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Thread: Canon 50D

  1. #1
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    Canon 50D

    The review of the 50D (e.g. dpreview.com) was not too stellar but the testing methods are being debated on the different websites. I think the major conclusion is that the 50D may not be that much of an upgrade from the 40D. The complaints are related to the increased noise over the 40D at the higher isos. This is not unexpected since there are more pixels on the 50D compared to the 40D -- which of course is the same size sensor. The thing I found interesting is that there are so many used 50D's being sold so early after its release. I am not sure if this usually happens and just something I happened to notice.

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    Re: Canon 50D

    Mark,
    Seeing the same thing, and it is both surprising and not. From what I can tell, the 50D may be a great camera, and with all the other tweaks, it should be sticking harder. The image quality thing suggests to me that the 50D may be hitting the wall on pixel size. The lower ISO images do look good, though the AA filter still seems a bit strong for that sensor. (Canon had said in some other publication that the could not or would not abandon the AA filter, as the moire would be hard to control. Seems like a consumer concern more than anything else, which is too bad, as the 50D is getting close to a pro level camera with its capabilities at this point.)

    Other thing I had read someplace was that Canon may be looking to stick HD video into that model line, so that could mean another camera is in the works (?). Seems like a bad timing issue if they might already be thinking of some sort of upgrade (?50DMkII). This is not yet substantiated, but the information is floating around in several places, so one has to wonder a bit.

    My thoughts were that Canon should have done all the other upgrades (DIGIC 4, larger LCD, weather seals, etc.), but kept a 10-12MP sensor, like the 40D, which turns out some nice images. That is unfortunately not the kit they decided to offer. I was thinking about a 50D/5DMkII combo to replace some of my aging 1-series stuff while I scratched enough for the Leica S2 (keep hoping for that lottery), but with the 50D IQ, I am not sure I want to go that route now.....my old 1DMkII bodies are still cranking and turning out very nice images at half the resolution the 50D is claiming, and I get very usable ISO 3200 shots when I need them.

    It might be that the 50D images need more sharpening due to an AA filter being too strong, but that seems like a mismatch of things in design. Folks are not going to be happy with "softer" images, especially if they are not those willing to shoot RAW and spend some effort in process and post. Just my thoughts at this point.

    LJ

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    Re: Canon 50D

    In general, seems like adding pixels is still a big sales point for all these companies. Look at the smaller Point and shoot cameras-- they have to keep the pixel count the same and just provide the other improvements. How many times do you go to a a party or dinner and someone brings up their new camera has 12 megapixels instead of 8 equating that to a better camera.

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    Re: Canon 50D

    Well I am thinking of a 40 d now as a light tele camera the crop instead of the 50 d. This review makes me nervous about the 5d mk 11 as well . Canon seems to be stuck in megapixel wars.

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    Re: Canon 50D

    Dseelig--- I have been wondering the same thing. I wonder how the 5DII is going to compare to the 5D. Time will tell.

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    Re: Canon 50D

    Looking at the sample comparisons on DPreview, I personally found that the 50D images look inferior to the 40D's images even at low ISO. The 50D seems to suffer from the same "Milky" appearance or watercolor effect, similar to what we have seen from the beta samples from the 5Dmkii.

    I now, suspect, it is not the sensor or the increased Megapixels that is causing this effect, but rather it could be the new "Digic 4".

    I say bring back Digic 1! I still think images from those cameras look more realistic, and less water color painted images.

    Also dseelig, I agree with you here, Canon is indeed stuck in the megapixel war. And in the process is inherently making sensors wihch have very high densities and hence have higher noise properties. These new Digic 4 processors are just fancy processors than Canon has implemented to remove noise prior to us seeing the RAW images even, and hence giving us the perception that their new sensors are indeed "lower noise".


    MAzor
    Last edited by mazor; 2nd November 2008 at 17:16.

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    Re: Canon 50D

    Mazor,
    Not sure if the DIGIC 4 is all the problem or not. I sure would not want to give up its processing and throughput speeds, it contribution to AF, and several other things that it is now doing. Sure, it is probably cooking things pretty hard for the NR, but that is algorithm controlled, not a processor problem. I still think that much of the softness and stuff has something to do with the AA filter. If you take some of the 50D shots and do a bit more sharpening than you might normally want to do, they do help the resolution shine a bit more. That does not excuse the slightly heavier handed NR issue for high ISO shots, however. To me I still think the 40D was pretty close to the best mixture of things with its sensor size and resolution. Still wish they would have put all the 50D improvements in without changing that sensor, and then I think we would have a seriously nice prosumer camera for sure.

