Canon’s Digital Rebel series – known as the EOS line of cameras internationally – have been market leaders for quite some time. The original 300D Digital Rebel brought consumer photographers huge quality for its time, and especially for its price range. At just under $999USD, the camera was one of the most affordable and powerful of its generation.
Then came the 350D, or Digital Rebel XT, if you prefer. Numerous models followed, each retaining the Digital Rebel’s simple but effective construction style and cost-effective performance. The latest consumer-level EOS camera is the 550D – a powerful, flexible, and familiar digital SLR camera designed with the intermediate-level photographer in mind.
And boy is it priced fairly. At just over £700 the EOS 550D is one of the most affordable consumer-level digital SLRs available. The price matched up with Nikon’s well-known D90 model, but comparing them would be a sin – not only does the 550D provide users with more features, but a higher quality sensor and zoom lens as well.
Canon have clearly thought long and hard about just where to place the 550D in their camera line-up. The first of several consumer-professional digital SLR cameras, the 550D falls behind the ‘prosumer’ 50D and the professional-level 7D. While it’s tempting to compare it to its higher-priced brethren, the 550D is best compared to one of Canon’s old top-level digital SLR cameras: the 5D Mk II.
Seems like a strange comparison, right? While the EOS 550D is no match for the 5D in shooting power and image quality, it does share some common features and design elements. The first is the inclusion of full HD video recording. The 5D Mk. II included some seriously impressive recording features – 1080p HD and slick production-style settings – but when it comes to usable power the 550D might win out.
Not only is video available with full manual controls, but the quality is absolutely amazing for a mid-level consumer camera. A range of amateur and pro-level filmmakers are experimenting with the 550D as a motion-only camera, and it’s not difficult to see why. Not only does the standard kit lens provide some impressive motion depth of field, but it gives a slick and smooth display of movement and on-screen action.
Of course, the 550D’s first function is photography, and that it does remarkably well. With a huge 18MP sensor, the 550D outpaces Canon’s own high-end models. Depth of field is very pretty and even the kit lens provides a silky smooth bokeh effect for portrait photographs and close-ups.
While officially classed as the ‘beginner-level’ digital SLR in Canon’s line-up, the 550D performs effectively as a high-level camera or professional photography device. The HD video recording mode, complete with manual controls, makes it an impressive video-only camera or piece of travel kit. When combined with the camera’s great still photography quality and hardy design, the EOS 550D becomes more than just an impressive piece of kit, but an iconic piece of digital photography gear.