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Posted By Subodh on Tuesday, January 06, 2009
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Canon 50D versus Nikon D90

Yeah I know there are tons of reviews out there that make you go envy over both of them so much, it almost feels like you need to own both. I actually did buy both; And returned one. The choice was difficult, albeit reasonably sure. Now my opinion may not be the same as yours but it would be worthwhile to see these two cameras compared from a geek’s perspective. Sans all marketing gimmick, nay!

It’s surprising to see that just like me, most people have compared Canon’s 50D with Nikon’s  90D. These two cameras are not even in the same class! Of course, my point of looking at them and comparing them has a reason too: For a given budget range each one of these could be the viable option. Just shows that Nikon has not just caught up with Canon, its not just an equivalent product anymore but an innovation, a commitment to the community to such an extent that the D90, an XSI level camera is giving a much higher end EOS 50D a run for its money. Nice!

For a more thorough review of the technical specifications of both cameras, you might want to grab the professionals. My point of view is always different. To hear from the professionals, you can go to Photography Review or browse more thoroughly the tests done by DPReview on Nikon D90 and Canon EOS 50D

Alright, so my kind of side by side comparison goes like this. And if you don’t like it, please feel free to use the comments section ;-)

Please do note, I’m not going to be drooling about features that are good on both or known for either. For example, both cameras have an awesome high res rear LCD, both have an awesome MP (okay Canon has a little more, you know that already, what’s the point of repeating information that you can google on your own anyway?) I’ll just talk about what I felt was the decisive factor and not mentioned in the marketing or fanfare.


Canon 50D




Nikon D90

Canon 50D rear view
Menu System
Clumsy Menu system, takes too long to change settings quickly. Somebody should send  these guys to accessibility training. Alright, the Menu system is the same as all other Canons so okay for experienced users but … Nikon D90 Easily accessible menu. Whatever one needs is available right there, easy to navigate to. Nikon D90 rear view
Button Placement If the camera is mounted on the tripod, accidental button push is very likely. Who keeps the horizontal button layout these days? Nikon D90 There’s a button for everything. No need to hunt for it. Quick and easily accessible by thumbs or index fingers for on the go convenience  
Pre-focus flash assist Works like a charm Canon EOS 50D While not as great as Canon’s Flash assist; Nikon’s AF assist LED works just as well. AF does end up hunting more often though, wonder if its …  
AF Points 9 Nikon D90 11  
In Viewfinder active AF illumination Much easier to know where the camera selected the AF point Canon EOS 50D Guesswork or needs additional time  
Weight Much heavier than Nikon, although some may call it a “rugged-build” Nikon D90 Quite light :-) compared to Canon 50D  
Highest FPS   Canon EOS 50D    
Canon D90 top view
Everything in the box

Supports Direct import to Photoshop

Stable, equally good support on x64 and x32, Vista and Adobe Direct
Works equally well on Mac
Canon EOS 50D

Canon EOS 50D

Canon EOS 50D
Basic software only
Camera Control needs to be purchased separately

Supported via Nikon Transfer (1 extra step)

Crashes too often on Vista. Driver does not work on Vista x64
Works well on Mac
Nikon D90 top view
Movie mode -not present- Nikon D90 720p only, not true HD.
No AF-Servo though. 
Twain Source Yes Canon EOS 50D No. No programming possible (even if I ever get time to, the camera is not available as a programmable interface)  


So, there you have it. I really did like the Nikon so much, I almost wanted to keep it. In the end though, I know I won’t like to struggle with the software. And I really have a dearth of 32 bit machines in my home (other than my laptop because of the stupid Cisco VPN). So, I’ll have to do without all the coolness of D90. I’ll keep the EOS 50D.

As I said before, image quality, resolution and all other fan boy stuff has already been documented enough. I just spared everybody the trouble of having to go through it again. This is the stuff that mattered to me and may be it won’t matter to you so much. Have fun though, both the cameras pack a big punch and you can’t go wrong with either.

Comments and flames welcome.


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 Comments & Discussions

  • Gravatar
    Wednesday, January 07, 2009 at 6:02 AM
    Nikon D90 vs Canon EOS 50D
    Yeah I know there are tons of reviews out there that make you go envy over both of them so much, it almost feels like you need to own both. I actually did buy both; And returned one. The choice was difficult, albeit reasonably sure. Now my opinion may...
    # Subodh's Blog

  • Gravatar
    Tushar Wednesday, January 07, 2009 at 7:39 AM
    Re: Canon 50D Vs Nikon D90
    Man, you missed one big part. Nikon pulls a Motorola on us. Everything that should be left handed is right handed. that should be front is rear. that should be left is right. I hate Nikons for that. No matter what you say I cannot get used to screwing a lense counter clockwise. or focus ring closer, zoom ring further . Sucks

  • Gravatar
    cooli0s Wednesday, January 07, 2009 at 7:46 AM
    Re: Canon 50D Vs Nikon D90
    Why motorola? I didn't get it. Not to say I know anything about these two cameras but what is the relation with motorola and canon or nikon?

  • Gravatar
    yathin.livejournal.com Monday, January 12, 2009 at 7:32 PM
    Re: Canon 50D Vs Nikon D90
    well, i love the last line "you can't go wrong with either" -- which is pretty much what I tell everyone. it all depends on which system you feel comfortable with in the end. happy

    • Gravatar
      Subodh Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 3:11 PM
      Re: Canon 50D Vs Nikon D90
      I think for a person like me, who's just getting started on either of them, its a small inconvenience that one would get used to anyway. I won't go to the extent of saying any one brand sucks for something as small as that.

      Welcome back sir, what took you so long? I think Tushar was just amused at the "opposites" kinda stuff. Motorola cellphones have the hangup and call buttons reveresed; sort of throws a lot of people amiss for a while happy

      You're always right happy Both the cameras pack enough punch, although I ended up with an instant liking to the Nikon D90. If not for the software issues, I would have probably preferred that!

  • Gravatar
    Noel Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 1:26 PM
    Re: Canon 50D Vs Nikon D90
    Nikon D90 does support geotagging. Is there an available option that can be added to Cannon 50D?

    • Gravatar
      Subodh Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 6:39 PM
      Re: Canon 50D Vs Nikon D90
      Geotagging isn't as straight-forward as it could be ( there is no in camera support in either of them). I suspect Metallic bodies and battery life could be the reason. However, you can get geotagging done via an external unit in both Nikon as well as Canon cameras using a hot shoe accessory like or

      But then again, given a choice between flash and GPS?

  • Gravatar
    Amar Friday, July 10, 2009 at 9:02 PM
    Re: Canon 50D Vs Nikon D90
    Well, stumbled upon your blog whilst searching for a comparison between those two cameras... Still not able to decide. Well, I am an amateur. Now that both Big camp have released new cameras that are step below D90 and 50D i.e. D5000 and Rebel T1i, I am looking at those. Never been a Nikon owner except for a PnS Coolpix (for wife and kid and of course me!). I own Canon Film SLR:ElanIIE QD, 420EX Speedlite and Canon 18-70 USM lens... Just by virtue of being an owner of that, I am leaning towards Rebel T1i. Can anyone share some pointers on that?

    Someday I would like to be able to take good portraits at home... I really do not (read as should not) need J.C. Penny portrait studio, right?


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