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Canon 50D versus Canon 5D

The Canon EOS 50D and the Canon EOS 5D are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, 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. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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 side – the 50D – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 50D vs Canon 5D
Compare 50D versus 5D top
Compare 50D and 5D rear

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 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 50D» 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
Canon 5D« 152 mm 113 mm 75 mm 895 g 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
Canon 5D Mark IV« » 151 mm 116 mm 76 mm 890 g 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 80D« » 139 mm 105 mm 79 mm 730 g 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199 i i Canon 80D
Canon 5DS R« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 7D II« » 149 mm 112 mm 78 mm 910 g 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« » 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Canon 5D Mark III« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 60D« » 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
Canon 1D Mark IV« » 156 mm 157 mm 80 mm 1230 g 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 7D« » 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
Canon 500D« » 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799- i Canon 500D
Canon 5D Mark II« » 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 40D« » 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon 30D« » 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon 1D Mark II N« » 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1565 g 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. 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 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras 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.

In terms of chip-set technology, the 50D uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 4) than the 5D (DIGIC 2), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon 50D and Canon 5D sensor measures

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.

50D versus 5D MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many 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 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 50D» APS-C 15.1 4752 3168-21.811.469663Canon 50D
Canon 5D« Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871Canon 5D
Canon 5D Mark IV« » Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 80D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579Canon 80D
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886Canon 5DS R
Canon 7D II« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668Canon 70D
Canon 5D Mark III« » Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381Canon 5D Mark III
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 500D« » APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363Canon 500D
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 40D« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.370364Canon 40D
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659Canon 30D
Canon 1D Mark II N« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.297566Canon 1D Mark II N
The 50D offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The 5D lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Canon 50D vs Canon 5D

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 50D and Canon 5D along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 50D»optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 6.3 Y n Canon 50D
Canon 5D«optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n Canon 5D
Canon 5D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 7.0 n n Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 80D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n Canon 80D
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS R
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n Canon 70D
Canon 5D Mark III« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n Canon 5D Mark III
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 500D« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.4 Y n Canon 500D
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 40D« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 6.5 Y n Canon 40D
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 30D
Canon 1D Mark II N« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 8.5 n n Canon 1D Mark II N

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 50D has one, while the 5D does not. While the build-in flash of the 50D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Both the 50D and the 5D write their imaging data to Compact Flash cards.

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 50D»Y----mini2.0---Canon 50D
Canon 5D«Y-----2.0---Canon 5D
Canon 5D Mark IV« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0YY-Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 80D« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Canon 80D
Canon 5DS R« »YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS R
Canon 7D II« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 70D
Canon 5D Mark III« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Canon 5D Mark III
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 500D« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Canon 500D
Canon 5D Mark II« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 40D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 40D
Canon 30D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 30D
Canon 1D Mark II N« »Y-----1.1---Canon 1D Mark II N

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 what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 50D or the Canon 5D – 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 50D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.1 vs 12.7MP) with a 9% higher linear resolution.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 4 vs DIGIC 2).
  • 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.


Advantages 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 count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 50D is the clear winner of the match-up (9 : 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.

50D 09:04 5D

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 50D and the 5D in practical situations. 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 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 50D»HiRecHiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
Canon 5D«88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
Canon 5D Mark IV« »HiRec87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 80D« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199 i i Canon 80D
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 7D II« »Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Canon 5D Mark III« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
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 500D« »HiRec74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799- i Canon 500D
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 40D« »HiRecHiRec4.5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon 30D« »HiRecHiRecrevrev- Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon 1D Mark II N« »----- Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N

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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

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. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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