17

I found an old Canon EOS 50D of my father. There aren't any lenses at all for this camera, but I am wondering if this body is still good for investing money for buying lenses for it.

In my company I was shooting sometimes with Nikon and Nikkor 50mm f/1.8. It was great lens for me and was very bright. Just searching for such a lens for Canon, I already found an f/1.8 50mm Canon, Yongnuo 35mm f/2.0, and Sigma, but Sigma is expensive compared to these two.

Should I maybe change the body and buy a newer one and then should I buy lenses or is EOS 50D quite a good body these days?

I want to do portraits, fashion photos and also from time to time street and landscapes (traveling a lot).

Update: I've just talked with my Dad. He said that he has a kit EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 lens for this camera. I will try to use this one and will be looking for Canon EF 50mm f/1.8.

  • 2
    The EF 50 mm 1.8 is nice, light and cheap. Also the 50D is supported by Magic Lantern which you might find very fun to play with! – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jan 27 at 0:18
  • Please note that Canon has essentially end-of-lifed the EF mount in favor of RF, and keep that in mind as you plan purchases. – chrylis -on strike- Jan 27 at 3:43
  • 2
    @chrylis-onstrike- Not true at all. Canon just released the EOS 1D X Mark III. The EF 600mm f/4L IS III and EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III were just released less than two years ago. EF lenses will be around for a long time to come, even if Canon does not introduce new EF lenses. Canon has historically continued to support discontinued lenses for at least seven years, so even if they did announce tomorrow that they will sell no more EF lenses (not going to happen), one could expect them to support them well into the 2020s. – Michael C Jan 27 at 5:17
  • 2
    Not to mention that EF lenses work seamlessly on RF and EOS-M mount cameras with no loss of functionality or performance compared to being used on an EF mount camera. – Michael C Jan 27 at 5:19
  • @MichaelC The lenses will be out and even produced for some time, but it's the beginning of the end. – chrylis -on strike- Jan 27 at 6:21
24

Full disclosure: A Canon EOS 50D was what I consider my first "real" DSLR after moving up from an EOS Rebel XTi/400D that was my first DSLR of any kind. The Rebel felt like a high priced toy. The 50D felt like the film SLRs I learned on in the 1980s. I have no attachment whatsoever to the Rebel XTi. I gave it away years ago. I'll probably never let go of that 50D, even though I no longer use it. It's the camera with which I really learned how to shoot digital.

Yes, the 50D is an old camera first introduced way back in 2008.

Yes, there are much more capable cameras for many purposes on the market in 2020.

No, that does not mean you can't get photos just as good with the 50D in 2020 than you could get back in 2008 when it was the hottest camera on the market for semi-pros and amateur enthusiasts. It's the same camera now that it was then, assuming everything still works properly.

You'll probably want to buy a fresh battery for it. Stay away from eBay when buying camera batteries. Almost all of the "genuine" Canon batteries on ebay are cheap fakes. Instead, buy OEM or higher quality third party batteries from reputable dealers like B&H or SterlingTek. For an older camera such as the EOS 50D, the batteries available are probably older stock. If you get one that doesn't perform well, dealers like B&H and SterlingTek will let you exchange/return it for another.)

I shot this one back in 2010 with a 50D and a great lens, a brand spanking new EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II. If I were editing this one today, I'd crop to a 4:3 ratio to get rid of the distracting flag at the extreme left of the frame.

enter image description here ISO 800, 1/200, f/2.8, 120mm. Cropped from 4752x3168 to 4266x2844 before being resized for web use.

Here's a pixel peeping 100% crop of an area near the center of the frame to show the noise performance at ISO 800 using moderate amounts of NR, as well as the details resolved by the lens that still hold up.

enter image description here

Any camera one uses, even the latest top-of-the-line models, have limitations. Every single one of them.

The marketing departments at every camera maker make it sound like the latest, greatest models have solved every photographic problem known to man. Let's call one such camera "Model X". If you want to know what the most glaring limitations of "Model X" are, just wait a few years until "Model X" is replaced by "Model X Mark II". Those same marketing departments will then go on and on about how "Model X Mark II" has improved performance over "Model X" with regard to what are by then the commonly known limitations of "Model X"! Of course "Model X Mark II" also has limitations that the marketing department won't tell you about until "Model X Mark III" is introduced a fews years down the road...

