Which camera should I buy?
October 29, 2008 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Which camera to buy? Canon 40d or Canon 50d?

I'm having difficulty deciding which camera to buy. On one hand the 40d is 300-400 pounds cheaper than the 50d but then the 50d is far superior in terms of specs.
The key to this question is timing, I would like the camera before christmas, but I'm worried if I buy either of them now that I will lose out and they will be cheaper in the January sales.
Has anybody experienced Canon sales techniques? Does anybody have any idea if they reduce the prices of their products over time?
For what it's worth, I'm living in the U.K so that may have some bearing on things.
posted by sliderjc to Technology (10 answers total)
Based on the history of prior price drops, it's unlikely that you'll see a major reduction in the price of the 50D by the holidays. But in general, given the chaotic nature of the global economy and fluctuating exchange rates, I wouldn't depend on any predictions based on the past or otherwise. If you apply the constraint that you must have it before Christmas but want the cheapest price possible, what happens in January is irrelevant, and the best answer is to wait as long as you can in the hopes of an unlikely price drop (barring a supply shortage due to the holidays). If anything perhaps as 50Ds start flying off the shelves, the reduced demand for the 40D might drop the price of the older device, but again, it's hard to predict.

Which to choose can only be answered by you and your needs for the extra specs vis-a-vis price difference. Personally, if you're buying new I think the advantages of the 50D (DIGIC IV, increase in MP, ISO range, and the dramatically improved LCD alone) are well worth the price difference.
posted by drpynchon at 12:15 PM on October 29, 2008

In my experience, Canon's biggest price drops come right before a new model is released. Since the 50D was just released, I wouldn't expect much of a price drop anytime soon.

Personally, I buy my Canon dSLRs right before they are replaced to get the best prices. For example, I bought a 5D a few months ago and Canon just replaced it with the 5D Mark II. However, if you intend to have this dSLR for a while, I'd go for the 50D. Camera technology changes fast and when it comes to noise and chip quality, newer is always better.
posted by geeky at 12:56 PM on October 29, 2008

I read that the top ISO setting on the 50D is sub-par. In fact, the reviews I've read online suggest that the 50D, while a nice camera, isn't a must-have upgrade by any means.

I purchased a 40D in the spring and I can tell you that it's a mighty fine camera. It all depends on the kind of photographer you are, but I'd be skeptical about whether the incremental upgrade is worth 400 pounds. Usually better to get last year's excellent camera at a bargain price than pay the premium for the latest-and-greatest that's a small step ahead.

If you're not locked into Canon cameras, also consider entries like the new Nikon D90, which I've reviewed and am loathe to give back.
posted by bicyclefish at 1:07 PM on October 29, 2008

Do you have a lot of lenses already? If not, it's a total no-brainer. Get the 40D and use the cash towards glass. Heck, if you don't have lenses, GO WITH NIKON, since they're just plain making a more photographer-oriented product right now.

The camera is just a box to catch light in.

IMO, the 50D is great, but not really worth the $$$ over the 40D. Hell, I shoot my 20D and 40D interchangeably and there's virtually no difference between them in terms of print quality. High-ISO noise is actually a bit worse on the 50D than 40D, the LCD is great but not really necessary...meh. No one makes use of that increased resolution, short of fashion and fine art shooters, and if you're one of those you want a 1-series or D3 anyway. :)

I'd save your money for when the 60D comes out with video capture, maybe better weather sealing, etc. Y'know, USEFUL features.
posted by paanta at 1:27 PM on October 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ok, more info that I missed out before. I am locked into Canon and prefer their products overall.
Also, from what I have seen, the noise on the 50d is better than the 40d except at 12800 but then I'm pretty sure that the 40d doesn't go up to that anyway.
I know there is relatively little difference between the 40d and 50d but I can't help thinking I would still be buying a "worse" camera if I bought the 40d which I think I might regret years down the line.
posted by sliderjc at 1:47 PM on October 29, 2008

Years down the line, you'll be buying the next camera body, not fretting over 40D vs 50D. If anything , you'll probably regret that you didn't invest the price difference in lenses. 300-400 pounds buys you a lot of nice glass. Get the 40D.
posted by junesix at 1:56 PM on October 29, 2008

I believe most formal tests thus far suggest the noise on the new model is roughly comparable to the 40D per pixel. Some say it's better, some say the same, some a bit worse, but the difference is minimal. Per image, and controlled with downsizing to matched resolution, if you assume near-equivalent per-pixel noise, the higher resolution will make a difference with respect to signal-to-noise beyond it's more obvious value in terms of larger print quality. If nothing else, noise will appear more finer grained and less splotchy. Alternatively, the advantage of more megapixels which I personally find quite useful is more flexibility with cropping even when noise isn't an issue. This effectively adds a touch more reach to your lenses that's advantage to more than just fashion photographers.

I do agree though that it's virtually a universal truth that buying last years model with respect to gadgets is a better "bang-for-your-buck." Also, it is true that the shelf-life for quality glass far outdoes that of your body as your alternative purchase with the money you save.

But again it all depends on your personal needs, how much the new bells and whistles are of value to you at this time.
posted by drpynchon at 2:16 PM on October 29, 2008

After many years of shooting film on the job, I'm now on DSLR bodies No.'s 13, 14, and 15.

While I do not shoot Canons, my experience is that for the best functionality, image quality, user friendliness, and ease of operation, it pays to use the most current products that you can afford.

I still have a couple of lenses from the late 1970's that I rely on, and I'm a big advocate of good glass. They're as useful now as they ever were.

However, I have never regretted upgrading my DSLR bodies as new one become available.

In almost every case, there are substantial leaps in the areas I mentioned in my second paragraph with each newly introduced model.

Not that this is particularly relevant in your case, but by using a bit of care in the handling and treatment of my DSLR camera bodes, and by keeping all of the boxes, packing material, and additional items included in the original outfits in pristine condtion, my cost of ownership per year of multiple high end camera bodies is not all that high despite replacing them roughly every 24 months. There's a strong market on popular online auction sites for the ones I replace.
posted by imjustsaying at 2:25 PM on October 29, 2008

The dpreview.com review of the 50D has just been published here. They suggest that the High ISO performance is worse on the 50D than it was on the 40D (in both the conclusion and on page 18). It might be a worth a thorough read before you make a decision.

The peripheral illumination correction may be of some interest, and the micro focus adjustment capabilities sound interesting - at least in theory.

The other question that interests me is whether the screen improvements are enough to allow for checking that a shot is correctly focused when reviewing images. I read one review somewhere that suggested that although the camera still appears to show a reduced size thumbnail (as opposed to the actual image itself), but that it was good enough to check that the shot was in focus.

Good luck with your decision.
posted by urban greeting at 9:32 AM on October 30, 2008


That'll be $300 please (e-mail me for my paypal)
posted by Lukenlogs at 11:53 PM on November 9, 2008

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