Canon EOS 50D dSLR *Review*

Canon EOS 50D dSLR *Review*


Today Sime reviews one of the latest DSLRs to be released by Canon – the Canon EOS 50D.

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?

Canon EOS 50D 15.1MP Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)

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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!  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!


The Canon EOS 50D DSLR currently retails at Amazon for $1,085.95 (Body Only)

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Sime (aka #gtvone) is the customer support manager for dPS, and lead blogger in our Cameras and Gear Blog. He's a Melbourne based photographer, and please feel free to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Some Older Comments

  • Quazi Ahmed Hussain May 3, 2011 10:48 pm

    These days I don't recommend any Canon equipment to anyone mainly due to my recent realization that I don't get paid for promoting it. So why should I ? There's no free lunch anywhere on earth.

    However, as per my rating EOS 50D is a highly convenient prosumer camera and I realize it more and more with its use (already used it one year and counting). My entry level EOS 450D is also a great camera but it's aging. Probably I'll buy another 50D as replacement when it finally expires.

    Same time I want to stress that the other 2 prosumer bodies (7D and 60D) are more of headache than fun.

  • Quazi Ahmed Hussain June 1, 2010 07:18 pm

    In fact I was little scared before buying Canon EOS 50D due to some negative comments on the net. I had been using 450D for little more than one year and am still very happy with it. However, as I craved some more power being a nature and wildlife shooter, I examined the 50D. After scrutinizing a number of reviews; I decided to purchase it which I did on 12May10.

    I’m really happy that I did. I did put the camera through its paces and it lived upto its promises. Especially the burst rate and high ISOs are great benefits. The Digic 4 is another great advancement. In all EOS 50D is a decent camera for the prosumers particularly those who are wildlife/sports shooters. It’s a mistake to expect this camera to produce IQ and ISO performance like 5DMkII. The price difference is more than double. Despite all that, 50D is a better outdoor camera than 5DMkII and much faster in burst. What more can wildlife/sports shooters expect?

  • Gary (surfdog) February 3, 2009 11:02 am

    Tracy, I don't think you would have a problem with either... Both companies make outstanding gear.

    That said...I shot for many years with Nikon, my last being the excellent F4s. Yep, last.

    When I "went digital" I switched to Canon. I'm not going to debate it here but I will say that for ME and my style of shooting, the Canon won hands down and I haven't looked back in the two years since I've been using their stuff. The bodies are great and the lenses are AMAZING. (Note: the only non-L lens I have is the terrific EF-S 10-22)

    Just check out Soumen Nath's comments above, they speak volumes.

    Regardless, it's still the person behind the lens that makes the image. Some of the most famous images were created with utter crapola by todays "standards" but that doesn't make them any less powerful/beautiful/significant... So the real questions are: Does it fit YOU and YOUR style? Does it have noise that you can live with? Will it help YOU create the images that YOU want to create? In the end, it's all about YOU and what works best to create what you want to show the world.

  • tracy January 28, 2009 04:26 am

    if i am going to buy, should i go for canon 40d or nikon d90, They are almost same price??

  • Soumen Nath January 14, 2009 01:26 am

    My choice was between Nikon D300 (12.3 MP)and the Canon 50D(15.2 MP).

    D300 is more expensive and does have an edge in the final performance. It is weather poof too.

    But then 50D comes with 15MP resolution, larger sensor, Digic-4 processor, ISO-12800 and the extensive canon service facilities network.
    This is my first Canon. I have used traditional SLRs, all from Nikon. So wish me good.


  • Soumen Nath January 14, 2009 01:20 am

    Hey I finally bought a Canon 50D this week first DSLR. I have yet to explore the various possibilities, but so far its an amazing leap from my earlier Nikon 5700.
    With the 50D, I have shot at ISO 1600, IS0 2000 etc. The results are unbelievable.....the noise is nothing as compared to what I have experienced before.

  • Adrian Christianto December 22, 2008 03:34 pm

    Hey, I got the 50D (recent upgrade from 30D), and can tell you guys it really worth every thing. Nice crisp LCD. Nice noise handling as well, even at ISO3200 with HTP on ... really really usable.

    People, stop reading reviews and get yourselves the real thing ... you wouldn't believe how amazing this thing is :)

  • Richard December 22, 2008 03:01 pm

    Just picked one of these up today to upgrade my faithfull 20D can definately feel the difference in the body as it feels physically bigger and more robust and absolutely love the new larger hi res screen on the back

  • Matt December 22, 2008 09:48 am

    I got a 50D w/ the 28-135mm lens about 2 weeks ago. It is my first DSLR. I agree with everyone about getting out and holding cameras before buying. I began shopping for a DSLR before the 50D was out. I held the 40D several times at my local BestBuy and it just felt right. I waited to buy because I knew the 50D was going to be available in a few months. I ordered my 50D from Amazon. This camera is easy to use and takes great photos! Thank you for a great review!

