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Canon EOS 500D Digital SLR - Canon EOS 500D Digital SLR

By Cliff Smith



  • Recommended by TR
Canon EOS 500D Digital SLR


Our Score:


One key new feature, and a major selling point of the EOS 500D, is its HD video recording capability. The 500D was the second camera in Canon's range to feature HD video, after the success of the 5D Mk II. However while the 500D can indeed record video in full 1920 x 1080 resolution, it can only do so at 20 frames a second, and also only with mono audio through a frankly rather poor internal microphone, so it's unlikely to have the appeal to serious film makers that has sold so many EOS 5D Mk IIs. The 500D can record video for up to a second shy of 30mins, but a 4GB SD card can only hold 12 minutes and it needs Class 6 high speed cards to work properly. Shooting at the smaller 1280 x 720 resolution and 30fps gives visibly smoother results and 50 percent more shooting time.

Of course along with the video mode the 500D also has live monitor view. The monitor itself is outstanding, clear and bright with minimal glare or reflection, a viewing angle of close to 180 degrees in every direction, and with a resolution of 920,000 dots it's as sharp as anything else on the market. Live view is activated by a button on the back of the camera. It's a useful feature for certain types of photography, particularly for composing studio shots with the camera on a tripod, but the single-zone contrast detection autofocus that is available in live view mode is very slow, so it won't be much use for action shots.

The main processor of the EOS 500D is upgraded to the powerful DIGIC 4, the same as the EOS 50D and 5D Mk II, and with it the 500D has inherited the same excellent menu system. It's a well designed interface, with a series of non-scrolling pages arranged left to right, so every option is very quick and easy to find. It offers a lot of customisable control, including custom vignetting correction ("peripheral illumination") when using Canon lenses. It has manually adjustable high ISO and long exposure noise control, as well as options such as mirror lock-up, selectable exposure level increments and ISO range expansion. It is this level of control that sets the EOS 500D apart from many of its more entry-level rivals and indeed from the 450D. While it still has scene modes and a fully automatic option, the 500D feels like a more advanced camera, and has the versatility to match.

Less experienced users, or just those who prefer a quicker interface, are not forgotten, with a handy quick graphical menu for frequently used shooting and exposure settings. The appearance of this can be customised with half a dozen pre-set colour schemes.


November 5, 2009, 8:56 pm

I'm pleasantly surprised with this review, especially the relatively low noise levels at higher sensitivity settings. The only thing I'm concerned about is the lens quality. Compared to Nikon's kit lenses Canon's seem somewhat lacking.

Cliff Smith

November 5, 2009, 11:57 pm

It's certainly true that the low-cost kit lenses supplied with many consumer DSLRs have usually left something to be desired in terms of optical quality, and the 18-55mm supplied with the 500D does suffer from quite nasty chromatic aberration. Some of the other manufacturers, notably Pentax and Sony, have recently introduced greatly improved kit lenses, so hopefully Canon will follow suit. Needless to say the more expensive lenses in Canon's range are generally superb.


November 6, 2009, 5:59 am

Bring on the 7D review this weekend. Twice the price we know, but twice the features?

I've got some existing fast glass I'm waiting to strap on to something new.


November 6, 2009, 7:31 am

After using a 300D, 450D I spoiled myselve with a 500D.

The camera was indeed a step up compared with the previous I used (no complains of either).

This 500D was the best of all, faster, more accurate and most of all: less light needed to take a decent picture.

Some time ago I had the possibility to "hold" a 5D MKII and was sold. I was, but cause of the price it was absolutely no option for me.

When the 7d came in the picture I was able to change from the 500D to the 7D....



November 6, 2009, 5:47 pm

The 500d is my first digital SLR. I've had it since mid-July.

1/ I'm so happy I didn't rush and got myself a EOS450 or the 1000 instead (because of the HD video feature!). Here in Sweden they are still selling those models for roughly EUR150 less than the 500D.

2/ For any prospective buyers, my decision to buy this Canon was influenced by the fact I still had lying around 3 old EF lenses from my last 35mm film Camera, which was also an entry level EOS350.

After reading the TR review, it's clear that the erratic exposure (overexposure in my case) is an issue with this camera. One that Canon should be addressing in a firmware update asap.

The provided kit lens is good as a start-up -don't forget that this 18-55 comes with image stabiliser (IS). If you'd like to grow in the zoom side, Sigma and Tamron have unexpensive 55-200 or 70-300 (approx) lenses without IS.

On that note, I am still very disappointed with the prices of wide lenses (from all manufacturers). EUR400 and above is prohibitive for me.

I vividly recommend this site to sample the video features of this camera: http://vimeo.com/channels/500d


November 7, 2009, 8:10 pm

I beleive the 500D's sensor is NOT the same as the one in the 50D; it doesn't feature the gapless microlens array present on the 50D's sensor. There's an interview video on YouTube with the Canon UK's PRO where he says so.

That doesn't diminish anything from the 500D's performance, which is excellent in my opinion.


December 23, 2009, 6:02 pm

You have to question the common sense on this camera.....a top spec piece of kit, they then throw 1080p into the mix - brilliant...then adorn it with MONO AUDIO!!!! it would be like driving an aston martin powered by an austin maxi engine..... can anyone remember when stereo was invented.....? then they only do 20 fps @ 1080p...why? 'Here' your new Aston Martin sir, and ask you can see, we've complemented it with a rather lovely matt finish'. I really want to go and buy this - now, but just think the mix of full HD and mono would make me cry.. Yes, I know 'go and buy a camcorder then'....NO, Canon - if you're going to do a good job, finish it properly - I'd pay another few quid to have stereo for the next 10 years of video with my snapping!

jack 8

December 24, 2009, 4:25 pm

I think gapless microlens missing in 500D, I found best price of 500D on Danish site i.e. getmore, its 569GBP, should I get it from there? PLease help!

Joseph Middleton

June 25, 2010, 12:52 am

Mine is on it's way! My very first DSLR!

dave 2

August 14, 2010, 8:38 pm

I have been looking at this exact model. It seems to be a bit of a cut, still sending the poor lens out with it in the kit encourages you to want to buy a body and then better lens, But is this the best for the money then. The digic 4 processor is awesome. I have it in the canon Ixus 300HS and what a marvel of a camera for a point and shoot. so quick too. But I am not sold on the 500D. Should have left the HD recording out, unless they couple with sterio sound like the Ixus. not to mention poor kit lens. Canon make amazing product but tend to just leave a great product a little short of being the best you will get for your money.

K.N Vijayakumar

April 23, 2015, 4:25 pm

I bought this around 7 yr ago. It is working even now excellent, but this is fit only for out doors, mostly static subjects like mountain etc. if you take a photo in a Marriage where a lot of movement is there this WILL FIT MISERABLY. in a fast changing in doors this is very poor . this is my experence.

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