Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New gear!

It is known in the photography world that between the camera body and the lenses, the lenses are the more important components. Even to the point of buying a cheaper body if this will allow you to buy better lenses.

But once in a while, you find yourself lagging behind in technology. At the rate that the big boys (Canon and Nikon) pump out new bodies, within a few years, you are behind the curb. I bought my Canon XSI in summer 2008 while it was the newest of the Canon Rebel line and out at the same time as the Canon 40D, their top "pro-sumer" body. From 2008 to spring 2010, Canon upped their Rebel line not just once with the T1i, but a second time with the T2i. Adding in higher ISO, movie modes and so on. They have upped their 40D to a 50D, they came out with the uber awesome full frame 5D MkII and also started with a new top of the line crop sensor camera, the 7D.

I bought the camera not knowing much. It met my needs at the was a dSLR, it fit the 2 Canon lenses I had found in my mom's camera bag, and it was the cheapest. But now that I'm getting into photography and understanding light and how your camera records it, I was in need of an upgrade. The main drivers were higher ISO performance, more weather resistant body and faster shooting speeds.

Cost of a new body ranged from $600 for a used 40D all the way up to $3200 for the 5D MkII, with the others falling in order from the T1i (900), 50D (1200), 5D (1500) and then the 7D (1800).

Decisions, decisions. I work hard for my money, so when I decide to spend it, I want to make sure I am spending in on what is best for me. Here is a bit of my decision thought process:

The flagship model for Canon is the 1D series. But this comes with a price tag of over $5000. Not in my budget and actually not in my current needs. The top of what I can get would be the 5D MkII. However, this would be a full frame camera and my XSI is a crop sensor camera. In changing sensor types, my beloved 10-22mm wide angle lens would no longer work as it can only be mounted on a crop sensor camera (it has the EF-S designation). So not only would I be dishing out $3000 on a new camera, I would need to either replace this lens with the full frame equivalent, the 16-35 which is approx $1500, or not have a wide angle lens. So I'll have to wait longer for the switch to full frame.

I decided to stick with crop sensor cameras and my choices were now the T1i, 50D or 7D.

The debate between the 50D and the T1i is the same I first had in 2008 when chosing between the 40D and the XSI. Back then, I went with the XSI and after 6 months I wished I had the 40D. Not that the Rebel isn't a good camera, as I've loved having it, when you handle a higher end camera, you can easily tell why they are the "entry level" line. The Rebel camera is plastic, small, shoots slower and has some important functions in the menu instead of easily accessible buttons. The xxD line is magnesium body, bigger and shoots usually twice as fast (6.3 fps vs 3.4 fps). Without going into more details, I decided to not repeat the past and go with a higher end line of cameras.

So that left me to decide between the 50D and the 7D. What are the differences? The 7D is fully weather sealed, it shoots 8 fps and has a new autofocussing system (first Canon camera with it), dual processors, a 100% magnification view finder.... basically a bunch of improvements. The 50D is a great camera and I wouldn't hesitate buying it, but its already a little over a year old and will be replaced by the 60D in a few months.

So while I normally go for the cheaper alternative, I decided to go with the new tech and pay more money.

I've had the camera for a few weeks and I must say, it is flippin' awesome. Just for the ease of access of the menu and its button layout alone. The high ISO (I've shot up to 6400) is great, although still not as nice as the 5D MkII. I've done some concert shots at 2000 ISO using a 50mm 1.8 and had great results. I'll have a chance to try the 8 fps along with the new auto focusing system when I actually get to shoot a Montreal Impact soccer game on March 12th. The reviews called this camera the best crop sensor camera out there and say that its made for sports and fast action. I guess we'll see.

Where to go from here? I should be good for 3-4 years with this camera, maybe more. My next step up is full frame. But before getting there, I'll start the journey of getting better lenses so that when I am ready for the switch, I'll have all the lenses to go with the new body. Maybe by that time, the 5D MkIV will be out. I'm also going to be looking at strobes and all the gear that goes with them.

Here are some low light photos from a concert. You can view the full set on my flickr.

These were mostly shot at ISO 2000-3200, f/1.8 - f/2.8 and with a shutter of around 1/30 - 1/80.

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