Well as some of you have no doubt noticed, I have taken the plunge and bought a 500D. Why have I bought a camera that I already said on this blog wouldn’t interest me? Primarily because I wanted a spare camera that would be a little smaller than my 40D and so would be suitable for carrying with me on walking or cycling trips. The 1000D was tempting, but lacked the 3″ screen and spot metering that I’ve become used to on the 40D. The 450D is a good price and has the 3″ screen and the spot metering but it has the same low resolution screen that the 40D has; the whole SLR world is clearly moving to the higher resolution screen and so wanted that now. The 500D has all the features I need and the large high res scren all in a good hillwalking sized package, so I went for it. Am I happy about the 15MP resolution, well no. I still think Canon should enlarge their APS-C sensor to match Nikon’s or keep the pixel count to 10 or 12MP. However, this is what they have on the market, and since I mainly use a travel camera in decent light, then the resolution might be nice with higher noise being less of a problem. I have taken a few low-light portraits at ISO 1600 (Previous one of Gillian for example) and it definitely gives a usable file but my first reaction is that it is a noisy file compared to my 40D at the same ISO. I always look forward to DP review covering a camera and when they get round to this one I’m sure they will give us the answer on this one. Amateur photographer said that the camera was noisy, but this wouldn’t be a problem up to prints of A3 or so; I guess I could live with that!
Handling is fine on the camera, most of what you want is quick to access, even exposure compensation is quite intuitive and since I have drifted into using “Aperture Priority” so much and using exposure compensation for fine adjustments that’s important to me. I used to have a 400D and so it feels just like that, very Canon, very straightforward. The only missing quick button for me is metering mode which is a menu item; at least you can put it on your “my menu” list which allows you to access your own favourite menu items really easily and quickly. So all is rosy for usability, but the right hand-grip is small. If like me you are used to a 40D or a 50D hand-grip, an you have big hands, then you will find it annoying. This is a travel and spare SLR for me however, so I am getting used to that grip and it’s far from a show-stopper. If you haven’t used a larger SLR, I doubt whether you’ll even notice this.
I have played a little with the movie mode, but truthfully I can’t see me getting into that stuff. It’s not all that easy to use, and I think you would have to use a tripod, as well as a separate sound recorder to mix the sound and video together later as the handling noise and the focus noise (even if manually focussed) are seriously obtrusive. It is fun to do video with awesome “depth of field” control unlike any camcorder, but don’t kid yourself into thinking you would use it casually, you won’t. Anyway, I’m a photographer, so I really don’t care.
So I have a nice little SLR with me at all times now, my work backpack even has a little compartment for it and it fits so much better than my beloved 40D, so I’ll enjoy that luxury, and I’ll keep you updated on my findings as I go along.