The Bottom Line
Ultimately, Sony has made the Alpha 550 with the intention of serving a specific level of photographer. But it’s unfortunate that it didn’t offer it at a competitive price. The Canon EOS Rebel T1i and the Nikon D5000 cost, respectively, $620 and $630 (street), body only—much less pricey.
Moreover, the Canon EOS 50D ($941, body only) is about the same price as the A550, and the Nikon D90 ($810, body only) is less expensive. Both have even faster burst shooting. If you plan to do a lot of live-view photography, you’ll definitely want the Alpha 550. If you’re looking for more traditional shooting prowess, the Canon and Nikon models will outshine it. But if Sony drops the A550’s price to Nikon D5000 levels, then you’ll have a tougher decision to make.