Canon has launched its latest digital SLR, the EOS 50D, which boasts a 15.1-megapixel CMOS sensor, 6.3fps shooting and the company’s latest DIGIC 4 image processor.

Canon says that the EOS 50D's newly-designed 15.1mp CMOS sensor delivers ultra-detailed, low-noise images – which the company says makes it ideal for large-scale reproduction or creative cropping. New manufacturing processes, plus redesigned photo diodes and microlenses, extend the light gathering capabilities of the sensor – allowing more pixels to be fitted on the CMOS sensor without compromising image quality. Canon says that these changes ensure improved high ISO performance and low noise. High-speed, low light shooting is enabled by ISO levels of 3200, expandable to an ultra-sensitive 12800.

The EOS Integrated Cleaning System -- including the improved Self Cleaning Sensor Unit with a new fluorine coating – increases protection of image quality by helping to reduce, repel and remove unwanted dust from the sensor. Stubborn particles can be removed automatically in post-production with Dust Delete Data and Canon’s included Digital Photo Professional software.

Canon’s new DIGIC 4 processor is fast enough to allow up to 6.3fps continuous shooting, in bursts of up to 90 JPEGs with a UDMA card. Used with Canon’s wide area AF system, which locks onto subjects with 9 individual cross type sensors, stunning action sequences can be captured – even in low-light conditions. This makes the EOS 50D particularly suited to sports and wildlife shooting.

DIGIC 4 works with the CMOS sensor to deliver 14-bit image processing, for smooth gradation and natural-looking colours -- according to Canon -- as well as ensuring ultra-fast startup times and near-instant image review after shooting.

A new 3.0-inch Clear View VGA LCD provides extra-large and wide angle-of-view image review, with clarity for accurate focus checks in playback. By switching to Live View mode – which displays a real-time image on the LCD – photographers can enjoy simplified shooting from awkward angles, or connect to a PC for remote shooting. Live Mode now offers three ways to auto focus: Quick AF, Live AF, and new Face Detection Live AF, which optimizes focus based on faces detected in the frame – for fast, spontaneous portraiture.

The EOS menu system gains a Quick Control screen, for instant access to the most commonly-changed settings. A new Creative Auto mode offers automatic focus and exposure – while still allowing creative ‘tweaks’ to settings such as background sharpness.

The EOS 50D will ship from the end of September for around £1,020 plus VAT for the body only, or £1,275 plus VAT with a EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens.