Reader Question!

A reader asks this, and I thought I would make this today’s post:

I read your wonderful blog everyday, and I learned many thing about flash photography.

I am 53 y. old and I ‘d like to get a 1D camera once in my life. I am debating if I need to change my camera, a canon 50D, with the new 1D Mk IV.

I am not a pro; I own many crop lenses ( 17-55mm f2.8 is – 15-85mm is – 10-22mm 60mm macro).

My other camera is a full frame 5D old with 17-40mm, 70-200mm f4 is, 24-105mm f4 is, plus 2 canon flash 430 and 580 II. I am selling some stuff and I have now 2200€= than I could sell all my crop material and finally buy my dream with some more new lens.

What I am asking, in your opinion ..WORTH IT ? or is better to sell the old 5D and buy a less expensive new 5D mk II…?

Thank you!
Regards from Italy – Adalberto

Adalberto: great question.

Always great to hear from Italy: I lived in Rome for about a year in the 1980s, e mi manca l’Italia – tanto. La cucina Italiana; Roma; le donne; il vino; le macchine; mi mancano queste cose.

Anyway, back to cameras. This is a question we all wrestle with: Do we buy a better camera, or spend our money on lenses and so on? Which camera? I have a 1Ds Mark III, a 1D Mk IV, and a 7D, and I used to own a 5D, so I can probably say some sensible things about this choice.

First, there is the choice “crop or not crop”? A crop camera is a camera with a smaller sensor. Crop is cheaper, and can use cheaper lenses; but “full frame” (like a 5D or 1Ds) or “almost full frame” (like a 1D, which has a 1.3 crop) is better than the usual 1.6 (or for Nikon, 1.5) crop:

  1. Wide angle is wider!
  2. Lower noise, so easier to use at high ISO values.
  3. Narrower depth of field (“Blurrier backgrounds”).
  4. Bigger, brighter viewfinder.

So yes, full frame or near full frame is better.

Then there is the choice of body type: an amateur body (50D), a lower-end pro body (5D), or a pro body (1Dx)? A pro body does not take better pictures. But it is more waterproof; it has more settings; it can write to two memory cards at once; it will last 300,000 shutter releases instead of 150,000 shutter releases: all great things.

In your case, I would ask:

  1. Do I need a full frame or near full frame body?
  2. Do I need a pro 1-series body?

As for question one: yes, if I were you, I would go all full (or almost full) frame, and sell your crop lenses, if I had that budget. Sell the crop lenses, would be my advice, and sell the 50D while it has value.

As for question two:

  • a 5D MkII is a great camera.
  • A 1D Mk IV, an “almost full frame” camera, is great also.
  • A 1Ds is greater still, being full frame, but it is getting old and will be replaced soon by a 1Ds Mk IV.

In general,

Lenses are more important than the camera

…so perhaps a 5D and some f/2.8 lenses, and maybe a prime or two, would be a good way to go?

On the other hand.. I know the excitement that a really great body gives. If you really want a 1-body, get one. A 1D Mark IV.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I shoot sports a lot?
  • Do I shoot in bad weather, like rain?
  • Do I need fast performance?
  • Do I take a lot of pictures?
  • Do I shoot ultra-important things like weddings?
  • Do I charge for my work, so I need to look the part?

If you answer “yes” to even a few of those, get a 1D and a 50mm f/1.4 lens. If not, you can get a 5D Mark II and some more lenses. That is my advice.

But you cannot go wrong: all the equipment and cameras you are looking for are great. So whatever you do, you will do well. And DO get a 50mm f/1.4 lens, or even the 50mm f/1.8!

3 thoughts on “Reader Question!

  1. The 5dmk2 takes better pictures than a 1Dsmk3, at 1/3 the cost… Unless the durability is an issue its a great camera! Several tens of thousands of exposures on my early 2009 unit without issue 🙂

    • Well, Nick, indeed, the 5DII is a great camera.

      As for better pictures: opinions may differ (mine does!), but more importantly, it is a moot point, the image quality of both is professional. The cost, yes, of course, very good point.

      But the 1-series have many benefits over the 5D, which is how Canon has profiled it: if you need these (and not everyone does!) then the 1-series is great.

      – Faster images (1o/second); bigger buffer.
      – Ability to write to two cards at once.
      – Many more setup options (eg ability to switch some buttons).
      – Great screen, *much* higher contrast.
      – Newer and better autofocus system: more AF points, all cross-sensors.
      – As you say, durability.
      – Waterproofing.
      – Much larger battery, more life.
      – Integrated grip.
      – 1.3 crop can be very good if you shoot sports, etc: “longer lenses”.

      True, not all of these (and there are more) are important to all. That’s why I say, if you hit several of these needs, consider spending the extra cash. If not, definitely go with a 5D and spend the money on lenses.

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