Nikon D50 sensor
D50 employs the same 6.1 Megapixel CCD sensor of the D70(s), which measures 23.7
x 15.6mm (DX format) and delivers images with 3008 x 2000 pixels. The DX format
sensor results in all lenses effectively having their focal length multiplied
by 1.5 times. The sensitivity can be set between 200 and 1600 ISO in 1EV steps.
Files and memory
Images can be recorded at three different resolutions, each with a choice of
three JPEG compression levels. They can also be recorded in Nikon's RAW NEF
format with the option of an accompanying JPEG if desired, although only at
basic quality. Using the full resolution and best-quality JPEG setting, our
test images measured between 2 and 3.2MB, although the vast majority worked
out around 2.9MB each. Adobe RGB and sRGB colour spaces are supported, along
with a tweaked default sRGB option for more vibrant landscapes.
The D50's supplied with basic software which can convert RAW files, but the
powerful and preferred Nikon Capture package is only offered as a trial; this
seems a little mean considering Canon supplies all it's DSLRs with its high-end
RAW conversion package.
The D50 follows in Pentax's footsteps by abandoning Compact Flash memory cards
in favour of the smaller SD format, although unlike the *istDS and DL, this
clearly wasn't to implement a smaller body. When Pentax first implemented SD
on a digital SLR it seemed almost blasphemous, but now with large, fast and
affordable SD cards available, it's no longer a big deal. The camera employs
a USB-2.0 port for transferring images.
Image processing and handling
With the earlier D70, Nikon took the lead in quick startup times, and thankfully
nothing's changed here. The D50 powers up in 0.2 seconds which is to all intents
and purposes instantaneous. The same speed applies to waking up from power-saving
sleep mode or from playing back images when you half-press the shutter release
button. In short, the D50 will be ready for action when you are.
The D50 has a continuous shooting speed of 2.5fps at its best quality JPEG setting.
This is a tad slower than the 3fps of the D70(s) and the EOS-350D, but on the
plus side there's absolutely no concerns over buffer or flush times. Using a
budget Kodak SD memory card, we held down the D50's shutter release button and
it dutifully continued to fire at close to its full speed until we gave up counting
at over 100 shots. The camera then took 68 seconds to record all this data to
the card, or about 0.7 seconds per image.
Images are displayed in playback very quickly, with single frames appearing
almost instantly and thumbnails of four or nine images loading in under a second.
This is about twice as fast as Canon's EOS-350D, although to be fair, the average
file size of the 350D's images was larger and it has faster continuous shooting.