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MARINERMAGNUM

Justification for upgrade to 50D

15 posts in this topic

I really did some soul searching about whether to do it or not,but 3 things egged me on.

1.The new LCD screen.

I am a habitual chimper in the sense that after taking a flurry of shots,I like to go thru and delete the ones that are OOF-even slightly. This option will save immense time by not having to download all images to look for slight OOF shots.

2. 15mp.

This seems to good to be true,but Canon would not release this camera if it did not perform well with this many mp. What's more,they [Canon] say they are better pixels. ?

I have an opp. to do some prints for a business and they want them BIG. 15mp should be enough.

3. 6400 & 12,800 ISO

This also seems unreal but once again Canon would not put 12,800 ISO in this unit if it wasn't useable. How useable? That's the question.

I'd like to hear anyone's input on this.

Thanks!

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All sensible considerations, MM. Only time and real-world testing will determine what the 50D is capable of regarding noise and high iso.

The following are my thoughts. The interplay of features on the DSLRs in question can produce a lot of different judgments based on individual photographers' priorities, and this is just how the "math" works out for me.

First, a note on megapixels. Now, many here know this, but some may not. Going from 8 Mp to 15 Mp doesn't mean you can make prints twice as large from the latter as from the former. With a sensor size the same between both cameras, the pixels in the 15 Mp camera will be a lot smaller, and pixel size plays an important role in the ability to capture light/color/detail and ultimately print large.

While I've printed several 20x30 images from my 8 Mp DSLR bodies that were superb, I have not until this week printed a larger one. But I had an order for a 30x45 print of the black wolf from the 30D, and it's wonderful. I'm sure the 50D will deliver enough IQ to make prints significantly larger on the top end than the 30D. How much larger again depends on Canon's ability to tame noise/maintain IQ through improved sensor design and the Digic IV processor. Subject matter also plays a role. Lots of little detail like leaves and fine small items can cause an image to degrade faster upon enlargement than one with broad sweeps of color and larger subjects. Also, the larger the print, the farther back we stand to view it, so as print size increases, resolution can (to some degree) decrease.

The host of new features on the 50D makes it a very strong and most attractive upgrade from the 30D. I doubt the 50D will be able to rival the 5D in noise performance (well, anything's possible), so because of my needs for a low-light DSLR for indoor weddings, the 5D is more what I'm after. Although I'll be happy to reassess that if real-world high-iso 50D images blow me away.

For the avian/birds-in-flight/sports/action end of things, the 50D is a homerun (assuming the pre-production reviews are correct), and would be my first choice in a budget-minded upgrade for the 30D. Were it in my budget, I'd be shooting the 5D and 50D and would be quite happy with the combination. As it is, I'll shortly be shooting the 5D and 30D, and will still be quite happy with that combination.

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For us that need to autofocus, will ISO 6400 + be that useful? If the lighting is so dim that you need to go to that high of an ISO, will AF even be efficient?

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Good question. Autofocus relies on contrast, and contrast is best in good light. However, autofocus performance consistently improves with each upgrade, it seems, and my reading indicates the Digic IV processor is part of that autofocus package.

Also, I do notice an increase in autofocus speed/efficiency on my 30D when using f2.8 lenses rather than slower lenses. The 20D/30D/40D, and now presumably the 50D, offer further increased AF performance when using the center focus point and an f2.8 lens.

At any rate, if my reading is correct, whether it's Nikon or Canon, iso6400 and 12,800 are software or firmware functions in which the software interprets a lower iso image and alters it to the equivalent of 6400 or 12,800. I'm not completely up on that technical/computer end of high iso, so some more reading/research is in order.

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Here are two responses to a request I posted among a photographers' network I'm a member of to explain the process of recording ultra-high iso images.

I'll leave it to you all to figure out which is the "best." gringrin

Quote:
Steve, it's all quite simple. Using quantum physics mechanics, Nikon/Canon are able to shift the time-space continuum for all matter within visual distance of the sensor, allowing light to travel faster than 186,000 miles per second. By speeding up the light, more light hits the sensor in a shorter period of time, allowing the use of the uber-fast ISO settings. The only thing to watch out for is the formation of mini black holes, which if they occur, means you won't be home in time for dinner. Ever.

