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Canon EOS 50D: Not worth it. Save your money. – Part II

A while ago, I wrote about the EOS 50D camera from Canon, and it wasn’t very positive. At that time, the camera wasn’t yet available but now that people are starting to get their 50Ds and are able to test it and see the images it produces, we can get more information on its performance. And from what I have seen so far, it has no improvements over the 40D and I was right in my previous post. For example, I wrote:

With regard to the 15 megapixel sensor, Canon still doesn’t seem to understand what photographers want now. Nobody wants a high resolution sensor that can’t deliver clean images at low ISO values, and especially higher values. Nikon demonstrated that they understood this when they released cameras with only 12 megapixel sensors that are capable of delivering great image quality at higher ISO values. But not Canon. Instead of releasing an improved 10 megapixel sensor with a much improved high ISO performance, they went ahead and released a 15 megapixel sensor with no visible improvement with regard to noise, compared to the 40D. It might even be worse than the 40D. If you look at this sample image in this gallery, the noise in the out of focus areas seems comparable to the 40D at ISO 400. So apart from the higher pixelcount, there’s no gain in image quality. It’s just more pixels containing crap. A useless upgrade.

And this is exactly how it turned out to be. Just check this post on DPReview:

On the not so bright side: Judged by the out of camera raw images, I can’t see any improvement with regards to noise at pixel level (at some point I even felt the 50d was slightly more noisy han the 40d). The ISO3200 images are not usable, banding is disappointingly an issue here too.

And this one taken from here. There are samples posted from both the 40D and 50D. There is absolutely no visible difference in noise, even though Canon USA’s Chuck Westfall said that the 50D would have a 1 stop to 1.5 stop advantage over the 40D. If you looked at the samples Canon posted on their own website and you are familiar with the 40D image quality, you would have seen yourself that that’s bullshit. Now others are confirming this as well.

It is totally not worth it to upgrade to the 50D if you have a 40D or even a 30D. Nikon’s D90, which is also about $400 cheaper, would be a better alternative. Or the D300. Canon has really disappointed with this one. Even the autofocus in the 50D is the same as the 40D, and we all know that the 40D AI Servo performance is absolutely crap.

Hopefully, Canon will improve significantly when they release the 60D next year. And with the recent release of the new 5D Mark II, Canon has demonstrated that they’ve totally lost it this year.

Update 9/27/2008: Here is another post on DPReview mentioning how the 50D noise is worse in certain cases or at the very best as bad as the 40D:

From the early tests it looks like the 50d is a little bit worse than the 40d when it comes to noise, as could be expected with the extra MP. Granted, the out-of-camera-jpgs are a bit smoother, but that’s because of the more aggressive noise-reduction, which ofcourse removes some more detail as well.

So – It’s as one might have guessed – Extra cool features, better LCD and so on, a pile of Megapixels, et voilá – the new camera model.

I’m starting to get a bit grumpy about this development. I want low noise far far more than I want more resolution. And I know I’m not the only one.

Hopefully Canon will listen when they work on the 60D. From what I’ve seen they’re losing customers now at a fast pace.

Update 9/28/2008: Here’s another post where you can see samples taken with the 50D, and see some user comments. Canon had better pay attention. Here’s from one of the posts:

FWIW I’m starting to get really discouraged. Early on, when only 50D in-camera JPEGs were shown worldwide and then compared to “my” JPEGs straight out of “my” 40D I was a believer in Canon’s claim of a 1.5 stop improvement in noise; now, if the converted RAW files are gong to look like what I’ve seen so far … well, I beginning to feel like the victim of a REALLY BIG lie on Canon’s part. 🙁

And from another in that thread:

I’ve had that feeling since early on..They did a fair job with noise considering the MP increase but I see little if any decrease compared to the 40D..Not a put down,just physics…I’m going back to keeping my 40D and getting an “old” new 5D like I had before..The 50D will be a good cam,I can’t justify it for my needs however,Bob

And more:

I too am getting pretty discouraged. I had hoped the 50D would be a long crop high ISO companion to my 1D Mark IIN. I am seeing no way forward now. I would like a second body I could shoot higher ISO with. I don’t trust I will get a good 1D Mark III, the 5D Mark II is too slow and probably just as dubious in noise (we’ll see), and the 50D doesn’t appear to be great shakes on high ISO now. My 1D Mark IIN does better at ISO 1600 than these albeit at lower resolution.

Sigh. I may turn to the dark side even if it costs me my long (500mm) lens. I’ll just shoot something else other than wildlife (thanks Canon).

Even more:

Seriously i don’t think 50D (from what ive seen so far) will be a justified upgrade IQ wise. Surely i love the AF Micro-adjustment and the high res LCD but it’s not enough for an upgrade IMHO. Mpix wise i couldn’t care less as i firmly believe the sweetspot for many of us are around 10-12 mpix.

I’m getting a bit fed up with the small incremental upgrades in the XXD series they are giving us. The impression i get from Canon regarding their XXD series upgrades is that if you think of the body in a shape of a pyramid, then they decide to release it every time with the top chopped off. As if they always try to hold back on the icing. This was the right time for Canon to put the 50D just a little closer to their 1 series. Instead it looks like they try to milk us yet again for a minor upgrade. If the step 30D to 40D was minor i honestly think this step is even smaller.

And lots more:

Somewhere along the way, Canon got lost in its technology lead and has never recovered to date: poor focusing, poor features implementation (e.g., limited bracketing, limited auto ISO functionality, lacks wireless flash support, limited spot metering functionality), poor flash reliability and now bad high ISO performance.

And here’s a post talking about the poor AI Servo focus performance of the 50D. It seems that the Nikon D300 is MUCH better:

Without any TC, the 300 F4 had a hard time locking on to the birds at the Raptor Arena area because there are so many leaves, people etc.. I think bird against the sky its very good. Its a hard place to focus. However under the same situation the D300 AF works!

However in contrast my D300 can track on coming birds the 50D, so far
it has failed to do that under the same conditions.

So at the same place under the same conditions.. here are the D300 – with a OLD LOUSY SLOW screw drive AF 80-400 hand held.

The 50 D AF completely gave up .. So its the Same old Software as the 40D-

Ofcourse, we already knew the 50D AI Servo focus mode would suck, since it is identical to the 40D, and we knew the 40D sucked in that regard. Just check out my previous post on this topic.

IMPORTANT Update 12/22/2008: Read the third part of this post here. Read my latest post on the 5D Mark II, especially before you buy!


  1. Karel Donk » Blog Archive » Canon EOS 5D Mark II - The Autofocus Lie (04/10/2008)
  2. Karel Donk » Blog Archive » Canon EOS 50D: Not worth it. Save your money. - Part III (30/10/2008)
  3. Karel Donk » Blog Archive » Canon has lost it (03/12/2008)


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