I was very excited when Canon told me that they were sending me out the Canon EOS 50D to review. I have been a long time Canon user and currently I am shooting with a Canon EOS 30D. I have had it for a few years now and am starting to think about an upgrade. Could the Canon 50D be THAT camera?
There was a fair bit of confusion when Canon announced the all new Canon 50D dSLR this year, only a year after the 40D was released and already a new model is announced! But then, 2008 saw some great advances in camera technology that are much better off in your camera bag than hidden away for a later date, no?… That said, I would understand your frustration if you’ve just purchased a Canon 40D, sadly this looks to be the norm in the electronics industry these days. You still have a very nice camera in the 40D – Don’t be sad!…..
The Canon 50D is a great mid range camera. Not quite a professional level camera in that it’s not using a “full frame” sensor but by no means “entry level” This camera will produce great results for you. I guess to put it in perspective I have seen many images from my good friends Canon 20D and indeed my Canon 30D (even if I do say so myself!) that have come out and been blown up and placed on a wall or on brochures or in magazines, and the 50D performed significantly better than my 30D so you have nothing to worry about there – will it produce professional results in the right hands? Yes, it will!
In 2008, Canon announced the new Digic 4 processor and released it in the eos 50D and the eos 5D Mk II cameras. The Digic 4 is said to help provide you with the following…
- Much faster image processing when compared to previous processors
- Improved noise reduction in high-ISO images
- Improved performance while handling larger 14-bit RAW images
- Live Face Detection AF during Live View
- H.264 1080p encoding
While this may not mean a whole lot to you if you’re just dipping your toe in the big dSLR waters, You can rest assured that it means good things! Most importantly for me, it meant better noise handling at higher iso. When you set your iso to be 800 or above, sometimes you will see that your pictures become quite noisy or grainy. Generally when you start to get noise in a photo, you start to lose detail and clarity. Sure, you can reduce noise with various pieces of software, but I find it’s better that it’s just not there in the first place. The Canon 50D has ISO settings that go all the way up to 3200 The images were still quite acceptable at iso 800, Then the iso range is expandable to an ultra-sensitive 12800!Ã‚Â which is pretty high if you’ve been using a 30D like me. At 12,800 there was still lots of noise but if you have to use it, it’s there.
This is a photo taken by my mate, Daz, with his Canon 50D at iso 800
I didn’t get to test the Canon 50D with the EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM kit lens that the 50D comes with. It’s not a bad lens from all reports, but you may find it giving you some chromatic aberration action (purple fringing) on some of your images. (This can also be caused by lens flare) Again, I’m not all that sure about this lens, I’ve not used it myself. I had heard that there was a kit released with the EF-S 17-85mm USM IS lens which I have owned and used for a year before upgrading when I first purchased my 30D – I had some fringing with that lens, It was a great lens to start with and learn from.
I found the Canon 50D to be quite similar physically to use when compared with the Canon 30D that I own, the menu and the general layout are almost the same. The new 3″ screen on the back of the new Canon is really nice! Reviewing shots is very nice on the larger screen by comparison to my 30D. The 3″ screen has a higher resolution and you can really see the detail in your shots to make sure you’re focus is on.
The addition of live view to lots of cameras, including the Canon 50D, has been received with mixed opinion. I admit, when I first heard about it I thought “Oh, here we go again!” But I have to say that since actually using it – I’m a believer! With the extra focus possibilities that it gave me, I think when I have a camera with Live view, I will actually use it. And with the ability to use live view with auto focus may be handy for some people as well, though it’s a little clunky.
I first saw live view on my mates Canon 1Ds MkIII. We were on the opposite side of the Thames river to St. Pauls Cathedral and he had his 50mm f1.4 lens on and it was all but dark in London with some fireworks still being set off around the cathedral after a march. Nathan switched on the live view and zoomed right on in to the top of the cathedral and manually focused his 50mm until it was just perfect and then took his photo – the result was very nice! The 50D has three versions of live view, “Quick Mode AF,” “Live Mode AF,” and a “Face Detection Live Mode AF” that detects up to 35 individual forward-looking faces for better focus and clarity when taking group or portrait shots. The camera’s Quick Mode AF setting flips the mirror down and carries out regular phase-detection autofocus, while the Live Mode AF and Face Detection Live Mode AF use the camera’s CMOS image sensor for contrast detection autofocus. Two detailed grid displays have also been added to Live View shooting as optional settings for easier composition. For me, live view gets a thumbs up.
There’s one big issue I have with the Canon 50D, “Creative Mode”. It’s handy, sure, you can visually work out what you’re trying to do, for example you get “blurred background” on the screen in front of you rather than working out how to change your aperture to adjust depth of field, and so on. This may be great for someone that has never used a camera and just wants to buy themselves a dSLR and make it work for them, but if you’re looking to learn about what all those buttons actually mean, I think you will find this a little unhelpful. Do yourself a favour and use it only until you’ve worked out what all the buttons mean and then try to avoid this function, it’s for your own good, I promise.
The camera takes your type 1 and 2 Compact Flash cards, including the UDMA flash cards. When you use the camera with a UDMA CF card you can take up to 90 jpg images or 16 raw (incidentally, there are three raw formats, with one regular and two smaller resolution formats) images at around 6.3 frames per second, I find this is usually quick enough for most people considering the next fastest camera is a serious chunk of cash more expensive.
Is there anything that I didn’t like about the Canon 50D? I honestly don’t think so. It takes an amazing photo, It’s a great size for my hands and the way I handle a camera – I am very big on that one, lots of people may have narrowed a new camera choice down to “this Canon or that Nikon…etc” but one thing I find that people don’t do is to go into a shop and physically hold the cameras in this, the day and age of “online shopping”. When I hold a camera, it has to sit in my hands nicely, the buttons need to be “in the right place” the camera needs to talk to me – I don’t mean to sound odd, but it’s true… Your camera has to suit you. For me, the Canon 50D sits beautifully and I could quite happily shoot with it day after day. The only thing stopping me from buying a Canon 50D is the Canon 5D Mk II that has just recently been released. I have had the Canon 30D with its APS-C sensor for a few years now and if I am to upgrade, I think it has to be to a full size sensor. If I had been taking photos with a compact camera and wanted to step up and have a go at shooting with a dSLR, I’d seriously consider the Canon 50D.
This camera rates pretty well on my gold-star meter, coming in at 8.5 Stars – Nice one, Canon!