Of the five main digital SLR manufacturers, Canon has enjoyed the largest market share for a number of years now. Arch-rival Nikon has never been too far behind though, and has recently added some very strong new models to its range. Relative newcomer Sony is in third place and gaining ground with an even larger range of DSLR cameras including some very impressive new models.
Canon's tactic in the face of this intensifying competition has been to increase the number of models in its own range, adding additional tiers to the traditional beginner-intermediate-professional hierarchy. With the EOS 1000D (£380) now serving as the entry-level foundation of the range, the older triple-digit series has now been promoted to more of a lower-intermediate role, fitting in between the 1000D and the EOS 50D (£720), while the new EOS 7D (which I'll be reviewing on Saturday) takes on the flagship role of Canon's APS-C cameras.
As part of this range-rethink, in March of this year Canon launched the EOS 500D, an upgrade and replacement for last year's popular EOS 450D. In keeping with its new more advanced hobbyist role the 500D is loaded with features, including 1080p HD video recording, DIGIC 4 processor and the same fast and powerful 15.1-megapixel CMOS sensor as the EOS 50D. It is currently selling for approximately £580 including the basic 18-55mm f/3.5 - 5.6 image stabilised EF-S kit lens.
The EOS 450D was a very successful model for Canon, with that single model accounting for around 15 percent of worldwide DSLR sales last year. However the camera market is volatile and highly competitive, and buyers considering an EOS 500D will also be looking at the Nikon D5000 (12.3MP, £515 inc. kit lens), the Sony Alpha A380 (14.2MP, £490 inc. kit lens), the Pentax K-x (12.4MP, £600 inc. kit lens) and the Olympus E-620 (12.3MP, £580 inc. kit lens). They might also consider the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 Micro Four-Thirds camera (12.1MP, £455 inc. kit lens). The 500D has more features and a more powerful sensor than any of its immediate rivals, and the price is far from extortionate by comparison. At first glance then the Canon certainly looks like it could be a bit of a bargain, and trust me those are words I never expected to write.