    LJ

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    Re: Canon 50D

    LJL I am not so worried about the softness from the AA filter, as you said one can apply some USM to counter that. What is worrying is the "water color" and plastic mush that the 50D has done to images. Do you think that the AA filter could cause this?

    I remember the Nikon D200 had a stronger AA filter than most DSLRs at that time. It's images was softer but even without sharpening, it did not look plastic or watercolored.

    Mazor

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    Re: Canon 50D

    Mazor,
    No, the "watercolor" look that you describe is not related to the AA filter, as far as I know. That would be a processing algorithm, and that would be within the DIGIC 4 engine. That is why I commented that the heavy handed NR approach being used appears to be killing some resolution and that is why things tend to get a more smoothed out look. It is overprocessing. One can get the same effects using Noise Ninja, Neat Image or other NR apps and cooking things to look plastic and oversmooth. Sure does get rid of the noise, but take the detail right along out also.

    So, it is my thinking at this point that because the pixel size is so small on the 50D sensor, and because Canon felt the need to advertise high ISO capability, there is little else to do but overprocess the resulting files to get rid of the inherent noise, but also knocking down too much of the detail that was being resolved. If the AA had been a bit weaker, the images might not need as much sharpening. The sharpening process tends to accentuate things, including artifacts that may be introduced with NR. So, a stronger AA filter creates a bit more blur, and maybe fewer artifacts once things go through the NR algorithm. Then, as you sharpen things up more, you wind up with a more painterly look to them. The noise is gone, most of the non-artifact details are preserved, but other areas where the NR has worked harder get smeared more. Just my thinking on some of this. I know I can ruin a good, high resolution image the same way by overprocessing it with a NR tool. That lets me go to much higher ISOs, but the outcome is not all that pretty.

    LJ

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    Re: Canon 50D

    LJL.

    Nice response. It seems we have agreement here. Digic 4 obviously has over processes images to keep the ISO noise sensitivities the same as previous older lower megapixel models. Hence the 40D indeed does have by default a higher signal to noise over the newer 50D prior to "Digic's noise reductions"

    This will also explain what the 1ds mk 3 and the 5D mk ii have similar "water color" results, and which all have one common element, the digic 4 processor, and obviously noisier sensors than their older siblings like the 1Ds and the 5D.

    Mazor

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    Re: Canon 50D

    Mazor,
    I believe the 1DsMkIII still has the older DIGIC 3 processor in it, as does the 5D. The 5DMkII has gone to the DIGIC 4 processor. So, the 1DsMkIII is producing a high resolution image, but it is not billed as being quite as good at the highest ISOs compared to the newer 5DMkII. So, with the 5DMkII, you are supposedly getting all the resolution of the 1DsMkIII sensor, and higher ISO performance, but probably at the "cost" of losing some of that detail and gaining more of a painterly look at the highest ISO when things go through the DIGIC 4 processor that has a stronger NR algorithm built into it.

    I did not upgrade to the 1DsMkIII, keeping my 1DsMkII at 16+MP instead. I do not have the same very high ISO capabilities, but I actually can get most of the way there with less detail loss. If I am careful about my exposures at say ISO 1600, I can actually push another stop and remove the noise with Noise Ninja, or now Nik Software's Dfine (much better IMHO), to preserve more detail. The differences between nearly 17MP and 22MP is not that great, from what I see. I think my 1DsMkII files have more DR than what I see in similar 1DsMkIII files. I think the same is going to be an issue with the 5DMkII compared to the 5D or even the 1DsMkII.....they will have a bit less DR....and that is not a great trade-off for just the bit more resolution.

    With the 50D, it appears the same sort of trade-off is being made.....more resolution, but more susceptible to detail loss at higher ISOs due to the stronger NR algorithm needed in the DIGIC 4 processor, plus a bit less DR compared to what the 40D was delivering.