Personally, I think that the EOS 50D is a great camera to learn with in 2020 precisely because of its limitations. They will force you as a photographer to learn how to work around them to get the kinds of shots you want.

A few examples:

  • You'll need to use a tripod much earlier when shooting static scenes in low light. This will allow you to see firsthand the benefit of a tripd compared to shooting handheld that many who start with cameras capable of insanely high ISO settings never learn. You'll learn the value of remote shutter release and mirror lockup for exposure times between about 1/160 second and 1 second. When you have a choice, a tripod will always get a cleaner shot than shooting handheld will.
  • You'll have to learn how to carefully balance aperture, shutter speed, and ISO in situations that you wouldn't give a second thought to if you could just set the ISO to "Auto" and let it range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400 or ISO 12800.
  • You'll be more limited in your ability to crop using the 15 MP 50D than you would with a higher resolution camera. This will encourage you to more carefully consider the way you frame a scene before you shoot it, rather than just banging away and then trying to find something decent to crop later.

Ultimately, the thing that matters the most with regard to how good your images can be is you. The skill, knowledge, and experience a photographer can bring to the table will trump the technical capabilities of gear. Until one is already utilizing all of the potential of the camera/lenses one is already using, the best way to improve one's images is to improve one's skill as a photographer. Part of that skill involves the knowhow to recognize what a particular shot requires in terms of gear and the ability to select the best options from the hardware available to the photographer.

It's too long to repeat here, but please take a moment to read this answer to How to improve image sharpness on Canon 700D? The answer applies to much more than just image sharpness or that particular camera model. It talks about many of the things we've touched on in the paragraph above in far greater depth. There are also a few links in that answer that other questions/answers you may find helpful as well.

Because, again, no matter what camera you may ultimately wind up using, it will have limitations. They all do. The things you learn using a more limited camera will stay with you as you move up to better, more capable cameras. Those skills will allow you to get more out of those less limited cameras than a lesser photographer could.


Now let's talk about lenses a little bit. There are two ways to look at it from a beginners point-of-view:

  • Get a few very affordable lenses that cover a wide range of focal lengths and other characteristics. This will allow you to explore what focal lengths you prefer to work with, as well as different things such as macro, astronomy, street, action/sports, etc.
  • Carefully purchase a few high quality lenses good for a few specific use cases that can be used for years to come. Don't waste money on lenses that won't keep up with your growing skill level.

I fall firmly in the first camp. Lens decisions are an intensely personal thing. What one photographer may consider essential can be totally superfluous for another photographer. The more you know about how you want to shoot, the better informed you'll be to decide which lenses are best for you when the time comes to start spending more on gear. What one must be careful to avoid with this strategy is the constant desire to frequently upgrade to a slightly better lens (or camera) than what one is currently using.

Here's one example - choosing a telephoto lens:

  • Starting out, the most cost effective budget option when using an APS-C "crop sensor" body such as the Canon EOS 50D is something like an EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS (either the older II or the newer STM). The APS-C only 55-250mm lenses have image quality comparable to Canon's consumer grade 70-300mm full frame lenses costing twice as much. (They're also better optically than the even cheaper EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III that is sometimes almost free in a two lens kit with an entry level Rebel.)
  • When you're ready to upgrade, though, avoid the temptation to move to the aforementioned EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS. For twice the money, you don't really gain that much as long as you're using crop sensor body that can use the EF-S lens.
  • Instead, keep using that EF-S 55-250mm while saving for the telephoto lens that you ultimately will wind up getting anyway: A 70-200mm f/2.8 or f/4 constant aperture zoom with much better optical image quality than either the 55-250mm or the 70-300mm, or maybe a 150-600mm f/5-6.3 that gives you a lot more "reach" but doesn't have the 'faster" constant wider aperture and ultimate image quality of the 70-200/2.8 lenses.
  • By the time you're ready to buy one of those, you'll understand the differences between the various options and which one will work better for you.

In other words, start out at the ground floor and wait there until you know enough to know where in the building you want to end up, then use the elevator to go directly there instead of climbing the stairs one floor at a time using all of your energy (money) wandering around looking for where you want to go.

