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Canon EOS 550D digital SLR unveiled

Canon readies HD video-capable 18Mp EOS SLR camera

Canon EOS 550D

Canon has revealed the Canon EOS 550D digital SLR, offering 18Mp resolution and HD video capture and we’ve got a hands-on video.

Canon says the 18Mp resolution is equal to Canon’s high-end EOS 7D model, and higher than the 15Mp resolution of Canon’s EOS 500D digital SLR. The resolution boost will allow for larger prints, according to the company.

The EOS 550D is a step-up from last year’s Canon EOS 500D model, which performed strongly in the Which? Test Lab. The Canon EOS 500D was Canon’s first mid- or entry-level consumer DSLR to offer an HD movie mode.

Read our full Which? review of the Canon EOS 500D

The Canon 550D will not replace the 500D model, and the two will both be available as mid-level options in Canon’s DSLR range.

Watch the first look video review of the Canon 550D


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Canon EOS 550D HD recording

The Canon EOS 550D has full HD-recording at 1080p resolution and with a frame rate of 30 frames per second (fps), says Canon. The company says the 550D also delivers smoother HD video recording at up to 60fps at a 720p resolution.

This improves on the movie mode on the older Canon EOS 500D model, which featured slower frame rates of 20fps at 1080p and 30fps at 720p.

The EOS 550D has a movie crop function that Canon claims captures distant subjects while recording video, though at a reduced resolution of 640x480p.

Looking to buy a digital SLR? Read our expert Which? reviews of the best digital SLRs

An external microphone socket is included on the EOS 550D to attach a microphone when recording video, says Canon.

‘To date we haven’t seen a digital SLR or compact camera that can match the performance of a true HD camcorder,’ says Which? senior researcher Richard Parris. ‘We’ll be keen to put the EOS 550D through our dedicated video tests as soon as possible.’

Refined design and advanced exposure compensation

Canon claims the EOS 550D will be easier to use than its predecessors thanks to enlarged buttons and a large 3-inch 3:2 ratio LCD screen. There are dedicated buttons for aperture selection and for quick movie recording. The camera has an HDMI-out socket for connecting directly to HD TVs.

The EOS 550D allows for high ISO levels of 6,400, boosted to 12,800 by accepting a lower resolution – this makes the camera more sensitive to low light.

The Canon EOS 550D digital SLR has an  exposure compensation that can be adjusted from -5 to +5. The previous model has exposure compensation between -2 and +2.

The Canon EOS 550D includes the iFCL metering system first launched in the EOS 7D. This 63-zone dual-layer metering system allows for precise advanced control over metering functions, according to the company.

Canon EOS 550D vs Canon EOS 7D

The EOS 550D has many similar features to the more expensive EOS 7D – with the 550D costing £799 for the body compared to £1,200 for the EOS 7D body.

The more expensive 7D has a faster burst mode than the 550D, capturing up to 8 shots per second, compared with a claimed 3.7 shots per second for the 550D. It also has a 100% coverage viewfinder – the Canon 550 has a viewfinder with a coverage of 95%, slightly cropping the shot during composition.

See our video first look on the Canon EOS 7D

The Canon EOS 550D will be available before the end of February, priced £799 for the body alone, or £899 with an 18-55mm IS lens kit.

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