The Canon EOS 500D, also known as the Canon EOS Rebel T1i, is a 15.1Mp SLR camera.

Offering 15-megapixel resolution, excellent low-light performance, and high-definition video recording, the Canon EOS 500D is a camera that's good enough for many professional shooting situations. Packed into a small, lightweight body, and shipping in a kit with a 18mm to 55mm lens, the Canon EOS 500D costs around £600. Canon also sells a body-only configuration.

For the most part, the Canon EOS 500D is a very compact camera that doesn't sacrifice comfort or stable shooting to achieve its small footprint. The overall control layout is largely unchanged from previous models, so if you're already familiar with the Canon EOS 500D's ancestors, you'll feel right at home with the new camera.

As with all Canon SLRs, almost all of the essential shooting controls are accessible through external camera controls. White balance, autofocus, drive mode, exposure compensation, exposure lock, and program shift modes all have dedicated buttons, and the Canon EOS 500D's control layout allows you to easily alter any of these parameters (as well as shutter speed, aperture, and ISO) with one hand.

Since essential exposure controls are right near the shutter button, you can easily change shutter speed, aperture, and ISO without ever removing your eye from the viewfinder.

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In addition to size, the main feel and interface difference between the Canon EOS 500D and Canon's mid-range cameras (like the Canon EOS 50D) is the control layout on the back of the camera. Where the 50D provides a rear-mounted wheel that you use for navigating menus and changing parameter settings, the Canon EOS 500D offers four buttons arranged in a circle. While the wheel is a little faster, and is easier to use without looking, the Rebel's four-way button pad works fine, and you should find navigation and control quick and easy.

The 3in LCD on the Canon EOS 500D is Canon's latest, and it's beautiful. It has more resolution (920,000 dots) and better detail than the screen on any previous Rebel, and provides easier-to-read menus and a clear, sharp view of your images, even in bright sunlight.

As with any LCD screen, it's still not accurate for judging colour and exposure, though the on-screen histogram gives you a way to work around those limitations. And while the Canon EOS 500D's screen does show very fine detail, it's still not good enough for assessing subtle focus problems.

As with previous models, the Canon EOS 500D's LCD screen automatically deactivates when you raise the camera to your eye, so you don't have it shining in your face while shooting.

The LCD screen displays all of the Canon EOS 500D's current status information, and you can even change settings using this screen. The ability to see and alter settings on the back of the camera is great when you're working on a tripod.

NEXT PAGE: Live View

The Canon EOS 500D, also known as the Canon EOS Rebel T1i, is a 15.1Mp SLR camera.

Canon EOS 500D: Live View

The Canon EOS 500D offers Live View, but Canon has streamlined the Live View interface. There's now a dedicated Live View button on the back of the camera, and you no longer have to go into a menu to activate the Live View feature.

If you've never used Live View on an SLR, be aware that autofocusing is different than what you may be used to on a point-and-shoot camera. When you activate Live View, the camera has to raise the mirror (the one that normally bounces light from the lens up into the viewfinder) to expose the sensor, to generate a live image to show on the LCD screen.

Unfortunately, the autofocus sensors are in the top of the camera, so when the mirror goes up, the autofocus sensors go blind. This means that, unlike with a point-and-shoot camera, the Canon EOS 500D cannot continuously autofocus when in Live View mode.

By default when in Live View mode, the Canon EOS 500D autofocuses by using its internal computer to analyze the image, rather than using the usual autofocus sensors. This yields much slower autofocus times, so don't expect to be able to quickly focus and re-focus on different locations.

If you want faster autofocus, you can switch to a different Live View autofocus mode that temporarily flips the mirror back down when you want to focus. This allows the camera to autofocus normally, but results in a blackout of the image on the screen. Finally, you can also simply use manual focus, and the Canon EOS 500D provides an excellent Live View zoom feature that makes it easier to determine focus.

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Canon EOS 500D: Feature set

The Canon EOS 500D provides a full feature set. It doesn't offer extravagance in its features - for example, auto-bracketing is limited to three stops, and burst mode runs around three frames per second - but it does provide everything you need for most of the situations that most photographers will ever find themselves in.

When it does come time to dig into a menu to change a setting, you'll find that the menus are arranged such that you never have to scroll down a menu, so you can always see all of the contents of any menu. This makes finding menu items very easy, and navigating the camera's menu system is very speedy.

The camera's customisation features are a little limited, but this is not unusual in a camera at this price. The Canon EOS 500D offers a single, customisable menu that you can configure any way you want. With My Menu, you can choose the half dozen menu items that you use the most, and consolidate them in one place, making them quick and easy to access.

