Canon EOS 1500D: Full, in-depth review
- Intuitive UI
- Good entry point for photography
- Bundled lenses are basic
- Lacks videography features
The Canon EOS 1500D is an entry-level DSLR camera that will give beginners a reasonable idea of whether they want to pursue photography at a higher level or not.
You forget where it all began. It’s that simple.
I began my DSLR journey some eight years ago with a Canon 550D – a model which has been updated several times by Canon, eventually becoming the 750D – kit that included the EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6mm lens.
Today, I shoot semi-professionally and have a kit comprising the Canon 6D Mark II and four Canon L series lens. The obvious difference is the 550D was a APS-C (cropped sensor) DSLR while the 6D MKII is full frame. My kit now is well into the five figure replacement value; then, it was around $4300 when I eventually moved up to the Canon EOS 7D and added a couple of other lens and a basic tripod.
My point is: if you get the photographic bug you grow – and outgrow – the humble pieces with which began your journey. And you grow until you find a comfortable place that meets your photographic needs. Mine is the set up I now have. Further upgrades will probably be limited to the next version of the 6D if it is significantly different.
Shooting the Canon 1500D – one of Canon’s two latest entries in the beginner’s market – was like a step back in time. But a camera like this can’t be judged against its expensive bigger brothers. Of course, the 1500D can’t compete with the Canon EOS 7D Mark II, the best APS-C camera Canon offers, or the full-frame 6D MK II, 5DMK IV, 1D X MK II and other gems in a range that, to me, probably contains too many options. So I judged it against the 550D – or the more refined 750D as it is now.
Straight away I would say this: if you have the extra money, skip the 1500D and buy the mid-level 750D. And don’t buy either in kit form. The 18-55mm lens – which both are teamed up with in kits – is still, despite a few iterations, a flimsy, very basic, plastic lens. It will serve your basic needs but not much else.
For newcomers though, the kits offer added value - particularly the 1500D two lens kit, which includes the aforementioned 18-55mm lens and the Sigma AF 70-300mm and retails for $799.95. The lenses may not be top notch but the kit does introduce you to photography beyond your mobile phone or cheapo digital camera. It gives you a chance to work out whether DSLR photography is really going to be your bag.
Because this is what the Canon 1500D is all about – working out whether you want to take photography seriously. Which is an important question. A lot of people think they do and rush into buying a big full-frame DSLR with several expensive lenses, spending $6000 or $7000 in the process, take photos for a month then find post-production and all the additional associated additional time just doesn’t add up. The camera gets tucked away and a year or two later they sell it off.
You will not take awesome photos overnight. With the Canon 1500D and cheaper lenses you will not take photos that you are going to be able to blow up to wall-size or use on the back of a bus. However, if all you want a camera for is to take photos for social media, Instagram, and your own gallery and record of life then the 1500D isn’t a bad fit.
I tested it with the aforementioned 18-55mm f3-5mm-5.6mm lens but also the far superior EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens and the L-series EF 85mm f/1.4 IS USM lens just to see how a top line full-frame lens would work with this APS-C camera.
Just remember when buying an APS-C camera that if you buy a specific APS-C lens – the Canon range carries the identifier EF-S compared with EF for its full-frame range – it won’t work on a full-frame camera. However, lenses from the EF range will work on an APS-C camera, albeit with a crop factor of 1.6x. This is because the EF-S lenses image circle covers the smaller sensor – 22.3mm x 14.9mm – of APS-C cameras whereas the EF lenses were originally made to cover a 35mm film frame so they cover both sensor sizes. If you try to use an EF-S lens on a full-frame Canon camera you get black corners on the photos. What all this means is, for instance, that an 85mm lens shoots at the equivalent of 136mm (85 x 1.6).
If you do get serious and want to move up in the photographic universe and everything you own is APS-C then you will have to sell up and buy full-frame gear. But don’t worry, good EFS lenses hold their value. I sold my entire APS-C kit – a Canon 7D with three good EF-S lens – about $5000 of gear – for $3350; around 65 per cent of the original value.
should also say that the latest iteration of the 7D, the 7D Mark II, is a fine camera that more than holds its own against many full-frame cameras. It is worth seriously investigating.
You also have to consider in this case whether you should go APS-C or a digital mirrorless camera. There are some very good mirrorless digitals in the $800-$1000 range that would certainly deliver photos that are as good – or better than – as those from the 1500D, but they may be less flexible in terms of lens options or only come with a fixed lens. Again, it comes down to what you want the camera for and what exactly you are going to use it to shoot.
I’m not going to deliver a long list of specifications for the Canon EOS 1500D because it’s pretty basic.
It has a 24 megapixel APS-C sensor, a 9-point auto focus system, ISO range of 100 to 6400, a relatively slow continuous shooting speed of three frames per second, weighs 475gm (the 6D MKII I use weights 765gm by comparison), Wi-Fi for photo transfer, can shoot in RAW (important), doesn’t have a flip-out screen or a touch screen, no 4K video, has shooting modes for beginners but also the standard functions such as manual, aperture and shutter priority. It is functional beginner’s camera.
Like most beginner-level DSLRs it performs poorly in low light – so don’t expect great night or dusk shots.
The 18-55mm lens, despite all my reservations, is functional and the delivers reasonable photos.
The EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens produces much better photos on the 1500D but it is significantly more expensive. You pay for quality! However, a few days shooting with this lens convinced me that it is a very good option, particularly if you take a leap of faith and buy up a notch to the 750D.
The L-series EF 85mm f/1.4 IS USM lens is another beautiful piece of equipment that I would happily add to the range of lens I own. You can do some very nice work with this lens although it’s powers are a little diminished by the limitations of the APS-C sensor. On a full-frame DSLR it is absolutely outstanding.
I found the Canon EOS 1500D very easy to use – and I think most beginners stepping up to a DSLR camera for the first time would have few problems. Canon’s operating system has always been one of the easier to get around and, for me, superior to that of any Nikon system. In fact, I'd say it even has the edge on the operating systems of most digital cameras, although I do find the Panasonic OS particularly functional and easy-to-learn.
The Bottom Line
Final word: The Canon EOS 1500D is an entry-level DSLR camera that will give beginners a reasonable idea of whether they want to pursue photography at a higher level or not.
It takes reasonably sharp photos – even using the kit lens it is bundled with – but definitely isn’t the camera for anybody remotely interested in videography.
Note: All the photos in the galleries below were shot in RAW and then post-produced in Photoshop equipped with a large range of plug-ins and actions including Luminar 2018, Aurora HD, ON1 and Contrastly.
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