Nikon D50 Review
Digital SLR's are quickly becoming the fastest moving segment of the digital camera market, this means more new digital SLR's, more competition and lower prices. The Nikon D50 is introduced as a more affordable and easier to use version of the D70 which was released just under fifteen months ago. Anyone who has seen or handled the D70 will immediately see a strong resemblance in the D50, it's only when you start to examine the camera in a little more detail that you notice the differences (we've detailed them below). Clearly the D50 is designed to compete with other affordable digital SLR's such as the Canon EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT), Pentax *ist DS and Olympus E-300.
Differences between D50 and D70/D70s
Although quite similar in use and appearance there are some noteworthy differences between the D50 and D70, we have detailed all of the feature / specification differences in the table below. To summarize the most important; the D50 has improved auto focus especially in the area of motion tracking, it has a new auto AF mode (which automatically switches between single and continuous AF depending on the subject), it has a lower resolution metering sensor but that sensor is a newer generation than the one used in the D70 (and D70s) - spot metering circle is also larger, the maximum shutter speed is 1/4000 sec, continuous shooting is 2.5 fps, it has a better viewfinder eyecup, the LCD monitor has increased to 2.0" in size, the D50 takes SD cards (not CF), it's slightly smaller and lighter than the D70 and several features have been removed or simplified to make the camera easier to use.
The only key difference between the D50 and D70 from an image pipeline point of view is that the image processing algorithm has now been tweaked to improve rendition of highlight detail (to clip less and have a softer roll-off to the highlight). It's also worth noting that the D50's default color space mode is IIIa which is still sRGB but is described as being optimized for nature and landscape photographs, you can see the difference in the sample on this page of our D70 review.
|Body colors||Black and Silver||Black|
|Medium image size||2256 x 1496 pixels||2240 x 1488 pixels|
|RAW format||Uncompressed NEF||Compressed NEF|
|AF modes||AF-S, AF-C, AF-A (Auto)||AF-S, AF-C|
|AF algorithm||Improved speed and accuracy, especially motion tracking||n/a|
|Image processing||Improved highlights rendition||n/a|
|Scene modes||Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close-up, Night Portrait||Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Landscape, Night Portrait|
|Default color space||IIIa (sRGB nature & landscape)||Ia (sRGB portrait & natural look)|
|Metering||3D Matrix Metering II||3D Matrix Metering|
|Metering sensor||420 segment RGB (2nd gen.)||1,005 segment RGB|
|Spot metering||3.5 mm circle (2.5%)||2.3 mm circle (1%)|
|AE Bracketing||3 frames||2 or 3 frames|
|Sensitivity steps||1 EV steps (ISO 200 - 1600)||1/3 EV steps (ISO 200 - 1600)|
|Auto ISO||Yes, with min shutter speed selection||Yes|
|Max shutter speed||1/4000 sec||1/8000 sec|
|Continuous shooting||2.5 fps||3.0 fps|
|WB fine tuning||No||Yes|
|Hide picture (Play)||No||Yes|
|Small picture (Play)||Yes||No|
|New Pictbridge menu||Yes||No|
|Flash coverage||18 mm||20 mm|
|Viewfinder eyecup||DK-20 (larger)||DK-16|
|LCD monitor||2.0", 130,000 pixels||D70: 1.8", 130,000 pixels
D70s: 2.0" 130,000 pixels
|Power||EN-EL3 Lithium-Ion||D70: EN-EL3 Lithium-Ion
D70s: EN-EL3a Lithium-Ion
|Storage||Secure Digital (SD) card||Compact Flash card|
|Dimensions||133 x 102 x 76 mm
(5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0 in)
|140 x 111 x 78 mm
(5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
|Weight (no batt/card)||540 g (1.2 lb)||595 g (1.3 lb)|
|Command dials||One rear||One front, One rear|
|AE Lock button||AE/AF Lock, AE Lock, AF Lock, AE Lock Hold, AF-ON, FV Lock||AE/AF Lock, AE Lock, AF Lock, AE Lock Hold, AF-ON|
|Continuous / Self-Timer||Separate buttons||One button|
|Wireless flash||No||Yes (commander mode)|
|Viewfinder grid||No||Yes, optional|
|Control Panel lamp||No||Yes|
|DOF preview button||No||Yes|
|4-way controller in play mode||Up / Down = Display mode
Left / Right = Browse
|Up / Down = Browse
Left / Right = Display mode
|Browse with command dial in play||Yes||No|
Two new AF-S DX lenses
In addition to the D50 Nikon has also announced two new AF-S DX lenses, the 18-55 mm will become the 'Kit lens' (adding just $100 to the price of the camera) and the 55-200 mm offers a lightweight and affordable 'big zoom' addition which when combined with the Kit lens will provide a 27-300 mm equiv. FOV coverage. In comparison to the Canon equivalent lenses these two both feature Silent Wave Motor (SWM) technology which means faster focusing and near silent operation. Click here for an image of the D50 with the 18-55 mm lens mounted. (Canon do a version of the EF-S 18-55 mm with a USM motor but only standard in Asia).
|AF-S DX 18 - 55 mm F3.5 - F5.6G ED
(27 - 82.5 mm equiv. FOV, 3x zoom)
Also available in silver
|AF-S DX 55 - 200 mm F4.0 - F5.6G ED
(82.5 - 300 mm equiv. FOV, 3.6x zoom)
Also available in silver
If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the 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 reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.
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This article is Copyright 2005 Phil Askey and the review in part or in whole may NOT be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey