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Canon EOS T1i (500D) DSLR Review

Sitting in the middle of Canon’s seven model range, the Canon EOS T1i (Canon EOS 500D in some parts of the world) should service the ambitions of the eager amateur and budget-conscious semi-pro. It is possibly a little too restrictive for full-flight pros.

Canon EOS 500D 2.jpg

I used the review camera with the 18-55mm and 55-250mm stabilised kit lenses. I figure this is nearly an ideal package. The CMOS sensor measures 22.3×14.9, so you multiply the focal length of each optic by 1.6x, to give a 35 SLR lens comparison. The two lenses gives you an effective SLR range of 29 to 400mm. Some may find that the 29mm wide end a little too limiting, so this is where you shell out for a nice wide — and expensive! — EF 14mm lens (SLR equiv: 22mm).

Canon EOS 500D 1.jpg

Canon EOS T1i Features

The T1i’s maximum image size reaches 4752×3168 pixels on the 15.10 megapixel CMOS sensor, saved in 14-bit JPEG, RAW or JPEG+RAW.
The ISO rating runs from 100 all the way up to ISO 6400 with an expansion mode that lifts it to ISO 12,800.

Shutter speeds run from 30 seconds (plus Bulb) to 1/4000 second and are backed up by a flash sync speed of 1/200 second.

Metering modes include 35-zone TTL, linked with evaluative metering plus centre-weighted, partial and spot readings.

Exposure controls include auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, depth of field AE and manual. If that isn’t enough, the mode dial has presets for portraits, close-ups, sports etc.

A nine point auto focus system handles the usual modes: single shot, moving subjects and a switch mode which detects a stationary subject that starts moving, then tracks it. Plus manual focus.

Continuous shooting? At a maximum rate of 3.4 fps.

The optical pentaprism is paired with a Live View rear 7.6 cm LCD screen that delivers a sharp display 920,000 pixel resolution display.

The T1i features live Face Detection mode in Live View shooting which is indicative of its target consumer level market. There’s also dust reduction, backed up by a software dose that should eliminate residual specks.

Two tools will also help in image capture: Auto Lighting Optimiser can help control the brightness and contrast range; Peripheral Illumination Correction can remove light fall-off vignetting in the corners of the picture. The latter correction can be applied to JPEG images during or after exposure. Fall off in RAW images can be fixed with (provided) software.


The camera shoots full HD video of 1920×1080 pixel resolution in QuickTime format (.mov). The shooting speed is limited to 20fps, with 30 fps reached in the 1280×720 and 640×480 resolutions.

I found the onboard mono mike did not do a good job of audio capture and fell foul of wind noise outdoors.

You must use Class 6 SDHC cards in shooting video.

In and Out

A USB and composite AV interface links a computer or SD TV set, wile an HDMI output will send your efforts to an HD TV.

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The 18-55m lens showed some barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom plus a little pincushion distortion at the tele end.

The 55-250mm was better with negligible barrel and pincushion distortion in the zoom range.


Canon 500D ISO 200 f16 1.10.jpg

Canon 500D ISO 800 f16 1.45.jpg

Canon 500D ISO 3200 f16 1.250.jpg

Canon 500D ISO 12800 f16 1.1000.JPG

These ISO test shots were shot at a constant f16 aperture, with ISO settings ranging from (top) ISO 200, 800, 3200, 12,800.
Overall, I felt that the T1i is an easy camera to get friendly with while the pro boys and girls may turn up their noses at it.
Still image quality: excellent; the upper ISO speeds are very useable, depending on subject and your ability to treat image noise — or put up with it!

Video quality: very good.

Canon EOS T1i Specs

  • Image Sensor: 15.1 million effective pixels.
  • Metering: Evaluative; centre-weighted average; partial; spot.
  • Effective Sensor Size: 22.3×14.9 mm.
  • 35mm Focal Length Equivalent: 1.6X.
  • Memory: SD/SDHC cards.
  • Image Sizes (pixels): 4752×3168, 3456×2304, 2352×1568.
  • Movie Clips: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×4809 at 20/30/30 fps.
  • File Formats: JPEG, RAW, QuickTime MOV.
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 12,800.
  • Flash: Auto, red-eye reduction, forced on and off.
  • Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC.
  • Dimensions: 128.8×97.5×61.9 WHDmm.
  • Weight: Approx. 480 g (minus battery).
  • Price: Get a price on the Canon EOS T1i at Amazon (Body Only or with Kit Lens)

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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

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