Tuesday, November 4, 2008

canon 50D ISO review

Click on image for full sized 3200 ISO image

I got my hands on a 50D a few weeks ago and did some image testing. I'm going to focus on ISO performance because almost everything else is identical to the 40D. In response to Nikon's crazy awesome ISO performance in its D300, D700 & D7 camera systems Canon released the 50D with a DiGiC IV processor. I am a bit surprised Canon chose to call this the 50D - it is more accurately the 40D mkII. After spending a substantial amount of time with the 40D I was instantly at home with the 50D as the menu and button configuration is exactly the same. Many focus on megapixel preformance and build quality. I expect high standards in both from any Canon camera so I dove straight into the ISO preformance.

Great image-to-noise ratio is the most influencing factor in my mind that determines a camera's worth. Before I purchase a camera I need to know how far I can push the ISO while maintaining a usable print.

Click on photo for full size version
The images above are 100% crops made with the camera using its kit lens and all standard defaults within the camera shooting large JPG files. I imported the images into Lightroom and cropped them 1:1. The white ballance was set to auto which is why the top photos are warmer than the last few - I overlooked that when testing the camera but chose to leave them as-is. At 100% crop you can see some image noise at 800. However, I was plesently surprised that the noise doesn't get much worse as you progress to 1600. There is a significant amount of noise at ISO 3200 when viewed at 1:1; however, it is tough to pick out any noise when looking at an image full screen. If ran through noise ninja ISO 3200 images look like ISO 800 images! I feel that the images produced by the 50D are on par with Nikon's D300. As expected they aren't as good as the D700 or 7D as these cameras have full-frame sensors so one should expect the images to be better. We will take a look at ISO preformance on the Canon 5D mkII when it releases next month.

If you are still sporting a 20D or 30D the 50D offers enough of a preformance boost that I would reccomend picking one up. If you are sporting a 40D the difference is nominal so I would probably sit tight until the 60D a year or two down the road.

1 comment:

Dan Ponjican said...

I traded up from my Canon XT to a Canon 50D and am now wondering what took me so long! Great camera!