Nikon's D50 is yet another model that falls into the cracks between the advanced and professional cameras. It offers a full range of manual controls while retaining enough automated functions to allow a user to gradually step up the amount of involvement they have in taking photos.
- Brilliant images, unstoppable battery, great price
- Button layout and build a little weak, not as robust as more expensive models
The Nikon D50 is a bargain in the under $2000 range with image quality comparable to 8 megapixel models, brilliant battery life and a reasonable set of features.
Price$ 1,149.00 (AUD)
The D50 looks very similar to the Pentax *ist DL. The structure of the camera is virtually identical: a solid, matte black case with a rubber-coated grip on the right-hand side. It looks quite nice, and sits very nicely in the hand.
We found the button layout to be a little clunky. Several of the buttons, including the directional pad, felt poorly mounted and we felt they would wear out quite quickly.
There are two screens, a 2" LCD on the back to review images and navigate the menu, and a numeric display on the top to show information on the current settings. We had mixed feelings about the latter. It displays information about the aperture, shutter and flash settings, the current quality, focus and white balance settings. We appreciated having all this information readily available, but the screen is barely an inch wide, and all this information makes it difficult to read.
The D50 comes in several packages with different types of lenses, including an 18 to 55mm lens and a 55 to 200mm lens, which is perfect for getting started with digital SLR photography. The 18 to 55mm lens on our test camera had a nifty little feature that lets you change the focus from automatic to manual with the flick of a switch, rather than having to navigate through the menu system to do so.
When we loaded up some of our pictures from the 6 megapixel D50 we were amazed to discover just how clear, vibrant and full of life they were. The colours were perfectly balanced, the sharpness and clarity was incredible; the only thing that could potentially be a negative factor was a very slightly washed out look to a couple of the shots, but by adjusting the sensitivity and white balance we all but eliminated that.
With the D50 you can interrupt the file writing at any time; for example, after taking 20 shots in a row by holding down the shutter button, while they were still in the process of being written to the memory, you could take another shot if something else photo-worthy occurred. Combined with the near-instant response of the shutter button, this feature creates a lag-free photo-taking experience.
Like the Pentax *ist DL, however, Nikon has had to cut corners to pack so many features into such a cheap camera. Nothing major is really missing; it's little things like shutter speed only going to 1/4000th of a second or ISO only going as high as 1600. Nobody but the most professional photographer would miss things like this, but it still puts the D50 behind more advanced models.
Throughout all our testing, we could not drain the battery. We took more than 1200 consecutive photos from a full charge and the battery indicator did not budge from full. This is where a lithium ion battery really shines - the D50 will just keep going and going.
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