Canon EOS T1i (500D) DSLR Review

Canon EOS T1i (500D) DSLR Review

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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.

Movies

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.

Bike rider 28.5.09.jpg

Lenses

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.

Comments

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)

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

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

Some Older Comments

  • Tom August 15, 2011 11:47 am

    Dear Paul.

    Cool nice to hear that our 500d jpeg is so good. but when you see the out put of the raw it will be more wow . i have purchase a new 10 - 22mm for my Australia trip. lens also give a good shoot consider for new lens upgrade. btw there are more to check out in the 500d camera. im still learning even i have use this DSLR for about 2 year. Enjoy ..

    Tom

  • Paul Collins August 5, 2011 04:54 pm

    This is the first Canon I've bought,I used to own Pentax,and toachieve images I like I always used RAW, since owning the T1/500d I've not used RAW ,just J-Peg which has really suprised me, the image quality is second to none , lovely fine detail it's everything an amateur photographer could want, put it on Auto and the whole family can use it, best purchase I've made in a very long time, Thank You CANON.

  • tom April 13, 2011 03:28 pm

    Trev,

    you should test the camera before purchase.. at the shop or friends camera.
    but for me is good for normal not to pro. yet 7D is better but since you are getting &D why not just go for full frame 5D .. hit for the best if you wanna do business with it.
    there are no extra build in the camera time lapse and panoramic may need to do it in the computer.
    most people now can easily be a photographer yet DSLR is so cheap.
    If you were to be full time camera man.. consider it. 5D...

  • Trev April 8, 2011 10:56 pm

    Okay, so I see alot of people saying this review is less than perfect but whats the opinion of the actual camera?? Everyone keeps saying its a good camera for entry level photographers but no one wants to talk entry level language!
    I'm about to purchase a 500D with the 18 - 55mm / 75 - 300mm lens kit and I havent used an SLR since 1990 let alone a DSLR.
    Can anyone tell me if this is a good camera to get back into the swing of things with?
    Will it give good results for family photo's, portraits and the like?
    Are the settings easy enough to use?
    Can it do timelapse or panoramic?
    Is it good enough to consider using to start off an amatuer photography business until you can afford to lash out on a big expensive 7D?

  • Barrie Smith February 28, 2011 07:32 am

    To Jenn:

    no flash was used in my ISO tests.

    In low light photography, you can use a large lens aperture (f stop) or a slow shutter speed or a high (up to a point) ISO setting or a combo of all three.

    The main thing is to make sure the camera is steady.

  • Tom February 23, 2011 12:53 pm

    anyone here has 10 22mm canon lens. im about to purchase one. any comment?

  • Milla February 23, 2011 12:32 am

    tom: pssst, it's 'shutter', not 'shuttle' :D

    And I agree, this review is good for nothing.

  • Milla February 23, 2011 12:32 am

    tom: pssst, it's 'shutter', not 'shuttle' :D

    And I agree, this review is good for nothing.

  • Jenn February 21, 2011 06:09 pm

    Hello!

    I have the canon 500D.
    I have seen your low light photo - looks great!
    I am an amateur, and I'm struggling with low light photos. How and what settings do you use in low light? Is the flash on?

    Please help!

  • gary October 14, 2010 09:15 pm

    still learning about all the never ending stuff this camera does...got a minolta adaptor to use my old 35mm srt lenses...some interesting results

  • Tom September 27, 2010 02:16 am

    Hi nicki.

    The kit lens. 500D provide 18-55mm or 18-200 mm. you may have purchased the 18-55mm kit lens. max zoom of 18- 55mm may not provide a good zoom distance. have you test the zoom/the camera before buying it?

    Night photo : you may need to change the flash setting, it may be fix on the shuttle speed by 1/60 check it out.. or try lower the shuttle speed shooting under manually (M)setting. Try using a tripod while shooting a night photos for sceneries or something to support the camera. I shot night by using (M) low suttle speed example (1/10>) a tripod and without flash. try a few deff shuttle speed at the same spot. the lowest shuttle the brighter photo you can get.

    the shuttle will never triggle while your camera cant focus subject (try to shift the lens from AF to MF), maybe is too dark . the beeps sound occur usually take place while the camera found a focus subject. you may need to ask the seller or anyone here. i have yet come accross this issue.

