The 50D looks and feels like a solid camera; although the aluminum frame helps keep the weight down, it is still a sizable camera that weighs in at a hefty 26 ounces (737g) without the lens. But it fits in the hand well, and the leather-esque plastic coating means you can keep a firm grip on the camera when the heat is on. The 50D feels robust and well sealed; we doubt that much in the way of dust and dirt will get into this.
The front of the 50D is dominated by the lens mount, which is an EF style that's compatible with most Canon mount lenses, including the cheaper EF-S ones used on many low-end SLRs such as the Digital Rebel. Other features of note include the pop-up flash that's hidden under the Canon logo, the lens release button to the right of the lens mount, the shutter button on the top left and the AF illuminator to the shutter's right.
The front of the D50 is mostly dominated by the lens mount**
The back of the D50 is where the real action is. The main feature that leaps out and grabs you is the screen: a big 3-inch LCD with an impressive 920,000 pixels. That provides a very sharp image, which is excellent for checking the focus during playback or when shooting in Live View mode. Around the screen are the controls; underneath are buttons for going into playback mode, for deleting images, for putting info up on the screen, for setting the picture mode and accessing other functions. Next to these buttons is the on/off switch, which also acts to enable or disable the scroll wheel above it. In the middle of this scroll wheel is the set button, which selects menu options. Above this is the 4-way joystick control, which is used for navigating around the menu structure.
Above the screen are more buttons; the menu button and the Live View button. Next is the viewfinder. Finally, on the top left of the back are a group three buttons; one for enabling the AF in Live View mode and two for zooming in and out in the playback mode. When shooting, these buttons also double as the focus point selector and the exposure lock. All three are within easy reach of the thumb when holding the camera in one hand, making for easy control of these features when shooting.
The back of the D50 is a busy place, with a 3-inch LCD
screen and lots of buttons
*The left side is a hotbed of activity, as it is home to all of the ports and sockets on the camera. These are located under two rubber covers that should do a decent job of protecting them from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune; they seem to make a good seal against dirt and dust. Under the first cover are the power and remote control ports, while the second one covers the USB ports, video out port and the mini HDMI port.
On the left side, the ports are located under
two rubber covers
*The right side of the 50D claims the honor of
hosting the memory card slot*
The top of the 50D has a good number of controls, although not as many as the more complicated 5D Mark II. Looking from left to right, we have the scene mode dial, the flash hot shoe and a number of buttons above the secondary display. These buttons control (from left to right) the backlight of the secondary display, the metering and white balance, the AF mode and drive mode, and the ISO and exposure compensation. These double up because of the dual controls; the first function is accessed with the control wheel next to the shutter, and the second function with the scroll wheel on the back of the camera body. The secondary display is an LED screen, rather like an old calculator, but it contains a lot of information, such as the shooting mode, drive mode, ISO, settings while shooting, etc.
The top of the 50D positions a lot of function dials and buttons in one place
The bottom of the 50D is not a hugely exciting place, unless you happen to be a tripod. If you are, this is where you connect to the camera, through the tripod socket in the center of the camera base. On the right is the cover for the battery cavity.
*The bottom of the 50D is home to the tripod socket and
the battery compartment