updated 07:40 am EDT, Tue August 26, 2008
Canon EOS 50D
Canon began its fullest assault on the camera market pre-Photokina with the launch of the EOS 50D. The spiritual successor to the EOS 40D boosts the sensor to 15.1 megapixels and is consciously targeted at the extremely high ISO ranges shooting of newer Nikon cameras. By fitting gapless microlenses on top of the pixels, Canon says it has cut back on noise and can introduce two ultra-high sensitivity modes at ISO 6,400 and ISO 12,800 while also producing a cleaner image across the normal ISO 100-3,200 range.
The mid-grade DSLR is additionally the first camera to use the company's DIGIC 4 imaging chip and relies on this to perform tasks that would have been impractical with the earlier processor: the 50D can level brightness over an entire image on the fly in JPEG mode and helps bring the camera up to its 6.3 frames per second maximum shooting speed, particularly when using UDMA CompactFlash cards.
Canon pitches the new camera as more of a beginner's camera thanks to a Creative Auto Mode that simplifies some of the advanced settings; users can invoke a shallower depth of field or adjust light sensitivity without having to know the terms or control other aspects of the shot. Full-sized RAW and two smaller RAW (sRAW) modes are also available even in some of the simpler settings. Live view has been improved with a 640x480, three-inch LCD that will display quick, live or face detection autofocusing onscreen with or without a grid overlay to help compose the shot.
Those edging closer to professional-level shooting receive the autofocus microadjustment feature from the flagship EOS 1D Mark III that allows shooters to 'nudge' the focus more directly on to the subject rather than rely solely on the preset focus points.
HDMI video out and an improved dust removal system are also part of the formula for the camera, which ships in October. A body-only version will ship for $1,399, while a kit with an EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 image stabilized lens will sell for $1,599. A new 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens designed to combat the wider ranges of Nikon's own 18-200mm lens is also shipping at the same time as the EOS 50D and will ship for $699.
Significantly, the company says it has no immediate plans to scrap the EOS 40D, which is now selling for $1,099.