Canon EOS 50D SLR Review

Review posted 12/10/2008

Click to take a QTVR tour of the Canon EOS 50D

The EOS 50D digital SLR is blurring the line between the mid-range and professional cameras. Incorporating the best features of Canon's prosumer models, the Canon EOS 50D Digital SLR camera includes an expanded ISO range, improved noise reduction, and in-camera photo editing features. A newly enhanced 15-megapixel CMOS sensor, new DIGIC 4 image processor, improved live view mode, 3" LCD and fast, 6.3 fps continuous shooting capability are but a few of the features that make this camera stand out in the crowd of enthusiast-level dSLR's.

A significant upgrade to the Canon EOS 50D camera is its large, clear 3.0-inch Clear View LCD screen which features 920,000 dot/VGA resolution, four times the pixel count of the EOS 40D camera's screen, for better clarity and color. To help show off those fantastic shots, the EOS 50D camera includes an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) output to display crisp, clear images on a High-Definition TV. The EOS 50D recognizes the needs of today's photographers, and the faster processing speed of the DIGIC 4 processor helps support UDMA cards for faster writing of image files.

In addition to the RAW and JPEG image capture modes that photographers are accustomed to, the EOS 50D Digital SLR camera now offers more manageable resolution settings and file sizes with two sRAW recording formats, sRAW1 and sRAW2. At the sRAW1 setting, resolution is 7.1 megapixels with a file size that is approximately 25 percent smaller than a standard 15.1 megapixel RAW image. With the sRAW2 setting, resolution is 3.8 megapixels at less than half the file size of a standard RAW image, retaining all of the flexibility and creative possibilities associated with full-size, conventional RAW images. The EOS 50D is the first Canon Digital SLR that allows the use of RAW and sRAW settings in Basic Zone as well as Creative Zone shooting modes, even further improving the camera's flexibility.

The EOS 50D inherits some advanced features from Canon's professional cameras and puts them to good use. It has a newly designed, high-precision 9-point wide area AF that uses cross-type points, enabling the camera to focus faster, more accurately, and in more complex lighting situations. Each of the nine AF points has this cross-type coverage, a first in Canon AF SLRs. Adding to this AF performance, the 50D incorporates a diagonally mounted, high-precision cross-type sensor at the center AF point that is sensitive to both vertical and horizontal lines when fast lenses (f/2.8 or faster) are used, for added accuracy and precision with these wide-aperture lenses. Focus points can be selected automatically, or accessed using the Multi-Controller.

The new DIGIC 4 Image Processor offers finer details and even more natural color reproduction, compared with the previous DIGIC III Image Processor. Since Canon's DIGIC 4 chips use advanced signal processing technologies, they provide even faster operations, including write times to UDMA cards. It also enables Face Detection Live mode to detect and focus up to 35 face(s) to capture the best possible shot. Further, DIGIC 4 offers the improved Auto Lighting Optimizer that corrects brightness and contrast automatically, and Peripheral Illumination Correction for up to 40 EF lenses.

The camera leverages sophisticated technology to make dust problems a thing of the past. The Self-Cleaning Sensor Unit for the Canon EOS 50D has also been upgraded and now includes a fluorine coating on the low-pass filter for better dust resistance. The Self-Cleaning Sensor Unit uses ultrasonic vibrations to shake dust particles off of the low-pass filter in front of the sensor each time the camera is powered up or shut down. The second part of the system includes a software component where sensor spots are mapped and saved as Dust Delete Data that is attached to the image file for removal during post processing using Canon's DPP software.

Using the same 35-zone metering sensor as the successful 30D, you can choose from available patterns such as Evaluative metering, which is linked to all AF points and is set automatically in the Basic Zone modes, Center weighted average metering, Partial metering and Spot metering, covering approximately 9 percent or 3.8 percent of the viewfinder.

