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Nikon D50 SLR Digital SLR Review

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.

|  Nikon D50 in Digital SLRs
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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.

Nikon D50Main 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.

Nikon D50 sideSoftware
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.

Menu System
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.

Camera modes
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

Nikon D50 topSelecting 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)

Nikon D50 backConnections
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.

Battery life
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.

Image Quality
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.

A water fall shows the camera is good for creative outdoor landscapes. Click on the photo to see the full size version.

Test shot using the QPCard colour calibration system. Click on the photo to see the full size version.

Slight over exposure on a typical daylight shot.

ISO 200 1/200 at f/8 Aperture Priority - Bedlington Terrier

Low light shot ISO 200 0.4sec at f/7.1. 18-55mm set at 55mm. The detail in this was superb and the metering cope with, what could have been very tricky reading, with perfection.

ISO 200 1/60 at f/8 - A lazy afternoon at the pub BBQ

DxOMark provides objective, independent, RAW-based image quality performance data for lenses and digital cameras to help you select the best equipment to meet your photographic needs.

Visit the DxOMark website for tests performed on the Nikon D50.

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:
Ergonomic Grip
Lightweight body
Excellent battery life
Well thought out layout of controls
User friendly controls

The negative points are:
Only accepts SD memory cards
Lightweight body
Silver finish is easily marked

Check the latest price of the Nikon D50 here and help support the site.

Test by Matt Wagster

Discuss this review and other digital SLRs here.

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Photographs taken using the Nikon D50

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