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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EOS Digital Cameras 
Thread started 31 Dec 2012 (Monday) 12:30
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ADVICE - What DSLR to get?!

 
jbyrne
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Dec 31, 2012 12:30 |  #1

Hello,

I currently own a 550d (Rebel t2i), which I have had now for over a year and I have really enjoyed it.

I have, however, suffered a few problems with shooting in low light. The ISO performance is pretty poor once I get past 800.

Also, focusing on anything which moves unknowingly, such as animals is really though. It takes the best part of a second to focus and by then it is too late.

I was looking at a Canon 5D Mark III, or Mark II? Perhaps a 6D? Not entirely sure.

Will it be a massive upgrade from my 550? Paying all that money for just the body? I will never be shooting video so I feel like I might be paying for lots of features I will never use?

Thanks for reading this and look forward to what you have to say!




  
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Capeachy
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Dec 31, 2012 12:53 |  #2

In order to help you out some more, we'll need a bit more info:
1. Poor high ISO performance - have you tried shooting RAW and then using Lightroom or other software to help deal with this instead of just using the in-camera noise reduction?

What kind of situations are you relying on for high ISO? Is this something where good use of a flash would help?

2. Shooting animals - what kind of lens are you using? This has a great impact on the AF speed. Are you also relying on the center AF point (which is more accurate and faster than the other ones in your camera.)

As to your question, cross-type means that this one particular AF point is sensitive to vertical and horizontal contrasty stuff instead of just vertical or horizontal. The F number rating attached to it is either related to:
a) A higher sensitivity, accuracy and speed if used with f2.8 (for example) or faster lenses
b) The limit of the AF sensor, say it won't work at all with a lens past f6.3 (for example)

The 6D and 5d mk2 has 1 cross type dead in the center, similar to your T2i. The 50D, for example, has all 9 cross type AF points, but only the center one is specially sensitive if used with faster lenses. Hope this helps.


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runninmann
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Dec 31, 2012 12:58 |  #3

You should also consider your lenses. if you have EF-S lenses, you will have to replace them if you go with the 5D or 6D


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jbyrne
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Dec 31, 2012 13:10 |  #4

Thanks for the reply!

1 - I was able to reduce the noise with Lighroom but it was just not quite as good as I expected it to be. It was ok, but focusing in the low light was a struggle so the images usually came out daily unfocused! From looking at sample raw images of the 6D and 5D M3 I can see straight away how well they handle ISO performance in comparison.

2 - I have a EF 70-200mm L lens f/4.0 for distance and then the cheap but cheerful EF 50mm prime f/1.8 for closer shots. These are my only lenses other than the 18-55mm kit lens which came with the camera which I was not too impressed with but it was a great learner lens!
The lenses focus very fast in the bright daylight, but as soon as light is limited slightly (even with the aperture wide open) focusing is a huge issue!

As for the lenses, I only have a kit lens which is a EF-S so hopefully the upgrade won't hurt my bank too much! :)




  
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Capeachy
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Dec 31, 2012 13:20 |  #5

The 18-55 kit would be pretty poor in low-light situations. The 50mm should be alright, but the type of motor will be a bit slower. So if there's anything moving that you're trying to focus, then that might be a problem.

The 70-200 f4L is a great lens for outdoor and well lit subjects. I have the IS version and paired with my 50D, on AI servo mode, I had no issues chasing airplanes at airshows. A xxD series or 7D will definitely help to get faster focus. You might be able to get another stop or 2 out of a newer crop sensor body but if you want the "best" ISO performance, then you'll need to go to a FF sensor.

How does the 60D or 7D look to you?


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jbyrne
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Dec 31, 2012 13:44 |  #6

My 70-200 isn't IS but still is a great lens. I can really see the difference in the quality even though it is a relatively old lens, but was all I could afford at the time.

I did look at the 7D but is almost as expensive as a 5D M2, and it is a crop sensor body so I decided against it as I presumed I would be disappointed in the ISO performance, and I would need to purchase a second lens of 10-20mm to account for the crop for ultra wide instances. Being as I was planning on upgrading and don't really want to upgrade for a couple of years to justify the cost, the 5D M3/6D was the best way to go?

I just wondered whether for the expensive price of a 5D M3 I would be blown away or not.

Thanks again for the help! :)




  
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joeblack2022
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Dec 31, 2012 13:47 |  #7

jbyrne wrote in post #15427806 (external link)
I have, however, suffered a few problems with shooting in low light. The ISO performance is pretty poor once I get past 800.

High ISO performance is largely dependent upon exposure - please post some samples.


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michgirl
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Dec 31, 2012 14:33 |  #8

Last year I faced the same question with my T1i. I purchases the 5dii with the kits lens, 24-105. I also had the 50 mm f/1.8 and was astonished by the difference with noise and high ISO. I did sell my Rebel and EFs lens and it was so worth it. Right now the 5d II is at a fantastic price. If you can afford it, you will never regret it. This is a very capable camera!


