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The 50D was released almost a exactly a year after its predecessor the 40D, however Canon were quick to claim it was not intended to be the 40D's replacement. The two cameras co-existed for several months before the 40D was finally phased out.
The 50D continued where the 40D left off, and contains some seemingly minor but important updates. The main one has to be the new 15.1Mp CMOS sensor, quite a leap from the 40D's 10.1Mp. This new sensor is a complete new design and measures in 22.3 x 14.9 mm making it a standard Canon APS-C size with approximately 1.6 crop compared to a 35mm full frame sensor. Despite the rise in resolution, this sensor seems to control noise better than the 40D at higher ISO's. Its a tough call for Canon to make, but they seem intent on rising mega pixels with each new release, where as Nikon are concentrating on getting the best performance out of the lower megapixel sensors they currently have. This could be a clever marketing ploy, as most consumers instantly think more megapixels are better, but this simply is not the case. More mega pixels on a small sensor often mean more noise in your image, as the sheer amount of information the sensor has to gather in such as tiny space becomes overwhelming. Luckily for Canon, the increase in the 50D's resolution appears not to have had any untoward side effects. The sensor unit also contains Canons self cleaning system, helping to keep your sensor clean and dust free.
Other differences include a new 3 inch high resolution VGA screen, a massive step up from the 40D and an all new Digic 4 processor, which adds much faster performance in the menus and image processing.
The 50D also now conatins 3 live view modes, Quick mode which uses Phase detect, Live view mode, which uses contrast detect and Face detect mode which again uses contrast detect.
The body of the 50D is pretty much identical to the 40D, with only a few minor cosmetic differences. The button layout is identical, however some have changed function, and have added or reduced functionality.
Strangely the 50D actually weighs ever so slightly less than the 40D at 822g with the battery. However it still has the same robust magnesium alloy body.
Handling the 50D, you realize what a solidly built thing it is. The camera feels good quality, although compared to an equivalent Nikon model, I feel the plastic parts of the body are a bit scratchy and cheap feeling, however the camera fits nicely in the hand with its big grip, allowing your fingers to wrap tightly around it. The shutter button is perfectly placed and the body has a smart shaped part that your finger naturally falls into. I would say this is actually more comfortable in that respect than the vastly more pricey Nikon D700. There are no front buttons on the right hand side of the 50D, instead all of the buttons to change settings are found infront of the large top LCD. These buttons are quite small and rounded, and can sometimes be quite fiddly to press, especially in cold weather when you have gloves on. These buttons along with a small rubberised wheel behind the shutter release button and a large scroll wheel on the back of the body, allow you to change most of the basic settings of the camera like shutter speed, ISO, White Balance and more. A smaller joystick type button also allows navigation of the menus, or to change the focus point. Further buttons on the back of the camera allow you to change the focus point, AF-ON, AE-Lock and zoom for when you are reviewing pictures.
Along the bottom of the LCD are further buttons to perform operations, mainly when in the menu and reviewing your pictures. The 50D has a large mode dial on the top left hand side, plated in some sort of silver material. Canon's reason for this was for better visibility, however I think it looks a bit cheap. The dial has a positive, if not slight stiff action, but this is needed as there is no lock button, so its quite easy to knock the camera into a different mode by accident. The dial contains the usual M,Av,Tv, and P settings but also has a number of auto modes, such as sport, portrait, landscape and fully auto. This means whatever the situation, you will find a mode that suits you. I personally only tend to use fully manual (M) and aperture priority mode (Av).
The viewfinder, as expected on a APS-C camera is quite small, but its bright and has a 95% coverage of the frame, meaning their will be 5% of the finished image you don't see in the viewfinder. When viewing through it, there is a bright display with al the essential information abut the set up of the camera, like the shutter speed, aperture and ISO. There is also an exposure meter in selected modes.
The focus points are permanently displayed in the viewfinder, with the active ones lighting up when selected. Unlike the Nikon range, you cannot display a grid in the viewfinder without purchasing a new focus screen and fitting it inside the camera.
