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Rumor no more: Canon announces EOS 50D

Higher resolution helps distinguish it definitively from the Rebel XSi.

Canon USA

Bringing another rumor cycle to an end, Canon has announced the EOS 50D, a follow-up to the popular 40D, which will remain available at least through the end of the year. Though the timing seems a bit surprising--the 40D is only a year old, and midrange dLSR cycles tend to run closer to 18 months rather than 12--it was probably inevitable once the Rebel XSi, which is very similar to the 40D, shipped.

Built around the identical body as the 40D--the only differences are the name plate and mode-dial bezel--the 50D brings with it a bump to 15 megapixels. According to Canon, the new sensor has smaller pixels than that of the 40D's 10-megapixel version, but the company claims superior noise and image quality; 1.5 stops better, in fact, thanks to an improved manufacturing process and larger, gapfree microlenses that effectively result in the same light-sensitive area, according to Canon.

In combination with an upgrade to a newer version of the company's image processor, dubbed Digic 4, Canon also says that the higher resolution won't impose a significant performance penalty, and that the 50D will be able to maintain burst speeds close to the 40Ds. And now that the camera's CompactFlash supports UDMA, the burst buffer can process more shots--JPEGs, at least.

And though it has a 3-inch LCD like the 40D, Canon has switched to the same higher-resolution display found on the Nikon D300

Some key differences:

  50D 40D
Sensor 15.1-megapixel CMOS 10.1-megapixel CMOS
Sensitivity range ISO 100 to ISO 12,800 ISO 100 to ISO 3,200
Image processor Digic 4 Digic III
Continuous shooting 6.3 fps
90 JPEG/16 raw
(60 JPEG with non-UDMA card)
75 JPEG/17 raw
Autofocus 9-pt AF
all cross-type to f5.6
high-precision diagonal cross-type in center to f2.8
9-pt AF
all cross-type to f5.6
Price (body only) $1,399 $1,099

The Digic 4 enables some other new capabilities, including face detection in Live View mode (up to 35 faces), additional settings for the Auto Lighting Optimizer and high-ISO noise reduction (low, medium, and strong), and user-requested variable raw sizes of 7 and 3.8 megapixels. There are also some tweaks to the autofocus system, for example compensation for pulsed versus constant illumination, and support for in-camera lens databases that enable it to perform vignette correction and ensure undergraded illumination across the entire frame. Finally, Canon has improved the dust prevention, with a fluorine coating in front of the low-pass filter to deal with sticky dust.

Canon expects to ship the 50D in early October. The body will run $1,399, and a kit with the f3.5-5.6 28-135mm IS USM lens will cost $1,599.