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Canon 50D vs Sony A900

The Canon EOS 50D and the Sony Alpha A900 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2008 and September 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (50D) and a full frame (A900) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 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 50D   Sony A900
Canon 50D Sony A900
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Sony A mount lenses
15.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 24.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-3200 (100-12800) ISO 200-3200 (100-6400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD, 920k dots 3.0" LCD, 922k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6.3 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
800 shots per battery charge880 shots per battery charge
146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g 156 x 117 x 82 mm, 895 g

Body comparison: Canon 50D vs Sony A900

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 50D and the Sony A900. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. 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.

Compare Canon 50D and Sony A900
Compare 50D versus A900 top
Compare 50D or A900 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A900 is notably larger (16 percent) than the Canon 50D. Moreover, the A900 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

Concerning battery life, the 50D gets 800 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the A900 can take 880 images on a single charge of its NP-FM500H power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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» 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
 
Sony A900« 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Sep 2008 2,999- i Sony A900
 
Canon 80D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 25.8 oz 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199 i i Canon 80D
 
Canon 7D II« » 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
 
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
 
Canon 60D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
 
Canon 7D« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
 
Canon T1i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799- i Canon T1i
 
Canon 40D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
 
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
 
Canon 5D« » 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
 
Canon 20D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
 
Sony A9« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 23.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499 i i Sony A9
 
Sony A99 II« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 29.9 oz 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
 
Sony A7S II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.1 oz 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
 
Sony A99« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 28.6 oz 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony A99
 
Sony A850« » 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Aug 2009 1,999- i Sony A850

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The 50D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 57 percent) than the A900, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 50D vs Sony A900

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 50D features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A900 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A900 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.

Canon 50D and Sony A900 sensor measures

With 24.4MP, the A900 offers a higher resolution than the 50D (15.1MP), but the A900 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 4.69μm for the 50D) due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.

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 Sony Alpha A900 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400..

50D versus A900 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A900 offers substantially better image quality than the 50D (overall score 16 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.9 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV in additional 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
 
Sony A900« Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-23.712.3143179Sony A900
 
Canon 80D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579Canon 80D
 
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 60D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366Canon 60D
 
Canon 7D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466Canon 7D
 
Canon T1i« » APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363Canon T1i
 
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 5D« » Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871Canon 5D
 
Canon 20D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.911.072162Canon 20D
 
Sony A9« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792Sony A9
 
Sony A99 II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792Sony A99 II
 
Sony A7S II« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385Sony A7S II
 
Sony A99« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589Sony A99
 
Sony A850« » Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-23.812.2141579Sony A850
The 50D offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The A900 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Canon 50D vs Sony A900

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 50D and the A900 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 viewfinder in the A900 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 50D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the A900 has a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.59x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 50D, the Sony A900, and comparable 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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Canon 50D»optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n Canon 50D
 
Sony A900«optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y Sony A900
 
Canon 80D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n Canon 80D
 
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 Y n Canon 7D II
 
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n Canon 70D
 
Canon 60D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n Canon 60D
 
Canon 7D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n Canon 7D
 
Canon T1i« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n Canon T1i
 
Canon 40D« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n Canon 40D
 
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n Canon 30D
 
Canon 5D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n Canon 5D
 
Canon 20D« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n Canon 20D
 
Sony A9« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 20.0 n Y Sony A9
 
Sony A99 II« »2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 n Y Sony A99 II
 
Sony A7S II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y Sony A7S II
 
Sony A99« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 6.0 n Y Sony A99
 
Sony A850« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n Y Sony A850

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 50D has one, while the A900 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.

The 50D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the A900 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A900 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 50D vs Sony A900

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 Sony Alpha A900 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 50D»Y----mini2.0---Canon 50D
 
Sony A900«Y----mini2.0---Sony A900
 
Canon 80D« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Canon 80D
 
Canon 7D II« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 7D II
 
Canon 70D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 70D
 
Canon 60D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 60D
 
Canon 7D« »Ymono-Y-mini2.0---Canon 7D
 
Canon T1i« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Canon T1i
 
Canon 40D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 40D
 
Canon 30D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 30D
 
Canon 5D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 5D
 
Canon 20D« »Y-----1.1---Canon 20D
 
Sony A9« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYYSony A9
 
Sony A99 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYYSony A99 II
 
Sony A7S II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7S II
 
Sony A99« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0---Sony A99
 
Sony A850« »Y----mini2.0---Sony A850

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the 50D and the A900 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 50D was replaced by the Canon 60D, while the A900 was followed by the Sony A99. Further information on the two cameras, as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Sony websites.


Review summary: Canon 50D vs Sony A900

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 50D better than the Sony A900 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 50D:

  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.3 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (146x108mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (57 percent cheaper at launch).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A900:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 15.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 27%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (16 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.9 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1 stops ISO advantage).
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.59x).
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A900 is the clear winner of the contest (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 04:09 A900

Do the specifications of the Canon 50D and the Sony A900 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 50D or the A900 perform in practice. 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 50D vs Sony A900

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

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»++++4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
 
Sony A900«++++4.5/54/55/5 Sep 2008 2,999- i Sony A900
 
Canon 80D« »++84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199 i i Canon 80D
 
Canon 7D II« »+84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
 
Canon 70D« »++83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
 
Canon 60D« »+79/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
 
Canon 7D« »++84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
 
Canon T1i« »++74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799- i Canon T1i
 
Canon 40D« »++++4.5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
 
Canon 30D« »++++oo- Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
 
Canon 5D« »88/100++oo- Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
 
Canon 20D« »-++-o- Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
 
Sony A9« »++89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499 i i Sony A9
 
Sony A99 II« »-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
 
Sony A7S II« »+-4.5/55/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
 
Sony A99« »-84/1004.5/5o4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony A99
 
Sony A850« »-75/100-4/54.5/5 Aug 2009 1,999- i Sony A850
Notes: ++) highly recommended; +) recommended; o) reviewed; -) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon 50D:
Check Ebay offers
Sony A900:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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 50D vs Sony A900

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 50D Sony A900
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Sony A mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2008 September 2008
    Launch Price USD 1299 USD 2999
    Sensor Specs Canon 50D Sony A900
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 35.9 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 861.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 15.1 Megapixels 24.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4752 x 3168 pixels 6048 x 4032 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.69 μm 5.94 μm
    Pixel Density 4.53 MP/cm2 2.83 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100-3200 ISO 200-3200 ISO
    ISO Boost 100-12800 ISO 100-6400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 BIONZ
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 63 79
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 23.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.4 12.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 696 1431
    Screen Specs Canon 50D Sony A900
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.59x 0.74x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 50D Sony A900
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 6.3 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or MS cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon 50D Sony A900
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 50D Sony A900
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-511A power pack NP-FM500H power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)800 shots per charge880 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 146 x 108 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
    156 x 117 x 82 mm
    (6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 822 g (29.0 oz) 895 g (31.6 oz)

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