Canon 40D or 50D?

by Adam
(Danville, CA, USA)

Hi, I've been reading the SLR guide for about a year now, and this was actually my primary resource for deciding on my first DSLR (a Rebel XS). Well I've had that camera for a year now and, mostly thanks to the pressures of, I've gotten a lot better. I now have a respectable collection of lenses and I think I'm ready to upgrade. I mostly do nature photography (from landscape to still life to birding), and I dabble in work for local elections. I'm also heading off to college in the fall of 2010, so I'd like a camera that will last for a few years. I like wildlife photography, so I'd like to stick with a crop body for the extra zoom. One of the biggest reasons I want to upgrade is that my camera is just too weak. Its too small for my hands and it feels like a toy. I want something substantial, plus it stings whenever I go to a shoot with a decent lens and my off body flash, and I see a guy with a much nicer camera shooting with a kit lens on auto. I want an upgrade in image quality as well, although i understand the difference will not be night and day. SO this leaves me with a choice between the 40D and 50D. The 50D is obviously the more advanced camera, but it is significantly more expensive (There is no set price for me, but I don't want to waste money) and has a LOT of pixels on a small sensor. I have read a lot about, and worry about, loss of image quality in the form of noise, fringing, and luminance. Then again, I worry that opting for the 10MP sensor as it may leave me behind in the pixel race quickly, especially since I want a camera to last. So what do you think, should I find a great deal on a 40D, wait for a price drop on the 50D, or maybe see what happens with the 60D? Thanks for the help!

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Aug 21, 2009
by: Adam

Thanks for the advice, I really appreciate it. Since I know its going to be announced next week, I'm going to wait to hear about the new specs on the 60D, and if they aren't revolutionary, which I don't expect them to be, the anouncement will at least cause a price drop. In that event, I think I'll find a good deal on a 40D, save my money for an L.

Aug 21, 2009
Consider Available Light
by: Digital SLR Guide

One question to consider before you make a final decision is "what's the available light that you typically shoot with"?

When manufacturers cram more pixels onto a sensor, it diminishes the sensor's ability to minimize noise at high ISO settings.

Since this is the case, I'd expect the 40D to have less high ISO noise than the 50D since it has a lower megapixel count.

You said that you're into nature photography, where typically you're working outdoors with lots of available light.

At ISO settings between 100 and 400, you might not see a lot of difference between the 40D and 50D, but higher than that you should.

So: if you think that you'll take a lot of pictures pushing the ISO up to 800 and 1600, you should get better results long term with the 40D.

Also, don't feel two limited by the pixel count, since there are two ways around this. The first is that if you capture images as RAW files instead of JPG, when you develop them you can actually INCREASE the pixel count of the developed image.

For example, I have an 8 megapixel Canon DSLR that I use, but I can develop my RAW files at 10 or even 12 megapixels if I want to make larger prints.

A second option is a program called Genuine Fractals, which will allow you to digitally increase the size of your images (adding more megapixels) without the loss if image quality that typically happens when you do this.

As for the megapixel race, it's worth noting that Canon recently announced the release of a new compact digital camera called the G11 which actually DECREASES the megapixel count from its predecessor the G10 (from 14.7mp to 10mp).

It seems like the manufacturers are finally realizing that more megapixels can cause a reduction in image quality.

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