Price: 724 . 918
Pros: Great picture quality at low ISOs; excellent ergonomics, handling and build.
Cons: Noise and detail levels at high ISOs; restricted dynamic range; dated 9-point AF system.
Picture quality is good overall, but the 50D can’t match the superb low noise of the slightly lower-resolution D300 – or for that matter the less pricey D90. We found the distracting speckled noise in shadow areas at low ISOs in Raw files, along with a rather restricted dynamic range.
Canon’s Auto Lighting Optimiser leaves highlights alone and lifts shadow detail adequately, but the High setting usually reveals underlying noise.
High ISO performance rapidly tails off above ISO 1600, in terms of both detail and noise, though ISO 3200 is usable at a pinch. Exposure accuracy was generally good, though the optional Auto Lighting Optimiser (ALO) can make the outcome of mainly underexposed scenes difficult to predict. We noticed overexposed images, for example, with the EOS 50D’s ALO option set to Strong.
These issues aside, the new 50D is a superbly versatile piece of kit. If you’re an existing Canon owner in search of a rugged APS-C format camera, there’s no need to look any further. But, if you’re in the market for a new system, it’s not quite as convincing as it could have been.