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Canon EOS 500D
Recommending a DSLR camera over its immediate predecessor is not usually practical. Most of the times, the new features or the improvements in performance are not significant enough to warrant an upgrade. And considering the prices attached to these cameras, upgrades in camera bodies don't usually happen on a whim. Can the EOS 500D possibly feature enough to be an exception? That's what we're going to find out.
At first look, the EOS 500D seems quite similar to the 450D, but on closer scrutiny you'd notice some of the newer features like the new movie mode on the top dial. More on that later.
Most of the buttons required during a shoot are placed on the right, but just like in its predecessor, the placement is not exactly optimized for a single handed shoot. But of course, shooting with one hand is not really recommended for DSLRs, so there's no cutting points for that.
The handgrip is a bit too small and cramped for my taste, so even though I do get a good grip of the camera, it's not exactly very comfortable. That said, I like the idea of the AV button placed right next to the screen, which helps in changing the aperture size without much finger-yoga.
The screen is nice and big in its 3-inch glory and the best part is that the live view on it is extremely functional now.
Though it isn’t much different in design and build quality from the EOS 450D, it is still strong and sturdy with functional physical features.
As I mentioned earlier, the live view is very functional this time. Gone is the video lag, and the focus issues that we've witnessed in cameras from this category before. This time, the EOS 500D bridges the gap between consumer cam and DSLR pretty well. The only slight hindrance is that in live view, you'll have to press a separate button (the zoom out) to autofocus instead of the half-button press on the shutter release. Still, that's not really a big issue; the live view works and it works well.
Another major feature of the 500D is that it boasts full HD (1080p) video recording, which is quite awesome for a DSLR of its category. Even the closest competition, the Nikon D5000 records up to 720p, which may give the Canon camera a bit of an edge in its marketing.
That said, the video shooting feature uses live view for its basic functionality, which is a big problem as you have to manually keep adjusting the focus using the zoom out button. Considering that getting the right focus can easily take a few seconds, this can be a slow process. This limitation pretty much eliminates the idea of using the 500D as a handheld video recorder, and warrants a still surface or a tripod, and a set point of focus for its basic function.
The point is — don't throw that camcorder away just yet.
The EOS 500D supports sensitivity levels of up to ISO 6400, and as you can judge from the comparison image below, the performance is not too shabby even on the highest ISO setting.
There's a lot you can do with a clean and crisp 15 megapixel resolution that the EOS 500D promises, but that's considering how good the images it delivers are. The 9-point autofocus certainly helps to keep the right parts in perspective.
The new Digic 4 image sensor has a slightly but noticeably better image output than its predecessor. In the landscape tests the image sharpness seemed just right — not too sharp, but contained all the minute details.
The color output seemed a bit more on the vivid side even on neutral color settings, which would make the images seem more cheery. Though everyone has a personal opinion on this, as a reviewer I'm looking out for natural colors, so that I can manually decide how saturated I want my colors to be.
Night performance at higher ISO settings was quite impressive. Even images shot at ISO 1600 were usable enough for print. The test image below is shot at ISO 400, on long exposure of 4 seconds.
Camera speed is pretty much at par with its predecessor with the start up time being around 1 second and the continuous shooting speed being at 3.4 frames per second.
As I mentioned before, shooting a video can end up being a major task, but if done right, the video quality is by far the best in its price range. The 1920x1080 resolution video is crisp and clear, and looks great on an HDTV. That said, the sound capture seemed limited to subjects at close range.
Even with all the nuances, the Canon EOS 500D is one of the best deals available in the consumer DSLR segment. The great live view, full HD video recording, 15 megapixel image resolution and a range of other excellent features makes this a great camera to own. At its MRP of Rs. 52,995 (street price closer to 49,999), I’d say it’s worth every rupee.
So, referring to my first question of does it warrant an upgrade over the EOS 450D? Well, I won’t say that it’s a necessary upgrade, but if you do upgrade to the 500D, there’s no way you’d regret it.