  • Nicki September 24, 2010 10:28 pm

    Just bought my 1st slr camera - canon eos 500d and seam to be getting to grip's with it... I think......
    I was a little dissapointed that the zoom was not as close as i thought with the lens provided but that is not my major issue. my major thing is i like to shoot night photos and when i took it down the lake the other night the flash would not light up the lake for me to take a photo, the camera full stop would not take a photo and justed beeped.
    If any one has any ideas please send them my way.
    Thanks

  • Robert B July 16, 2010 03:15 pm

    Annette I agree with you. The t1i is awesome at these sort of low light conditions. That's a great photo. I've had similar results at night clubs and bars where it's not very visible.

    Robbie B

  • Johnny July 5, 2010 04:30 am

    I have the T1i and the 7-d . I love it its clear even with high Iso settings . only thing i dislike is I wish it had the settings my 7-d has . but its a sweet canon . well done canon . now that i started useing the 7-d the T1i is like a toy so light .

  • Annette February 23, 2010 12:17 am

    Johnny - untrue. Any camera can have trouble in low light without the proper settings and lens. However, the T1i has far better low light performance than most (or all?) cameras in the same price range. I took this photo in a room where I could barely even see the performer's eyes - but the camera took a photo which showed more detail without the kind of graininess many cameras would produce.

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/netg15/3842289294/' title='Salvador' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2473/3842289294_62f4407ca0.jpg']

  • JOHNNY February 22, 2010 05:25 pm

    It is a very nice camera. The only problem is " you will have a problem when you take the picture in the dim light area."

  • Amjad February 1, 2010 03:29 pm

    Hi Tommy ,

    Thank you very much for your reply .

    I am afraid that a high end camera will just turn out to be
    a nightmare for me since I am a novice .

    But ,thanks again /

  • tommy February 1, 2010 02:11 pm

    amjab

    Im not familier on the price range. but i currently using 500d.
    for single shot. 500d is good. but for continues shot 500d provide only 3 shot a sec.
    whereby 50d and 7d is higher..

    why not spend more for better one.
    18-55 lens is very basic. not suitable for polariser.

  • Amjad January 31, 2010 04:30 pm

    Hello Huys,

    I am a beginner in to this interesting art and would love to own a DSLR soon .
    Your advice on this would be highly appreciated since I am confused with the
    brand to chose and the features a beginner can fathom !

    Kindly notice my price range too ,500 - 600 $ .

    Thanks in advance ,

    Amjad

  • reds January 18, 2010 04:00 am

    Tommy,

    Try Sigma 10-20mm f1:4 - 5.6 DC HSM. Got mine last month. Totally awsome! Get a polariser as well.

    Cheers, man!

  • Tommy November 10, 2009 09:58 pm

    I'm a new user of DSLR. Soon i will be going to Japan and visit Teaplantation and shot some nice wide landscape. Can any one teach or guide me what lens to buy. currently using 18-55mm. looking for a wide angle lens for my 500D. Even on setting up the camera menu i have not et understand all. Please Help.

    Thank you.

    Tommycha@gmail.com

    Thanks to digital-photography-school.com

  • Scott Smith October 6, 2009 11:06 am

    Nice review. Just a minor correction though...

    The review says:
    "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."

    When in actual fact:
    JPEG = 8 bit
    RAW = 14 bit

    There is a big difference there.

  • camera accessories September 16, 2009 05:19 pm

    The T1i (500D) is my first DSLR camera. My digital cameras previous to the 500D consisted of Olympus' 570UZ, Canon's Powershot S70 and the Powershot S110. Given my absence of experience with DSLRs, I obviously would have no real world basis to compare the 500D to other DSLRs.

  • Junie Lozano September 1, 2009 07:10 pm

    Hello, just got a 500D and i just want to know how can or where can i download the expansion for the ISO? appreciate your time and answer. thank you.

