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Canon 1D vs 50D

The Canon EOS-1D and the Canon EOS 50D are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2001 and August 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D) and an APS-C (50D) sensor. The 1D has a resolution of 4.1 megapixels, whereas the 50D provides 15.1 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.


Headline Specifications
Canon 1D   Canon 50D
Canon 1D Canon 50D
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
4.1 MP, APS-H Sensor 15.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 200-1600 (100-3200) ISO 100-3200 (100-12800)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0" LCD, 120k dots 3.0" LCD, 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
8 shutter flaps per second 6.3 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
500 shots per battery charge800 shots per battery charge
156 x 158 x 80 mm, 1585 g 146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g

Body comparison: Canon 1D vs 50D

The physical size and weight of the Canon 1D and the Canon 50D are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 1D – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 1D and Canon 50D
Compare 1D versus 50D top
Compare 1D or 50D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 50D is considerably smaller (36 percent) than the Canon 1D. Moreover, the 50D is substantially lighter (48 percent) than the 1D. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor (as in the 1D) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (50D). You can compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 1D gets 500 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the 50D can take 800 images on a single charge of its BP-511A power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the 1D has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the 50D, Canon provides the BG-E2N vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 1D» 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.9 oz 500 Y Sep 2001 6,499- i Canon 1D
Canon 50D« 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« » 5.9 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 31.4 oz 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Canon 1D C« » 6.2 in 6.5 in 3.3 in 54.5 oz 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999- i Canon 1D C
Canon 1D X« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.7 oz 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799- i Canon 1D X
Canon 60D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
Canon 1D Mark IV« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 7D« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
Canon 1D Mark III« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 40.7 oz 2200 Y Feb 2007 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 40D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon 1D Mark II N« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.2 oz 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 1D Mark II« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 54.1 oz 1200 Y Jan 2004 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 20D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Canon 1Ds« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999- i Canon 1Ds

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 50D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 80 percent) than the 1D, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 1D vs 50D

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D features an APS-H sensor and the Canon 50D an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the 50D is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, the 50D uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 4) than the 1D (DIGIC), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon 1D and Canon 50D sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the 50D offers a higher resolution of 15.1 megapixels, compared with 4.1 MP of the 1D. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.69μm versus 11.56μm for the 1D). However, it should be noted that the 50D is much more recent (by 6 years and 11 months) than the 1D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The Canon EOS-1D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS 50D are ISO 100 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-12800..

1D versus 50D MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon 1D» APS-H 4.1 2496 1662-----Canon 1D
Canon 50D« APS-C 15.1 4752 3168-21.811.469663Canon 50D
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« » Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668Canon 70D
Canon 1D C« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34564K/24p----Canon 1D C
Canon 1D X« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682Canon 1D X
Canon 60D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366Canon 60D
Canon 1D Mark IV« » APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 7D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466Canon 7D
Canon 1D Mark III« » APS-H 10.1 3888 2592-22.711.7107871Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744-24.012.0166380Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 40D« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.370364Canon 40D
Canon 1D Mark II N« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.297566Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 1D Mark II« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.1100366Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 20D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.911.072162Canon 20D
Canon 1Ds« » Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704-21.811.095463Canon 1Ds
The 50D offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The 1D lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Canon 1D vs 50D

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 1D and the 50D are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 1D and Canon 50D in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 1D»optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 16000 8.0 n n Canon 1D
Canon 50D«optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 6.3 Y n Canon 50D
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 7.0 n n Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n Canon 70D
Canon 1D C« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n Canon 1D C
Canon 1D X« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n Canon 1D X
Canon 60D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 8000 5.3 Y n Canon 60D
Canon 1D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 7D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n Canon 7D
Canon 1D Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 40D« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 6.5 Y n Canon 40D
Canon 1D Mark II N« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 8.5 n n Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 1D Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 8.3 n n Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 20D« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 20D
Canon 1Ds« »optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n Canon 1Ds

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 50D has one, while the 1D does not. While the built-in flash of the 50D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 1D and the 50D write their files to Compact Flash cards. The 1D features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 50D only has one slot.

Connectivity comparison: Canon 1D vs 50D

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS-1D and Canon EOS 50D and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Canon 1D»Y-----FW---Canon 1D
Canon 50D«Y----mini2.0---Canon 50D
Canon 1D X Mark II« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0YY-Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 70D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 70D
Canon 1D C« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Canon 1D C
Canon 1D X« »Ymono-Y-mini2.0---Canon 1D X
Canon 60D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 60D
Canon 1D Mark IV« »Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 7D« »Ymono-Y-mini2.0---Canon 7D
Canon 1D Mark III« »Y-----2.0---Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »Y-----2.0---Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 40D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 40D
Canon 1D Mark II N« »Y-----1.1---Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 1D Mark II« »Y-----1.1---Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 20D« »Y-----1.1---Canon 20D
Canon 1Ds« »Y-----FW---Canon 1Ds

Both the 1D and the 50D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1D was replaced by the Canon 1D Mark II, while the 50D was followed by the Canon 60D.


Review summary: Canon 1D vs 50D

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1D or the Canon 50D – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D:

  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (16000/sec vs 8000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 6.3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2001).


Advantages of the Canon EOS 50D:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (15.1 vs 4.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 90%.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 4 vs DIGIC).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 120k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (146x108mm vs 156x158mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 763g or 48 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (800 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (80 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 11 months of technical progress since the 1D launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 50D is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

1D 05:10 50D

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 1D and the 50D in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews: Canon 1D vs 50D

This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 1D»-HiRec--- Sep 2001 6,499- i Canon 1D
Canon 50D«HiRecHiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« »HiRec87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Canon 1D C« »----- Apr 2012 14,999- i Canon 1D C
Canon 1D X« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799- i Canon 1D X
Canon 60D« »Rec79/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
Canon 1D Mark IV« »-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 7D« »HiRec84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
Canon 1D Mark III« »---rev- Feb 2007 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »-HiRec4.5/5-- Aug 2007 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 40D« »HiRecHiRec4.5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon 1D Mark II N« »----- Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 1D Mark II« »-HiRec-rev- Jan 2004 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 20D« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Canon 1Ds« »-HiRec--- Sep 2002 8,999- i Canon 1Ds

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon 1D vs Canon 50D

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 1D Canon 50D
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2001 August 2008
    Launch Price USD 6499 USD 1299
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-H Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 28.7 x 19.1 mm 22.3 x 19.1 mm
    Sensor Area 548.17 mm2 332.27 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 34.5 mm 26.8 mm
    Crop Factor 1.3 1.6
    Sensor Resolution 4.1 Megapixels 15.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 2496 x 1662 pixels 4752 x 3168 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.56 μm 4.69 μm
    Pixel Density 0.76 MP/cm2 4.53 MP/cm2
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 200-1600 ISO 100-3200 ISO
    ISO Boost 100-3200 ISO 100-12800 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC DIGIC 4
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 2.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 120k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/16000s 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 8 shutter flaps/s 6.3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF cards
    Connectivity Specs
    USB Connector Firewire USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NP-E3 power pack BP-511A power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge800 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 156 x 158 x 80 mm
    (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
    146 x 108 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
    Camera Weight 1585 g (55.9 oz) 822 g (29.0 oz)

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