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Nikon D50 6.1 megapixel digital SLR preview


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 August 20, 2005: When the price of a digital SLR drops below the $ 1000 mark and it keeps most of the high end features of a professional DSLR, it enters the price-features sweetspot. Other cameras have done it before - Pentax with its IST DL, and Canon with its EOS Digital Rebel and Digital rebel XT. Nikon did it - almost - once before with its Nikon D70S digital SLR, and now has done one better - the D50 is almost all you wanted the D70S for. At a price that is just sweet too.

Without a lens, the D50 digital SLR costs $750 - excellent if you own Nikon's interchangeable lenses already. Even with a good starter lens, the prince still stays below the $ 1000 mark - and may come down to $ 800 or even less a few weeks after its imminent launch. Get it from Amazon, if you just can't wait right now.

Don't think it is an amateur, hobbyist's camera though. The definition of who is a hobbyist or amateur, and who is a professional keeps changing all the time, and the 6.1 MP (megapixels), and with its features, it is hardly an amateur photographer's camera. In fact, this is the same camera a professional would have bought at twice the price without thinking two years back and shown off to the whole world. So, by the standards of digital photographers even just an year back, this is a true boue professional camera.

What do you get for that price? Lets take a closer look at the Nikon D50.

For one, this digital SLR starts up in 0.2 seconds. That's an excellent startup time, considering most of us are oafs who spend 2 minutes opening the camera bag! Seriously, though, that is a start up time in the professional category.

It is a Digital SLR, and that means there is zero shutter lag. You lose out on depth of field preview with the D50; Nikon has removed this true professional feature. Not much of an issue to the hardy photographer - before digital SLRs came into the picture, they used to guess quite accurately the depth of field at any aperture anyway. And if you are someone who takes pictures on the Auto mode most of the time, this should not matter much to you.

The Nikon D50 has reduced its bulk and weight, and seems to have an improved autofocus system compared to its predecessor. It has six presets for situations such as night or low light, good for those who want to slowly move up from all-auto photography to manual photography.

In the shutter speed department, the Nikon D50 takes a slight hit. The Nikon D70 and D70S had a fastest shutter speed of 1/800th of a second - D50 tops out at 1/4000th. Not too much of a problem for those of you weaned on manual SLRs with 1/1000th of a second top speed, or those who are used to complete auto cameras. However, for top-class professionals, it matters.

In Burst mode, the Nikon D50 captures pictures at 2.5 frames per second compared to the Nikon D70's 3 frames per second. The hobbyist or amateur may not bother much with this - and frankly, this reviewer does really want 24 frames per second - so he is not bothered either! A batter charge that lasts for 4000 shots can't hurt, either.

Overall, a great digital SLR camera for those who are moving up from snappy digicams, low end manual SLRs and serious hobbyists. And the Nikon D50 is what you would consider a professional digital SLR from just an year back - so go for it.



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