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Canon EOS 50D

>> Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Canon offers three configurations of the 50D. One kit includes the veteran f/3.5-5.6, 28-135mm IS USM lens, with an angle of view equivalent to that of a 44.8-216mm lens on a 35mm camera, and a second kit comes with the new EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens, equivalent to 28.8-320mm. Of course, there's a body only version as well.

Though the 28-135mm lens doesn't provide the coverage or all in one convenience of the 18-200mm lens, I think it's a better lens, and would recommend that kit over the other and perhaps supplementing with the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f4.0-5.6 IS lens that dual lens configuration can be cheaper as well. For better or worse, there aren't a lot of significant design or feature changes from the 40D.

At 1.9 pounds, the body has gained a little weight about an ounce but retains the same dimensions: 4.2 inches by 5.7 inches by 2.9 inches. It retains the same comfortable grip and sturdy, partly dust and weather sealed, body, as well as compatibility with the old battery and vertical grip.

I have the same likes and dislikes about the control design and layout as with the 40D. The series of three buttons above the status LCD metering white balance, AF Drive mode, and ISO flash compensation are easy to use, but they feel identical.

The status display delivers complete information and duplicates it on the rear LCD. Following the lead of competitors, Canon added the capability to change settings from that back information display, using a combination of the joystick and the big Quick Control dial on the back. Overall, it remains a good shooting design that upgraders will have no trouble adapting to and newcomers to the line should pick up pretty easily.

Canon squeezed an extra programmable function button below the LCD. You can assign it to directly access LCD brightness, image quality, exposure compensation, image jump during playback, or Live View settings. Additionally, the PictBridge button now does double duty it also lets you toggle between regular and Live View shooting. There are a handful of new features, though no movie capture.

Aside from the bump to 15 megapixels from the 40D's 10 megapixels, the most apparent addition is Creative Auto, a new semi manual mode with capabilities you can view as an advanced Auto mode or dumbed down Program mode, depending upon your viewpoint. All functions in CA are automated, with a few exceptions.

Notably, it replaces shutter and aperture adjustment options with two sliding scales Exposure (brighter or darker) and Background (blurred or sharp) that implicitly adjust shutter speed and aperture. While it's an interesting idea, it seems too much of a newbie feature to put on the 50D. The Rebel series seems far more appropriate. In CA mode you can also can select single, continuous, or self timer shooting; Picture Style photo size and quality and flash mode (auto, on or off).

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