Robin
Canon 6d / EF Lens: 24mm-105mm / 40mm f/2.8 / 28mm f/1.8 / 50mm f/1.8 / 85mm 1.8 / EF 70-300mm II USM
Canon T6i / EFs Lens: 24mm Pancake / 18-55mm STM / 18-135mm STM / 55-250mm STM

  
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amfoto1
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Dec 31, 2012 14:36 |  #9

First, high ISO performance.... well, you don't mention what you've tried, so it's hard to make recommendations. All the current Canon APS-C cameras (except for the T3/1100D) have essentially the same sensor and high ISO performance. Each of us has out opinion of what's acceptible. I'll use my 7Ds to 3200 without too much concern, though I'd prefer to keep to 1600 or lower if possible. Higher than that, maybe for black and white conversions... but not usable for most of my purposes.

You might find different levels of high ISO noise acceptible. Or you might benefit from using different software to reduce noise in your images. (It appears the latest Canon FF models are getting most of their high ISO gains from the image processing, not from significant changes to the sensor.)

No, it won't be "massive" improvement to go to full frame. I also use a 5DII and IMO it's good for about one stop higher ISO images than my 7Ds. I'll use 6400 with the FF camera, vs 3200 with the croppers. Looking at 5DIII and 6D, shooting RAW they don't appear to offer a lot higher, less than a stop's worth.... but they do seem to give one or two stops higher usable ISO when shooting JPEGs.... Again, it appears to be in the post-processing where the high ISO noise reduction is taking place.

That tells me it should be possible to accomplish more with NR softwares with any of these cameras, perhaps Canon's own DPP in the latest version, perhaps with third party image processing software and/or NR plug ins. I saw a major improvement in noise reduction going from Lightroom 2 to LR3 and from Photoshop CS4 to CS5. I probably could accomplish more with additional and newer softwares. Look up some of Teamspeed's high ISO work with 7D here on POTN. He's taken it to the limit and gotten really impressive results. Keep in mind that the 7D has essentially the same sensor, processor and high ISO potential as your T2i.

One thing that's critical with any DSLR to minimize noise, you have to get the exposure correct. If you have to increase exposure, lighten up the image at all in post processing, you will increase any noise in the image. It's better to be slightly overexposed and pulling down exposure or darkening the image in post processing. But you have to be careful, emphasis on "slight" overexposure... too much and there will be unrecoverably loss of detail in the image's highlights.

Second, focusing. There actually are three major factors effecting focus performance. The camera is only one third of the equation. Your camera is pretty basic, but still capable if used relatively simply. I'll presume that you know to use AI Servo for moving subjects. On T2i only the center AF point is the dual-axis or "cross" type, so for best performance with AI Servo you should limit to using only that more sensitive and responsive point. This is often the best method with all the cameras mentioned, no matter how points they have or how sophisticated their AF systems. The T3i/600D and 5DII have similar AF point array to your T2i/550D (though the 5DII has some additional "hidden" AF points that only work in AI Servo mode, when optionally enabled). The 60D and T4i/650D have an enhanced version, all nine points are dual-axis, cross type. 6D has 11 points, with only the center one cross type. The 7D has 19 points, all cross type. 5DIII has 61 points, with 41 of them the cross type. In all cases, the camera's center point (or in the case of the 5DIII, several points near the center) are enhanced and higher performance... even the ones with all or many cross type points throughout the array.

More is not always better, though. It might give you the ability to place the focus point more precisely, but it also means more to manage while shooting. The processor is another factor. Most of the cameras use the same chip that's handling images to control AF. The 5DIII, T4i and 6D use a newer Digic V processor that's higher performance, while the rest rely on Digic 4. The 7D uses a discrete chip for AF, and has separate dual DIgic 4 for image processing.

The second major factor is the lens. A USM lens (or equivalent from third party such as Sigma HSM or Tamron USD) is in most cases faster and more accurate focusing than lenses with micro motor focus drive systems. If your lenses are not USM, you aren't going to see much improvement going to a camera with a more sophisticated focusing system. Also, a lens with a larger aperture (f2.8 or larger) delivers more light to the AF system in the camera, that helps it perform better.

The final major factor effecting focus is the user. Ultimately, the ball in in your court, to do your job as the photographer to select a good target and keep an AF point on the subject, maintaining focus. Don't expect to get 100% perfect focus all the time with moving subjects. You'll miss a few... we all do. But with practice and familiarity with your camera and lenses, you will find you get better and better results over time. Practice pays dividends. In combination with AI Servo, you also might want to experiment with Back Button Focusing (external link), which is a technique popular with sports photographers, but also is very effective with any other type of moving subject. It's also usable with stationary subject and can be used with One Shot. A lot of people who learn it wonder why they ever would use any other method of focus. Even though they call it "auto focus", there is still no substitute for a good, skillful user behind the camera. You also might take some time to view this video (external link), the first of a series of three on Youtube, all about using the Canon autofocus system. Even though it's a few years old now, much of it is applicable to your camera. You'll want to watch all three. The latter part of the last video in this series might give you some more idea what some of the other cameras, including ones you asked about, can do.

