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Canon EOS 50D Review

October 2008 | By Lars Rehm, Richard Butler

Review based on a production Canon EOS 50D with firmware version 1.02

Almost exactly a year after the arrival of the EOS 40D, Canon has announced the 50D, which we're assured will be a sister-model, rather than a replacement. Recent history has seen Canon release new models every 18 months-or-so but it's been a busy year with newcomers such as the Nikon D300 getting a lot of attention in the 40D's keen-amateur/professional segment. The 50D is essentially a 40D body wrapped around a newly-developed 15 megapixel sensor that finally rectifies the situation in which Canon's XXD range trailed the company's entry-level line, in pixel terms. Canon is claiming that the new sensor's design (new manufacturing processes, redesigned photo diodes and micro lenses) mean that despite the higher resolution image noise has improved, something we'll be putting to the test later.

The other big change is the inclusion of a new, high-resolution LCD screen. 920,000 dots mean that it can convey 640 x 480 RGB pixels, making it effectively a VGA standard monitor. Three anti-reflection layers built into the screen do their best to keep it useable in bright conditions, too.

There are various other changes and added features, with many of them stemming from the first appearance of the Canon's Digic 4 processor. The key differences between the 50D and 40D are detailed below.

Model line history

Model
Announced
Effective pixels
Auto focus
Continuous (JPEG) LCD monitor
EOS D30 Apr 2000 3.1 mp 3 point 3.0 fps, 3 frames 1.8"
EOS D60 Feb 2002 6.3 mp 3 point 3.3 fps, 8 frames 1.8"
EOS 10D Feb 2003 6.3 mp 7 point 3.3 fps, 9 frames 1.8"
EOS 20D Aug 2004 8.2 mp 9 point 5.0 fps, 23 frames 1.8"
EOS 30D Feb 2006 8.2 mp 9 point 5.0 / 3.0 fps, 30 frames 2.5"
EOS 40D Aug 2007 10.1 mp 9 point 6.5 / 3.0 fps, 75 frames 3.0" Live view
EOS 50D Aug 2008 15.1 mp 9 point 6.3 / 3.0 fps, 60/90 frames 3.0" HR Live view

Canon EOS 50D vs. EOS 40D feature and specification differences

 
Canon EOS 40D
Canon EOS 50D
Canon EOS 40D
Canon EOS 40D
Sensor • 15.0 million effective pixels • 10.1 million effective pixels
Image sizes • 4752 x 3168
• 3456 x 2304
• 2353 x 1568
• 3888 x 2592
• 2816 x 1880
• 1936 x 1288
RAW files • CR2 format, 14-bit
• RAW full resolution
• sRAW1 (7.1 MP)
• sRAW2 (3.8 MP)
• CR2 format, 14-bit
• RAW full resolution
• sRAW (2.5 MP)
Image processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC III
Sensitivity ISO 100 to 3200, extendable to H1 (6400) and H2 (12800). ISO 100 to 1600, extendable to 3200.
Auto ISO ISO 100 to 1600 ISO 100 to 800
Noise reduction Four levels On/Off
Auto lighting optimizer Four levels On/Off
AF adjustment • All lenses or up to 20 individual lenses
• +/- 20 steps
No
Viewfinder info Now includes Auto Lighting Optimizer icon  
LCD monitor • 3.0 " TFT LCD
• 920,000 dots
• 3.0 " TFT LCD
• 230,000 dots
Live view AF • Quick mode (Phase detect)
• Live view mode (Contrast detect)

• Face detect (Contrast detect)
Phase detect

Peripheral illumination
correction

• Profiles of 26 lenses includes
• space provided for 14 extra profiles
 
User modes • Auto
• Creative Auto
• Program AE (P)
• Shutter priority AE (Tv)
• Aperture priority AE (Av)
• Manual (M)
• Auto depth-of-field
• Portrait
• Landscape
• Close-up
• Sports
• Night portrait
• Flash off
• Camera user settings 1
• Camera user settings 2
• Auto
• Program AE (P)
• Shutter priority AE (Tv)
• Aperture priority AE (Av)
• Manual (M)
• Auto depth-of-field
• Portrait
• Landscape
• Close-up
• Sports
• Night portrait
• Flash off
• Camera user settings 1
• Camera user settings 2
• Camera user settings 3
High-speed continuous • 6.3 fps
• Up to 60 JPEG Large/Fine images
• Up to 90 JPEG Large/Fine images (UDMA)
• 6.5 fps
• Up to 75 JPEG Large/Fine images
Menu UI Digic 4 interface Same as EOS-1D series
Connectors • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
• Video out
• Mini HDMI connector
• N3 type wired remote control
• PC Sync flash terminal
• Communication terminal on base for WFT-E3/E3A
• USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
• Video out
• N3 type wired remote control
• PC Sync flash terminal
• Communication terminal on base for WFT-E3/E3A
Menu languages 25 18
Custom functions 25 24
Weight • No battery: 730 g (1.6 lb)
• With battery: 822 g (1.8 lb) (measured)
• No battery: 740 g (1.6 lb)
• With battery: 836 g (1.8 lb) (measured)

Adobe Camera RAW

For the first few hours, this review was published using RAW files converted with a "release candidate" version of Adobe Camera Raw 4.6. Adobe then informed us that changes had been made between this release candidate and the final version. We have re-processed all affected files and re-assessed all conclusions based on those original conversions.

Foreword / notes

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read some of our Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / recommendation / ratings are based on the opinion of the author, we recommend that you read the entire review before making any decision. Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of them, click to display a larger image in a new window.

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Dpreview use calibrated monitors at the PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally also A, B and C.

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