Canon 50D versus Canon 5D
The Canon EOS 50D and the Canon EOS 5D are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2008 and August 2005. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (50D) and a full frame (5D) sensor. The 50D has a resolution of 15.1 megapixel, whereas the 5D provides 12.7 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 5D
The physical size and weight of the Canon 50D and the Canon 5D are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 50D – represents the basis or 100 percent 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 5D is notably larger (9 percent) than the Canon 50D. Moreover, the 5D is markedly heavier (9 percent) than the 50D. 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 5D) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (50D). You can find a comprehensive 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 5D (⇒ lft)||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||YES||2005||3,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||YES||2015||3,699||latest||check|
|Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt)||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||YES||2014||1,799||latest||check|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||YES||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt)||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||YES||2012||2,099||discont.||check|
|Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||YES||2012||3,499||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 T1i (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||no||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||YES||2008||3,499||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 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt)||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1565 g||1200||YES||2005||3,999||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 50D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 61 percent) than the 5D, 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 5D
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 50D features an APS-C sensor and the Canon 5D a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the 5D is 160 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 50D offers a higher resolution of 15.1 megapixel, compared with 12.7 MP of the Canon 5D. This megapixel 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 8.25μm for the 5D). However, it should be noted that the 50D is much more recent (by 3 years) than the 5D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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. Of the two cameras under consideration, the 5D has a markedly higher DXO score than the 50D (overall score 8 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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 5D (⇒ lft)||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||no||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/60p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||22.5||11.6||926||68|
|Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24||11.7||2293||81|
|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 T1i (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||1080/20p||21.7||11.5||663||63|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|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 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||no||22.3||11.2||975||66|
|Canon 20D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||8.2||3504||2336||no||21.9||11.0||721||62|
Feature comparison: Canon 50D vs Canon 5D
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 50D and the 5D 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 5D, 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 5D (⇒ lft)||optical||YES||2.5||230||fixed||no||8000||3.0||no||no|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1040||fixed||no||8000||5.0||no||no|
|Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||fixed||no||8000||10.0||11||no|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||8000||7.0||12||no|
|Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||fixed||no||4000||4.5||no||no|
|Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1040||fixed||no||8000||6.0||no||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 T1i (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||4000||3.4||13||no|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||3.9||no||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 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.5||230||fixed||no||8000||8.5||no||no|
|Canon 20D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||1.8||118||fixed||no||8000||5.0||13||no|
Both the 50D and the 5D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark II, while the 50D was followed by the Canon 60D.
Review summary: Canon 50D vs Canon 5D
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 50D or the Canon 5D – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 50D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.1 vs 12.7MP) with a 9% higher linear resolution.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.3 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (800 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (61 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the 5D launch.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 5D:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1 stops ISO advantage).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2005).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 50D is the clear winner of the match-up (8 : 4 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.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 50D and the 5D in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 5D (⇒ lft)||88/100||HiRec||reviewed||reviewed||-||2005||3,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||83/100 Silver||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2015||3,699||latest||check|
|Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||84/100 Silver||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2014||1,799||latest||check|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||83/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||83/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2012||2,099||discont.||check|
|Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2012||3,499||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 T1i (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||74/100 HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||91/100||79/100 HiRec||4/5||5/5||-||2008||3,499||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 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||-||2005||3,999||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 assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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