The Canon EOS 500D, also known as the Canon EOS Rebel T1i, is a 15.1Mp SLR camera.
Canon EOS 500D: Live View
The Canon EOS 500D offers Live View, but Canon has streamlined the Live View interface. There's now a dedicated Live View button on the back of the camera, and you no longer have to go into a menu to activate the Live View feature.
If you've never used Live View on an SLR, be aware that autofocusing is different than what you may be used to on a point-and-shoot camera. When you activate Live View, the camera has to raise the mirror (the one that normally bounces light from the lens up into the viewfinder) to expose the sensor, to generate a live image to show on the LCD screen.
Unfortunately, the autofocus sensors are in the top of the camera, so when the mirror goes up, the autofocus sensors go blind. This means that, unlike with a point-and-shoot camera, the Canon EOS 500D cannot continuously autofocus when in Live View mode.
By default when in Live View mode, the Canon EOS 500D autofocuses by using its internal computer to analyze the image, rather than using the usual autofocus sensors. This yields much slower autofocus times, so don't expect to be able to quickly focus and re-focus on different locations.
If you want faster autofocus, you can switch to a different Live View autofocus mode that temporarily flips the mirror back down when you want to focus. This allows the camera to autofocus normally, but results in a blackout of the image on the screen. Finally, you can also simply use manual focus, and the Canon EOS 500D provides an excellent Live View zoom feature that makes it easier to determine focus.
Canon EOS 500D: Feature set
The Canon EOS 500D provides a full feature set. It doesn't offer extravagance in its features - for example, auto-bracketing is limited to three stops, and burst mode runs around three frames per second - but it does provide everything you need for most of the situations that most photographers will ever find themselves in.
When it does come time to dig into a menu to change a setting, you'll find that the menus are arranged such that you never have to scroll down a menu, so you can always see all of the contents of any menu. This makes finding menu items very easy, and navigating the camera's menu system is very speedy.
The camera's customisation features are a little limited, but this is not unusual in a camera at this price. The Canon EOS 500D offers a single, customisable menu that you can configure any way you want. With My Menu, you can choose the half dozen menu items that you use the most, and consolidate them in one place, making them quick and easy to access.