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The Canon EOS 550D is a versatile DSLR that can take great photos as well as videos. It has an 18-megapixel sensor, takes good images in low light, promises a burst shooting speed of 3.7 frames per second, and records Full HD movies.

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The 550D’s body is light, with Canon putting most of the buttons around the 3-inch LCD screen. The mode dial is ‘divided’ into two zones – Basic that allows a user to take portrait, landscape, macro, sports, and night shots without having to adjust the settings; and Creative for Program, Shutter, Aperture, Manual, and Depth-of-field control. It also has a movie shooting icon that is able to take videos, which we will discuss later.

Users can find the Menu, Display, Live View, Aperture/Exposure compensation, Quick control, AE/FE lock, and Magnify buttons, as well as the cross keys (that also doubles as White balance, Picture style, Drive mode, and AF mode) at the camera’s rear. There is also a dedicated ISO button located on top of the camera right next to the mode dial. Finally, the external microphone-in, remote control, AV out, and HDMI ports are located underneath a flap on the left side.

The 550D is compatible with SD, SDHC, and even SDXC cards, allowing users to have up to 64GB (as of this time) of storage. A user can save in JPEG, RAW, or in both JPEG and RAW, with users being able to choose image quality of JPEG files (no option for RAW available).

 
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From left to right: ISO 800 – 1600 – 3200 – 6400

The 550D has a very quick start up time, allowing us to take impromptu shots. It was also able to take about 3.5 frames per second in burst mode, which is good for shooting fast moving objects. Using the supplied EFS 18-55mm lens, we found our images to be crisp and vivid, while close up shots produced an out-of-focus background effect. At high ISOs, particularly at 6400, solid colours will show grain. However, they were still good and noteworthy.

In video mode, users can change the white balance, picture style, auto-lighting optimiser, image-recording quality, image recording size, and AF mode by pressing the quick menu button.

The camera can record in 1920×1080 at 24 or 25 frames, 280×720 at 50 frames, 640×480 at 50 frames, and even a movie crop mode that can zoom into an object up to seven times (shot at 640×480). Video quality was very good, with the 500D only being able to take up to 4GB or 29 minutes 59 seconds of video at a time.

Overall, the Canon EOS 550D is a great entry-level DSLR for users who want a camera that can take decent shots as well as high-definition videos. It is easy to use, is packed with features, and will give you a taste of just how great photography is. The body is available now for $1349, but various kit options are also available (such as a premium kit that comes with the EOS 550D DSLR body plus EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens for $2349).

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