By Gavin Stoker | on October 05, 2009
Price When Reviewed: £755 . £845 . £1215
Pros: Least expensive Canon for shooting HD video; access to a wide range of lenses; user-friendly; compact and portable.
Cons: Pricier than entry-level rivals from Nikon and Olympus; built-in microphone susceptible to wind noise.
This camera is reviewed as part of our group test of Digital SLR HD Video Cameras
The EOS 500D is Canon’s most affordable option for those who want video, and are also keen to invest in the Canon system. It’s lightweight and portable, and boasts a high-resolution three-inch screen at 920,000 pixels.
The LCD is handy for reviewing its 15.1-megapixel photos, but you can also use it for composition, courtesy of its Live View feature – which is clearly a boon for video makers.
Another plus for the EOS 500D is the fact that an EF/EF-S lens mount gives access to more than 60 lenses in the EOS system. Given that the body-only price is £755, however, the casual user might prefer to make do with a standard zoom, preferably image-stabilized model (as Canon doesn’t build anti-shake features into the body) to begin with.
For a compact, beginner-friendly model, the build is reasonably rugged, and Canon has included a professional level of specification.
This includes Full HD (1,920-x-1,080 pixels) video with sound, whereas its main rivals in Nikon’s D5000 here and the earlier D90 have opted for the lesser 1,280-x-720.
However, if users want to fit more video on a memory card, there’s the option to film lower-resolution 1,280-x-720 or 640-x-480 pixel clips. Interestingly, whereas shooting at the highest resolution will return a framerate of 20fps – slightly below average – opting for lower resolution bumps up the frame rate to a maximum 30fps.
The Canon shoots MOV files using common H.264 compression, which means there are no compatibility issues.
Footage is clear and colourful, but the built-in microphone picks up wind noise when shooting outside. The duration of a single clip is limited to one second under half an hour – a file size of 4GB.
Like its competitors, the EOS 500D has an HDMI out port for hooking the camera up directly to a TV set for playback. All in all, this is a good all-round user-friendly option for those looking to buy into the Canon system.