Live View

The EOS 50D is the second generation of Canon's x0D series that comes with live view. Like its predecessor the EOS 50D's implementation provides live view of the scene with magnification up to 10x, optional overlays (such as histogram and two types of gridlines). Additionally to the 'mirror up' auto-focus there are now also a contrast-detect and a face detection AF mode.

Live View function settings

Like on the EOS 40D the most useful live view parameters such as exposure simulation, grid display and AF mode can be accessed and modified in the Live view function settings screen which can be programmed on the FUNC button.

Live View function settings screen Choose from three AF modes in live view: Phase detect, contrast detect and contrast detect with face detection

Live view display modes

Pressing the INFO button while in Live View toggles between the four available display modes, each with differing levels of overlaid information. The final two views shown below are the default view with optional gridlines enabled (Type II is new on the EOS 50D). Unfortunately the live view framing appears to be very slightly off-centre. It's unlikely to be an issue for most people but when you're trying to frame a test chart it's a bit of a nuisance.

1: Live view with magnification area indicated + status line showing shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, frames remaining, ISO sensitivity and battery status. 2: Live view with magnification area + status line + brief overlay (Picture Style, AF mode, drive mode, white balance, image quality)
4: Live view with magnification area (and nothing else) Optional gridlines overlay type I
Optional gridlines overlay type II  

Live view magnification

Just as in playback mode you can magnify live view by pressing the enlarge button (or back out again with reduce). While magnified you can use the multi-controller to move around the live image. Unfortunately on the 50D you cannot magnify right out to the extreme corners.

Live view Depth-of-Field preview, reaching the limit

One very useful feature in Live View is of course depth-of-field (DOF) preview, when the DOF preview button is pressed the camera stops the lens down to the selected (or metered) aperture which provides you with an accurate representation of the depth-of-field of the final image. On the EOS50D this works reasonably well up to F22 (on the 40D the image was already very dark at this aperture) but if you are using extremely small apertures the reduction in light means you end up with an image that is too dark to focus properly.

Normal Live View DOF preview button held at F22
DOF preview button held at F36  

Live view "silent shooting"

Like its predecessor the EOS 50D features "silent shooting" in live view. In this mode the noise made at the time of exposure is reduced by delaying (and/or slowing, it's not quite clear) the mirror / shutter return. When Disabled the camera is already quieter than in normal mode , in Mode 1 the exposure sequence is slightly quieter and in Mode 2 it's quieter still as the shutter does not 're-cock' itself until the shutter release button is released (hence continuous shooting is not available in mode 2).

Recent Videos

To provide a better idea of just how "silent" these modes are we have provided audio clips of each of the Live View silent shooting modes below. In each recording the sequence of events is the same:

Enter live view -> take a shot -> wait (live view returns) -> continuous shooting -> Leave live view

Note that these audio clips have been taken from the EOS 40D review as the 50D sounds essentially the same.

Live view exposure, silent shooting: Disabled

Live view sequence, silent shooting disabled; MP3 177 KB

Live view exposure, silent shooting: Mode 1

Live view sequence, silent shooting Mode 1; MP3 173 KB

Live view exposure, silent shooting: Mode 2*

Live view sequence, silent shooting Mode 2; MP3 173 KB

* In "Mode 2" continuous shooting isn't available and the delay between the exposure
and re-cock of the shutter depends on the photographer.


Please note that the following video clips have been taken from the EOS 40D (Quick mode AF) and EOS 450D review (Live mode AF) as the 50D sequences are virtually identical.

Live view 'Quick mode' (Phase detect) AF sequence video clip

Quick mode AF (Phase detect)

The following video clip shows live view in use, the sequence in this video was:

  • Lens at infinity
  • Press AF-ON button (view goes black) and release once focus is locked
  • Magnify to 5x, move magnified area, magnify to 10x
  • Return to full size live view
  • Depth-of-field (DOF) preview
  • Shutter release (take a shot) followed by two second record review
  • Enter play mode and magnify image

Live view 'Live mode' (Contrast detect) AF sequence video clip

This method is quite a bit slower than 'Quick mode' (taking around 3.6 seconds here but up to 6 seconds in lower light conditions) but does have the advantage of not blanking the display and is theoretically at least more accurate.