affair, which is curiously complex. Although the reasons behind the shift are valid, there is little in the way of labelling to indicate where the new AF button lies. Absolute beginners may flock to the Live View mode and be immediately perplexed by this, although it does force an introduction to the far more practical viewfinder.
As with any DSLR the image quality produced by the EOS 500D is heavily dependent on the lens. Across an 18-55mm kit lens, 18-200mm Image Stabilised lens and 70-200mm f2.8 Sigma lens the quality levels were pretty similar, bar the odd focussing issue brought about by the speed of the lens. Colour quality was relatively deep and clean, with reds being confidently unspectacular so as not to dominate the shot, nor show up the issues which have often been indicative of CMOS chips in the past. The higher frequency shades don’t dominate though, giving the likes of the blues more room to breathe. The only real issue to appear with any frequency was the tendency to favour the lighter end of scale, improving shadow detail but losing some of the highlights. On sunny days the 500D lost information on white can get quite frustrating, even with a longer zoom lens. Although this is annoying at times, the EOS 500D rarely produced inaccurate or unacceptable images, and reacted well in sports, portrait and macro shooting.
Canon, like the majority of other manufacturers, feel the need to refresh the DSLR range every six months to a year, scrambling to find a method of making minor adjustments seem new. In all honesty the advantages over the EOS 450D are minor, especially for the price, and the quality levels aren’t massively superior. The only real advantage is the 1080p HD recording, which has an AF system that is an awkward hybrid between a stills and video approach. The rest of the camera works entirely to expectations, taking sharp, vivid images and presenting the beginner with a simple in point to DSLRs, without being overly patronising or simplifying the controls.
A bit expensive, but the sum of the EOS 500D’s parts add up to a camera that will help you develop as a photographer
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|A bit expensive, but the sum of the EOS 500D’s parts add up to a camera that will help you develop as a photographer|
As a keen photographer for more than ten years, Matt is combining the two great loves of his life in taking photos and playing with new gadgets.
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