I hope this clears it up!

And this one . . .

Quote:
Steve - I don't know all the details myself, but I'm fairly familiar with the concept. Your assumption is correct - the camera takes an exposure at it's highest circuit based ISO (typically 3200 as you said). This image data is then pulled off the sensor, and the firmware is used to boost the exposure. This boosted file is then written to the card.

Think of it this way - since your camera can produce a JPG, it's firmware is essentially like a RAW converter. That means that the firmware can boost the exposure the same way that a RAW converter can, with the attendant noise this usually brings about.

So you take the picture and the sensor sends the image data at ISO 3200 to the processor(s). The processor(s) then implement(s) the firmware algorithms to multiply up the signal to the equivalent ISO exposure that you had set (2X or 4X for 6400 or 12800). Then the data is written to the card. When you open the file in the RAW converter on your PC/MAC, to the RAW converter it appears to have been taken with a higher ISO.

Of course, this is likely noisier than if this were a real ISO circuit setting. This is because it's simply a multiplier of the values read from the sensor, which also multiplies the noise. And since noise is more prevalent the lower the signal read by the sensor, the noise is greater than you'd expect. (That's also why dark areas of scenes tend to be noisy.)

That's one reason that most cam's have high ISO noise reduction, which is an attempt to keep the noise down if you're saving JPGs. (Do any cam's do noise reduction on the RAW? I think some might, but I'm not sure.) This algorithm is usually simpler than that of a RAW converter, though, to save speed and space in the internal storage and processing, and usually doesn't work as well.

So why use the higher ISO's in camera? I don't have any experience with them, but my guess would be so that you could chimp properly and see a decent histogram. If the scene, shutter, and aperture you want call for ISO 12800, and you're not worried about noise, you could probably get better results by taking it two stops underexposed at 3200; Then you could boost the exposure by two stops in the RAW converter. However, when you took the picture at 3200, the JPG rendering on the back and the histogram would be very dark, and it would be tough to figure out if it was the correct exposure.

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Steve,I downloaded several full size images from the 50d from sites that have them posted now. When comparing them to the 5D images I saved from mine,the higher iso shots look very similar,with a slight edge to the 50d. They must have really refined their in-camera noise reduction to achieve this.

Check some shots at the site with the D & P in the name.

On a side note,Canoga emailed me and asked if I want to put my order on back order. Seems they 50d's they ordered are all gone already. mad

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Couple things jump out at me.

1. Micro focus adjustments for all lenses

2. Live View, slight improvements

3. Better LCD

4. High ISO capability

5. Four step noise reduction capability

6. Ability to shoot small RAW

A few thoughts. Yes it has the capability to go to ISO 12800, my guess is that you will have substantial noise at that ISO, but 6400 ISO will be VERY usable! I would guess better than the 6400 on the Mark III. The ability to have four steps of noise reduction instead of on or off is very nice as well.

Auto focus my understanding it is the same system as in the 40D, good just not in the same class as a 1 series . Low light focus is a struggle for most any camera, though the 1 series is much better than than the xxd's. I've shot the 20D, 30D, and 40D in sports situations, fast changing focus required and while all are very useable not the same as a 1D's.

Micro adjustment for lenses is one of the biggest features in my mind. The ability to dial in each lens to its sharpest with that camera body is a big deal for me. The camera will remember each specific lens and when attached to the body will automatically apply the adjustments.

Having the ability to shoot a small RAW might actually get me thinking about using RAW in certain sports shooting situations. As of now the large file size of RAW along with extra processing eliminates almost all RAW shooting for me. Smaller files would give me some pause to that.

It is priced right and would make a good backup camera for me or a primary camera in high ISO shooting. I am actually getting into strobing many indoor venues so high ISO is becoming less of a necessity than it used to be. At this point I will likely wait for the Mark IV or IIIn, or add another Mark IIn, though this one is tempting and I reserve the right to change my mind at the drop of a hat.

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Dan,how does the micro adjust work? Electronic menu item or phillips head screw? I havent heard how the adjustments are made and I forgot about that feature-it's a biggie.