The camera takes one Compact flash memory card which is inserted into the camera from the side. It is located behind a sprung door. This door has no lock, so there is a small possibility of the door being accidently opened and broken. The battery fits into the camera from the bottom, and the battery door is opened with a small recessed tab you pull back. The battery clips into place, so there is no danger of it falling out.
The camera's image quality is very good indeed. Images are crisp and clear when using a good lens, and the colours are bright and vivid. Canon have always seemed to have a creamy appearance to their images, which is quite pleasing and very much suited to portraits. The ISO range is from 100-12800. Up to ISO 1600 noise is pretty well controlled, although after ISO 400 there is certainly noise visible. I feel comfortable shooting up to ISO 1600, as long as I can do some noise reduction in post processing. After ISO 1600, you start to loose a lot of detail and the images don't look very pleasant. I'd only use ISO 3200 and above in a real emergency.
Because of the new Digic 4 processor, the extra resolution of the camera doesn't slow down the continuous burst very much at all. The camera can still shoot at 6.3 FPS in 16 bit RAW mode, which is not bad considering the 10 MP 40D could only achieve 6.5 FPS. In the real world, this is not noticeable, so the 50D seems very quick indeed. Obviously a fast and large CF card will aid you in shooting long continuos bursts. The autofocus uses 9 points, which in most circumstances are fine, however fast moving action may be a problem and in bad light the camera can struggle to find focus. For slower, more relaxed stuff though, the autofocus is fine. One huge plus for this camera is the addition of AF microadjust. If you have a lens that seems to be back or front focusing, you no longer have to send the camera and the lens in for calibration. You can now do it yourself. The camera also "remembers" the lens and so once you have calibrated it, each time you attach the lens, the camera automatically adjusts the AF to what you set it as. This alone was the reason a lot of people upgraded to the 50D from lower models.
In day to day use, the 50D is a solid performer, with excellent image quality and a pretty good High ISO range. For me, the only thing that lets it down is the ergonomics and the button layout. This is purely a personal thing, as I know many people love the layout, and I'm pretty sure its because I am a long time Nikon user. Some of the buttons are fiddly, and I didn't like the big scroll wheel for selecting things on the move. I found the power button to be in completely the wrong place, meaning I had to keep the camera switched on at all times, incase I missed a shot fumbling around trying to turn the camera on.
The 50D is now a few years old, and although it hasn't been officially discontinued yet, the 60D seems to have taken its place. The 60D however has no where near the build quality of the 50D, and some say, it shouldn't even be a XX range camera. Its getting hard to find brand new stock of the 50D, but when you can the body alone is usually priced around £550-650. This keeps it slap bang in the middle of the lesser spec 550D and the higher spec 7D. Exactly were canon wanted it. There are a lot of used 50D's coming onto the market now and can be found for as little as £450, which makes it an excellent upgrade from an older body, or for someone wanting to expand their gear with a more heavy duty and robust camera.
There are a few foibles I personally don't like about the 50D, but overall its a fantastically specced camera for a pretty reasonable price. You really cant argue with that!
The EOS50D was introduced as the replacement for the EOS40D (which it very closely resembles in outward appearance) and is aimed at the mid-range market, somewhere between avid amateurs and semi-professionals. Its 15.1 megapixel CMOS sensor is a huge leap from the 10 megapixel model used in the 40D, and the addition of the "live view" makes the 50D a much more versatile buy.
The body of the camera is a handful. It feels reassuringly sturdy but not too heavy and I've found that I can comfortably use it "in hand" for reasonably long periods without any discomfort - of course, this also depends on the weight of any lens you are using. The buttons are well-placed and, after using it for around a year, I can find most of the functions without shifting my eye from the viewfinder. The menus are clear and colourful and pretty easy to navigate - and the secondary LCD screen on top of the body (which I thought I would never have a use for) does come in surprisingly handy.
