Canon EOS 50D Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Detailed and clean image output (but not as detailed as we would have expected from a 15 megapixels sensor)
- Chroma and luminance noise well controlled at higher sensitivities
- Wide range of image parameter adjustment (-4 to +4 for most)
- Effective Highlight tone priority option delivers smooth highlight roll-off
- Four levels of high ISO noise reduction (including Off)
- Effective vignetting control feature
- No noticeable hot pixels with long exposures and NR off
- Nine point auto focus system accurate, even in low light
- Large, clear and bright high-res screen
- Well-built magnesium body, weather-sealed
- Good viewfinder, optional focusing screens
- Excellent ergonomics and refined user-interface
- Quick control menu allows direct access to many important settings
- Attractive refreshed menu design
- Fully customizable MyMenu
- Programmable FUNC button
- Two user memories via 'C1/C2' on mode dial
- 10x magnification in live view allows reliable manual focusing
- Instant power on, camera feels snappy and responsive at all times
- Fast continuous shooting (6.3 fps)
- Excellent data throughput and processing speeds (with fast CF cards)
- Very fast PTP transfer speed
- Comprehensive Software package
- Very quiet mirror mechanism (plus 2 silent shooting options in live view)
- Any combination between RAW and JPEG image sizes possible
- Dust reduction from Canon's 'Integrated Cleaning'
- Good battery life
- Optional WFT-E3 wireless transmitter (802.11 b/g) / vertical grip
- HDMI output
Conclusion - Cons
- High ISO performance worse than 40D
- Reduced dynamic range in the shadow areas compared to EOS 40D
- Per-pixel detail not as good as on good 10 or 12 megapixel cameras
- High-end lenses required to get the most out of the camera
- Poor white balance performance under artificial light
- Flash must be up for AF assist lamp (although AF is good even in low light)
- Live view not as accurate as on 40D (framing very slightly off-center, in contrast detect AF mode not possible to magnify right out to the extreme corners)
It's exactly eight years ago this month that Phil posted his review of the Canon D30. The camera was Canon's first 'developed in house' DSLR and therefore a milestone in digital photography. But it was also the first model in the popular line of cameras of which the EOS 50D is the latest descendant. Technology has moved on at the speed of light since the year 2000 but each generation of x0D cameras left its mark in the marketplace and the photographic community alike and there is no reason to believe to 50D would be any different. Or is there?
Like its predecessors the 50D sports a well built magnesium body that now features improved environmental sealing. Canon has also had more than eight years to optimize the camera's handling and it's done a good job. The ergonomics feel well sorted, all the controls are in the right place and even the formerly rather pointless Direct Print button now serves a purpose: Press it and you'll enter live view mode. Another useful addition is the Quick Control screen. Press the SET button to enter this newly designed menu which gives you access to the most frequently used settings. Even users who are new to the EOS system will find their way around the 50D in no time. The Quick Control screen and the revamped menus also look great on the new bright and clean 3.0 inch VGA screen.
The camera's performance doesn't leave anything to complain about either. Power on is as good as instant, the camera is always ready when you need it and it is quite impressive at what speed the huge 15 megapixel files are being written, processed and transferred through the imaging pipeline. Canon's new DIGIC IV processor certainly pulls its weight.
Let's have a look at the really important stuff then: Image quality. Below ISO 1600 image output is clean with well balanced contrast and colors and as you would expect from a DSLR with a 15 megapixel sensor the 50D delivers a fair amount of detail. Having said that, in terms of per-pixel sharpness the 50D cannot quite keep up with the better 10 or 12 megapixel APS-C DSLRs in the market. At higher sensitivities the smaller photosites are clearly producing more noise (as shown from our RAW comparisons) and so Canon is having to apply more noise reduction to keep to acceptable noise levels, this of course means a loss of detail from ISO 1600 upwards.
It appears that Canon has reached the limit of what is sensible, in terms of megapixels on an APS-C sensor. At a pixel density of 4.5 MP/cm² (40D: 3.1 MP/cm², 1Ds MkIII: 2.4 MP/cm²) the lens becomes the limiting factor. Even the sharpest primes at optimal apertures cannot (at least away from the center of the frame) satisfy the 15.1 megapixel sensors hunger for resolution. Considering the disadvantages that come with higher pixel densities such as diffraction issues, increased sensitivity towards camera shake, reduced dynamic range, reduced high ISO performance and the need to store, move and process larger amounts of data, one could be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that at this point the megapixel race should probably stop. One consequence of this is that the 50% increase in pixel count over the 40D results in only a marginal amount of extra detail.
We're by no means saying the 50Ds image quality is bad but it's simply not significantly better than the ten megapixel 40D. In some areas such as dynamic range and high ISO performance it's actually worse and that simply makes you wonder if the EOS 50D could have been an (even) better camera if its sensor had a slightly more moderate resolution.
The EOS 50D has to stand its ground in a highly competitive bracket of the DSLR market. It is currently almost $500 more expensive than the 40D, almost $500 more expensive than the Nikon D90 and for an extra $100 you can bag yourself a Nikon D300. Looking at the specification differences between the EOS 40D and our test candidate it appears you pay quite a premium for the 50D's extra megapixels and as we've found out during this review you don't get an awful lot of extra image quality for your money. The Canon EOS 50D still earns itself our highest reward but considering its price point and our slight concerns about its pixel-packed sensor, it only does so by a whisker.
