Canon has officially unveiled the EOS 50D, a digital SLR that will bridge the gap between the EOS 40D and 5D when it goes on sale next month.

Features include a new CMOS imaging sensor, Digic 4 image processor and ?improved usability?.

The 50D uses a 15.1-million-pixel APS-C size imaging sensor and will be out at the end of September priced £1199.99 (body only).

It will also be available in a kit with an EF-S 17-85mm IS lens, priced £1499.99.

The 50D is a significant upgrade to the 10.1MP 40D, a camera launched barely a year ago.

?We think this will answer a lot of people?s prayers,? a Canon UK spokeswoman told Amateur Photographer.

She added that the EOS 40D will continue in the range, stressing that the 50D is ?not a replacement?.

The 50D appears to be more robustly built than the 40D. Canon tells us it has improved the weather sealing around the battery and memory card slots.

And Canon has redesigned the photo diodes and micro lenses to make the sensor ?more efficient at converting light into a signal.? The firm claims to have reduced the ?circuitry between the photo diodes? and eliminated the gaps between the micro lenses.

This will be the first EOS model to include a Digic 4 image processor, claimed to be 1.3x faster than its Digic predecessor.

Canon claims the 50D can deliver a burst rate of 6.3 frames per second and so it should be ideal for sports and wildlife photography, for example. Bursts of up to 90 JPEG files are possible using a UDMA card, says Canon.

The maximum ISO is 3200 but this can be expanded to ISO ?12,800?.

Canon has also added a Quick AF option in Live View. Face detection in Live View is also now possible, enabling the photographer to optimise focus based on faces detected in the frame.

The Auto Lighting Optimiser function now includes four levels.

Other tweaks include two small raw file options and spot metering that uses an area ?3.8%? of the centre of the viewfinder.

The self-cleaning sensor unit now incorporates a ?super smooth? fluorine coating that aims to prevent dust sticking to it.

Meanwhile, the LCD screen boasts a resolution of 920,000 pixel (compared with 230,000 of the 40D). The monitor has a viewing angle of 160 degrees.

Users can write copyright details into the Exif file data, on camera, adds Canon.

Though largely aimed at the advanced market the 50D includes features designed to less experienced photographers. Key to this is the addition of a Creative Auto mode, accessible via the command dial, that aims to make it easier for users to understand the effect of variables such as depth of field.

Creative Auto allows automatic focus and exposure, while enabling the user to adjust settings such as background sharpness using the LCD screen.

Canon has also confirmed the launch of a new EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens. More details on this will be published on this website later this morning.

? The news came as speculation mounts over whether Canon will announce a replacement for its three-year-old, full-frame, EOS 5D at the Photokina show next month. Canon UK declined to comment

Canon EOS 50DCanon EOS 50D