Back in the days of film, upgrades for most of us amateurs were few and far between. I upgraded after a few years from a camera with only aperture priority, to a multiprogram 3FPS camera, but, that was my lot. I kept the kit lens, and ran with a fairly nice 70-210 F3.5 zoom. Today, no sooner have we bought something, than we’re being told the whole lot is junk, and you won’t be happy unless you have the latest piece of kit. To be honest I try and avoid most of that. I rarely ‘pixel peep’ my images at 100%, unless trying to work out which of 3 identical looking shots I should go for. If something looks good at full screen I’m generally happy, I still manage to fall into the upgrade trap from time to time though.
I started with a Canon D30, the first ‘consumer’ digital SLR, a paltry 3mp but showed what a DSLR could give you, and being old tech, cheap. Then the shutter failed so I went and bought a brand new Canon EOS 400D, 10mp, 2.5″ screen (big wow back then), and the self cleaning sensor. I really wanted the 30D, but at another £300 on top of the 400Ds £475, not something at the time I could afford, and the only real gain of the 30D was the better build.
For all the slagging off people give the smaller SLRs on forums, I could never really fault its performance. The only negative for me is with the smaller size and the buttons on the rear, I’m left eyed and so my nose conveniently lines up with the ISO & metering buttons. This unfortunately would mean at various times I’d find myself on ISO 1600, and on a bright day this could mean overexposed & ruined shots. That alone has been pushing me to look at a new camera body, so I’ve been looking at the Canon 50D and 7D for a few months, with the occasional glance towards the 5D mk2, then realising the body alone is well out of budget before even consider lens upgrades. I’d been careful not to amass too many ‘crop sensor’ lenses, but had ended up with both the Tokina 10-17 fisheye, and the Tokina 12-24mm, and both were amongst my fave lenses. Then my dad dropped a suggetion, he knew I really wanted a full frame 5D, why don’t you swap one of my 30Ds for your Tokina 12-24mm? This upgrades your ‘backup body’ cheaply, then sell the 400D & the 10-17 covers the cost of a new Canon 15mm fisheye, and a used mk1 5D is not much more than a 50D. Mmm.
So the deal was quickly done, I already knew someone after a Tokina 10-17 so that was that wrapped up quickly, the 400D went onto eBay, and give or take £50 I’d covered the cost of the new Canon 15mm fisheye. A small amount of hunting later I’d narrowed down my choice of 5Ds. Unfortunately the first shop wasn’t so quite accurate with the description, took one look at the battered hotshoe & the general condition & sent it back. In the time I had to wait, half the other 5Ds I’d selected got sold. Research redone, I phoned Bob Rigbys, explained that I wanted a close to mint 5D, and the following day I had one. Result.
The net of this is I’ve gone from a 400D, to both a 30D & a 5D, and I’ve spent somewhere between the cost of a 50D & a 7D. Not a bad result really. Both the 30D & 5D give me all the pixels I need for printing the sizes I’m likely to need (A2 canvas will do me nicely), both are much better built, the viewfinder on the 5 is huge after 4 years with a crop sensor, wow, and both of course give less noisy images. Might be tempted to push beyond 400ISO a bit more often now. I have no interest in video, and live view only has a passing interest.
OK I’ve lost the Tokina 12-24mm, but my early investment keeping with full frame lenses meant I’d hung on to the Tokina 19-35mm that I’d bought for £60 and is reckoned to be a reasonable 17-40L contender, though this is yet to be fully put to the test. I suspect that’ll be next years upgrade as I think the Tok 12-24 trounced it. We shall see, I’ve not actually fired a frame with it yet, the fisheye has taken it’s place on the front of the 5D and hasn’t really moved yet. As Dale Photographic also listed a BG-E4 grip cheap, I’ve snaffled that for the 5D so it now looks proper serious.
Now I’d better pull my finger out and take some worthy pictures.
Nelsons Monument, Derbyshire. Canon EOS 5D with Canon EF 15mm F/2.8 Fisheye