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.
22.3×14.9mm 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.
|CCD effective megapixels
|LCD screen size
|LCD screen resolution
|Zoom 35mm equivalent
|optical, lens based
|Maximum image resolution
|Maximum movie resolution
|Movie frame rate at max quality
|JPEG, RAW; QuickTime (AVC)
|7.4W 1,000mAh Li-ion
|Battery Life (tested)
|USB, AV, mini HDMI
|USB and AV cables, neck strap
|program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
|30 to 1/4,000 seconds
|f/3.5 to f/22 (wide), f/5.6 to f/36 (tele)
|ISO range (at full resolution)
|100 to 3200
|auto, 6 presets, manual
|Additional image controls
|contrast, saturation, sharpness, color tone, noise reduction
|Closest macro focus
|multi, partial, centre-weighted, centre
|auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
|single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket