By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Canon will be targeting first-time DSLR buyers with its new ease-of-use model EOS 550D. Announced by Canon brand manager, EOS, Chris McLeod at a press conference yesterday, this model is designed to attract users up from the digital compact category.

McLeod said 2009 had been a challenging year for the EOS brand, but ultimately “one to remember”. With interest in the EOS brand increasing, spurred on by initiatives such as the Photo5 competition, the focus has shifted to bringing consumers into the category. McLeod said the biggest hurdle to this is the perception that DSLRs are difficult to use.

“One of the key focuses in 2010 is those people who are currently digital compact users looking to get into DSLR photography,” said McLeod. “These people want the quality images they see DSLRs take but are nervous they might not be able to achieve them; they’re worried DSLRs are too complex and more for creative arty types who know what they’re doing.

“It’s an ease of use issue – these people really want to get into DSLR, a lot of them walking into store thinking I’m going to buy a DSLR, and then unfortunately walk out with a compact, so we’ve got to make it a bit easier to get into the category.”

McLeod said the 550D was the DSLR making this jump easier. He said this model was “so easy to use”, with “simple and  intituitve features and technology”. The key features of this camera are an ISO speed range of 100-6,400, Full HD 1920 x 1080 movie recording, live view shooting with face detection, 18-megapixel CMOS sensor and a 3-inch LCD monitor. Pricing is not yet confirmed for this model, which will be available later this month in a number of lens kits.

To support the entire EOS range, Canon will be conducting $5 million advertising campaign. This will encompass television, print, outdoor, websites, competitions and festivals.