The D50 is Nikon’s entry level DSLR, entering the market at £469 body only or £549 body and 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IF-ED. Don’t let this entry level tag fool you though, this camera is packed with features and is more than capable of producing excellent results.
Main features of the Nikon D50
- 6.1 effective megapixels
- 3D colour Matrix Metering II
- 7 Digital Vari-programs
- Continuous shooting at 2.5 fps
- 5-area dynamic Autofocus
- Large 2.0 inch LCD with easy view Menu
- Built in flash with i-TTL flash
- Shutter speeds up to 1/4000 sec
- Flash sync speed up to 1/500 sec
- Multiple file formats – Nikon NEF (RAW) & JPEG
Nikon D50 handling
On first picking up the camera my thoughts are that it is very light, which will suit many photographers. The body is compact as well measuring 133x102x76mm. It felt small in my hands, and slightly unbalanced when using larger lenses. Overall the layout is very good with all the buttons, and commonly used features falling naturally into position.
The camera includes Nikon’s PictureProject 1.5, and a trial of Nikon Capture 4.2. Both are very capable and offer good interaction for basic image manipulation or converting Raw files.
Menus are accessed via the rear LCD, which offers good clarity and sharpness. Navigating through the menus is made easy by the positive feeling directional pad. All the features are easy to understand in the menu, but to prevent any confusion, a help button is included; pressing this changes the screen and offers a short description of the option selected.
The different shooting modes are controlled by a dial on the top left of the body. These include:
Automatic, Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close up, Night Portrait, P Multi-Programmed Auto, S Shutter-Priority Auto, A Aperture-Priority Auto, M Manual
Selecting single or multiple shots is done by the use of a button on the rear left of the body, and the dial. Selecting the self-timer or optional remote control is by a single button close to the shutter release, it cycles through the available options on each consecutive press.
Bracketing is set-up via an option in the menu. The D50 allows you to bracket on the white balance as well as aperture.
Metering is set via the menu as well offering:
Matrix, Centre weighted, Spot
One feature, which is an excellent idea, is the dust reference setting to check the sensor.
Viewfinder and LCD screen
The viewfinder is basic, showing the five focus points, shutter speed, aperture and selected focus area. This provides all the required information and offers 95% coverage of the frame.
Dioptre adjustment is available (-1.6 to +0.5)
On the side of the camera are the connections, under a stiff rubber cover. The connections offered are a USB 2.0, video out jack socket and a connection for an external power supply. The cover fits extremely well and keeps out any dust.
The D50 is powered by a Nikon Lithium-ion 7.4v battery, which lasts between 400 to 2000 images depending on settings selected. During the test images were shot as a mixture of high quality JPEG and RAW files. The batteries never ran out when out in the field, although they were found to drain slightly if the camera was left for a week or more.
Charge times are quick for the 1400mAh battery; typical times are below two hours for a completely flat battery.
Picture quality is high, but still dependant on good quality lenses being used. The white balance can be set via a button on the rear of the body and the scroll wheel, or via the menu system. Colour rendition is accurate from the JPEG files.
I found it a little difficult to get used to the smaller size and weight of the D50, but found the controls well laid out. The size and weight of the camera can be seen as both a positive and a negative point, depending on the user. Both viewfinder and rear LCD display are clear and bright. The kit lens supplied was the 18-55mm and gave good results. I was impressed by the quality of the camera; I expected a lot less for an entry level DSLR. My only real problem was the silver finish, which I found to mark easily. In longer usage it would start to wear and look tatty.
In summary, the positive points of the Nikon D50 are:
Excellent battery life
Well thought out layout of controls
User friendly controls
The negative points are:
Only accepts SD memory cards
Silver finish is easily marked
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Test by Matt Wagster
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