Canon EOS 600D vs Canon EOS 550D

The Canon EOS 600D has been the subject of internet rumours for some time now, but the manufacturer has finally made things official. Sitting at the top of Canon's entry-level EOS series, the 600D is the natural successor to the 550D, but what if you've already got a 550D? Should you feel jealous? And is it worth upgrading? Read on to find out. It's the Canon EOS 600D vs Canon EOS 550D.

Image Sensor

Canon 600D
18-megapixel CMOS 1.6x crop,

Canon 550D
17.9MP CMOS, 1.6x crop


While it's not completely irrelevant, megapixel count can be a bit of red herring when comparing cameras. Unless you're planning on blowing your photos up to enormous proportions, then a sky-high megapixel count isn't really necessary. Canon's DSLRs tend to have more megapixels on board when compared with some of their rivals, with the new 600D sporting a high 18-megapixel image sensor. With the 550D listed as having a 17.9-megapixel sensor, the difference is so small that it's not really a significant upgrade at all.

Processor

Canon 600D
DIGIC-4

Canon 550D
DIGIC-4


The processor is the camera's CPU which takes care of all the number crunching that goes on under the chassis, so the more powerful the processor, the better and faster the camera will be. Like the 550D, the new 600D uses Canon's DIGIC-4 despite rumours that DIGIC-5 would get its debut in 2011. The DIGIC-4 has been around since 2008 and offers several improvements over its predecessor including fast image processing and better noise reduction in high-ISO images. This means that you're going to get quicker shooting bursts and clearer shots a low light levels and high ISOs.


Burst

Canon 600D
3.7fps

Canon 550D
3.7fps




As Canon's new flagship entry-level DSLR, the 600D offers a decent burst rate of 3.7 frames per second which will give you up to 34 shots (JPEG or 6 RAW). While certainly not up to semi-pro standards, this is still a decent rate. All the same, it doesn't show any improvement on the 550D, which also offers a 3.7fps shooting rate.

 

Form

Canon 600D
133.1 × 99.5 × 79.7 mm, 570g

Canon 550D
129 × 98 × 62 mm, 530g



Size is relatively important when it comes to DSLRs especially for entry-level models where amateur snappers are more likely to be carting them around, rather than using them fixed to a tripod in a studio all day. However, Canon's new model actually has slighter larger dimensions that its predecessor. The 600D is also 40g heavier than the older model, which doesn't sound like much but when you're dealing with extra lenses, then the lighter the better. The extra bulk is no doubt a result of the flip-out screen, so it's a case of whether you think the improved display is worth the increase in chassis size and weight.

As for the buttons and contours of the outside, to all intents and purposes the two are identical. Strictly speaking, there's a Display button on the top of the 600D where there used to just be an ISO shortcut but it's not going to blow anyone's mind.

 

ISO

Canon 600D
ISO 100-6,400 boost to 12,800

Canon 550D
ISO 100–6,400 boost to 12,800



As the 550D's direct successor, it's no surprise that the 600D is identical when it comes to light sensitivity. The decent range and boost levels, that will be familiar to 550D users mean that the new model should offer good results, despite offering no upgrade from the previous model. Stay tuned for the review to see if there's any improvement on noise reduction at higher values. Highly unlikely though.

 

Video

Canon 600D
1080p/24/25/30fps

Canon 550D
1080p/24/25/30fps


Both models offer 1080p full HD video capture at 24 and 25fps for PAL and NTSC outputs. You also get the option to record in 720p high-def or 640x480 at a 50fps rate. Both cameras offer identical outputs in the form of a USB 2.0 port and an HDMI socket for plugging them straight into any HD-capable TV set. However, the new model sets itself apart in one aspect of its video capabilities. For the first time in Canon's DSLR range, the 600D offers a Movie Digital Zoom which has been designed to crop the centre of the sensor from 3x to 10x while still maintaining Full HD quality. Seeing as there's no effective resolution loss, that makes quite a bonus.


Display

Canon 600D
3in LCD with 1m pixels

Canon 550D
3in LCD with 1m pixels



Possibly the biggest upgrade from the 550D is the 3-inch vari-angle screen which folds out from the main camera body and can be swivelled to find the best viewing position. While the the previous model offered an identically sized display, sporting the same high pixel density (1,040,000 pixels) the 600D has a clear advantage with its flexible screen. While many camcorders offer a swivel screen, it's not as common on DSLRs. It's certainly a useful feature if you're trying to capture shots, such as shooting something over people's heads in a crowd. The adjustable screen is the biggest difference on the new model and is the factor that is likely to sway your decision to upgrade, one way or the other.

 

Autofocus

Canon 600D
9-point AF

Canon 550D
9-point AF



If you don't use the autofocus, then this one probably won't concern you at all, but if you are a regular use of the AF setting then the 600D doesn't really bring much more to the table than the 550D. Both cameras offer a wide-area 9-point AF. If you want to step up the autofocus offering then you'll want to opt for a higher spec'd model such as the Canon 7D which offers 19 cross-type AF points.

 

Viewfinder

Canon 600D
95% of full frame coverage

Canon 550D
95% of full frame coverage


There's not really much to say here as there's nothing separating to two cameras when it comes to the viewfinder as it's identical on both models. If you want a camera with 100 per cent viewfinder coverage then, again, it's a question of stumping up a bit more for something like the 7D. Still, there's always the Live View mode for a full frame look at the world.

 

Features

Canon 600D

Canon 550D

Unlike the 550D, the 600D comes with an on-screen guide interface, called Feature Guide, which is good news for beginners and those that need a few reminders of the features that they don't use very often. The new model also includes an intelligent auto scene selector - Scene Intelligent Auto - which is something of a rarity on a DSLR and is normally only associated with compacts. This does all the work for you by setting your exposure and focusing the camera according to the type of scene that it thinks you're shooting. The 600D also has more creative art filters than the previous model, for the arty types out there, as well as built-in support for wireless flash syncing if you're using more than one flash in your shoot. Quite the pro touch for such a consumer focused machine.

 

Price

Canon 600D
£679

Canon 550D
£546.91


The 600D will be available from April for £679 (body only), or with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II kit lens (£769) or 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens (£949). The price tag isn't that much more than the original price of the 550D (£649.99), but you can now find the older model much cheaper online, with Amazon offering it for £546.91 (body only).


Conclusions

Although impressive, the 600D doesn't appear to offer a massive step up from its predecessor. Many of the specs are identical, such as the image sensor, the processor, the burst rate and the ISO range. However, there are a few key features that are worth considering, most notably the swivel screen. This is really the camera's biggest selling point and offers a genuine benefit that should be easy to see the second that you start using it.

There are also a few other nifty features like the on-screen guide interface and the intelligent auto scene. However, it could be argued that this isn't the sort of the setting that you would expect to find on a DSLR because if you're willing to splash the cash on a this type of camera, then you're unlikely to be using an auto scene mode.

In all, there's really nothing for 550D users to be jealous of unless they're absolute swivel screen hounds. Although this is technically an upgrade, it's more for the benefit of Canon than anyone else. The tweeks and twists make the 600D a better all round consumer device - particularly for a family consisting of both beginners and enthusiasts - but, unless we see some amazing bonus to the image quality when we come to give it a full review, it'd be very hard to suggest that any 550D users should upgrade. By the same token, we might even suggest that new customers save their pennies and buy the earlier model themselves.

What do you think of the new 600D? Will you be upgrading?



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