Possibly to the dismay of those who shelled out for a 500D just nine months ago, Canon presents a new dSLR: the 550D. The new camera doesn't replace last year's consumer model, however, it just sits next to it on the shelf, looking smug and making the 500D feel dowdy.
That sneering superiority is justified by an upgrade to 18 megapixels from 15, and the addition of selectable frame rates -- 30, 25 or 24 frames per second -- on its Full HD 1080p video recording. High-speed 60 and 50fps video is available at 720p. The display has also been buffed up, with the 500D's 920,000-pixel resolution improved to 1 million pixels. It seems megapixel displays are the new megapixel sensors.
Video being all the rage, the 550D adds a crop tool, which effectively creates a 7x zoom, VGA video. There's also a 3.5mm microphone jack so you can make talkies. You can watch them on an HDTV via the HDMI port.
Photography hasn't been neglected, with continuous shooting at a snappy 3.7fps -- that's 0.3 frames faster than the 500D, Mr and Mrs Jones -- and an Auto Lighting Optimiser to bring out three levels of detail in high-contrast scenes. ISO spans 100-6,400 natively, and you can set a top limit to control the amount of noise in your picture.
The 550D will be available later this month, although prices are to be confirmed. We'll have a full review for you lickety-split.