Nikon D50 vs D780
The Nikon D50 and the Nikon D780 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in April 2005 and January 2020. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D50) and a full frame (D780) sensor. The D50 has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the D780 provides 24.3 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D50 and the Nikon D780? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D50 and the Nikon D780 are illustrated 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D780 is notably larger (23 percent) than the Nikon D50. Moreover, the D780 is substantially heavier (35 percent) than the D50. It is noteworthy in this context that the D780 is splash and dust-proof, while the D50 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 D780) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (D50). You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the D50 gets 400 shots out of its EN-EL3 battery, while the D780 can take 2260 images on a single charge of its EN-EL15b power pack. The power pack in the D780 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D50||133 mm||102 mm||76 mm||620 g||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|2.||Nikon D780||144 mm||116 mm||76 mm||840 g||2260||Y||Jan 2020||2,299|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Nikon D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|5.||Nikon Z6 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||410||Y||Oct 2020||1,999|
|6.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|7.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|8.||Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749|
|9.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|10.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|11.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|12.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|13.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|14.||Nikon D40||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|15.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|16.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|17.||Nikon D70||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D50 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 67 percent) than the D780, 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.
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 Nikon D50 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D780 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D780 is 132 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24.3MP, the D780 offers a higher resolution than the D50 (6MP), but the D780 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 7.85μm for the D50). Yet, the D780 is a much more recent model (by 14 years and 8 months) than the D50, 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 Nikon D780 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D780 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.1 inches or 76.8 x 51.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 40.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D50 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The D780 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Nikon D50 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D780 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
For many 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. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|2.||Nikon D780||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|4.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Nikon Z6 II||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|7.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D780 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D50 does not. The highest resolution format that the D780 can use is 4K/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D50 and the D780 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 D780 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D50 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D780 has a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.50x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D50 and Nikon D780 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|5.||Nikon Z6 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D50 has one, while the D780 does not. While the built-in flash of the D50 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D780 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 D50 writes its imaging data to SD cards, while the D780 uses SDXC cards. The D780 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D50 only has one slot. The D780 supports UHS-II cards (on both slots), while the D50 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 Nikon D50 and Nikon D780 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Nikon Z6 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
It is notable that the D780 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D50 does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D780 (unlike the D50) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The D780 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the D50 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D50 was succeeded by the Nikon D40. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D50 and the Nikon D780? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D50:
- More compact: Is smaller (133x102mm vs 144x116mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 220g or 26 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (67 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in April 2005).
Advantages of the Nikon D780:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.3 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 101%.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- 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%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.50x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 130k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (2260 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- 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.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II) SDXC cards on both slots.
- More modern: Reflects 14 years and 8 months of technical progress since the D50 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D780 is the clear winner of the contest (27 : 5 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D50 and the Nikon D780 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D50 or the D780. 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.
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], 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.
|1.||Nikon D50||..||78/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|2.||Nikon D780||5/5||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2020||2,299|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Nikon D6||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|5.||Nikon Z6 II||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||1,999|
|6.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|7.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|8.||Nikon D5200||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749|
|9.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|10.||Nikon D3000||..||+||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|11.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|12.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|13.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|14.||Nikon D40||..||81/100||+ +||o||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|15.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|16.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|17.||Nikon D70||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||999|
|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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Nikon D50 vs Nikon D780
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 Model||Nikon D50||Nikon D780|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2005||January 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 749||USD 2,299|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D50||Nikon D780|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.6 mm||35.9 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||369.72 mm2||858.01 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||43.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6 Megapixels||24.3 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3008 x 2000 pixels||6048 x 4024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.85 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.63 MP/cm2||2.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||55||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.9||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.8||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||560||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D50||Nikon D780|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||130k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D50||Nikon D780|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||2.5 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||50 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||Dual UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D50||Nikon D780|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||no 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||Nikon D50||Nikon D780|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||2260 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
133 x 102 x 76 mm
(5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0 in)
144 x 116 x 76 mm
(5.7 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||620 g (21.9 oz)||840 g (29.6 oz)|
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