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I believe it's a custom function accessed through the menu. Revues of the "1" series bodies that have had this feature are pretty much uniformly positive. Sounds like a good deal, and it'll save money on occasion. With the ability to adjust microfocus up to +/- 20 steps on up to 20 different lenses, that'll stop some bills incurred through shipping bodies/lenses back to be recalibrated.

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I'm pretty sure Steve is correct. I know on the Mark III it is a custom function, I'm sure it is the same on this camera. I also understand it works on third party lenses not just Canon.

One of the other cool features I forgot is the image lighting optimizer. This is direct from Canon's web site since they explain it much better than I.

Quote:
Helping to ensure each picture's subject is clearly visible, Canon's enhanced Auto Lighting Optimizer analyzes the brightness of subjects and automatically adjusts dark images so that they appear brighter, perfect for subjects in shade or in backlit situations. The Auto Lighting Optimizer on the EOS 50D Digital SLR camera has been updated not only to optimize images while they are being taken, but can also optimize images post-capture, during playback, to help ensure the subject of each image does not appear too dark. This is especially helpful when an amateur photographer uses the camera, because post-capture enhancement can help maximize image quality without the need of a computer.

This should be great for back lighting situations I often encounter. It is also adjustable not just on or off. Much of the time I am faced with back lighting so this would definitely help. It is not the same as applying EC, this analyizes the lights and darks and trys to give you an overall even exposure, for example both the sky and subject.

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I just saw the new samples posted on that other site. Iso 3200 looked unbelievable-and the noise reduction wasn't even on!

I guess this is why I couldn't figure out why alot of Canon folks jumped ship to Nikon only a few weeks ago. Both are good stuff,but to swap out all your lenses and such as opposed to waiting a few weeks seemed kinda weird to me.

I am still in awe at how they could cram 15mp on a 1.6 and have it look so absent of noise at ISO 3200.

Looks like this is a true ground breaker and was worth the wait.

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A lot of pros switched because Nikon made it easy to switch and they wanted the best camera for their job. That happened with the release of the D3. Canon is not even close to that camera yet, not that they won't be!

I agree with you MM I prefer to ride out at least one generation before I make a change and I've got too much money invested glass to start jumping ship to the next brand.

I'm not sure the 50D is a ground breaker, it is just coming up to speed with some of the features from the top of the line cameras. The Mark III 3200 ISO shots are beautiful and Nikon has beautiful 6400 ISO shots. So its great to see that performance in an affordable camera body.

I had a rather large job yesterday and had to shoot my 20D with the 300/2.8 for some action...I had a heck of a time with flat light and low contrast uniforms and getting the camera tracking players coming right at me, the biggest challenge for any auto focus system. Same issue with my 30D, I lost a number of shots until I switched to the Mark IIN and then didn't lose a shot.

My 20D recently went through a complete focus calibration at CPS so its working perfectly, the system itself is a few generations old. What it really told me was the a 50D will be in my bag as soon as I can get my hands on one. smile

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With the advent of the 20D (which was a big upgrade from the 10D), it became clear immediately that, for the type of work I do, I'd never need to buy a "1" series Canon body, great and fun to shoot as those bodies are. Weddings, portraits, nature, magazine assignment, teaching, some commercial and product photography, etc. The 20D-50D series (really the 30D through the 50D) is everything a person needs to face all but the stiffest photographic challenges (of which action sports like Dan and Ken shoot is the stiffest).

I'll tell you, I'm glad I don't shoot sports for a living, because that would involve a much more serious investment in a couple "1" bodies, not to mention the tip top of the top glass. It's a photographic niche in which small differences in performance of camera bodies and lenses can have really big impacts.

Now, with a 15Mp low noise machine like the 50D, I'll probably not need to take a step up to the 5D/6D for great high iso performance. I'm thrilled Canon has incorporated some of the performance sophistication in its "1" series cameras in the 50D, and it's a very strong upgrade from any of the other bodies in the series. Now I'm going to have to take a closer look at the noise levels of the 50D sample images.

MM, shoot me an e-mail, will you?

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