    On balance, I think the DIGIC 4 processor is good for all the other things it helps the camera to do, but Canon may have put in too strong a NR algorithm just so it could manage the higher noise from the smaller pixels in the more dense sensor. That is why I wished they had kept the smaller MP sensor of the 40D and did an algorithm for that in the DIGIC 4 processor, along with all the other good tweaks the 50D has. That would have been a very nice camera. With the 5DMkII, they could have used the older 1DsMkII 16+MP sensor, with a properly designed NR algorithm for it in the DIGIC 4 processor to yield outstanding high detail images. They would have lost maybe one stop on the ISO side, so folks may not have thought it that great, but my bet is that it would have been a better imager with more DR and more than enough detail. The higher MP sensors in the 1DsMkIII/5DMkII/50D appear to be requiring more aggressive NR to allow Canon to advertise higher ISO performance. That is a product of the MP war clashing with physics on the signal to noise side of things. The Nikon D3 and D700, by comparison, are sporting lower MP sensors that appear more amenable to higher ISO shooting and less aggressive NR algorithms for their pixel sizes. That is why I think Canon has hit the wall on the high MP sensor with respect to decent high ISO images. At the lower ISOs, if NR is not employed in the in-camera processing, the resolution looks quite good....still too strong an AA filter, in my opinion.

    LJ

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    Re: Canon 50D

    thanks LJ, looks like alot of people who have 40D will not be upgrading that quickly to the 50D. Also people with the 5D may only upgrade to the 5D mk ii for its stellar 1080p video recording.

    I think for people that just want pictures to look real, would have to option for the older lower MP models of Canon to achieve a film like result rather than water color, or alternatively they could go to the opposition Nikon, which do offer high quality images that indeed do not have this water color effect or plastic effect. Ultimately if cost is not a factor, and all one wants is amazing pixel quality I think Leica M8 or the DMR would be a good choice as no AA filter, and also stunning pixel resolutions with no need for water color noise reduction in built.

    Mazor



    Mazor

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    Re: Canon 50D

    Mazor,
    Really do not know how much all of that will or will not impact people's choices. The MkIII upgrades did not impress me enough to swap up my three 1-series bodies. The 50D has enough speed and near-pro features to fit nicely in a lot of kits, including mine, but I am not happy with the IQ that I have seen. The 5DMkII looks like a super choice for a lot of folks, and with the HD video alone, may carry enough sway for many. I still have and use my M8 a lot, mainly because I love the small, unobtrusive size, enjoy the more involved activities in getting the image (it slows me down enough to help my compositions at times), and the files it produces are pretty amazing. I do wish it were full-frame and maybe 15-16MP without giving up what it produces now. The higher ISO noise is still not great, but manageable with careful shooting.

    Going forward, I will still need something fast, weather sealed and able to handle higher ISO shooting for my sports action work. I thought the 50D might fill that bill for me, as the 40D was just not fast enough and lacked seals for my needs. For resolution and studio work, the 1DsMkII still works nicely, but I will probably look hard at the Leica S2 once it arrives.

    On balance, the Nikons are very good also, and I shot Nikon for 25 years, but now have more tied up in Canon glass than I care to swap for that cost, so they are not compelling enough for me over what I shoot now. It is nice to have choices, however, what kind of bothers me is how some lines have gone a bit off track or not far enough to get the more ideal combination of features and capabilities. If I were starting out today, I would be excited about a lot of things, and may not realize what has been advanced and maybe given up with the succeeding iterations from the manufacturers. There are enough non-image tweaks to ergonomics, features, and other things to make many of the newer models very attractive. It is only when you really start to compare things closely that you see the trade-offs. If I was not printing as large as I do for some things, the newer kits could probably be very satisfying for most uses. But once you really get hooked on IQ, DR, no or very weak AA filters, etc., it is hard to move away from that, and some of these newer model cameras appear to be sacrificing some IQ for marketing buzz features. Just my opinion here, so I hope not to offend too many.

    LJ

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    Re: Canon 50D

    LJ, many thanks for your opinions. To me what you say is valid that Canon indeed has been caught up in the marketing buzz features you have mentioned and it is sad that consumers looks at numbers rather than the true performance like IQ, DR etc. What I find strange is that usually the marketing megapixel angle is for the consumers. I would have thought prosumers and professionals, would have preferred to have more IQ rather than more lower quality pixels.

    MAzor

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