Canon EOS 500D review: Canon EOS 500D

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The Good Nice and responsive to use. Superb LCD screen. Great photos. Kit lenses are mostly decent.

The Bad Viewfinder is small. Video quality is not that impressive. Autofocus in movie mode is loud.

The Bottom Line The 500D is a very capable camera that is ideal for someone entering the world of digital SLRs. The inclusion of high-definition video adds even more appeal to the already good-looking package.

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7.9 Overall

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When we first reported on the announcement of the 500D we were a little disappointed. Why so, when it's yet another dependable Canon SLR, you ask? Well, it was the lack of real upgrade-worthy features, apart from high-definition video.

After having played with the camera extensively, we realise that our first judgement may have been a little hasty — it offers incremental, useful upgrades that will suit a photographer entering the dSLR fold. Its video capabilities and an increased megapixel count (a step-up to 15 megapixels from 12) are tempting for users looking to upgrade from a 400D or 450D.


The 500D has that typical look-and-feel that is characteristic of all the Canon consumer dSLRs — there's the black plastic casing, along with smooth black buttons and a new 3-inch LCD screen. Normally we'd wax lyrical about the screen under the features section, but it really needs to be said here. Filled with 920,000 dots, the screen's brightness and resolution is just great for a camera of its class. It is a joy to use, and ideal for partnering with the movie mode and Live View.

Back to the physical attributes of the 500D, then. The chrome-tipped mode dial makes yet another appearance, housing the usual shooting modes, Creative Auto and movie mode. At the top, a hotshoe sits with the pop-up flash, an over-zealous little beast that loves to spring into action whenever you venture into automatic mode. In fact, it's so similar to the 450D from the outside, at least, that we'd have trouble telling the two apart were it not for Canon kindly raising the flash on the promotional shot for the 500D.

Apart from the flash being popped up on the 500D (right), there's no prizes for spot the difference from the 450D (left) here. (Credit: Canon)

The control wheel, which we saw on the 5D Mark II and 50D, is absent here, instead a four-way directional pad sits in its place. We find that for first-time dSLR users this is a tad more intuitive. It's also quite lightweight, at 480g without lens or battery, which makes it easy to carry around for impromptu shooting.


Without a doubt the main drawcard on this camera is the high-definition video function, similar to what we saw on the 5D Mark II and also with one of the 500D's main competitors, the Nikon D5000.

On the 500D, the implementation is full 1080p — it's also worth noting that the D5000 is limited at 720p. To activate the recording, you move the dial to movie mode or Live View and then hit the record button. Auto focus is available before and during recording by pressing the * button, though do note that you will be able to hear all the lens movements in the audio recording — and trust us, they are loud.