  • Matt White August 30, 2009 01:07 pm

    I've had mine for a couple of months and took it to New Zealand on a recent trip with great results. My previous body was a Rebel XT, which the T1i is a huge step up from. I've made a lot of use of the video, which works pretty well as long as you aren't shooting subjects that require rapid focus adjustments. I use a 70-200 IS F4L and a 24-105 IS F4L on it...

    It's expensive, but it does have quite a few improvements over the 450d. The best in my opinion is the massively improved resolution of the LCD. This makes it an actually useful tool for quick proofs of images after you shoot them. The 450d only has a 230k display compared to 920k on the T1i. The video is also really great feature, especially if traveling, because you can flip over and shoot some quick video without having to grab a separate camera. The quality is awesome, and the cinematic effect you get with depth of field is way better than you can get with consumer HD video cameras. The 1080p frame rate at 20fps is really lame, though, so I limit my use to 720p at 30fps.

    Ditto about the comments on the review. This reads like the standard Canon press release, not a review. Please follow up with a real review, DPS!

  • Aub August 30, 2009 08:46 am

    Hi everyone. I appreciate all of the reviews. I'm used to looking for the "optical zoom" number of the inherent lens. Does anyone know this information?

  • rick lumpas August 28, 2009 11:39 pm

    It is very expensive for an entry level dslr.
    The review mentioned by michael schall (dpreview) also has a review of its predecessor the 450D. I read the conclusion part in this link
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos450d/page34.asp
    And compared it with this
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos500d/

    It turns out that 450D is better in many aspects except for features most beginners do not really need in photography like video capture.

  • Annette August 28, 2009 04:38 am

    Apparently my first attempt linking the photo didn't work so I'm trying again.

    Low light photo

  • Annette August 28, 2009 04:33 am

    I'm just getting into the DPS site because of my recent T1i acquisition. I was hoping this review would help warn me of areas I'd have trouble and suggest strengths of the camera I may not know.

    I take a lot of concert photos, so low light performance is very important to me. I like the controls on Canons better than Nikons, and as I'm little with small hands, the smaller body size is great. Video ability was a requirement for me, and the reason I was previously only using point and shoots.

    This photo is from a very dark room - I believe it was taken at 3200 ISO, f/1.8, 1/30 or 1/40 of a second. I have been very pleased with the low light ability of the camera so far in pretty limited conditions - I love the lack of noise and crispness of the image.

  • Michael Schall August 28, 2009 02:57 am

    I purchased one 2 weeks ago and it rocks. I upgraded from a XT.

    Here is a great review...
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos500d/

  • alex August 28, 2009 02:28 am

    450d is older (2008) and i think it has digic3 processor (500d has digic4, which makes it faster and probably better handler of noise); it also doesnt go that high on iso and its lcd screen has lower resolution and smaller size. there is no hd video shooting on 450d either.
    but if money is really an important issue...i dont know, you definitely will be satisfied with 450d too, if mainly for learning purposes.

  • prasad August 27, 2009 07:48 pm

    hey
    i need 2 buy a DSLR. its my first DSLR.
    i am confused between 450D and 500D
    MP is not an issue..
    which should i go for ?
    cause 500D price is lil on higher side :(
    but learn which is better 500 or 450

  • toby August 27, 2009 05:41 pm

    yeah, nikon has its two-digit-vs-three-digit-series twist in it. confusing. doesnt make too much sense, if you thing of canon-way "the lower the number the better the camera" :-)

  • Adam August 27, 2009 09:38 am

    Paul:

    I have been a lot of HW...here is what i have found on the various "levels" with the two companies:

    Canon 500D = Nikon D5000
    Canon 50D = Nikon D90

    Now they are not 100% compariable, but those are the approxiamte comparisons as far as i can tell....

  • Paul August 27, 2009 07:01 am

    How would you compare the Canon 500D to the Nikon D90?

  • Patricia Reiser August 27, 2009 06:05 am

    I purchased my Ti1 in June and am rather happy with my camera thus far. I have taken thousands of photographs in a short time.

    To answer Toby's question, no there is no way to hook up an external mic.
    I have taken some night photography with good results and some bad (but I am still learning) Here is one night photograph that turned out rather well http://pkphotography.us/2009/07/potd-sky-watch-friday-53/

    One thing I have learned is to turn off the image stabilzation on the lens when doing long exposures.

