I don't want video on a DSLR at this time, and rarely shoot above 3200 ISO. Also, and quite frankly, I didn't want to spend a lot of money on an APS-C body. The 50D ticked nearly every box initially, including weather sealing, so that was the choice I made. Now lets see how my initial impressions bear out.
Canon EOS 50D 15.1 BODY ONLY Price Check
When B&HPhoto and Video had one at 9+ condition with the box, I jumped on it for $615.00 USD. It arrived in like new condition, zero trace of any use either on the camera or the box itself. Even the manual is unopened. B&H typically under score the condition of their used equipment, unlike Adorama of late. This particular 50D was in open box new condition as far as I can see.
I've used the Canon EOS 50D before so it is pretty familiar to me. I'll go ahead and give my "first" impressions anyways considering its been a couple years since I've used it (or the 40D for that matter) since in some respects it will be like using for the first time.
Auto Focus- The AF system is very quick (faster than the 5D's), and accurate right out of the box for me on 3 different lenses I used on it. I find 9 AF points to be simple but effective and that they don't clutter up the view too much, each seems sensitive but especially the center AF point (as it should be considering how it's built up).
Shutter Cycle- The shutter/mirror cycle is very quiet, the return is quick and black out minimal. Live view volume is excellent excellent in this regard because it offers choices. The two live view silent options are just icing on the cake for sleeping subjects or other opportunities that require a quiet camera. Silent mode 2 is very quiet indeed, and very welcome. It's high speed shutter/mirror sound is also surprisingly quiet- few will hear you fire off 5-10 images in rapid succession. Great for wildlife and stealth photography alike.
Handling- The body is an absolutely wonderfully built piece of metal and rubber (better than the 7D around the card door area where I found the 7D to flex and creak). It somehow feels lightweight but not hollow or cheap in any respect. The grip is a tad softer and cushier than my EOS 5D, but not spongy, rather it is a nice soft firm feel if that makes any sense. This has to be one of the most comfortable DSLR grips I've ever used, if not taking the cake. The rubber has the right give, texture, and curves that just really make it feel great in the hand- light or heavy lenses alike.
Image Quality- Reviewing the images I've taken so far and yes, I admit the sensor isn't as good as the 7D's or 5D's for that matter. But it's close enough to that mark, and that's just fine with me considering my needs. I find the sensor needs a bit of TLC when making exposures, and keeping the ISO level down is a good idea too if you can. Banding shows up if images are underexposed so you have to be careful if banding is an issue for you. She's a temperamental little beast in terms of IQ but if you pay attention you can get around it just fine. I'll venture to ISO 6400, but very cautiously and paying very close attention to the final exposure. The image below is ISO 6400.
|ISO 6400 converted in ACR, not too shabby actually|
For me it's as simple as going to my 5D for lower light higher sensitivity photography when the going gets rough. Up to ISO 1600 the 50D is just fine and dandy without having to worry, and up to ISO 2500 is completely acceptable. Using the smaller SRAW1 and SRAW2 settings and developing from ACR helps matters greatly for even higher ISO images. Lower ISO's are outstanding, all the way up to ISO 800. ISO 100 is clean and full of detail and dynamic range- as the next two samples clearly show.
|ISO 100, good clean blue sky|
There's plenty of resolution and image quality/size options to keep myself happy for the work it's intended to do- especially with high end zooms or prime Canon lenses. Even the 28-135 USM IS lens is very decent on the 50D, especially when you get a good copy like I have. Below, this was shot at f/8, the APS-C sensor taking clear advantage of the sweet spot of this lens.
|Again ISO 100, tons of detail for big prints|
The 50D seems to be the best APS-C Canon DSLR to compliment the 5D for me- for the price. I'll say it again, there's a lot of camera for the buck here especially in the condition I got mine in. The 50D almost feels like a steal for 600 bucks. In fact, it is.
I'm keen on choosing equipment that matches or exceeds its intended role, and the 50D will do just nicely for the role it will fill. I simply do not need to spend another grand for a camera that will do the jobs I want for it.. I'd recommend the same for any photographer when making a choice of camera- know your needs first (key point here) and the work you'll be doing with the tool before you buy the tool. You'll not only save yourself a lot money, but even better get the right tool (camera) for the job.
I'm considering on following up with a full fledged review on the 50D for those who are interested in looking at the used market and want to know how the 50D compares to today's newer cameras for the price. There is a TON of things to discuss about the 50D that haven't been mentioned yet. Just a ton of good stuff.
Canon EOS 50D 15.1 BODY ONLY Price Check