Canon Faceoff: T1i - 50D - 5D

Looking at the market, I see three main Canon contenders right now. I'm not trying to forget Nikon with their D700 and D3 monsters, but I'm a Canon shooter with a bag full of Canon glass, so today will be Canon-specific.

These cameras have a lot to talk about, but to keep this relatively manageable lets look at the key features of the three bodies.

Canon T1i - $725
Canon T1i

Canon 50D - $1130
Canon 50D

Canon 5D - $2700
Canon 5D

ISO Range:
For the non-photographing readers (those that are still here) the term "ISO" is referring to the camera's "sensitivity" to light. For instance, a car uses 4-5 gears to keep the RPM's in a happy 2000 range. A camera uses 4-5 ISO "gears" to keep the exposure at a happy amount.

Canon T1i - 100-3200
Canon 50D - 100-3200
Canon 5D - 100-6400

The 5D gets the extra 6400, but without lining up the three bodies for a test I'm not sure how trustworthy these ranges are. For instance, my Canon XTi doesn't look too great past ISO800, but my friend Mike's Nikon looks just as good at ISO6400. It's hard to tell.


Full Frame
Another small side note is that the 5D is a "full-frame" camera which means it utilizes the full capacity of the lens. Both the T1i and the 50D use a 1.6x crop on the lens. This can be nice though, because it makes a 200mm really a "320mm".


Everything is not a straight "price=better" formula. The 5D is packed with features that only come with the double price-tag jump from the 50D, but lacks a fast Burst FPS. Some sports shooters are holding on to their 50D's for this speed.

Canon T1i - 3.4fps
Canon 50D - 6.3fps
Canon 5D - 3.9fps


My XTi gets 10.1 megapixels, which is pretty dang big. However, the more megapixels, obviously the higher quality the image, the larger it can get, and the more crop room you've got.

Canon T1i - 15.1mp
Canon 50D - 15.1mp
Canon 5D - 21.1mp


Finally, two of these DSLR's are capable of shooting video. This is one reason I keep my SD750 point-and-shoot in my back pocket. Whether I have my iPhone 3G or my XTi, I have no way of recording video. Just in case, I always keep the SD750 around for video. I use it much more than I expected to, and it would be nice to have that feature inside my DSLR to eliminate an item.

Canon T1i - 720-30fps 1080-20fps
Canon 50D - _____________
Canon 5D - 1080-30fps


Looking at specs like that should help clear up the choices. Any images you see from me after December 1, 2009 will not be shot with a Canon XTi. What they WILL be shot with is still out for debate.

For full reviews on these cameras please visit:

Canon XTi