Review: Canon EOS 50D

Barrie Smith
25 November, 2008
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Pass the $2000 and your options in dSLRs improve dramatically. Canon’s EOS 50D is an excellent example.

A substantial beast, the 50D is built on a magnesium alloy body and allows the inclusion of a large 7.6 cm LCD screen as well as the familiar turret finder.

The review camera was supplied with a superb f3.5-5.6/18-200mm stabilised lens equaling a 35 SLR lens of 29 to 320 mm, which is probably enough to take you across most photographic projects. Mind you, you’ll be carrying 1.5 kg of camera.

The APS-sized CMOS sensor captures 15.1 megapixels, delivering a maximum image size of 4752×3168 pixels that will make a 40×27 cm print at 300 dpi.

Described as an ‘enthusiast camera’, the 50D could easily stand in as a pro’s backup to the company’s flagship — and the one we all hunger for! — EOS 5D.

The 50D specs ain’t bad: ISO figures up to 12,800. Then there’s the 50D’s knockout ability to shoot up to 60 full size JPEGs at a constant rate of 6.3 fps … these JPEGs are 5MB in size. You can of course shoot single shots in any of three RAW settings or you can save the pictures simultaneously in RAW+JPEG.

The shutter speed range is impressive: as well as a Bulb setting for time exposures, you can set 30 second exposures and shorter, all the way up to 1/8000 second.

Exposure options include Program, shutter/aperture priority, manual and a useful option that adjusts the f stop to maintain sharp focus between foreground and background points.

Metering is similarly generous: evaluative and centre-weighted plus 9 per cent and 3.8 per cent spot area sampling. If you’re still unsure, you can bang off a trio of pictures covering a span of two f stops up or down.

The auto focus modes will probably handle most situations: single shot AF will handle stationary subjects; while staying in the one shot AF mode, if the subject starts moving, the camera detects movement and switches to a servo mode.

White balance is treated in similar fashion by a bracketing mode that shoots three shots carrying biases towards blue, amber, magenta or green as well as the standard colour balance.

Fastidious photographers will relish the 50D’s ability to apply corrections in light fall off that may occur with some lenses. This correction can be applied in-camera for JPEGs or applied later with supplied software for RAW images.

Live View mode can be helpful in simulating the brightness range of a shot and help in adjusting exposure compensation. A Live Face Detection AF Mode in Live View shooting detects faces in each shot and adjusts focus and exposure.

There’s no option to shoot movie clips but there is an HDMI output so you could run a slide show of your stills on a High Def TV.

Australian Macworld’s buying advice. I have rarely seen such quality as the 50D delivered. One for the book!

Product Canon EOS 50D
Type Digital SLR.
Rating 4.5
Pros An abundance of features.
Cons Fiddly operation of the on/off power lever.
Price $2799. Premium kit includes camera body plus EF-S f4-5.6/18-200mm IS USM lens.
Manufacturer Canon
Distributor Canon Australia

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