The Canon EOS 50D camera provides ISO speeds from ISO 100 up to ISO 3200 in 1/3-stop increments, along with two high-speed settings - H1 and H2 - of ISO 6400 and ISO 12800, respectively. Along with a wide ISO range, Canon gives shooters more tools to help maximize clarity and color. The EOS 50D Digital SLR camera offers multiple levels of noise reduction during high-speed shooting. Users can choose from one of four settings- Standard/Weak/Strong/None - to help reduce digital noise that can result from poor lighting conditions.

Helping to ensure each picture's subject is clearly visible, Canon's enhanced Auto Lighting Optimizer analyzes the brightness of subjects and automatically adjusts dark images so that they appear brighter, perfect for subjects in shade or in backlit situations. The Auto Lighting Optimizer on the EOS 50D Digital SLR camera has been updated not only to optimize images while they are being taken, but can also optimize images post-capture, during playback, to help ensure the subject of each image does not appear too dark. This is especially helpful when an amateur photographer uses the camera, because post-capture enhancement can help maximize image quality without the need of a computer.

EOS 50D Major Features

  • High-sensitivity, high-resolution, large single-plate CMOS sensor
  • Live View function, Remote Live View
  • 3-inch, 920,000 pixel, LCD monitor
  • 14-bit A/D conversion for extremely fine tonal gradation
  • 6.3 fps, burst rate up to 90 consecutive JPEGs or 16 RAW images
  • Next generation DIGIC 4 Image processor
  • Basic Zone modes: ISO 100-1600 set automatically - Creative Zone modes: ISO 100-3200 (in 1/3-stop increments), - Auto, or ISO speed can be expanded to ISO 6400 or ISO 12800 - Extension settable (with C.Fn.I-3-1): ISO 12800 - High Tone Priority settable: ISO 200-1600
  • Start-up Time: Approx. 0.1 sec. (Based on CIPA testing standards)
  • Shutter speed of 1/8000-30 sec,
  • Top flash sync speed of 1/250 sec
  • AF system with 9 cross-type sensors
  • Canon EOS Integrated Cleaning System
  • 6 Picture Style settings (Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait and Flash Off), users can create two custom settings
  • Evaluative, Center Weighted, Partial and Spot metering modes
  • Compatible with all Canon EFand EF-S lenses
  • Updated EOS Digital Solution software disc includes ZoomBrowser EX, Digital Photo Professional, Picture Style Editor, Canon's EOS Utility, PhotoStitch, WFT-E1/E2/E3 Utility and Origianl Data Security Tools
  • Built-in E-TTL II popup flash with red-eye reduction
  • Hot shoe for Canon EX Speedlites and standard PC flash sync
  • Supports CF Card Type I and II, UDMA-compliant CF cards, via external media (USB v.2.0 hard drive, via optional Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E3A)
  • High-speed USB 2.0 interface for fast image downloads
  • Exclusive WFT-E3A Wireless File Transmitter
  • Video Out with selectable NTSC or PAL timing
  • BP-511A Battery Pack with CG-580 Battery Charger
  • Compatible with PictBridge printersOptional BG-E2 or BG-E2N Battery Grip doubles battery power and adds vertical grip, shutter release and controls

    What's in the Box?

    • EOS 50D Body
    • Eyecup Eb
    • Wide Neck Strap EW-EOS 50D
    • Video Cable VC-100
    • USB Interface Cable IFC-200U
    • Battery Pack BP-511A
    • Battery Charger CG-580
    • "Great Photography is Easy" Booklet and "Do More with Macro" Booklet
    • EOS Digital Solution Disc ver. 19
    • Software Instruction Manual
    The Canon EOS 50D "Body only" has an MSRP of US$1399.

  • Physical Views

    Canon EOS 50D

    Canon EOS 50D

    Canon EOS 50D

    Canon EOS 50D

    Canon EOS 50D

    Canon EOS 50D

    Canon EOS 50D

    The EOS 50D and the Olympus E-520 for size comparison.