    I have used it only once thus far for recording a video. It picked up sounds well but I was not happy with the focusing. But then again I mainly use it to take photographs.

    It is a light weight camera which I appreciate when hiking. The function buttons are well placed and the camera fits comfortably in my hand.

    And I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my Vivitar off camera flash unit does work with this camera. One less thing I have to buy at this time.

    A majority of the photographs I have posted on my blog have been taken with this camera if you would like to review them. And I'd be happy to answer anyone's questions about this camera, if Darren doesn't mind.

  • ilpero August 26, 2009 11:40 pm

    +1 more for John's comment. This "review" could be a copy-paste from Canon's site.

  • Michael Comeau August 26, 2009 11:06 pm

    I got one a few weeks ago and I love it. My only complaint is that the autofocus can be inconsistent. Otherwise I love it. It's way more intuitive and fast to use than my old Rebel XT.

  • Ray August 26, 2009 07:17 pm

    "Video quality: very good."

    A+ review we have here

  • toby August 26, 2009 06:50 pm

    +1 for John's statement. I miss the answers for an actual review. Can I connect an external microphone? How does the TTL, etc. operate? How fast is the camera? Well, a bit sad, since I like dps page a lot usually. :-)

    ok, this is getting a bit OT, but hey, what the heck! :-)

    @Hans + JP:

    Hans is right, you cannot claim that a crop factored focal length is the same as a full format focal length, ie. 300mm full format camera lens will have a different look than a 200m (to make it easier:) 1.5 crop factored camera lens, although it will have the same value (1.5*200=300).

    if you use a 200 mm lens on a full format and a 200 mm on a cropped one, THEN it will have the same look, but the frame on the crop camera will be smaller ("zoomed in" or lets better just say: cropped ;)).

    the "equivalent" marketing talk is only good for knowing the possible "zoom" factor. e.g... you cannot use a 50mm lens on a 1.7 camera and think you have the perfect portrait lens...

  • hfng August 26, 2009 06:45 pm

    Am surprised that the sync speed is only 1/200sec. Since it is not a full frame camera, it could have been 1/250sec.

  • Adam August 26, 2009 02:19 pm

    I complete agree with John's assessment here!

    I am in the market for a DSLR and was quite excited to see you "review" the T1i.

    This is not exactly what i was hoping for...

  • John August 26, 2009 01:17 pm

    With all due respect, this is a pretty useless review. Half of the review is spent on the properties of the kit lens, which, while interesting, have little to do with the camera body. The rest of the review is spent detailing the tech specs, which are available from the mfr. What readers are interested in is not the # of focus points, but how well they perform, not the # of modes, but how well they do their job. The reader wants to know abot low light capability, artifacts at high ISO, and a host of other things.

    Bottom line: This is not a review, it's an ad.

    Sorry to be so harsh, but this is a poor review job on a very important entry in the pro-sumer category.

  • JP August 26, 2009 11:48 am

    @Hans. a 50D with a 17-55mm on it and a 5D with a 28mm prime or 28-135 has pretty much the same prespective/look/distortion/angle whatever you wanna call it.

  • Franky August 26, 2009 08:25 am

    I have the canon t1i which is the same camera. Just wanted to add a lot of reviews talk about pictures looking soft. By defalt canon put it like that but it can be changed in picture styles. Pictures come out real sharp.

  • Hans August 26, 2009 08:14 am

    I still shoot with a wide angle 28mm on a cropped sensor, the only limit is in your head. ;-)
    But I did find that you cannot simply state that 18mm is an equivalent of 29mm.
    The angle is 60% wider and you will get a totally different perspective than you would with a 29mm on a full frame camera.
    Any mention of "full frame equivalent" is marketing speech for " we downsized the sensor for price-technical issues". The 500D is still a great camera, by the way.
    But still, for my next camera I will be looking at a 50D or a 5D mkII.
    The housing on the 500D is a bit too small for my big old hands.

  • Andreas August 26, 2009 08:08 am

    This is just a really nice camera! i have it myself and i really like it alot.. i go no where without it.. and the high ISO actually works way better the i expected