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.
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.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 550D and Canon EOS 600D and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Both the 550D and the 600D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 550D was replaced by the Canon 600D, while the 600D was followed by the Canon 650D. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 550D or the Canon 600D – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 550D:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.54x vs 0.53x).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2010).
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 600D:
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (14 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 600D emerges as the winner of the match-up (4 : 2 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 550D and the Canon 600D place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 550D or the 600D perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
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.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera’s market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
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.
Specifications: Canon 550D vs Canon 600D
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 550D||Canon 600D|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2010||February 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 550D||Canon 600D|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||22.3 x 14.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm 2||332.27 mm 2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||26.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||17.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||5184 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||4.31 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm 2||5.39 MP/cm 2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 – 6,400 ISO||100 – 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 – 12,800 ISO||100 – 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||DIGIC 4|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||65|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||11.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||784||793|
|Screen Specs||Canon 550D||Canon 600D|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 550D||Canon 600D|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.7 shutter flaps/s||3.7 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 550D||Canon 600D|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 550D||Canon 600D|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||440 shots per charge|
|Body Dimensions||129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
|133 x 100 x 80 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||530 g (18.7 oz)||570 g (20.1 oz)|
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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.
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.