As far as functions go, it has everything you would expect from a mid-range SLR including a number of preset modes for Sport, Night, Landscape, etc, as well as Full Auto mode for those who are still learning (or can't be bothered to set everything manually). Shutter speed ranges from 1/8000th to 30 seconds (with a bulb setting) and the ISO can be expanded up to 12800 - although it is worth reading the section about noise below. Continuous shooting is especially useful for the type of high-speed wildlife photography that I favour, as it will happily fire away at 6 frames per second for 15 frames at a time. There is no video feature - which is a little disappointing when you consider that the EOS7D, EOS5D MKII and the Nikon D90 all accommodate this.
One aspect of the 50D that I am disappointed with (contrary to what a lot of reviews say) is the amount of noise at anything other than very low ISO settings and on anything other than a well-lit shot. Even with the Noise Reduction settings at their max, it compares very unfavourably with some much cheaper models. Whether this has anything to do with the amount of megapixels crammed into such a small space, I'm not sure. I have been told - by someone much more technically minded than me - that anything but the highest quality lenses will struggle to sharpen an image enough to suit this resolution.
I have had this camera for a few weeks now and I LOVE it!!! I have been using a 350d for the past few years so this seemed like a good step up for me. i bought the body only for £809 and there is a cashback sceme with Caqnon at the moment where you can get £75 back if you send in any old dslr/slr ends at the end of August though.
The body is really solid and quite a bit larger than the 350/450 d's, you don't notice it until you put them side by side. I've been able to use all my lenses on my new camera too so that's always a bonus!
The 50d is easy to use once you get used to the dial system. The camera automatically cleans the sensor every time the camera is turned on and off.
Performance is fantastic, I've noticed a big improvement in the quality of my prints ( I print fairly big pictures for framing).
The only negative thing I have to say is that the on off switch is too fiddly, I'm hoping I get used to this aspect though as I love everything else about the camera.
The menues are easy to navigate and formatting the CF card is unbelievably fast. The battery is really good, I've been out shooting a few times and have taken about 400 shots, the battery is still on max power!
Go and try this camera in the store before you buy, great camera especially if you can get a good deal!
**The Canon EOS 50D**
I bought this camera almost as soon as it was released, so I have had plenty of time to get used to it, and test it fully before writing this review.
The first thing you notice is that this is not a small lightweight camera, but is a solid well built camera designed for serious use, yet despite it's size and weight it is still easy to hold and is comfortable to use, for those of you that have used the EOS 40D it has the same body shell as that, and has the advantage of using the same accessories as the EOS 40D as well.
The menu's are well laid out and easy to use making this camera easy to set up and use, the large LCD screen is bright and clear, and much higher resolution than previous EOS cameras,(920,000 pixels) excellent for manual focusing in live view and checking the focus of pictures you have already taken.
Auto focus is lightning quick and accurate under normal conditions, and even in low light conditions it is still quick. (tested with canon lenses)
Cramming 15 megapixels resolution onto a small sensor causes problems with digital noise on many cameras, but not here, digital noise (graininess) is not apparent at all until you get into the highest ISO settings (ISO-100 to 3200 is available) and even then it is well controlled, (there is also the option of setting a very high ISO-6400 or ISO-12800 setting but noise is apparent at such high settings and is best used in emergency only,)
With it's 15mp resolution, even severely cropped or greatly enlarged pictures are crystal clear, colours are rendered accurately, even in difficult lighting conditions, when set to auto white balance, snow comes out as white snow, not bluish as on some other cameras that I have used, picture quality really is superb, and has to be seen to be believed.
