Saturday, 24 March 2012

Canon 550D: Old but still, A Worthy Purchase?

As a Canon 600D user I am pretty much are quite familiar to the 550D which is basically similar. The question by interested buyers, will the Canon 550D be a worthy purchase? Let's find out.

A picture of a 550D with an expensive lens, good glass really make this camera shine.
First announced in February 2010, this thing is old. At US$899 or RM2,499 for this camera and a kit lens, it is not really that cheap. But when compared to pro DSLRs this things are dirt cheap and are very good for people who are just about to take a leap into the world of photography. There are cheaper options from Canon but the 1100D with its lack of full HD video capabilities makes it irrelevant for todays usage. Come on even smartphones and compact cameras record 1080p!

The Canon 550D has 18MP APS-C sized sensor with reliable performance. The approx 22x15mm sensor gives pleasing shallow DOF at large apertures. What I meant by shallow DOF is it can produce nice blurry background while maintaining a sharp subject. At night we can pump up the ISO as high as 6400 for high shutter speeds. It produces digital noise free images until ISO 1600. At 3200 and 6400 it is still usable. Being in Rebel line, it has a noisy mirror flip mechanism that has shutter speeds as high as 1/4000s. The 550D has a modest focusing system with 9 AF points which is reliably fast although it will have a hard time focusing on things without high contrast. You'll understand it when you get your hands on the shutter button. 3.7fps burst rate and an average battery life at 440 shots per charge.

In terms of video it shoots very high quality 48Mbps MP4 format full HD video with options of 1080p, 720p and VGA, all with manual exposure settings available. 60fps video is available at 720p and VGA, the 1080p max frame rate is 30fps. It does not autofocus at all in video mode, so you gotta focus it manually. Good news is with the manual exposure settings you have maximum control over the size of area in focus and how to focus the image. There are no flippy screens on this but still the fixed screen works fine.

The ability to change lens means a lot to those who pursue quality. Let's say changing the kit lens for a cheap US$100 Canon 50mm f/1.8 portrait lens can produce very sharp photos. Don't forget other expensive high quality glasses you can give you camera. That's why the 550D is indeed among the most popular camera models out there. You can see people snapping away with this camera a lot.

Would I recommend it or not? If you demand most control over your camera is your shooting style, (auto functions on this doesn't always work out good anyways) and know your way around the setbacks, you can work masterpieces with this camera. Thumbs up man. Look what I got with mine from my other post, click here for more photos


So the price of this camera has gone down but people still look for this camera because it packs almost all of the important features that people want. You can produce all those blurry background photos with the right lens, take photos in low light situations and so much more.

After a year using this camera, I have grown to like it and to know more about what I need. The complaints that I have is maybe I think is the reason and what I should look for in my next upgrade.

1. Noisy shutter sound - It clicks, loudly. You can't use this as a stealth camera for street photography.

2. Battery Life - although it is longer than the average compact at 440 shots, I can empty that in a solid four to five hours of shooting. Yup I am that violent now. It would do fine for most but perhaps I should move into the 'pro' category with batteries lasting more than double of that amount of shots.

3. Weatherproofing - every time it rains it is a nightmare. maybe I can have a little peace in mind with a weatherproofed camera. I should wrap it in a plastic bag but maybe if it can handle a little bit of water and wet snow just for emergencies it would be better.

That's all. Other than that, there are still a lot of stuff to love on this camera. Said that. The 550D or the Rebel T2i is a worthy buy if you want to go into photography seriously and spend the rest for great quality lenses. The 550D is pretty much still relevant. But if you wouldn't mind with older bodies without movie recording, the 50D is also a great option. Happy shooting.

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