|ePHOTOzine' Will Cheung talks EOS 550D with Canon's David Parry, Product Intelligence, Photo/Video, Canon (UK) Ltd
Will Cheung: Can you tell us about the new Canon EOS 550D's key selling points?
David Parry: "The Canon 550D is an easy camera to use, but also gives you manual control and functions to grow with and learn. The 550D also has movie capability, with full 1080p frame rates and you can shoot 720p as well. The new screen 3:2 ratio screen which makes the image actually fill screen much better and you don't get so many black lines, especially if you are shooting 16x9 in the movie mode. The Canon EOS 550D uses iFCL metering as used on EOS 7D, which went down really well, offering much more accurate exposure in bright colour situations."
I understand it measures contrast colour and luminance as well.
"Yes, this clever technology works really well in this particular market segment and will give you much better images."
Nikon have had a Color Matrix system for a while. Have Canon been a slow in bringing in this technology to market?
"No, I don't think Canon have been slow. Canon have a number of metering systems and solutions for very accurate results already. However, with the two new generations of camera (the EOS 550D and EOS 7D) we developed the colour metering system to aid the photographer get more consistently accurate pictures."
Many of our users in the ePHOTOzine Forums say they don't need a movie mode. Will Canon offer a version without movie mode at a lower price?
"This is an interesting question. On the Canon EOS 5D Mark II a few people asked if Canon could do one without the movie mode, but if you look, the original EOS 5D price when it was first released compared to the EOS 5D Mark II price is very similar, so the movie mode option doesn't add to the price of the camera. Nor does it make the camera any heavier or alter the size. Many people love the movie mode, it is a very exciting function to use and opens up a new level of creativity for photographers and another genre to shoot. With the way technology is moving towards multimedia, it gives photographers a way to embrace it."
Do you think it is just people haven't tried using the movie mode?
"Yes, that how it feels for me. I came from a photography background, I gave it a go and thought it was great fun, especially useful for commercial photographers and gives them another look to their images and work."
Coming back to the EOS 550D, it has +/- 5EV exposure compensation, what's the thinking behind that?
"You can actually do more than that. Similarly to the EOS 5D, you can get up to +/- 7EV exposure compensation. More people are doing HDR photography and this gives them the chance to embrace this technology."
Looking at the resolution size of the EOS 550D, it has an 18Mp CMOS sensor, when will we get to a point when you can't cram more pixels in without more noise?
"Well, pixels are made up of three different items and it's the way you design these three items which gives you a good or a bad pixel, they need to be redesigned to give you the good image quality. Anyone can cram pixels onto a sensor. Because we design our own CMOS sensors and the machines that make the CMOS sensors, we can go back to the grass roots of the technology and design the individual pieces and put them into sensors that work really well. We are now seeing high resolution sensors that work really well in low light conditions with less noise then ever before."
What are the three components that make up a CMOS sensor?
"These are the micro lens, photo diodes and the electronics that go round it."
Do you think there's a need for more than 18-megapixels, most people don't need more than 10 or 12Mp?
"Why not? There's no reason not too. Nothing is lost by having more pixels and you can have much higher ISOs and lower noise. If you can't afford a 400/500mm lens you can crop into your images and still have a high level of detail with full-sized prints."
What is the difference between the two sensors in the EOS 550D and EOS 7D?
"When we design a sensor, each one is different and designed for specifically for the camera. The EOS 7D sensor has a fluorine coating which gives a slight better clarity to your image and there is a different amount of readout. On the EOS 7D you get eight channels of readout which gives the ability to shoot at eight frames-per-second, whereas the EOS 550D only runs at 3.6 frames-per-second, therefore it's only got four channels of readout. It would make it very expensive if we used the EOS 7D sensor in the EOS 550D."
What else do you think is exciting about the EOS 550D?
"We are excited by the high ISO and low noise performance, the new screen with one million dots, HDMI socket so you can view images on your television and the lightweight compact body which is good for everyday use."
Looking back to recent Canon camera launches, there have been one or two that haven't gone so well, such as bad focusing on EOS 1D Mark III and black dots on EOS 5D Mark II. How well do you think this one will go?
"The EOS 1D Mark III is the only camera we had a major problem with which we rectified straight away and apologised for. It took a while to get to the root of the problem, it is such a specialist camera with so many variables it took a while which is the nature of that kind of product. Other than that there have been no major problems that have affected us any more than any other manufacturer, like the black drops on the EOS 5D Mark II. Like any manufacturer, we do test all our cameras, but it is the users which push the cameras to the limits and then feedback any problems which are remedied through firmware updates. More pressure is on the manufacturer but it is great to be able to update cameras through this method."
In general, how are you finding the DSLR market at the moment?
"The DSLR market is actually growing, whether it be the Micro Four Thirds market or the EOS 7D or EOS 5D Mark II sector. With the advent of video and ability to shoot at low light, the DSLR market is strong and moving forward nicely."
Did you notice a dip over Christmas with the economy or are Canon still booming?
"The whole market has changed but as a brand we haven't been affected any differently from any other manufacturer."
When will Canon get involved with Micro Four Thirds market?
"I can't comment on what Canon have got coming in the future, but Micro Fours Thirds is quite interesting and it is great that more people are getting involved in photography and using cameras."
Thanks for your time. Enjoy the rest of Focus on Imaging
"No problem, and may I wish ePHOTOzine members all the best for their photography."
To read our full review of the Canon EOS 550D click on