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Canon EOS 500D with 18-55mm lens review

Ben Pitt
10 Jul 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
658
inc VAT

The 500D is a worthy successor to the 450D, but the video mode is disappointing and the large sensor is let down by the kit lens.

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Specifications

22.3x14.9mm 15.1-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (18-55mm (29-88mm) equivalent), 680g

With the EOS 450D, Canon had to find a balance between building on its predecessor and keeping the price within reach of first-time SLR buyers.

However, the introduction of a new entry-level model, the 1000D, last year has allowed Canon to pitch the 500D at more demanding users. New features include a 15.1-megapixel sensor, sensitivity up to ISO 12800, a 920,000-dot 3in screen, HDMI output and HD video recording. That's a healthy list of upgrades and should be enough to justify the £160 premium over the 450D at current prices.

Reviewing shots on the high-resolution screen was a pleasure, and the HDMI output is available for live view previews as well as playback. Our favourite new feature is the increased ISO range, though. Shots at ISO 3200 looked excellent, and the 6400 and 12800 settings proved useful for more casual photography in very low light. A new variable noise-reduction control is also welcome, particularly at these high ISO settings.

The higher resolution hasn't increased image noise, but it highlights the kit lens's limitations. Image sharpness was disappointing at the corners and there were heavy chromatic aberrations. The autofocus was also misjudged at times, although this could be due to the camera rather than the lens. Sadly, we weren't able to try it with a better lens before going to press, to see if this solved the problem.

This is the first Canon digital SLR we've seen that records video, but it can't compete with similarly priced dedicated video cameras or Panasonic's more expensive GH1, opposite. 1080p clips are limited to 20fps, a non-standard frame rate that isn't compatible with DVD or Blu-ray. 720p clips are recorded at 30fps, but there's no 25fps mode for compatibility with the UK PAL standard. The 40Mbit/s bit rate for 1080p video can't be changed and will cripple most playback and editing software. Autofocus is far too slow and noisy to use while filming, so you'll have to adjust the focus manually. That may be fine for creative filmmakers, but they won't appreciate the lack of manual exposure controls. However, the biggest disappointment is the lack of effective noise reduction. Without it, the 500D squanders the benefit that its big sensor should have brought to low-light clips.

We can't recommend the 500D with its kit lens, but with another lens it should be more appealing. However, nothing in Canon's range directly compares with the 18-105mm lens bundled with Nikon's D90. This marginally superior camera and vastly superior lens are worth the extra £100.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
CCD effective megapixels15.1 megapixels
CCD size22.3x14.9mm
Viewfinderoptical TTL
LCD screen size3.0in
LCD screen resolution920,000 pixels
Optical zoom3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent18-55mm (29-88mm)
Image stabilisationoptical, lens based
Maximum image resolution4,752x3,168
Maximum movie resolution1,920x1,080
Movie frame rate at max quality20fps
File formatsJPEG, RAW; QuickTime (AVC)

Physical

Memory slotSDHC
Mermory suppliednone
Battery type7.4W 1,000mAh Li-ion
Battery Life (tested)400 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV, mini HDMI
Body materialplastic
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables, neck strap
Weight680g
Size98x129x133mm

Buying Information

Price£658
Supplierhttp://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop
Detailswww.canon.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modesprogram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed30 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture rangef/3.5 to f/22 (wide), f/5.6 to f/36 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution)100 to 3200
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 6 presets, manual
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness, color tone, noise reduction
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus25cm
Auto-focus modes9-point
Metering modesmulti, partial, centre-weighted, centre
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket

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