Rating (out of 10)
|Ergonomics & handling||8.5|
Highly Recommended (just)
- 17 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 18 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 19 Photographic tests (DR)
- 20 Photographic tests
- 21 Compared to (JPEG)
- 22 Compared to (JPEG)
- 23 Compared to (JPEG)
- 24 Compared to (JPEG)
- 25 Compared to (RAW)
- 26 Compared to (RAW)
- 27 Compared to (RAW)
- 28 Compared to (RAW)
- 29 Compared to (Higher ISO)
- 30 Compared to (Resolution)
- 31 Conclusion
- 32 Samples
Oct 30, 2008
Aug 26, 2008
Oct 28, 2011
Oct 27, 2011
|It's good to be at home by Nightcrawler12|
from Best photo of the week...
|Tiny tree by Kaappo|
The Olympus 17mm F1.2 promises to open up new possibilities for Micro Four Thirds shooters seeking razor-thin depth-of-field and smooth, 'feathered' bokeh. Take a peek at our extensive sample gallery.
Are you a speed freak? Hungry to photograph anything that goes 'zoom'? Or perhaps you just want to get Sports Illustrated-level shots of your child's soccer game. Keep reading to find out which cameras we think are best for sports and action shooting.
Still yearning for an Aperture replacement? Here's a quick overview of RAW Power, a Raw image editor for iOS that pairs with the Mac application introduced in 2016. Take a look at some of its capabilities.
Video features have become an important factor to many photographers when choosing a new camera. Read on to find out which cameras we think are best for the videophile.
Tech lover Albert Lee was one of the first to pre-order the intriguing 16-camera module Light L16. Two months in, here's what he has to say about using this not-so-little computational camera.
The public art installation featured blurred portraits, ostensibly captured by the artist under that same underpass... except they weren't. They were actually portraits of comedians, pulled from the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival program.
Edelkrone has upgraded its SliderOne with a SliderOne Pro and introduced a new generation of Wing and Wing Pro models, all while simultaneously improving the app that controls its entirely lineup.
People have waiting a long time for the Canon 85mm F1.4L IS lens, but how does it compare to Canon's 85mm F1.2L and Sigma's 85mm F1.4 Art? Phillip Pettit of Lensrentals took all three lenses for a spin to find out.
Affinity Photo for iPad, one of the first full-featured Raw editors designed specifically for tablet use, has been named Apple's Best iPad App of 2017. And what's more, it's currently 50% off!
VSCO Messages allows VSCO X subscribers and free users alike to share text, images, photo editing 'recipes', VSCO journal entries and more.
Flickr has revealed their top 25 photos of 2017, and there are some truly stunning shots in the mix.
Testing of the Canon G1 X Mark III is well underway, inside of the studio and out. We've just added it to our test scene comparison tool, where you can take a look at its performance side-by-side against peers like the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V.
Whether it's a trip to the beach for some snorkeling or scrambling up a 10,000 ft volcano, the Olympus Tough TG-5 proved to be a great travel companion for Jeff. That's why it's his 2017 Gear of the Year.
Last year, the DJI Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4 Professional took top honors in our end of year buying guide. Read on to find out who it this year for beginners, consumers, prosumers, and professionals at a price tag less than $2,000.
Meyer Optik Goerlitz is resurrecting yet another classic lens. This time, the company has set its crowdfunding sights on the Primoplan 75mm F1.9, a lens originally manufactured in a run of just 2,000 back in the 1930s.
The folks at Kolari Vision—an infrared camera conversion company based in New Jersey—recently tore down a brand new Sony a7RIII, giving everybody a peek at the camera's much-improved weather sealing.
Resource Travel's Brandon Cunningham recently joined The Giving Lens for a 10-day adventure in India. A trip he won't soon forget, to a country that left him in "sensory and soul overload."
Meet the new Freefly Movi, a handheld gimbal stabilizer designed by cinema stabilization pros for use with the iPhone. Freefly is calling this little beast "the world's most portable, adaptable, and intuitive cinema robot."
Photography portfolio site PhotoShelter is adding their voice to the growing group of online companies that are speaking out in favor of net neutrality, and against the FCC's upcoming vote to kill it.
The Direct app would replace the current Inbox on the Instagram app, doing for Instagram what the Facebook Messenger app did for Facebook on mobile.
Qualcomm's latest high-end mobile chipset offers higher frame rates and a wider color gamut, among other important camera improvements you can expect to see in next year's flagship smartphones.
Photographer Josselin Cornou recently got trapped in a blizzard in the Snowy Mountains of Australia with his Fujifilm GFX 50S and new Tamron 15-30mm F2.8 lens. Find out how they held up to 110km/h winds and -15°C temperatures.
While film nostalgia reaches an all-time high, Seattle-based pro photographer Sofi Lee is turning back to 'digicams' made between 2008 and 2011.
The fixed prime lens camera market may be a bit niche, but it's here that you'll find some of the best cameras you can buy. Sensors ranging from APS-C to full-frame are designed to match their lenses, which cover ranges from 28-75mm equivalent, so image quality is top-notch.
With a capacity of 512GB, Samsung's new UFS chips take built-in storage on smartphones to desktop-PC levels. Will this eliminate the need for microSD slots?
Photographer Josh Rossi decided to go big for this year's Christmas card, so he recreated the Star Wars: The Last Jedi poster using himself, his wife, and their two kids.
In response to a NY Times article about how some traffickers were using Instagram as part of the illicit animal trade, Instagram has added a content advisory screen that pops up to warn users any time they search for hashtags "associated with harmful behavior to animals."
Kodak is expanding its instant photography lineup today with the release of the Kodak Mini Shot Instant 10MP camera. A tiny little digital camera that spits out either 2.1 x 3.4-inch or 2.1 x 2.1-inch prints.
Huawei'e next high-end smartphone could be the first to take computational imaging to the next level with a triple-camera that spits out 40MP files.
Landscape photographer Spencer Cox recalls the single most rewarding—and frightening—landscape photography experience of his life: photographing a sandstorm.