First Impressions Of My Canon 50D

Posted date:  November 5, 2008

In an earlier post I mentioned my desire for the new Canon 50D.  Well I went ahead and purchased it in late October.  The recent photowalk in Harpers Ferry was my first outing with the camera.  This provided a great evaluation.


Most of these relate to moving from the XTi but some are also applicable if coming from a 40D.

  • The Screen! It blows the screen on my XTi away.  No comparison.  The screen on the XTi was adequate for reviewing histograms and looking at data.  But I couldn’t evaluate image quality, even zoomed all the way in.  The 50D screen has a high contrast, high resolution and I can easily see the quality of the image, even zoomed out.
  • Speed! This camera is fast and I don’t mean focusing.  Every aspect of the operation is fast and responsive.  Especially when I review images.  There is no delay as I change image or switch settings.  It just responds.
  • Custom Modes. While other Canon cameras have custom modes on the dial this is my first experience and I love them.  One of my major complaints is when I make changes to settings I sometimes forget to change them back and the next shot is awful.  I set C1 to my defaults which allows me to quickly reset.  I used C2 for HDR capture.  This was set the same as C1 except for exposure bracketing and drive speed.
  • Physical Size. I’m not sure I should list this is a pro since it’s a bigger camera than the XTi.  What’s important is I didn’t really notice the extra size and weight.  The physical design is excellent and Canon was smart to leave it unchanged from the 40D.  What I discovered coming from the XTi is that once you start carrying a camera bag with several lenses the difference in the camera body isn’t that much of an impact.  We’re still talking same lenses.
  • High ISO Noise. I shot the entire Photowalk no lower than ISO 400.  I bumped the ISO as high as 1600.  I would never have done this with XTi due to sensor noise but I haven’t found a problem yet.  This allowed me to take pictures I couldn’t otherwise.
  • Megapixels. I don’t consider the full image number of pixels an improvement since the XTi provided plenty for all my purposes but it does come into play when I brought the images into Lightroom.  There were several pictures that could have used tighter composition.  Here the increase in pixels comes into play as it allows me to compensate for photographer shortcomings/laziness (should have changed lenses).


I haven’t found any major Cons.  Most of these are nits.

  • Price. The 50D is not cheap!  Since it’s new there aren’t any reliable deals but I did get a discount by using Microsoft Live Search.  I’ll end up with almost $100 off, free shipping and no tax.  Still it’s expensive but does this really belong on this list since it’s a one-time hit.  There’s no recurring fees.
  • New accessories. Wooops, more costs.  I needed a new UDMA memory card, the batteries are different, my remote shutter release doesn’t work, my Sunpak flash doesn’t work, I’m going to spring for an L-bracket and maybe a different focusing screen.  More money :(
  • File size. More megapixels means more more storage needed.  I filled an 8GB card on the Photowalk.  I admit I took a lot of pictures but still.  Yikes.  I need to buy a second 8GB.
  • Live View got disabled. I think this is related to how I had the C1 and C2 set but this should be universal.  I need to make sure it doesn’t get disabled regardless of my use of the mode dial.
  • New Order Needed For Exposure Bracketing. Canon includes two orders for exposure bracketing, -/0/+ and 0/-/+.  However, the 50D is so fast that when you lower the camera to look at the screen all you see is the last of the three images and it is the least usable.  Canon needs to add a third option, -/+/0.  This way the image on the screen after shooting a burst is the most usable.

So those are my initial impressions.  This is just my opinion and other results may vary.

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2 Comments for First Impressions Of My Canon 50D

Thanks for providing such great information about this upgrade. I currently am on the 400D (the XTi). It’s a great little machine, but I know I’ll upgrade in a year or so, and this was good information.

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