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Canon 50D vs 90D

The Canon EOS 50D and the Canon EOS 90D are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2008 and August 2019. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 50D has a resolution of 15.1 megapixels, whereas the 90D provides 32.3 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 50D
versus
Canon 90D
Canon 50D   Canon 90D
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
15.1 MP – APS-C sensor 32.3 MP – APS-C sensor
no Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 100-3,200 (100 - 12,800) ISO 100-25,600 (100 - 51,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD – 920k dots 3.0" LCD – 1040k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel touchscreen
6.3 shutter flaps per second 11 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
800 shots per battery charge1300 shots per battery charge
146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g 141 x 105 x 77 mm, 701 g
Canon 50D:
Check Ebay offers
Canon 90D:
Check Amazon price

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 50D and the Canon EOS 90D? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 50D and the Canon 90D is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 50D vs Canon 90D
Compare 50D versus 90D top
Comparison 50D or 90D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 90D is notably smaller (6 percent) than the Canon 50D. Moreover, the 90D is markedly lighter (15 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 50D gets 800 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the 90D can take 1300 images on a single charge of its LP-E6N power pack.

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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 50D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
2.
 
Canon 90D 141 mm 105 mm 77 mm 701 g 1300 Y Aug 2019 1,199 i
3.
 
Canon 80D 139 mm 105 mm 79 mm 730 g 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199i
4.
 
Canon 7D II 149 mm 112 mm 78 mm 910 g 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i
5.
 
Canon 70D 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199i
6.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
7.
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699i
8.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
9.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
10.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
11.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

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 90D was somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the 50D at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.

Sensor comparison

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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the 90D is 2 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, the 90D uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 8) than the 50D (DIGIC 4), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon 50D and Canon 90D sensor measures

With 32.3MP, the 90D offers a higher resolution than the 50D (15.1MP), but the 90D has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.23μm versus 4.69μm for the 50D). Yet, the 90D is a much more recent model (by 11 years) than the 50D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Canon 90D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 90D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 34.8 x 23.2 inches or 88.4 x 58.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 27.8 x 18.6 inches or 70.7 x 47.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 23.2 x 15.5 inches or 58.9 x 39.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 50D are 23.8 x 15.8 inches or 60.4 x 40.2 cm for good quality, 19 x 12.7 inches or 48.3 x 32.2 cm for very good quality, and 15.8 x 10.6 inches or 40.2 x 26.8 cm for excellent quality prints.

The 90D has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.

The Canon EOS 50D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS 90D are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-51200.

50D versus 90D MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
2.
 
Canon 90D APS-C 32.3 6960 46404K/30p24.013.5184883
3.
 
Canon 80D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
4.
 
Canon 7D II APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270
5.
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
6.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
7.
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
8.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
9.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
10.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
11.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The 90D indeed provides for movie recording, while the 50D does not. The highest resolution format that the 90D can use is 4K/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 50D and the 90D 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same magnification (0.59x), but the one in the 90D has a wider field of view (100%) than the finder in the 50D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 50D, the Canon 90D, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 50Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3/s Y n
2.
 
Canon 90Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 11.0/s Y n
3.
 
Canon 80Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0/s Y n
4.
 
Canon 7D IIoptical Y3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0/s Y n
5.
 
Canon 70Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0/s Y n
6.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3/s Y n
7.
 
Canon 7Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0/s Y n
8.
 
Canon T1ioptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4/s Y n
9.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5/s Y n
10.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y n
11.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The 90D has a touchscreen, while the 50D has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The 90D has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the 50D does not have a selfie-screen.

The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the 90D is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).

The Canon 90D has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

The 50D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the 90D uses SDXC cards.

Connectivity comparison

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 50D and Canon EOS 90D and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 50DY- / ---mini2.0---
2.
 
Canon 90DYstereo / monoYYmini2.0Y-Y
3.
 
Canon 80DYstereo / monoYYmini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 7D IIYstereo / monoYYmini3.0---
5.
 
Canon 70DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Canon 60DYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 7DYmono / -Y-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon T1iYmono / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 40DY- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Canon 30DY- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Canon 20DY- / ----1.1---

It is notable that the 90D offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the 50D does not provide wifi capability.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 50D (unlike the 90D) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

The 90D is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the 50D has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 50D was succeeded by the Canon 60D. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 50D and the Canon 90D? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 50D:

  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2008).


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 90D:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (32.3 vs 15.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 46%.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 8 vs DIGIC 4).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
  • Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 920k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 6.3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 121g or 15 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1300 versus 800) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More modern: Reflects 11 years of technical progress since the 50D launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 90D is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 2 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. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

50D 02:18 90D

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 50D and the Canon 90D place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 50D or the 90D perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 50D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
2.
 
Canon 90D4/5+4.5/585/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2019 1,199 i
3.
 
Canon 80D4/5+ +4.5/584/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199i
4.
 
Canon 7D II4.5/5+3.5/584/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i
5.
 
Canon 70D5/5+ +..83/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199i
6.
 
Canon 60D5/5+..79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
7.
 
Canon 7D5/5+ +..84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699i
8.
 
Canon T1i..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
9.
 
Canon 40D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
10.
 
Canon 30D..+ +..+ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
11.
 
Canon 20D......+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

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 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.

Canon 50D:
Check Ebay offers
Canon 90D:
Check Amazon price

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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon 50D vs Canon 90D

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 50D Canon 90D
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2008 August 2019
    Launch Price USD 1,299 USD 1,199
    Sensor Specs Canon 50D Canon 90D
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 22.5 x 15.0 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 337.5 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 27 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.6x
    Sensor Resolution 15.1 Megapixels 32.3 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4752 x 3168 pixels 6960 x 4640 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.69 μm 3.23 μm
    Pixel Density 4.53 MP/cm2 9.57 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 51,200 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 8
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 63 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.4 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 696 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 50D Canon 90D
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.59x 0.59x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 1040k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon 50D Canon 90D
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 6.3 shutter flaps/s 11 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Electronic Shutterno E-Shutterup to 1/16000s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 50D Canon 90D
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Headphone Socket no Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Canon 50D Canon 90D
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-511A LP-E6N
    Battery Life (CIPA)800 shots per charge1300 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 146 x 108 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
    141 x 105 x 77 mm
    (5.6 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 822 g (29.0 oz) 701 g (24.7 oz)
    Canon 50D:
    Check Ebay offers
    Canon 90D:
    Check Amazon price

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