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Author Topic: Expert opinions on the Canon 50D: Who to believe?  (Read 2697 times)
zeke
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« on: January 02, 2009, 05:36:44 PM »
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I’m trying to decide whether to buy the Canon 40D or the 50D, and I want to make the right decision. The 50D, at least on paper, is what I’d really like to purchase. I want to use it for bird and wildlife photography (not exclusively that, but for me that’s a key shooting capability), and I’m thinking that the higher resolution will give me the ability to crop in more closely. I like the newer camera’s other features, too ... but with limited funds I want to make an informed decision.

The problem is that I see sharply conflicting opinions on the 50D’s virtues. For example, the recent evaluation of the 50D on this site (“The Canon 50D Milestone,” by Harold M. Merklinger ) makes the camera sound fussy and overpriced, requiring only the highest-end lenses: “From now on, photographers working with cameras having the resolving potential of the 50D will need to choose lenses very carefully. And they will have to learn to focus carefully as well.”

By contrast, Bob Atkins praises the camera highly in general and flatly contradicts the opinion about the need for expensive glass: “The bottom line is that the EOS 50D resolves more image detail then the EOS 40D, and it does so with just about any lens at just about any aperture. You don't need expensive "L" series primes to realize the higher resolving ability.”
   
Who’s to be believed on this topic? Thanks for any insight you can provide!

zeke
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Panopeeper
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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2009, 05:46:03 PM »
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The ONLY consideration for the 40D vs the 50D would be the price (though that can be a serious consideration). The tiny advantage in noise and dynamic range of the 40D vs the 50D is practically negligable, for it is less than the usual tolerance in exposure.

I do not intend to start a debate about Bob Atkins' competence in digital imaging, but the lens *IS* is serious issue, though it was so with the 40D as well. Buy only the best lenses, even if you can buy less coverage than you would like. Alternatively, you can buy some of my many lenses I now deem not good enough for the 40D (and even less for the 50D).
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Gabor
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2009, 05:55:53 PM »
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Additionally, if you have a limited budget - well, who doesn't? -, invest in quality glass. You'll be using the L primes with many different camera bodies!
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2009, 07:21:40 PM »
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I am not an expert, but the I decided on the 50D for four very important reasons:


1. There is only a $230 price difference now;
2. The superior LCD alone means that, every time you shoot with a 50D, your shooting experience will be better (and easier to see) than using the so-so LCD the 40D;
3. Most of the reviews I have seen by professionals have been positive; only those where the reviewers used so-so lenses were negative; the reviews where top glass was used the 50D was noticeably better;
4. Most important of all, every single consumer (meaning the ones who actually spent their money on the camera with high hopes) has said they like the new 50D better. Meaning consumers who have the 40D and upgraded to the 50D. It seems every one of them on B&H likes the 50D better than the 40D when looking through top lenses. I payed close attention to the professionals (the ones who have to take their cameras out and make money with them), and every single one of them said the 50D was a step up from the 40D.

That's what made me buy and mine's due to arrive next week
« Last Edit: January 02, 2009, 07:23:48 PM by JohnKoerner » Logged
Ralph Wagner
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« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2009, 07:37:39 PM »
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My first impressions of the 50D were not that favorable. The problem was that I was comparing 40D and 50D examples on a monitor. The 40D's files appeared for the most part cleaner. But then I saw some 13 x 19 and 16 x 24 prints from both cameras. At 13 x 19 the 50D was slightly better, you had to look for it, but there was improvement. But at 16 x 24 the 50d pulled ahead.  Not by leaps and bounds, but you could definitely see the difference. The 50D files did have some NR applied, but very minimal. I think that 50D files viewed on a monitor bring out the baddies because they are amplified by the higher MP's, or maybe something else. So if 13 x 19 is the biggest your going to do then the 40D is probably the choice. But for bigger prints the 50D is the right choice. Both cameras used the same 24-105mm f/4 IS lens.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2009, 07:39:29 PM by Ralph Wagner » Logged

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Ralph
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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2009, 10:03:21 PM »
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I have to agree with Ralph.  Most (all?) of the negative reviews I've seen (including the recent article on this site) involve pixel-peeping. If your goal is to view small sections of your shots at 100% on a monitor, then the 40D may be a better choice. Then again, the 30D might be even better, as it will enlarge the flaws even less than the 40D.  But if your goal is to make photographs, the extra resolution of the 50D gives numerous advantages. And yes, it takes a good lens to get the most out of the 50D (and the 40D), but even with merely good lenses, at reasonable print sizes, the 50D will give you more detail than a 40D at the same print size.


What do I mean by "reasonable"?  Well, I wouldn't use a 17-85 to shoot images I planned to enlarge to 20x30 no matter what body I was shooting with. But based on some limited tests of my own, and other images I've seen on varous web sites, I believe that at 13x19 the 50D will produce images with more detail than the 40D, by a small margin, no matter the lens. Heck, that's probably true even at 20x30, but the images would likely be disapointing from either camera unless the glass was exceptional.

And if you need to crop the original shot before making the 13x19, the 50D image will hold up better than the 40D. What these pixel peepers seem to forget is that to get the same print size out of the 40D and 50D, you'll either be downsampling the 50D image, or upsampling the 40D one. Upsample a 40D image to 15 MP and see how quickly the image deteriorates.
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zeke
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2009, 08:36:47 AM »
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Good advice from everyone. One of the key things pointed out is that the negative reviews (dpreview and the "milestone" piece) are largely based on pixel peeping, which is something I don't plan to do much of. I'm upgrading from a Rebel XT, so I think either camera, 40D or 50D, will be a big step up. My two best lenses are Canon 24-105L/F4 IS adn a 70-200L/F4 IS. The "50D milestone" article made me think that even the best lenses I can afford would be insufficient for the 50D. But your advice is reassuring. Neither camera would be a "mistake." Thanks again for your guidance.

zeke
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stever
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« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2009, 09:26:00 AM »
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in my experience, the talk about crop frame cameras working better with mediocre lenses does not work.  if a lens doesn't look good on my 5D, it looks worse on the 40D -- if you want sharp images use good lenses

whether the 50D results in noticeably better prints will depend on the size, subject, development, viewer, etc.  i don't think there is any evidence that it's worse (even though i'd trade the better resolution for lower high ISO noise).

but given the variability of cameras and lenses, i think the focus adjustment is essential to realizing full performance from camera and lenses and worth the price difference
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fike
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« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2009, 04:52:54 PM »
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I recently got my 50D as an upgrade from a 30D.  I am very happy with the new and improved features.  The AF Micro Adjust feature and the high resolution display will probably be responsible for more of my quality improvement than the additional pixels.  There is an improvement in resolution, but don't expect to be blown away.  Even from a 30D to a 50D, the improvement is somewhat incremental.  I cannot rave enough about the AF microadjust.  I just got back from my first birding trip after calibrating my 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 to the body.  The improvement is very noticeable.  Furthermore, for landscapes, the ability to use live preview and zoom in 10X for close focusing has proven to be very helpful.  

The ergonomics and functionality of the 50D are far superior to the 30D.  Stop pixel-peeping and decide what features really matter to you.  As a matter of fact, one of my favorite features is the display of the ISO in the LCD.  I guess I am just too easy.

Don't expect resolution miracles, but the 50D is clearly superior to all the previous generation X0D cameras.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2009, 04:55:32 PM by fike » Logged

Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
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I carry an M43 ILC, a couple of good lenses, and a tripod.
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