    Continue on to
    Features & Controls

    Canon EOS 50D Specifications

    Digital, single-lens reflex, AF/AE camera with built-in flash
    Recording Media
    CF Card Type I and II, UDMA-compliant CF cards, via external media (USB v.2.0 hard drive, via optional Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E3A)
    Image Sensor Size
    22.3mm x 14.9mm
    Compatible Lenses
    Canon EF lenses (including EF-S lenses) (35mm-equivalent focal length is approx. 1.6x the lens focal length)
    Lens Mount
    Canon EF mount
    Image Sensor
    High-sensitivity, high-resolution, large single-plate CMOS sensor
    Effective pixels: Approx. 15.10 megapixels
    Total Pixels
    Total pixels: Approx. 15.50 megapixels
    Aspect Ratio
    3:2 (Horizontal: Vertical)
    Color Filter System
    RGB primary color filters
    Low-pass Filter
    Fixed position in front of the CMOS sensor
    Dust Deletion feature
    (1) Automatic sensor cleaning
    (2) Manual cleaning of sensor
    (3) Dust Delete Data appended to the captured image
    Recording System
    Recording Format
    Design rule for Camera File System 2.0
    Image Type
    JPEG, RAW (14-bit, Canon original), sRAW, RAW+JPEG
    File Size
    (1) Large/Fine: Approx. 5.0MB (4752 x 3168 pixels)
    (2) Large/Nomal: Approx. 2.5MB (4752 x 3168 pixels)
    (3) Medium/Fine: Approx. 3.0MB (3456 x 2304 pixels)
    (4) Medium/Normal: Approx. 1.6MB (3456 x 2304 pixels)
    (5) Small/Fine: Approx. 1.7MB (2352 x 1568 pixels)
    (6) Small/Normal: Approx. 0.9MB (2352 x 1568 pixels)
    (7) RAW: Approx. 20.2MB (4752 x 3168 pixels)
    (8) RAW+Large/Fine: Approx. 20.2+5.0MB (4752 x 3168 pixels)
    (9) sRAW 1: Approx. 12.6MB (3267 x 2178 pixels)
    (10) sRAW 1+Large/Fine: Approx. 12.6+5.0MB (3267 x 2178 pixels)
    (11) sRAW 2: Approx. 9.2MB (2376 x 1584 pixels)
    (12) sRAW 2+Large/Fine: Approx. 9.2+5.0MB (2376 x 1584 pixels)
    Exact file sizes depend on the subject, ISO speed, Picture Style, etc.
    Recording Functions
    With the WFT-E3A attached, image recording to the CF card and to the USB external media connected to the WFT-E3A will be possible as follows:
    (1) Standard
    (2) Automatic switching of recording media
    (3) Separate recordings according to image-recording quality
    (4) Recording images having the same size
    Backup Recording
    Enabled with WFT-E3A attached
    File Numbering
    Consecutive numbering, auto reset, manual reset. Possible to create new folders and select folders in the CF card
    RAW + JPEG Simultaneous Recording
    Provided (sRAW+JPEG also possible)
    Color Space
    sRGB, Adobe RGB
    Picture Style
    Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Def. 1-3
    Image Processing
    Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten Light, White Fluorescent Light, Flash, Custom, Color Temperature setting
    Auto White Balance
    Auto white balance with the image sensor
    Color Temperature Compensation
    White balance correction: ±9 stops in full-stop increments
    White balance bracketing: ±3 stops in full-stop increments
    Blue/amber direction or magenta/green direction possible
    Color Temperature Information Transmission
    Eye-level pentaprism
    Vertical/Horizontal approx. 95%
    Approx. 0.95x (-1m-1 with 50mm lens at infinity)
    Approx. 22mm (from eyepiece lens center)
    Built-in Dioptric Adjustment
    -3.0 to +1.0m-1 (diopter)
    Focusing Screen
    Interchangeable (Ef-D: Grid lines, Ef-S {point of Focus), Ef-A standard focusing screen provided
    Quick-return half mirror (transmission: reflection ratio of 40:60, no mirror cut-off with EF600mm f/4L IS USM or shorter lenses)
    Viewfinder Information
    AF information (AF points, focus confirmation light), Exposure information (shutter speed, aperture, ISO speed, AE lock, exposure level, spot metering circle), Flash information (flash ready, flash exposure compensation, High-speed sync, FE lock, Red-eye reduction light), Image information (Highlight tone priority, monochrome shooting, maximum burst, white balance correction, CF card information)
    Depth-of-Field Preview
    Enabled with depth-of-field preview button
    TTL-CT-SIR AF-dedicated CMOS sensor
    AF Points
    9 (Cross-type)
    Metering Range
    EV 0.5-18 (at 73°F/23°C, ISO 100)
    Focusing Modes
    Auto, One-Shot AF, Predictive AI Servo AF, AI Focus AF, Manual focusing (MF)
    AF Point Selection
    Automatic selection, manual selection
    Selected AF Point Display
    Superimposed in viewfinder and indicated on LCD panel
    AF-assist Beam
    Small series of flashes fired by built-in flash
    Effective range: Approx. 13.1 ft./4.0m at center, approx. 11.5 ft./3.5m at periphery
    Exposure Control
    Metering Modes
    35-zone TTL full-aperture metering
    • Evaluative metering (linkable to any AF point)
    • Partial metering (approx. 9% of viewfinder at center)
    • Spot metering (approx. 3.8% of viewfinder at center)
    • Center-weighted average metering

    Metering Range
    EV 1-20 (at 73°F/23°C with EF50mm f/1.4 USM lens, ISO 100)
    Exposure Control
    Program AE (Shiftable), Shutter-priority AE, Aperture-priority AE, Depth-of-field AE, Creative Auto, Full auto, Programmed image control modes (portrait, landscape, close-up, sports, night portrait, flash off), Manual exposure, E-TTL II autoflash program AE
    ISO Speed (Recommended Exposure Index)
    Basic Zone modes: ISO 100-1600 set automatically
    Creative Zone modes: ISO 100-3200 (in 1/3-stop increments), Auto, or ISO speed can be expanded to ISO 6400 or ISO 12800
    Extension settable (with C.Fn.I-3-1): ISO 12800
    High Tone Priority settable: ISO 200-1600
    Exposure Compensation
    Manual: ±3 stops in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments (can be combined with AEB)
    AE Lock
    Auto: Applied in One-Shot AF mode with evaluative metering when focus is achieved
    Manual: By AE lock button
    Vertical-travel, mechanical, Electronically-controlled, focal-plane shutter
    Shutter Speeds
    1/8000 to 1/60 sec., X-sync at 1/250 sec.
    1/8000 to 30 sec., bulb (Total shutter speed range.
    Available range varies by shooting mode)
    Shutter Release
    Soft-touch electromagnetic release
    10-sec. or 2-sec. delay
    Remote Control
    Remote control with N3-type terminal
    Built-in Flash
    Retractable, auto pop-up flash
    Flash Metering
    E-TTL II autoflash
    Guide Number
    13/43 (ISO 100, in meters/feet)
    Recycling Time
    Approx. 3 sec.
    Flash-ready Indicator
    Flash-ready icon lights in viewfinder
    Flash Coverage
    17mm lens angle of view
    FE Lock
    Flash Exposure Compensation
    Up to ±2 stops in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments
    External Speedlite
    Zooming to Match Focal Length
    Compatible Flash
    EX-series Speedlites
    Flash Metering
    E-TTL II autoflash
    Flash Exposure Compensation
    ±2 stops in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments
    FE Lock
    External Flash Settings
    Flash function settings, Flash C.Fn settings
    Drive System
    Drive Modes
    Single, High-speed continuous, Low-speed continuous, and Self-timer (10 sec. or 2 sec. delay)
    Continuous Shooting Speed
    High-speed: Max. 6.3 shots/sec.
    Low-speed: Max. 3 shots/sec.
    Maximum Burst
    JPEG (Large/Fine): approx. 60 (CF)/approx. 90 (UDMA CF)
    RAW: approx. 16
    RAW+JPEG (Large/Fine): approx. 11
    Based on Canon's testing standards with a 2GB CF card, high-speed continuous shooting, ISO 100 and Standard Picture Style
    Varies depending on the subject, CF card brand, image-recording quality, ISO speed, drive mode, Picture Style, etc.
    Live View Functions
    Shooting Modes
    (1) Live View shooting
    (2) Remote Live View shooting (with a personal computer installed with EOS Utility)
    Manual focus
    Autofocus (Live View image interrupted for AF): Quick mode, Live mode, Live Face Detection mode
    Metering Modes
    Evaluative metering with the image sensor
    Metering Range