One thing I have noticed, is that this camera, when it is set to program mode, has a tendancy to slightly over expose pictures under certain lighting conditions, especially Where there is water or any other reflective surfaces present, I usually set the camera to auto-exposure bracketing by either a 1/3 or a 2/3 of a stop to compensate for this when taking these pictures, but as it is usually less than 1 stop over exposed it is fairly easy to fix this in post processing, this is where RAW files (digital negatives) come in useful as they contain more picture information than jpegs, so over and under exposed areas in high contrast pictures can be fixed a lot easier, the camera comes supplied with very good RAW editing software, but I normally use photoshop to edit my RAW files as that is the software I am more used to using for this.
You get the best of both worlds with this camera as you can record both jpeg + RAW files simultaneously.
(RAW files are the raw data that a camera records and must be converted after processing to a useable picture format, such as jpeg, bmp, gif, tiff etc. that can be displayed on a PC or Mac screen, and used for printing.)
The built in flash is adequate for most situations but if you take a lot of flash photos and need a higher output flash, then one of canon's speedlight flashes can be used instead.
It is compatible with all Canon's EX series speelight flashguns.
It has a fast 6.3 frames per second high speed continuous shooting mode,
and a 3 frames per second low speed continuous shooting mode.
It is compatible with the latest high speed, high capacity CF cards, making it possible to fit thoudands of pictures onto one card, even when shooting jpeg + RAW simultaneously at maximum resolution. I have a 32gb 133x CF card in mine and I can fit a whole days shooting onto it, and still have plenty of room to spare.
One interesting feature on a camera of this level, is the inclusion of "Creative auto mode" This is an auto mode with simple controls for making adjustments, Making this camera more user friendly for beginners.
It is compatible with all canon EF and EFS lenses, and with canon's image stabilised lenses you get pin sharp pictures even in low light or with longer telephoto lenses. * (see notes below about chosing lenses for this camera.)*
Good all round performance.
Excellent picture quality.
High resolution with low noise.
Good low light performance.
Quick and accurate focusing and a very effective image stabilisation (with Canon's IS lenses)
Live view function.
6.3 frames per second continuous shooting.
Well built and strong with its metal body shell.
Takes the same accessories as the EOS 40D
Compatible with the latest high capacity CF cards.
Raw or Jpeg files are recorded, Raw+Jpeg simultaneous recording is also possible.
large and heavy.
No movie function.
No CF card supplied, so if you don't already have one, you will need to buy one before you can use it (with 15mp resolution the higher the capacity of the card the better).
This is an excellent camera for the serious photographer and is a worthwhile upgrade from an older camera.
If you already own an EOS 40D then the difference in performance would not warrant the expense of an upgrade, but if you want a second body with higher resolution then this would be an ideal companion to your existing EOS 40D, as most of the functions are the same and you can use all your current accessories with it.
It would also be a good back up camera for a professional photographer, who does not want to go to the expense of a second full frame pro camera.
It is more expensive than some other "prosumer" cameras, but with the features and performance that you get, it is worth every penny.
It is available from Amazon for £836.95 (Body only) at the time of writing, which is a good price for this camera.
(from the manual)
15.1 Megapixel APS-C sized CMOS Sensor
6.3fps continuous shooting, max. burst of 90 JPEGs with UDMA card
DIGIC 4 processor
ISO 100-3200, expandable to 6400 &12800
9-point wide area auto focus
3.0" Clear View VGA LCD (920,000 pixels) with Live View mode & Face Detection Live AF
Magnesium alloy body, with environmental protection
EOS Integrated Sensor Cleaning System
HDMI connection for high quality viewing and playback on a High Definition TV
Full compatibility with Canon EF and EF-S lenses and EX-series Speedlites
* RAW (.CR2; 14-bit)
* JPEG (EXIF 2.21) - Fine / Normal
* RAW + JPEG (separate files simutaneous recording)
* sRAW1 (7.1 MP)
* sRAW2 (3.8 MP)
* Creative auto
* Program AE (P)
* Shutter priority AE (Tv)
* Aperture priority AE (Av)
* Manual (M)
* Auto depth-of-field
* Night portrait
* Flash off
* Camera user settings 1
* Camera user settings 2
**Notes and advice on choosing lenses for this camera.**
There is often confusion for people when buying lenses for DSLR cameras (especially if they are new to DSLR's), as the actual focal length of a lens is not the same as the effective focal length that they will get on their camera, and most good camera shops have conversion charts to make this easier when advising their customers of the best lens to buy for their needs, but most online shops do not, hence the advice below.