  • Busybee December 22, 2008 08:32 am

    Sime, thank you so much for your reply, that was very helpful.

  • Peter December 21, 2008 01:24 am

    It is really nice that competition between Canon and Nikon has stepped up in the recent year. When I bought my first DSLR, the 20D was the best choice in 2005. When upgrading, there was finally a Nikon with good enough low-light performance, and I switched to the D300. This shows the importance of also having a feel. Even though Canon cameras feel nice in the hand, the controls of a Nikon are superior in my opinion, and I was comfortable far quicker than ever with my 20D. If I can now only get a Full-Frame Nikon with 5D picture quality... :P

  • Sime December 19, 2008 11:24 pm

    Hey Busybee - You could, with an adaptor. You may end up with limited functionality, but you could.

    Try out both, Nikon and Canon (And Fuji and Sony and...and and and) See what suits you best? Ergonomics is important.


  • Busybee December 19, 2008 09:51 pm

    I use Fuji Camera, if I want to switch to Canon will I be able to use my nikon lenses? I can afford a new Camera ( body) but not new lenses.

  • Zoe Hellar December 19, 2008 09:13 pm

    Definitely a much faster processor compared to older Canon models

  • Tash December 19, 2008 04:38 pm


    Glad to help, and happy to deny those jerks a victim. Amazon's price is really good, it was $1399 a couple of months ago.

  • Nicci December 19, 2008 04:07 pm


    Thank you so much. I don't normally order things like electronics online as I like to have a store to go to if there is a problem, but I was starting to be swayed by the price. Good thing I asked because I can barely afford the new camera let alone another $3000 worth of extras that they have charged some people.
    I can't believe that they are the top hit wen you Google Canon. To bad there are a lot of people who are going to be scammed by these guys.

    Thanks again.

  • Tash December 19, 2008 03:00 pm


    That's because Soniccameras is pretty much a Scam. Read this for more info:

    If the prices are too good to be true they probably are. Try to stick to authorized and reputable sellers.

  • Seattle Wedding Photographer December 19, 2008 12:26 pm

    It's almost like looking a food review or something. It looks so tasty when you review it like that. I have to go buy another one now.

  • Nicci December 19, 2008 10:09 am

    My biggest question, as I have done all the research, is why is the pricing so different from one e-store to the next. Amazon has body only listed for $1085, while I have found it at for $529. It's listing as brand new, and since the camera just came out I can't imagine it's already used. Can someone tell me how the prices fluctuate so drastically?

  • Sime December 19, 2008 09:12 am

    Hey Bill - Did you see the recent 1D Mk III "30fps" rig? Three 1D Mk III's strapped together - Lethal!

    That's the only reason I can think that the 5DMkII is only 3.9fps - Canon? Sure, who really needs 21mp (yep, huge files) well, I could certainly do with a few more than 8.2 (Canon 30D) at this point in my life - We shall see.

    Millard, Sure, I'm not sure what I think about the whole 14bit + APS-C sensor just yet, I guess time will tell. The 5D is a special camera, it's true...


  • Millard December 19, 2008 08:46 am

    I got the impression from reading some other reviews that it really wasn't much of a step up over the XTI other than pixel size. 14-bit RAW images is a lot of information for sure, but the detail may be wasted on the smaller sensors. It certainly doesn't appear to be as good as the 5D, even though the 5D has fewer pixels and 12-bit RAW images.

  • Bill Boehm December 19, 2008 08:35 am


    I hear ya about the waiting game... It never ends. :)

    If getting a higher FPS is due to the megapixels, then it would be perfectly fine by me if they dropped the extra megapixels. How many people really need 21mp anyway? And I'm hearing the RAW file sizes on these 21mp images can be 60mb+. A jpeg alone can be as high as 20mb.I just can't imagine storing those kinds of file sizes and I shoot exclusively in RAW.

  • Bill Boehm December 19, 2008 08:21 am


    Mostly the 8FPS with battery grip since I shoot alot of sporting events and also more focal points.

  • Sime December 19, 2008 08:19 am

    Hi Bill, I was thinking about the whole focus points thing, sure, they'll upgrade at some point.. I wonder though, is it all hype? I've been shooting with 9 af points and really, it ain't that bad?.. I'm with you on the Frames per second - that'd be really nice, but unless they stick two digic4's in the 5D Mk II it's not getting any quicker with a 21mp sensor. The 50D is a good quick camera and with the Digic4 and a 15mp sensor, I think it actually has room to be quicker. My 30D at the Red Bull air race earlier this year was just too slow, not by much, but it was too slow.

    You could get a D3x, they're only $8k (Ouch!)

    I'm not sure there is an answer, you wait, a new model comes out, you wait, another new model - so on and so forth.

    Sybren - Thanks for your comments.

    Rosh, I am going to get a 5D MkII as soon as I can afford one.

    Zibri, Sadly no - straight back to the guys. (I'm praying that one day soon they'll let me have a 5D Mk II for a day or two) It was great to get it and use it.


  • Lachlan December 19, 2008 08:17 am

    @ bill - the 50d has 6.5FPS, better than any nikon i think.

    i've had my 50d for a few weeks now, and my ONLY issue with it (it really is a phenomenal upgrade from my 400d) is that the auto white balance doesn't seem very accurate, even compared with my 400d! i've found manually changing it solves theproblem though... firmware update canon??

  • Zibri December 19, 2008 07:31 am

    Are they going to let you keep it after the review ? :)

  • Just In Focus - Sydney Photographer December 19, 2008 06:52 am

    Ive got a Canon 400D and looking to upgrade to either Canon 5D Mark II or the Canon 50D. Value for money im leaning towards the Canon 50D as its less than half the price of the Canon 5D and I can use the extra cash on lenses, lights and other camera equipment that many people forget about.

    Great review!


  • Sybren December 19, 2008 06:36 am

    @Bill: which features of the Nikon D700 do you miss in Canon's line of cameras?

  • Tash December 19, 2008 06:28 am

    I've got to second the reviewer's comments about hand-feel. This camera (and the 40D) have amazingly good ergonomics for my hands. I was planning on jumping in to the dSLR world with something a bit more reasonable price-wise (XSi), but physically holding them both I couldn't deal with the cramped-fingers feeling on the Rebel.

    Some other points on the D50...
    * Auto-Focus seems very good even in lower light situations. I don't have a lot to compare against, but I've been surprised at how little grief it gives me.
    * The smaller RAW formats (sRAW1 and 2) give even better noise results with higher ISO shots.
    * The auto-ISO function works well. From what I've seen it does a good job of balancing between shutter-speed and ISO in Aperture mode, and takes into consideration your current focal length when it's deciding on the minimum shutter speed before it increases the ISO.
    * Exposure bracketing is very cool. The display is extremely easy to understand, and quick to configure.
    * Creative-Auto mode is next to useless for me. I thought I'd use it (being relatively new to dSLRs), but I quickly learned enough about exposure to render it largely pointless. In a few more months I'll probably be cursing it for not being a third custom mode.
    * For JPG shooters, it has automatic vignette compensation (per-lens, database in camera) Seems to work well, but largely irrelevant for RAW.
    * Per-lens micro-adjustments to auto-focus are also supported, but I haven't messed with it at all.

    Lastly, RAW support for it is still evolving. No windows codec for explorer rendering yet, but ACR and Lightroom 2 work. DxO just added support this month, but the lens module support is still fairly limited.


  • Bill Boehm December 19, 2008 06:07 am

    I really wish Canon would create a competitor to the Nikon D700. I could care less about movie mode and would really like a higher FPS than what the 5DMarkII offers. A few more focus points wouldn't hurt either. I think I'll wait. In about a year or so I'll have to decide - do I sell all my Canon gear and go D700 or just keep waiting...

  • Joe D. December 19, 2008 03:02 am

    I am very new to photography - received a Canon Powershot for Christmas 2007. Have been snapping pictures like crazy but was not happy with always being in Auto mode so decided to step it up and went and purchased the 50D 2 weeks ago. I really love it, the biggest thing to me is being able to find everythins as I learn the ins and outs of manual photography. The weight is great and like the review - it just seems to fit and everything is in the right place. All aspects seem intuitive and easy to use. Have been playing with the remote live shoot through a laptop and love being able to see the picture as it will really look instead of through the small viewfinder. Think I will be using this camera for many years.

  • Rosh- New media photographer December 19, 2008 01:16 am

    Thanks for the review.

    The cameras seem to get better and better - faster and faster. I'm considering replacing my back up camera (10D). But, I also need to update my 5D. The video option of the 5D Mark II is of great interest.

    We don't need many more pixels (most of the time). I'm happy to see the evolution of improving the quality of pixels is well on it's way.


  • Sybren December 19, 2008 12:49 am

    Thanks for the great review, mate! It really makes me want to buy the 50D - if only I had the cash... Oh well, plenty of time to save some money for the 60D or 70D :)