    EV 0-20 (at 73°F/23°C with EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens, ISO 100)
    Magnified View
    By 5x or 10x at AF point
    Grid Display
    Exposure Simulation
    Silent Shooting
    Provided (Mode 1 and 2)
    LCD Monitor
    TFT color, liquid-crystal monitor
    Monitor Size
    3.0 in.
    Approx. 920,000 (VGA)
    Approx. 100% (viewing angle: approx. 160°)
    Brightness Adjustment
    7 levels provided
    Interface Languages
    Image Playback
    Display Format
    Single image, Single image + Image-recording quality/shooting information, histogram, 4- or 9-image index, magnified view (approx. 1.5x-10x), rotated image (auto/manual), image jump (by 10/100 images, index screen, by shooting date, by folder), slide show (all images/selected by date/folder)
    Highlight Warning
    Provided (Overexposed highlights blink)
    Image Protection and Erase
    Single images can be erase-protected or not
    Single image, check-marked images or all images in the CF card can be erased (except protected images)
    Direct Printing
    Compatible Printers
    PictBridge-compatible printers
    Printable Images
    JPEG images compliant to Design rule for Camera File System (DPOF printing possible) and RAW/sRAW images captured with the EOS 50D
    Easy Print feature
    DPOF: Digital Print Order Format
    Version 1.1 compatible
    Direct Image Transfer
    Compatible Images
    JPEG and RAW images
    Only JPEG images can be transferred as wallpaper on the personal computer screen
    Custom Functions
    Total 25
    Camera User Settings
    Register under Mode Dial's C1 and C2 positions
    My Menu Registration
    USB Terminal
    For personal computer communication and direct printing (USB 2.0 Hi-Speed)
    Video Out Terminal
    (1) Video OUT terminal: NTSC/PAL selectable
    (2) HDMI mini OUT terminal
    Extension System Terminal
    For connection to WFT-E3A
    Power Source
    One Battery Pack BP-511A
    AC power can be supplied via optional AC Adapter Kit ACK-E2 (with optional Battery Grip BG-E2N or BG-E2 attached, AA-size batteries can be used)
    Number of Shots
    Number of shots (approx.)
    Temperature Shooting Conditions
    No Flash 50% Flash Use
    Normal Shooting 73°F/23°C 800 640
    32°F/0°C 640 540
    Live View Shooting 73°F/23°C 180 170
    32°F/0°C 140 130

    Battery Check
    Power Saving
    Provided. Power turns off after 1, 2, 4, 8, 15 or 30 min.
    Date/Time Battery
    One CR2016 lithium-ion battery
    Start-up Time
    Approx. 0.1 sec. (Based on CIPA testing standards)
    Dimensions and Weight
    Dimensions (WxHxD)
    Approx. 5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in./145.5 x 107.8 x 73.5mm
    Approx. 25.7 oz./730g (body only)
    Operating Environment
    Working Temperature Range
    Working Humidity Range
    85% or less
    Note: All the specifications above are based on Canon's testing standards.
    The camera's specifications and exterior are subject to change without notice.

    (Specifications as represented by the manufacturer)

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