Launched at the same time as the D70s, the D50 will inevitably be viewed as a cut-down, beginners version of its more serious counterpart. But in use, the D50 rarely if ever feels compromised in any way. It starts instantly, responds quickly and delivers superb results in fully automatic modes, while offering sufficient manual control to keep most enthusiasts satisfied.
Dig a little deeper on the basic specs and you’ll also find plenty of areas where the D50 excels over its rivals: for example, a top flash sync speed of 1/500 second, wide exposure compensation range of +/-5EV, a bundled lens with very quiet focussing, and overall build quality which feels sturdier than the competition.
Of course there’s equally areas where its rivals are better: the higher resolution and faster continuous shooting of the Canon EOS-350D, the larger and more detailed screen of the Pentax *istDL, not to mention the built-in anti-shake of the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D – and remember each of these cameras can be had for virtually the same price on the street.
Ultimately the D50’s biggest problem is the same facing Pentax and Konica Minolta: namely the 8 megapixel resolution of Canon’s EOS-350D. While these extra pixels make little or no difference for the vast majority of prints, it’s still hard to buy a camera knowing there’s another with higher resolution for pretty much the same price, with faster continuous shooting, better RAW software and a smaller, lighter body to boot. And while some see the 350D’s compact dimensions as a negative, there’s equally plenty who don’t.
At the end of the day, the choice of camera is a highly personal one. Once you’re sure it has all the features and delivers the quality you’re after, the choice boils down to look, feel and brand loyalty. Nikon’s D50 may not have 8 megapixels, but scores highly in every other respect. It looks smart, feels well built, responds quickly, delivers great pictures and is a joy to use. You can’t ask much more from a camera and as such it comes highly recommended.
Note: in November 2005, Nikon issued a voluntary recall of the EN-EL3 rechargeable Li-ion battery supplied with the D50, D70 and D100 cameras. Owners in Europe, click here. Owners in the USA, click here.
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Natural image processing and clean results
Quick startup and overall handling
Superior build quality to rivals
Quick and quiet SWM lens included in bundle
Not a large step forward from earlier D70
8 Megapixel Canon available at similar price
No viewfinder grid option (as seen on D70(s))
2.5fps burst shooting slightly slower than the 350D / XT
(relative to budget DSLRs)
16 / 20
15 / 20
16 / 20
14 / 20
17 / 20