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Outback Photo Handbook: Cameras

Canon EOS 50D Review Diary

review by Uwe Steinmueller

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Diary Index

Note on image processing:

As usual we work only with raw files.

We mainly use ACR 4.6/Lightroom 2.1 RC for the Canon EOS 50D.

All images are also treated with our new DOP EasyD Detail Resolver and sharpened using EasyS Plus Sharpening Toolkit (sharpening in Lightroom is set to a very low level: Amount 60, Radius 0.5, Detail 0, Masking 0).


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10/29/2008 Canon 50D firmware fixes Err99

"..firmware update (Version 1.0.3) incorporates the following fixes.

1. Corrects a phenomenon in which an image becomes overexposed when C.Fn.II-3 Highlight tone priority is set to "1" together with other camera settings. (This correction has already been incorporated in the Version 1.0.2 and later firmware.
2. Corrects a rare phenomenon in which "busy" blinks on the camera's display panel and the shutter cannot be released due to the timing of battery installation.
3. Corrects a rare phenomenon in which "Err 99" appears on the camera's display panel and LCD monitor and the shutter cannot be released due to the timing of pressing the shutter button.

Firmware Version 1.0.3 is for cameras with firmware up to Version 1.0.2. If the camera's firmware is already Version 1.0.3, it is not necessary to update the firmware..."


10/6/2008 Diary Start

The Canon EOS 50D replaces the Canon EOS 40D. We found the 40D to be an excellent camera. In many aspects the 50D inherits from the 40D

Here are the key new features of the 50D (some are improvements over the 40D):

  • 15MP: 40D has 10MP. For most work 10MP is a lot of resolution.
  • ISO 100-3200 (extensions to 6400 and 12800 possible)
  • 3" LCD with higher resolution
  • 6.3 fps (feels really fast, same as 40D)
  • 14-bit processing (like 40D)
  • No video (has to be said since the introduction of the Nikon D90 and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II)

Los Gatos test shots


Ristorante @ISO 100

Crop @100% magnification

We used for this test the 24-105mm f/4 zoom. With cramping 15MP onto the same sensor size we expected some loss in detail. The results look very good even if 50D may slightly be diffraction limited at f/8.

You can download the original RAW file from here (about 21 MB).

Note: Remember that the service we provide is financed by selling our ebooks and PS tools. Also direct donations are welcome.

Missing Antique Store photos

For quite a few years we photographed as part of our test a small antique store in Los Gatos. The scene is now gone and the store is sold.

ISO Test

We converted with ACR 4.6 (luminance noise removal set to zero) and then sharpened with the same level in EasyD Detail Resolver 1.0 and some low EasyS Plus settings.

Note: EasyD Detail Resolver shows both more detail and more grain. This way we can see how much real detail is available.


Bear Coffee Shop

Canon EOS 50D

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 3200 (same as above but treated with Nik Software Dfine 2.0 **)


All these shots are with luminance noise removal off in camera (as much as the user can control this) and raw converter (color noise removal was at default). ISO 100-200 very smooth. ISO 400-800 some sort of fine grain which won't show much in reasonable large prints. Even ISO 1600 seems usable in many cases. ISO 3200 shows a noise level we had seen at about ISO 800 2-3 years ago.

**: We treated the ISO 3200 shot with automatic noise removal in Nik Software Dfine 2.0 as a last step. Normally we would apply it earlier in the workflow chain. We offer discount codes for quite a few software products including all Nik Software plugins.

Not much to complain especially because there is still lost of detail preserved at high ISO levels.

Note: These are crops at 100% pixel level. This means if the noise at 100% looks the same as from a 10MP camera the the real noise at the same print size would show less for the 15MP camera.

Note: Because we use now also the DOP EasyD Detail Resolver (at moderate levels) noise actually is even more visible than in the past.

With most cameras today ISO 100-400 define our comfort zone. This means we use this range without any further thought. With the Canon EOS 50D we may risk ISO 800 more often.

Note about high ISO noise: Many people ask why they should worry about noise at ISO 800 or more if they only use 400 ISO at max. This is of course a good question. In the past we did not care either. Then we changed our photographic style and make now often use of Tonemapping (learn more about HDR and Tonemapping). During this process we brighten the shadows and this brings out the noise otherwise seen at way higher ISO. It often starts to matter with even ISO 200 photos.

Note about frame rate: We hardly photograph action and still we find the high frame rate very important. Why? We shoot high speed exposure brackets freehand. Please read this article for our motivation behind high speed brackets. We find that the Canon EOS 50D at about 6.3 fps is plenty fast enough for our new technique.

First conclusions

  • Very good high ISO noise behavior
  • Live View has now an extra button
  • Viewfinder is quite good (like 40D).
  • Canon EOS 50D has full support for AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing)
  • LDC much improved
  • RAW files can be 17-25 MB in size (14 bit RAWs). This means you need enough disk space and memory.

Our wish list

  • Swivel LCD (actually essential for Live View)



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