Going for Canon EOS 550D

Photo (c) Canon 2010It was five years ago (time really flies!) when I got my previous Canon SLR, EOS 350D. The photos from the very first session should still be here. The body is still working fine, there are only a couple of dust particles inside, but the feature standard and user experience of today’s top cameras is completely different from 350D. I have now placed an order for Canon EOS 550D (with the kit IS zoom lens), and the key features are worlds away from the 2005 situation:

  • 18 million pixels
  • Full HD video (1080p)
  • DIGIC 4 processor
  • sensitivity range ISO100-12800 (extended, 6400 native)
  • 3 inch LCD display, 1040k pixels (live view — the quality of in-camera image display has grown more and more important during the years)
  • etc.

The manual for this thing is 260 pages (there is some reading and learning waiting for me) and can be downloaded from here. There are also a few extras that my setup will include:

  • Eye-Fi Pro X2 8 GB Class 6 SDHC Wireless Flash Memory Card (provides automatic uploads when within Wi-Fi range, plus automatic geo-tagging, but only with Wi-Fi triangulation)
  • RØDE VideoMic (useful for the HD video shooting, even while the automatic gain control, AGC, is an issue in the audio side)
  • Battery grip BG-E8 (the old BG-E3 from EOS 350D is of course incompatible), plus an extra LP-E8 lithium-ion battery

For those who are interested in dealers, I ordered the camera plus lens kit from Stockmann through a “regular clients’ deal”; Eye-Fi card from Amazon.com; Röde mic, battery and grip from Maitolaituri.tv. Lets see how the deliveries will finally work out.

One of the interesting developments is this trend towards shooting hi-def videos using SLR cameras — taking the artistic potentials, lens quality etc. of course something that holds great potential, yet these cameras are built for still photography originally, and e.g. focusing and handling are not similar to pro-level digital video cameras. But then again, neither is the price. There are few nice movies to look at for samples:

It will be particularly interesting to see how the Eye-Fi card handles the huge Full HD video files. On still shots, I could see myself even using software hotspot from my Nokia N900, shared to camera with JoikuSpot software, but that data bandwidth is way too narrow for any video clips.

More: Canon EOS 550D brochure (3 MB PDF file) — originally intended for the Asian market, as you can see from the visual style.

Author: frans

Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, esp. Digital Culture and Game Studies in the University of Tampere, Finland.

3 thoughts on “Going for Canon EOS 550D”

  1. My original intention was to upscale and buy a 7D, which has more robust body, with weather sealing etc. But feature-by-feature comparison finally convinced me that I am not that much of a prosumer in my photographer habits — at least not during the last few busy years. But certain new features like Full HD video and integration to Wi-Fi interested; by choosing 550D rather than 7D left more budget for that kind of extras, too.

  2. I actually think that the image quality and core feature set is nowadays robust enough that there is not much a regular consumer can wish for in those areas. But it is the convenience (e.g. weight, form factor) that count more and more, as does also the metadata & connectivity features. This is related to the fact that I find myself more and more shooting the daily pics from kids and various other, fast moving daily situations in conferences, seminar etc. using my iPhone or other mobile device. Those things integrate pretty well with the online services and functionalities (like Flickr, Facebook, Twitter), while the contemporary systems camera (SRL) usually does not even have a GPS built in. Without an add-on like an Eye-Fi card, it is not even possible to get the photos online/into the cloud without a PC and some post-processing being involved. This is perfectly fine for a serious photographer or a pro, but a casual hobbyist or anyone having a busy life situation might prefer to have metadata added automatically, and sharing of photos happening directly from the camera, with a push of a button.

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