At this point you don't even know how much you'll enjoy (or not enjoy) photography as a hobby. Assuming you do decide to stay in it for a while, you might surprise yourself with what kinds of things you find you enjoy shooting the most and what type of things you quickly grow tired of shooting. It would be a shame to find any relatively expensive lenses you bought near the beginning of your photographic journey aren't well suited to what you eventually find you most want to shoot.

So use the camera and lens you already have, add a couple of other affordable¹ lenses to the mix, such as a 50mm f/1.8² and maybe a modest telephoto zoom, and concentrate on learning the basics of photography and experimenting with various types of shooting. When you reach the point where you really do need better cameras or lenses to do what you, as a photographer, are capable of doing you'll have a much better idea of what cameras and lenses are best for you.

¹ Yongnuo lenses can be a crap shoot. Their quality control can vary wildly, both in terms of optical performance and build quality/durability. The YN 35/2 lens housing is a more "cheaply made" version of the EF 50mm f/1.8 II. Since it is less than $100, I bought one just to see what it would be like. If you have time to focus it manually and can stop down a bit, it's decent. But wide open in low light, which is what I buy an f/2 prime for, it's not that great nor is the AF very accurate. I have gotten some usable images with it. But for the most part there's no reason to use it when I already have a 24-70mm f/2.8 that has much better AF performance and image quality if I have to stop the 35/2 down to f/2.8 anyway...

² The newer EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is my recommendation over the much older EF 50mm f/1.8 II. There's not much difference between the two in terms of cost and optical performance. The newer STM, though, corrects a lot of the older lens' shortcomings: the AF is faster and more accurate, the mount that attaches to the camera is metal instead of plastic, and there's a usable manual focus ring that allows manually focusing without needing to move the AF switch on the lens to the manual focus position.

  • 2
    When I moved from my 50D to the 7D, I was sadly disappointed by its low light performance... I truly missed my 50D until I got the 7DII – dragonspeed Jan 27 at 2:41
  • 2
    @dragonspeed #Metoo. I was also disappointed by the AF shot-to-shot variation. Though the 7D had more AF points and more configurable options, it seemed to me to be less consistent from shot to shot than the 50D, at least when using the 50D center AF point. My 7D is on more or less permanent loan to the art/photography department at a local high school (where it will probably be eventually destroyed by careless students). I can't bring myself to letting them have the 50D, though. – Michael C Jan 27 at 4:14
  • "Yes, the 50D is an old camera first introduced way back in 2008." Ouch. I've been running a 40D since 2010 and still get good work out of it. – John Herbert Jan 28 at 17:56
8

This is a tough one & the decision eventually has to be yours.

These days it's considered that the camera body is essentially a disposable item, the lenses are the investment - yet you're starting with a free camera body, which is bound to influence your lens choice initially.

Nikon & Canon lenses are really not interchangeable, so you won't be able to borrow the work gear to use on your own camera.
If this is a concern, then you need to decide which manufacturer you would eventually decide on. That in itself is another tough choice.

The body you have was free - that's a significant plus.
It's actually quite old & isn't really worth anything as any kind of long-term investment… but it was free (you're going to keep coming back to this point ;)

To buy a modern (equivalent) body would be a $£€ 400 - 1,000 investment, so to avoid that right now, the smart dollar is on lenses for the body you have.

All camera manufacturers make a disproportionately cheap 50mm 1.8 lens. It's a formula that has been so long-evolved it's a no-brainer. You really can't go wrong. Some make a 2.0 or 1.4 [or even lower] with esoteric value, but I wouldn't consider those as a beginner.

I would be seriously tempted to get Canon's own 50mm 1.8 for starters, then next get a 'cheap' super zoom. This will not be your ultimate goal, but will let you decide which lengths are most important to you going forwards. Right now you don't know whether this hobby will interest you for a year or for a lifetime. At the moment you don't really know if you will spend your life doing magnificent landscapes, or being the world's next top fashion photographer, or suddenly get inspired by huge macro photos of spiders! - so don't let that worry you for now.

There's one major problem with photography… or should I say photographers.
No lens is ever "good enough". There's always just one more you desperately "need". This is known as GAS [Gear Acquisition Syndrome] & everyone suffers from it at some time in their lives.

