Ladies and Gentlemen, here it is, The Canon 50D. I was able to find some of the very first models released in the US, order one, and get my hands on it today. (This is a US version too!). Ive had a little bit of time to play with it, here are my observations:

– It is built in nearly the EXACT same body as the Canon 40D. The only body difference I noticed was the HDMI output which will allow you to play your images to a high definition television. The mode dial is sliver instead of black, and the JUMP button is replaced with a customizable “function” button.

Much Improved

– The 3″ LCD Playback Screen is AMAZINGLY sharp…like AMAZINGLY. It is a HUGENORMOUS improvement over the 40 D LCD Screen. This is hands down THE BEST monitor I have seen on a Canon Camera.

– The Live View Focusing System is MUCH, MUCH better. There are three Live View focusing modes to choose from, one of which uses face detection technology (not that anyone with the mildest of clues using the Focus Selector would need, but hey…it could come in handy…NOT!!). On the serious side, you can now move your selector square anywhere and achieve focus lock. I am really glad to see Canon got this worked out, it makes Live View much more functional and easy to use. Look for a video coming on this shortly.

– 15.1 Mega pixels (vs 10.1 MP) Thats gettin giggy wid it – a 50% increase!

– Slightly faster for sports shooting, 6.3 fps, thats ~ 2x as many as the current 5D.

– HDMI output is very cool for those who have HD Televisions.

Not so Impressive-

– Seems Photoshop (or anything else for that matter) cannot open 50D RAW files. This is amazingly sucky. AMAZINGLY. Hang onto those 40Ds until they get this all worked out, otherwise, NO RAW for you!

– There is a new Automatic Mode called CA, which stands ironically for Creative Automatic. I dont like it all, it just takes all the things you can do in your Creative Modes and makes it more confusing, just like the name. Why name an Automatic Mode, “Creative Automatic”?

– There are several new Menu features, nothing too big here.

The New Screen, Improved 15.1 MP sensor, and improved Live View make the 50D worth taking a serious look at, but honestly, No way to process RAW files? This is absolutely nuts!! Seriously, until Canon and Adobe get this all worked out, don’t even think about getting one. When they do however….um….yes…this is a great camera. The monitor alone is worth $200 to me.

Is it worth the extra money over the cost savings of getting a 40D? Probably not. Prices on the 40D will drop like crazy in about 3 weeks, shortly after the official release date in the us (October 15th), I would guess ball park ~$700, nearly half the price of a new 50D).

I think the 40D + 50 1.4 (if you dont have one) + 580 II Speelite, beats the 50D alone unless you really, REALLY want the best. Ill have a side by side comparison coming shortly.