More Canon 50D Wildlife Photography

There’s quite a debate going on in Photographic circles about the new Canon EOS 50D and it’s high pixel density, noise potential and resolution capabilities. It seems like every other week someone will post a new review questioning the integrity of this camera. I haven’t seem anything like this since digital SLRs began taking market share away from traditional film cameras.

I’m no expert on lens optics, diffraction limitations or sensor design, but I will tell you one thing. This camera will allow photographers an unparalleled opportunity to capture great wildlife close-ups, even when their lens doesn’t have quite enough reach.

Take this image for example. I shot this with an EF 300mm f/4L IS USM using a 1.4X extender which gave me 420mm of “reach”. Unfortunately, the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck I was tracking was just too far away and what I really needed was a 600mm or 800mm super-telephoto. I took the shot anyway and imported it into Lightroom to see what I could salvage.

Uncropped Original Image

Uncropped Original Image
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon 50D hand-held, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM with a 1.4X extender at 420mm, f/6.7 for 1/500th of a second at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. All post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Noise Ninja.

I rarely crop an image anywhere near 100%, but in this case it was my only option. As you can see by clicking on the cropped image below, the resolution and detail in this image is superb and its a direct result of the EOS 50D’s 15.1 MP sensor. In fact, this image turned out so well, I’ve printed it at 11″ x 17″ and it looks fabulous hanging on the wall of my study.

Level Flying

Level Flying
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon 50D hand-held, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM with a 1.4X extender at 420mm, f/6.7 for 1/500th of a second at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. All post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Noise Ninja. Click on the image above for a larger version.

18 thoughts on “More Canon 50D Wildlife Photography

  1. So the Auto setting probably picked a slower shutter and wasn’t fast enough for my shakey hands…makes sence.

    I’ll try your settings and see what the results give me. Thanks for the fast response.

    Great work by the way. My wife and I love your work.

    • No problem Bill. I think you’ll learn a lot more if you use the 50D’s “creative” modes and also get better results. I shoot in aperture (Av) priority about 90% of the time so I can control the depth of field and overall focus for landscape shots. I’ll switch to shutter priority (Tv) mode when I’m shooting a moving target like an airplane or a runner and full manual (M) when shooting portraits using off camera flash in the studio or on location.

      If you haven’t read them yet, I’d recommend picking up a copy of Scott Kelby’s “The Digital Photography Book” volumes 1, 2 & 3. They’re a great way to learn from a photographer that teaches just like he’s your friend. Great tips for anyone learning to use their DSLR.


  2. Jeff,

    I went south of Sacramento to a wildlife refuge and shot some trial landscapes on the new 50D which I have just purchased. I wanted to show my wife that the camera will do well for her on Auto. I was somewhat disappointed that some of the fall colors seemed muddy looking. I was photographing dense woods durning overcast conditions. I had a UF lens only.

    I was using the 28-85 that came with the camera and was saving pics in JPEG FINE. I am wondering if there is a focus problem or do I need a tri-pod or should I be shooting RAW?

    • Bill,

      It depends upon what settings the camera selected on full “auto”. Try shooting on aperture (Av) priority at f/8 and see if you have enough light for a shutter speed of greater than 1/60th of a second. If not, then you can do one of three things; Increase the ISO, decrease the aperture or use a tripod. Camera shake is the leading cause of unsharp images.


  3. Just bought myself a Canon 50D and have fallen in love again with photography. My first Camera was durning my time in the Army. It was a Minolta SRT 100 and then I moved to a Minolta SRT 201 it think it was…

    Loved finding this site..I live in Glen Rose Texas durning the middle 1980’s and miss it sometimes. Texas is a complex place

  4. I am so very glad to read your opinion of the Canon 50D. I have been reading so much good and bad that I was wondering if I had made the right choice. I recently purchased the 50D as an upgrade from my old but very reliable 20D. The new camera arrives in a couple of more days. Great to hear your opinion, and damn nice work on the duck. Hand Held? Boy do I need lessons. Great shot, and an excellent example of what the 50D is capable of in the right hands.


    • Ken,

      Thanks for reading and for your comments. In today’s “connected” world its easy to read so many conflicting reviews and reports that you find yourself second guessing every photographic decision. The EOS 50D is a fine camera with really incredible resolution. I’m sure you’ll enjoy using it for many years to come.


  5. You give a good example of the 50D capability.

    I am been quite impressed with what the 50D can do with modest birding lenses (300mm F4 L IS, 400mm F5.6 L).

    I have been processing RAW files with no noise reduction. Then using Neat Image v6 to reduce noise with minimum impact on sharpness.

    The results have been very impressive. So like you, I question why this fine camera gets so much bad press.

    I think people just repeat the nonsense without actually owning or trying a 50D.

    • Paul,

      Thanks for reading and for your comments. Yes, the EOS 50D seems to be a much maligned camera but some of the blame falls to Canon for failing to listen to the market and realize that higher pixel density may not be what everyone wants in a “prosumer” body. I’m very impressed with the resolution of my images but noise seems to be a recurring problem that I hadn’t experienced with the 40D or the Nikon D300. Luckily, software exists to correct this problem for us shooting RAW but it is an extra step in our workflow. Today I use the 50D for wildlife and well lit landscape work but the 40D is still my choice for low light or sunset images.

      Thanks again for reading!


  6. Jeff,

    Your photography is amazing. The picture of the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck is priceless. I live in the Pacific Northwest and love to shoot wildlife, I don’t believe I could do a shot like that hand held though… Amazing!

    Love your site and information, I just shoot with a Rebel Xsi and some nice glass, maybe some day a 50d.


    • Leigh,

      Thanks for reading and for your kind words. I’d be willing to be that if you rented the EF 300mm f/4L IS USM and the 1.4x Extender ( for one week you could capture images just as good. All it takes is a few simple pointers (that’s why I always post the settings I use) and some practice. If you have the time and $100, renting is a great way to practice your technique before you decide which expensive lens best suits your photographic style.

      If you ever get to the Houston area, drop me a line and we’ll go shooting!

      PS: The XSi is a great camera to learn on.


  7. I’m new to your site. I did a search for anyone who mentions the Canon 50D to see what people are saying. I received this lovely piece of technology as a Christmas gift and am still learning all of its features. I look forward to reading about your experience with the camera and how you compare it to others.


    • Justina,

      Thanks for reading and for your comments. Yes, the EOS 50D is a wonderful piece of technology. Feel free to post any questions on this blog or contact me via the Contact page if I can answer any questions. I’m always happy to help out a Canon enthusiast.


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