Canon EOS 550D hits UK shores

It seems that with every iteration of Digital Camera nowadays, manufacturers try to push the megapixel and feature boundary every single time. As an amateur photographer I always wait with baited breath in the hope that all the new features are not at the expense of image quality. Having owned and tested many cameras over the years, I stopped searching for the highest megapixel count and looked more for decent noise control and speed.

I am not brand loyal in any shape or form, but more often that not Canon seem to deliver the quality that I desire. When they announced their EOS 500D it was very interesting, as was their 50D and the very recent 7D offering. With the EOS 7D they upped the megapixel count yet again and also delivered 1080P high definition video capture. Hot on the heals of this semi-pro camera is the EOS 550D which has just hit the shores of the UK with some early adopters receiving their units this week.

On offer is a new 18 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, very similar to that in the higher priced 7D. Alongside this you get Canon's DIGIG 4 image processor (a single one, the 7D has two). The ability to extend the ISO range up to 12,800 is also welcome, as is the 3.7fps shooting speed. This model also sports a new 3-inch LCD screen with a massive 1,040K dot resolution. As a video producer for my main interest, the full HD movie capture with selectable frame rate is also of great interest. I will be bringing you a series of reviews covering the features and performance of the Canon EOS 550D over the coming weeks, so please do keep an eye on the website.

In the meantime, I managed to catch up for a chat with Gui de Basly from Park Cameras, check out the Q&A below... 

Q. Hi Gui, have you had any hands-on time with the new EOS 550D from Canon yet?
A. Yes, I got to use it this week when we received the first batch.

Q. What features stood out for you?
A. You immediately notice how good the LCD is, very bright and clear which makes using live view to compose shots and shoot video very pleasing. It also makes checking focus very accurate too. 

Q. Where do you see this fitting within the Canon range?
A. The camera sits near the entry point of the Canon range in terms of price, and it's bigger brothers have an advantage in speed and a couple of features but in terms of image quality it is very impressive, it's a match for much more expensive cameras such as the 7D. 

Q. If a customer was buying a 550D from you, what accessory do you think would be the most useful as their second purchase?
A. If they have a good range of lenses already then a high-speed, high capacity memory card would be the best options. The video is so addictive that you'll be taking up a lot of memory card space. Also a bag that you feel comfortable with is important, if you don't like carrying the camera then you'll not take it out with you and miss great shots as a consequence.

Q. Do you think a lot of people will buy the 550D instead of a dedicated video camera?
A. People may decide they don't need to buy an additional video camera if they have the Canon 550D but there are still benefits of a camcorder compared to DSLR video. The unique look from the DSLR video is actually attracting a lot of film and television producers.

Q. Would this make a good second body for a professional photographer?
A. It probably isn't going to be used as a back up to the pro cameras because it doesn't use the same batteries and handles differently which are not ideal for part of a professional kit. However, as the image quality is very good and the camera so light and portable I can imagine many professional photographer using this as their 'off-duty' camera, just for shooting the family or when out and about.

Q. Do you think the future of DSLR's will see every new model feature video capture?
A. Absolutely, there is no real reason not to incorporate video recording so I imagine all future models will have this feature and I expect the implementation to improve over the next few years. 

Geekanoids: Thanks Gui for taking the time to give your views on the 550D, that gives a really useful insight for our readers.

The Canon EOS 550D is currently available from Park Cameras in the UK.