Canon 50D versus Canon 550D
The Canon EOS 50D and the Canon EOS 550D (labelled Canon XS in some countries) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2008 and February 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 50D has a resolution of 15.1 megapixel, whereas the 550D provides 17.9 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Canon 50D vs Canon 550D
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 50D and the Canon 550D. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions 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 side – the 50D – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 550D is notably smaller (20 percent) than the Canon 50D. Moreover, the 550D is substantially lighter (36 percent) than the 50D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 50D is splash and dust resistant, while the 550D does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Canon 50D (⇒ rgt)||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||YES||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 550D (⇒ lft)||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||no||2010||699||discont.||check|
|Canon 750D (⇒ lft | rgt)||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||no||2015||749||discont.||check|
|Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt)||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||YES||2014||1,799||latest||check|
|Canon 700D (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||no||2013||649||discont.||check|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||YES||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Canon 650D (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||no||2012||849||discont.||check|
|Canon 600D (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||no||2011||599||discont.||check|
|Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt)||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||YES||2010||1,399||discont.||check|
|Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt)||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||YES||2009||1,699||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1230 g||1500||YES||2009||4,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||no||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt)||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||no||2007||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt)||144 mm||106 mm||74 mm||785 g||750||no||2006||1,399||discont.||check|
|Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt)||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||YES||2005||3,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 20D (⇒ lft | rgt)||144 mm||106 mm||72 mm||770 g||700||no||2004||1,499||discont.||check|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 550D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 46 percent) than the 50D, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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 50D vs Canon 550D
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 550D offers a higher resolution of 17.9 megapixel, compared with 15.1 MP of the 50D. This megapixel advantage translates into a 9 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 550D has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 4.69μm for the 50D). However, it should be noted that the 550D is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 5 months) than the 50D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Canon 50D (⇒ rgt)||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||no||21.8||11.4||696||63|
|Canon 550D (⇒ lft)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66|
|Canon 750D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||22.7||12.0||919||71|
|Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|Canon 700D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||681||61|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||22.5||11.6||926||68|
|Canon 650D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||722||62|
|Canon 600D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||793||65|
|Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.2||11.5||813||66|
|Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.0||11.7||854||66|
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||1080/20p||21.7||11.5||663||63|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||no||22.1||11.3||703||64|
|Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||8.2||3504||2336||no||21.5||10.8||736||59|
|Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||no||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|Canon 20D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||8.2||3504||2336||no||21.9||11.0||721||62|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The 550D indeed provides for movie recording, while the 50D does not. The highest resolution format that the 550D can use is 1080/30p.
Feature comparison: Canon 50D vs Canon 550D
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 50D and the 550D 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 50D, the Canon 550D, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|Canon 50D (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||6.3||13||no|
|Canon 550D (⇒ lft)||optical||no||3.0||1040||fixed||no||4000||3.7||YES||no|
|Canon 750D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||fixed||no||8000||10.0||11||no|
|Canon 700D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||13||no|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||8000||7.0||12||no|
|Canon 650D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||YES||no|
|Canon 600D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||1040||swivel||no||4000||3.7||YES||no|
|Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||swivel||no||8000||5.3||13||no|
|Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||8.0||12||no|
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||4000||3.4||YES||no|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||230||fixed||no||8000||6.5||12||no|
|Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.5||230||fixed||no||8000||5.0||13||no|
|Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.5||230||fixed||no||8000||3.0||no||no|
|Canon 20D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||1.8||118||fixed||no||8000||5.0||13||no|
Both the 50D and the 550D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 50D was replaced by the Canon 60D, while the 550D was followed by the Canon 600D.
Review summary: Canon 50D vs Canon 550D
So how do things add up? Is the Canon 50D better than the Canon 550D or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 50D:
- Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.3 vs 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (800 versus 440) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2008).
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 550D:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (17.9 vs 15.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 9%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 920k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (129x98mm vs 146x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 292g or 36 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (46 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 5 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 550D comes out slightly ahead of the 50D (7 : 6 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 50D or the 550D. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Canon 50D (⇒ rgt)||90/100 HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 550D (⇒ lft)||88/100 HiRec||77/100 Gold||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2010||699||discont.||check|
|Canon 750D (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2015||749||discont.||check|
|Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||84/100 Silver||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2014||1,799||latest||check|
|Canon 700D (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||76/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||649||discont.||check|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||83/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Canon 650D (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||77/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2012||849||discont.||check|
|Canon 600D (⇒ lft | rgt)||reviewed||77/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2011||599||discont.||check|
|Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt)||87/100 Rec||79/100 Silver||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2010||1,399||discont.||check|
|Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt)||93/100 HiRec||84/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||1,699||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||89/100 Gold||-||5/5||-||2009||4,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||74/100 HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt)||90/100 HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt)||87/100 HiRec||HiRec||reviewed||reviewed||-||2006||1,399||discont.||check|
|Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100||HiRec||reviewed||reviewed||-||2005||3,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 20D (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||HiRec||-||reviewed||-||2004||1,499||discont.||check|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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