Canon 50D vs Nikon D90

by Enche Tjin on December 18, 2008

Canon 50D and Nikon D90, relatively new announced camera this Fall 2008 is actually fall in different class. Canon 50D is designed more for semi-professional and D90 is more for enthusiasts. But there are many people that ask which one is better for them? This article is trying to explain about their similarities and especially their differences.

On Canon 50D advantages

  • Canon 50D has bigger image resolution 15 megapixel compare to 12 megapixel of Nikon D90.
  • Canon 50D has 14-bit conversion for smooth color tones and gradations.
  • Canon 50D has better continuous shooting speed (6.3 fps vs 4.5 fps).
  • Canon 50D features high end feature such as AF-adjustment and New Lens Peripheral Illumination Correction which help to optimize image quality for individual lenses.
  • New Creative auto is very handy for novice and enthusiasts.
  • Tough magnesium alloy body resistant to dust, moisture and bad weather.

On Nikon D90 advantages

  • Nikon D90 has ability to record video clip with sound to 720p HD (1280 x 720 pixels).
  • Nikon D90 features high iso up to 6400 with a very usable 3200, while 50D has iso up to 12800 but 50D’s iso 3200 is not as clean as D90.
  • Nikon kit lens 18-105mm that come with D90 is better than Canon kit lens (either 18-200 or 28-135mm).

Both cameras has auto sensor cleaning and 3 inch hi-res lcd monitor with live view.

By the time I write the article, Canon 50D is about $250 more expensive than Nikon D90.

Built quality
Canon 50D body is built using magnesium alloy, weather resistant but not water splash. Nikon D90 body is significantly less durable which is rugged/reinforced plastic. Both cameras are very ergonomic and fits most hand well. Nikon d90 is lighter and smaller (Try it at store).

In conclusion
Both camera are exceptional cameras in 2008. Canon 50D is a high end camera but it is very friendly to new users (new creative auto, 3 inch lcd screen with live view). Canon 50D also answers many complaints from professional about the lens AF focus system problems by giving the AF-adjustment feature which could be very helpful if you have a broad range of third party lenses. The body of 50D is also tough, able to withstand harsh weather outdoor and couple accidental knocks. It also has higher image resolution that might be helpful to print oversize poster or cropping later in post processing without losing a lot of details.

But Canon 50D is not perfect, Nikon D90 has some features that you might excited to use such as video recording capability that you can use with many Nikon lenses. The new kit lens is very versatile and sharp. If you shoot a lot in low light situation without flash, Nikon has a cleaner image in high iso (1600-3200). D90 is also cheaper.

In making decision, it comes back to what you really need, do you really need pro features and body that Canon 50D offers? or you are more excited to try out video feature D90 has to offer and save some money in the process.

I will say most of enthusiasts will be satisfied with Nikon D90 and kit lens performance but for professional photographer especially photo journalists, Canon 50D will be a better choice because its durability, higher speed in continuous shooting and some other features that I mentioned above. But to get full advantage of 50D, I recommend users to invest on a higher quality Canon lens instead of average kit lens that Canon offers.

Comments from old blog platform

Muhammad Ghuloom
What about the Canon 50D Mark II .. does it worth it?
I am a happy Sony user (seriusly.. check my website LENS Photography and you’ll see the pictures, all taken by Sony A350) but I tend to have more love for Nikon than Canon.. Nikon gives great details, but after i read this post on the dgrin forum, now i tend to be more of Canonian that Nikonian :p .. I don’t know why..

I like the ISO capabilities of Canon.. high iso,, very clear picture.. (though i read in ur post that the Nikon gives better quality with high iso)

Enche Tjin
yep Nikon cameras from 2008 is ahead on noise handling war. But new Canon 5D mark ii can handle the noise superbly well, up to par with Nikon leading full frame camera D3 and D700.

So it will all depend on the model. higher end model tend to handle noise better.

5D mark ii is a different kind of camera. It is made for pro photographers in mind. But if you can afford it, it is great. Check out my post about 5D mark ii vs Nikon D700. They are different camera for different purpose.

Thanks for reading.

Muhammad Ghuloom
Canon is kind of 4x priced here in Bahrain, that’s why people buy from the Internet. Nikon & Sony are given at normal prices.
That 5d Mark II is 3300 BD which is around (using google converter): 8 783.148 U.S. dollars :S

Could you kindly provide me with the link of 5D mark II & Nikon D700 comparison?

Enche Tjin
Here you go:

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Top Rated Cameras November 2, 2010 at 4:40 am

This is such a wonderful review! I think choosing a DSLR should not be as simple as looking at the functions and megapixels. It is much more than that.

I am thinking of getting a new pro-level DSLR this week and my choice is between the Nikon D90 and Canon EOS 50D. I still can’t decide what to get but they are both one of the best in their class of DSLR cameras.

Which one do you suggest then? And which of the two has cheaper acccessories and lens?

Enche Tjin November 2, 2010 at 4:54 am

I personally will pick Canon 50D, because it has better built quality and performance.

Enche Tjin November 2, 2010 at 4:55 am

About accessories and lenses, I think it depends, Nikon high-end lenses are generally more expensive than Canon, but Nikon low-end is better and some are cheaper than Canon offerings. For wireless flash system, Nikon D90 has built-in wireless commander which you can save some bucks when playing with strobes.

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