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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:


The new DIGIC 4 processor has had a marked effect on some aspects of the camera's performance. The maximum ISO setting has been upped to 3200, but can be expanded to an impressive 12,800, although it has to be said that the image quality at this setting is not good. Oddly some other aspects of the 500D's performance are actually slightly slower than its predecessor. It does start up extremely quickly, and is able to take a picture within a fraction of a second of being switched on. In single shot mode it can take a picture just as fast as you can press the button, with virtually zero shutter lag. In continuous shooting mode it also sounds pretty quick at approximately 3.4fps, until you remember that the EOS 450D could shoot at 3.5fps. The 500D does have a larger image buffer though, and can shoot bursts of up to 170 JPEG images, although I found that even using a high speed Class 6 card there was a marked drop off in shooting speed after about 60 frames. In Raw mode it can still manage 3.4fps, but only for 10 frames.

At its best the 500D's image quality is unquestionably very good, with rich bright colours and lots of fine detail, although if you look at the sample shots on the following pages I think you'll agree that it doesn't offer a decisive advantage over rivals such as the Nikon D5000, or indeed over the 450D. The exposure system appears to be the same as the 450D, and suffers from the same slightly erratic performance, under or over exposing by as much as a stop under high contrast conditions.

Dynamic range also appears to be slightly more limited than the 450D, with burned out highlights and featureless shadows on a number of high-contrast shots. Unusually shooting in Raw mode and adjusting the exposure in post-processing did little to help in these situations, but then the advanced processor should be expected to do a good job of optimising the JPEG output.

One area where the 500D does excel is image noise control. It's one of the few APS-sensor cameras to produce reliably usable images at 1600 ISO, although it does show a little chromatic noise even at medium ISO settings. The adjustable noise control can be used to compensate, but it does reduce the detail slightly. Shooting in good conditions at lower ISO settings the 500D is capable of outstanding image quality, possibly matching that of the EOS 50D, which isn't at all bad for a camera costing under £500.


The Canon EOS 500D is a worthy successor to the popular 450D, and adds a number of useful features, including the must-have HD video recording, a more powerful sensor and a nice new monitor. Build quality, handling and performance are as good as ever, and image quality is at least equal to anything in its class. With a good combination of versatility and quality at a decent price it looks like another best-seller.


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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