Moving up a Level

It’s hard to believe, but it’s nearly three years since I bought the Canon 30D, and I have to say it’s served me very well. I’ve had a lot of fun with it, it’s encouraged me to get out and about and go to various places, and has generally been a Good Thing.

But camera technology moves on, and although the 30D is still a damn fine camera, it lacks some of the features that newer models have, such as automagic sensor cleaning, auto ISO[1], not to mention newer processing circuits and more megapixels. Not that the pixel count is that important. Unless you’re planning to print your images at poster size, you can do quite nicely with anything from 5MP upwards. But then again, if you’ve got lots of pixels to play with, you can crop images down to just the bit you want people to see, and still have enough detail to make the picture worth looking at.

So, I have been thinking about it. I wasn’t bothered when Canon brought out the 40D, but the 50D did interest me as a potential upgrade – lots of nice refinements, it would use all the same lenses, and was only moderately expensive. But, and here’s the question, was it good enough to justify buying it as a replacement or as a new main camera, keeping the 30D as a “spare”? And I decided that it wasn’t really. Maybe in a while when the price came down a bit, or maybe when the 60D or 70D or whateverD came out?

But there was another possibility. A rather more expensive possibility, but one that would certainly encourage me to make an effort to do more with my pictures, and indeed to take more of them. When Canon announced the 5D MK II last year, I have to admit to drooling a bit. It comes with 21 of those megapixel thingies to the 30D’s 8. It has newer and more sophisticated image processing circuitry. It does that sensor cleaning thing. And it’s full-frame, which means that the sensor not only has more points on it, but it’s physically bigger, which reduces the electronic noise generated by too many points too close together[2]. Its built a little more robustly. Oh yeah, and it does full HD video as well.

The downsides, from my point of view, were the cost and the fact that some of my lenses, being designed for cameras with smaller sensors, can’t be used with the 5D. Luckily, my lovely macro lens and that dinky little f/1.8 50mm lens most certainly can be used with the big beast. In fact, the main loss would be the lens that came with the 30D – the 17-85mm image stabilised beastie. Now that’s a bit of a shame, as it’s a nice lens to keep on the camera, as its zoom range is pretty useful. On the other hand, it means I could leave that lens on the 30D, so it would always be ready for action.

And so I dithered for quite a while, before devising a Cunning Plan. What I would do was this: I’d start buying some better lenses, which I knew I’d need to take advantage of the 5D Mk II, but which would work perfectly well with the 30D. And I’d wait for the price of the 5D MK II to come down a wee bit more.

Well, I did a lot of reading and browsing, and came to the conclusion that the lens I’d really want as my “walk-around” lens was the 24-105mm L IS USM – the “L” indicating that it’s one of Canon’s superior quality lenses. Then came the “ouch” moment. Bought on its own, that lens sells for various prices around £900, which is a lot. It’s seriously expensive. But, and it’s an interesting but, if you buy a bundle of the 5D MK II with the lens, the price of the lens (based on the difference between the bundle price and the body-only price) is a much less scary £500.

So after a bit more dithering and looking….



It arrived today, and I took it out at lunchtime. The results of that will probably appear tomorrow, as it’s taken a while to install and update the Canon software[3], and I need to have some food soon.

[1] If you need to ask, you probably don’t really want to know. But it’s nice.
[2] That’s one reason why the results from small cameras and phones with too many pixels can be a bit disappointing
[3] One of the things I hadn’t got round to installing on the iMac

4 thoughts on “Moving up a Level

Comments are closed.