For now, pick a beginner's lens… or two (avoid going for three right now;)*
The single cheapest type of beginner's lens is called the 'kit lens', which will be something like an 18 or 24 - 55mm or so. It will be "good enough" to perhaps keep you interested, but it won't be good enough to prevent GAS. eBay & similar sites will have them in hundreds, for very cheap - many people sell them on quickly.

The choice is yours.

*I failed on my own advice here. I had six lenses within the first year, of which I now regularly use just two. The others I may eventually sell, or more likely leave in a box gathering dust.
To come clean, I use my 50mm 1.4, which I got cheap, second hand, on eBay & a 'silly' super zoom, a 24-300mmm which is not the sharpest knife in the box, but has "every length you'll ever need" at a twist of the zoom collar.
If I ever make money from photography, or win the lottery, I know exactly which lenses I will replace that with, but to get all that zoom length in 'proper' lenses takes 3 lenses & maybe a $£€ 8,000 investment.

  • 1
    Thank you Tetsujin. It was very helpful. Really! – Romuald Kicky Jan 26 at 18:06
  • I've just talked with my dad. He said that he has lens for this camera in his another apartment. Its a kit 17-85mm f 4-5.6. Will try to use this one and will be looking for 50mm 1.8 of Canon . But Xenoid said that I should use 35mm so need to look for something like that. Yongnuo lenses are not recommended? I understand that its a cheap equivalent and quality is not as good as in original ones. But wondering if new Yongnuo will be better for a start than used Canon lenses. – Romuald Kicky Jan 26 at 18:38
  • Excellent discovery - you now have the recommended kit lens, as mentioned by xenoid in his answer. That's a great start! The 'thing' about 35mm vs 50mm is to do with 'frame equivalence' (yah, I know, but you'll pick this up in time ;) between 'full frame and 'crop frame' cameras. Personally, I love the 50 on a crop frame. Some people prefer the 35 because it looks more like 'what the human eye sees'. No-one can tell you which is 'best', it's a preference. – Tetsujin Jan 26 at 18:43
  • ...which is why I'd always recommend a zoom for a beginner - it gives you a lot of choices you can hone in on later, when you are more aware of what the possibilities are. Photography is not something you are going to learn in a week ;) – Tetsujin Jan 26 at 18:46
  • "All camera manufacturers make a disproportionately cheap 50mm 1.8 lens." 50mm lenses are cheap because (for a 35mm SLR) they are about the shortest lenses that can be made with a single lens group. Go much shorter and you need a retrofocus design. Go longer and you need either a physically bigger lens or a telephoto design. – Peter Green Jan 27 at 3:22
2

The 50D is a bit outdated but it is still fairly OK.

The 50mm isn't the "normal" lens for a 50D that has an APS-C sensor. It can be OK for portrait but for travel/street/landscape you want a 35mm or a zoom with 35mm at mid-range.

The entry-level Canon DLSRs come with a 18-55mm that you can find for cheap on Amazon or second-hand. There are however numerous versions and while some are pretty good, there also versions where corners where cut to keep prices low. The versions with stabilization ("IS" in their name) are the good ones: IS, IS II, and IS STM. They can be recognized because the side of the lens barrel has two switches, the standard AF-MF one and the IS ON/OFF one. And stabilization is a useful feature.

IIRC the real "kit lens" of the 50D was a 17-85mm and that could be a good choice too.

  • The 50D kit I bought back in 2009 had an EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens. That's the one the "big box" stores carried when I bought it and needed to use it before any of the online sellers could get a body only shipped to me. – Michael C Jan 26 at 21:45
0

I am wondering if this body is still good for investing money for buying lenses for it.

Looking at the specs the ISO range is 100-3200, but imagine there would be considerable noise @ 1600. If you only want to shoot daytime, or invest in lighting, or always shoot < f4, then this could work for you.

The max resolution is 4752 × 3168. If you wish to print anything, then without resizing and possible loss of quality, you may not get good results at anything bigger than A3.

I want to do portraits, fashion foto and also from time to time street and landscapes (traveling a lot).

This a broad set of activities, which can be done creatively with a couple of lenses.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.