NEXT PAGE: images and movies

The Canon EOS 500D, also known as the Canon EOS Rebel T1i, is a 15.1Mp SLR camera.

Canon EOS 500D: images and movies

Canon's Rebel line has been very strong for a while now, so the most astonishing thing about the Canon EOS 500D is that Canon has managed to dramatically improve the image quality. Overall image quality is great, and the camera does a startlingly good job of shooting in low light at high ISOs. While the previous Rebels began to suffer above ISO 800, the Canon EOS 500D delivers fantastic results at ISO 1600, and even produces usable images at ISO 3200. This supposedly lower-end camera delivers high ISO results that are better than you'd have seen with the pro cameras of just a couple of years ago.

Like most consumer-oriented cameras, the Canon EOS 500D offers a selection of scene modes, selectable from the top-mounted mode dial. These modes set the camera's auto settings toward particular shooting situations, such as sports, landscape, portrait, and so on. The Movie scene mode activates the Live View screen, and allows you to start shooting video.

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The Canon EOS 500D offers three movie resolutions - 640 by 480, 1,280 by 720, and a full HD resolution of 1,920 by 1,280 - all at 30 frames per second. Image quality is generally fantastic, though of course it varies depending on your lens quality.

Unlike the higher-end Canon EOS 5D Mark II, the Canon EOS 500D does not provide an external microphone jack, so if you're serious about audio, you'll need to record it separately and sync it later. For casual shooting, the internal mic is good, though it does pick up any camera handling noise. There are no manual exposure controls available when shooting video.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict >>

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Canon EOS 500D: Specs

  • Image Sensor Technology: CMOS 15.1Megapixels
  • Image Sensor Size: 0.87 x 0.58In
  • Exposure Compensation: +/-2 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments
  • Light Metering Method: Real-time evaluative metering
  • White Balance: Auto white balance with the imaging sensor AWB, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, White Fluorescent light, Flash, Custom
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/4000 sec (1/2 or 1/3 stop increments), Bulb Seconds
  • ISO Sensitivity Setting: AUTO (100-1600), 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 Expandable to 6400 + H (approx 12800) in 1-stop increments
  • Self Timer: 2s, 10s+remote, 10s + continuous shots 2-10
  • Built-in Flash: Auto, Manual Flash On/Off, Red-Eye Reduction
  • SD card, SDHC card
  • JPEG, RAW
  • sRGB and Adobe RGB
  • Linear PCM audio
  • Video Resolution: HD (16:9)1920 x 1080P -20fps, 1280x720P -30fps, SD(4:3) 640 x 480 -30fps Pixels
  • H.264
  • 3.0ins LCD TFT 920k Pixels
  • USB 2.0, HDMI Type C, Combined A/V and USB output
  • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery LP-E5
  • 129x62x98mm
  • 0.48kg
  • Image Sensor Technology: CMOS 15.1Megapixels
  • Image Sensor Size: 0.87 x 0.58In
  • Exposure Compensation: +/-2 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments
  • Light Metering Method: Real-time evaluative metering
  • White Balance: Auto white balance with the imaging sensor AWB, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, White Fluorescent light, Flash, Custom
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/4000 sec (1/2 or 1/3 stop increments), Bulb Seconds
  • ISO Sensitivity Setting: AUTO (100-1600), 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 Expandable to 6400 + H (approx 12800) in 1-stop increments
  • Self Timer: 2s, 10s+remote, 10s + continuous shots 2-10
  • Built-in Flash: Auto, Manual Flash On/Off, Red-Eye Reduction
  • SD card, SDHC card
  • JPEG, RAW
  • sRGB and Adobe RGB
  • Linear PCM audio
  • Video Resolution: HD (16:9)1920 x 1080P -20fps, 1280x720P -30fps, SD(4:3) 640 x 480 -30fps Pixels
  • H.264
  • 3.0ins LCD TFT 920k Pixels
  • USB 2.0, HDMI Type C, Combined A/V and USB output
  • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery LP-E5
  • 129x62x98mm
  • 0.48kg

OUR VERDICT

The Canon EOS 500D is Canon's best Rebel yet. If you need a faster burst rate, or don't like the button-centered interface, or the camera is too small for your hands, then you'll also want to look at the EOS 50D, the next camera up in Canon's line. (Note that you won't get video shooting with that camera.) If you're looking for an SLR under £1,000 that takes great images and movies, then the Canon EOS 500D is an excellent choice.

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