Canon unveiled its first entry-level digital SLR camera to feature full high-definition resolution video recording.

The EOS 500D (called the EOS Rebel T1i in the US and the EOS Kiss X3 in Japan) packs a 15.1-megapixel image sensor and can record at full-HD widescreen resolution of 1,920-x-1,080 pixels, but strangely at 20 frames per second rather than the conventional 25fps or 30fps. That means the resulting video, while sharp, might appear a little jumpy. For 30fps video the resolution has to be stepped down to a 720-line widescreen mode or a 640-line mode, and there's no 25fps capture even in the European version.

On a 4GB memory card, the camera will be able to shoot about 12 minutes of video in 1080 mode, 18 minutes in 720 mode and 24 minutes in the standard-definition 640 mode, says Canon.

To view what's being recorded and to review images and video there's a three-inch LCD panel with VGA resolution on the rear of the camera.

The camera can handle continuous shooting at 3.4 frames per second for up to 170 images in the large/fine JPEG mode or nine RAW images, as long as a high-performance SD memory card is in use. Users can select ISO speeds from 100 to 3,200 in whole stop increments and there are two additional settings at 6,400 and 12,800.

While video recording has been a common feature on point-and-shoot cameras for several years it's only been seven months since it arrived on the bulkier and more complex DSLR cameras. The quick arrival in low-end models demonstrates how competitive the market has become and how important new features are in giving camera makers an edge over the opposition.

The EOS 500D (body only) is available from early May 2009 priced at £756 plus VAT, €999.99 including VAT, or $800 in the US. Bundled with an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens, the EOS 500D costs £843, €1139.99, or $900. With an EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens, it costs £1,216 or €1639.99. US pricing and availability for this bundle wasn't announced.