When you buy a lens it has an actual focal length, (that stated on the lens itself) or range of focal lengths in the case of zoom lenses, (magnification) measured in millimeters, e.g. 100mm focal length.
The actual focal length on any lens is rated for 35mm film cameras and professional full frame DSLR cameras with a censor size of 35mm x 24mm, this is the standard rating for all SLR lenses.
The censor on this camera (and on most EOS DSLR cameras) is the "APS-C" sized censor with a measurement of 22.3mm x 14.9mm, this means that the effective focal length of the lens will be different to the actual focal length of any lens you buy when used with these cameras, this effective focal length is known as the "35mm equivalent."
This is not a fault, but is a feature of all DSLR cameras, with the exception of professional full frame cameras.
To find the 35mm equivalent of any lens used, you must multiply the actual focal length of the lens, by a factor of 1.6, thus a 100mm lens will have an effective focal length of 160mm (35mm equivalent) when used with these cameras.
This is great news if you want to use telephoto lenses for wildlife etc. as you will get higher magnification from your lens, for less cost than on a full frame camera, so for instance a 70 - 300mm zoom lens will have a 35mm equivalent of a 112 - 480mm zoom lens when used with these cameras.
But on the other end of the scale, wide angle lenses will be less wide, and you will need to buy a more expensive wider angle lens to compensate for the difference in the effective focal length, thus a 10 - 22mm ultra-wide angle zoom will become a very useful 16 - 35.2mm wide angle zoom (35mm equivalent) on these cameras.
The standard lens on a 35mm camera is 50mm which gives approx x1 magnification, but on these cameras, it is the equivalent of an 80mm portrait lens, a focal length of 31.25mm would give you the equivalent of a 50mm lens (35mm equivalent) on these cameras.
The coversion factor for Canon cameras is x1.6 of the actual focal length, other camera manufacturers may vary, so it is best to check the manual of your camera first.
So if you are new to DSLR cameras, or are upgrading from a 35mm film camera, I hope this info will help you to make the right choice when buying extra lenses for your DSLR camera, because the difference between the actual and effective focal length of a lens can significantly change the type of photo which you can use it for.
This review is also on Ciao! & Amazon UK under the same name.
Thanks for reading - Mark
This is my personal camera, and it is one of my prized possessions.
I paid about £1200 for the camera which came with a decent but fairly standard sized lens. I have several other Canon lenses which I purchased over the years, all of which are fully compatible. I notice that several places are selling the body only for between £850 and £1,000, so it's worth shopping around.
Canon claim that the EOS 50D bridges the gap between the novice and the professional due to it's combination of high-speed and quality performance. It features a 15.1-megapixel CMOS sensor for outstanding quality images, DIGIC 4 image processor for fine detail and superior colour reproduction, and the improved ISO capabilities (up to 12800) for shooting in very dim situations. It has a refined 3.0-inch Clear View LCD (920,000 pixels) monitor, plus a number of automatic image correction settings and HDMI output for viewing images on an HDTV. The camera includes a BP-511A Li-ion rechargeable battery.
It has automatic and manual focus for fine adjustment, pop-up flash, optical image stabiliser and built in red eye reduction.
It is compatible with most operating systems which include MS Windows Vista, MS Windows XP, MS Windows 2000, Apple Mac OS X 10.3 - 10.5
The picture quality is outstanding (as you would expect from a camera of this quality). It is very sturdy, weighing in at around 0.75kgs and due to it's magnesium alloy body it's not too heavy despite being very strong and robust.
Highly recommended if you want this type of camera, and are prepared to pay the extra money for the quality soecification.