The 15-megapixel Canon 50D digital SLR builds upon the strengths of the 40D with a higher pixel count, a revamped image processor and a higher resolution LCD screen. But what makes it a vast improvement over the 40D? The What Digital Camera Canon EOS 50D review investigates...

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Canon EOS 50D

Overall score:88%
Image Quality:85%


  • LCD upgrade, extra resolution, prompt AF


  • No real groundbreaking change, unintuitive menus, metering issues in difficult light


Canon EOS 50D Review


Price as reviewed:


Image Quality & Value For Money

Canon 50D review – Image Quality

Canon 50D review – Exposure and Tone

The noticeable thing about the 50D is that in good lighting conditions, it produces good results. Exposures are reliable and tone is really nicely preserved throughout the frame. However, it becomes a different story in difficult light and overcast days. Exposures are varied, with over and underexposure common, though not reliable either way so as to make compensation an option, and as a result tone is often lost.


Canon 50D review – White Balance and Colour

Again, issues with the 50D’s performance in difficult lighting conditions persist with regards to white balance. In optimum/good lighting conditions the white balance is more often than not spot on, and colour perfectly rendered to the more natural side of the palette. Shoot in overcast conditions, though, and more often than not images will appear colder than they should be.

Canon 50D review – Noise

ISO performance is good, with noise being kept under control through the sensitivity range. When shooting at higher settings, however, fine detail is lost thanks to in-camera noise reduction, with the 50D choosing to smudge detail rather than exhibit noise. Shooting in Raw sees more noise, but more fine detail.

Canon 50D review – Detail and Sharpness

One of the benefits of the increase in the resolution of the sensor is that more detail can be captured, and as such either enlargements or extensive cropping of the images is not a problem. Sharpness is constant right to the edges of the frame, while detail is excellently rendered at the correct exposure.

Canon 50D review – Raw and JPEG

The comparison between Raw and JPEG is an interesting one. The camera does a very good job of processing JPEGs, so while they may appear a touch softer compared to Raw files, it is not necessarily to the detriment of the overall image. Fine detail is marginally better preserved in Raw files, while colours seem a touch more vibrant, which is probably down to the tendency of the 50D to present more natural JPEGs.

Canon 50D Review – Value For Money

Canon 50D review sample image

Canon 50D review – More Resolution

Value is an interesting and relatively subjective proposition with regards to the 50D. On one hand, and compared to the model which it upgrades, the extra cash gets you a fair bit more camera. For instance, a 50% increase of resolution is bound to be a hit with those who like to have the option to extensively crop their images, or professionals who need all those megapixels for large-scale printing.

Canon 50D review – Less Battery Life

There is also the improvement to the LCD screen, which is a feature that’s really noticeable and brings the model up to scratch with the competition. However, it’s fair to say that while the changes are relatively large, the camera is essentially incredibly similar to the 40D. The 50D is exactly the same size, featuring a sensor that, despite cramming in another 5MP, is only a millimetre-squared larger than the 40D, and as a result of the upgraded features battery life has been affected negatively.

Canon 50D review – Market Rivals

You also have to consider the market into which Canon has launched the 50D. It has, no doubt, filled the gap between the 40D and the 5D, but has placed itself against the award-winning Nikon D300 – a camera that boasts 51 AF points, compared to the 50D’s nine, and a slightly larger sensor with fewer megapixels, which may be the reason its high-ISO performance is one of the best of the market.

Canon 50D review – Wanting for More

Either way, it seems that with the 50D Canon has provided a camera it felt it needed to produce, rather than wanted to produce. There is nothing groundbreaking about the model, and, while it will no doubt sell in bucketfuls and possess exactly the changes many Canonites were looking for, you can’t help feeling left wanting for more.

  1. 1. Canon EOS 50D Review
  2. 2. Design & Performance
  3. 3. Image Quality & Value For Money
  4. 4. Verdict
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