Canon 5D versus Canon 50D
The Canon EOS 5D and the Canon EOS 50D are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2005 and August 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (5D) and an APS-C (50D) sensor. The 5D has a resolution of 12.7 megapixel, whereas the 50D provides 15.1 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 5D vs Canon 50D
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 5D and the Canon 50D. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. 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 5D – 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 50D is notably smaller (8 percent) than the Canon 5D. Moreover, the 50D is markedly lighter (8 percent) than the 5D. 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 5D (⇒ rgt)||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||YES||2005||3,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft)||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||YES||2008||1,299||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 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 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt)||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1565 g||1200||YES||2005||3,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||156 mm||157.6 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||YES||2004||7,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1535 g||1200||YES||2004||4,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt)||156 mm||157.6 mm||80 mm||1265 g||600||YES||2002||8,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||YES||2008||2,999||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 5D vs Canon 50D
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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 5D features a full frame sensor and the Canon 50D an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the 50D is 62 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the 50D offers a higher resolution of 15.1 megapixel, compared with 12.7 MP of the 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.
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 review, the 5D has a notably higher overall DXO score than the 50D (overall score 8 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This 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.
|Canon 5D (⇒ rgt)||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||no||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft)||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||no||21.8||11.4||696||63|
|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 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 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||no||22.3||11.2||975||66|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||no||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||no||22.3||11.1||1003||66|
|Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||no||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||no||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
Feature comparison: Canon 5D vs Canon 50D
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 5D and the 50D 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 5D and Canon 50D along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|Canon 5D (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||2.5||230||fixed||no||8000||3.0||no||no|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||6.3||13||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 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 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.5||230||fixed||no||8000||8.5||no||no|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.0||230||fixed||no||8000||4.0||no||no|
|Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.0||230||fixed||no||8000||8.3||no||no|
|Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.0||120||fixed||no||8000||3.0||no||no|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||8000||8.0||12||no|
Both the 5D and the 50D 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 5D vs Canon 50D
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 5D and the Canon 50D? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 5D:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1 stops ISO advantage).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2005).
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 50D:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.1 vs 12.7MP), which boosts linear resolution by 9%.
- 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: Gets more shots (800 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- 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.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 50D is the clear winner of the contest (8 : 4 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 5D or the 50D. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Canon 5D (⇒ rgt)||88/100||HiRec||reviewed||reviewed||-||2005||3,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft)||90/100 HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2008||1,299||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 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 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||-||2005||3,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||HiRec||-||-||-||2004||7,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||HiRec||-||reviewed||-||2004||4,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||HiRec||-||-||-||2002||8,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||89/100||HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2008||2,999||discont.||check|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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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