Finally, going from a crop camera to a full frame camera is more than just buying a different camera model. Chances are, you will also have to invest in a different set of lenses, though you didn't mention what lenses you have now. There is a smaller selection of lenses for full frame (only EF or EF equivalent) than for crop cameras (which can use both EF and EF-S/crop sensor lenses). Lenses for full frame will generally tend to be bigger, heavier and more expensive. Sometimes much, much more expensive. For example, I use a 300/4 IS a lot with my crop cameras, shooting sports, action, wildlife, birds, etc. That's my longest handheld lens. If I want to enjoy the same "reach" with my full frame camera, that means getting out my 500/4 IS and a tripod to put it on (or at least a monopod). That's a $1200 lens vs a $10,000+ lens (if both were bought new today)... for the same angle of view with the different camera formats. That's approx. a 2.5 lb, 3.5 in. diameter by 8.5 in. long lens vs an approx. 8.5 lb, 5.75 in. diameter by 15.25 in long lens.

You also won't see some of the benefits of a full frame camera unless you were planning to make big prints... really big prints! Today's crop sensor cameras... and yours is still current... are really quite good. They have plenty of resolution for 13x19 prints... maybe even larger.

I use one, so can tell you for certain that the 5DII is not a great camera for moving subjects. It's close, but not as good tracking movement as your T2i/550D. If you want to shoot moving subjects with a full frame camera, the 6D is a better choice, though it's not as good as the 5DIII. In the crop cameras, all the Rebel/xxxD series except for the T3 are better, the 60D and 7D are much better following movement. I switch to my 7Ds for sports, action, wildlife, etc., both for the more responsive focus and for the "extra reach" (as described above).

The 5DII inherited the original 5D's AF system virtually unchanged. It got an upgraded processor that might have helped the AF perform better, except the 5DII also got 21MP, 14 bit resolution (vs 13MP, 12 bit in the 5D), so the bigger/faster processor is mostly occupied with handling much larger image files and doesn't help AF much. It was a shame and a disappointment, because Canon has already significantly upgraded the AF systems on the 40D and 50D, prior to the 5DII's release.

On any of the cameras mentioned and the one you have now, the quality of your images and focus performance might be more improved by getting different lenses or adding to what you already have, than by changing camera models.

My first instinct is to suggest that one year using your T2i/550D is really not enough to learn to use the camera well... That you should keep using it and, if anything, add a lens or two or upgrade some of your lenses, improve your image processing workflow, perhaps upgrade your computer monitor, software and calibrate your system. All these will likely give you much better improvement in your results, than jumping to a new camera model and starting the learning process all over again. An exception might be if you already have a fairly high quality lens kit and a lot of experience with this or other DSLRs and a high level of expertise using them and post-processing your images in a well managed workflow.

EDIT: I see you've added some info about the lenses you have... that's great! The 70-200 is plenty sharp and top quality with quite good AF performance. The 50/1.8 is a cheap, entry level lens with sketchy AF, but capable of making far better images than it's price might imply. The 18-55 is also an entry level lens, with simple micro motor focus drive.

Can't say for sure without looking at some actual image examples.... but be careful about evaluating images. What first appears to be missed focus might actually be camera shake from using too slow a shutter speed. An IS lens might help with that, but won't freeze subject movement as well. A monopod or tripod also can help, but also can't freeze subject movement.

I would suggest you consider better lenses, not a different camera. Get the 10-22mm, if wide angle interests you. Get a 17-55/2.8 IS. Eventually upgrade to the 70-200/4 IS or 70-200/2.8 IS, if the larger size, greater weight and higher price of the latter is okay with you. Lens upgrades will make far more difference in your images, than a camera upgrade will.


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jbyrne
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Dec 31, 2012 15:22 |  #10

amfoto1 -
Thanks very much for the information, was an enjoyable read!

I have been using DSLR's for around 4 years now, but have only recently (a year ago) switched to Canon, so far I am impressed. So the 550D was really a tester to see if the switch was worth doing. As for the post-processing I am a graphic designer by trade so really have no problems tweaking and improving an image on my trusty mac. Perhaps I am overly critical of the 550D being as I am using a Nikon D800 at work for shoots and supporting photography, although I am not comparing the two consciously.

Much of the photography I take is used on large scales so quality is really important, not just in terms of pixels. Perhaps quality lenses are the way to go, rather than a new body. I just didn't really want to cough up the money for a new lens if the body wasn't going to do it justice!

I was always planning on upgrading to a Full-frame body in the near future, and being as I have the funds currently, I thought it best to do it now before the money gets spent elsewhere by the better half... I did contemplate renting a 5D M3 body and testing it and see if I would see a huge difference.

As for your focusing videos, thanks for that, I don't really do any sports photography at all but it is something I would like to try for the challenge. And hopefully any techniques learnt there can be transferred across!

I know my current lenses are not the best, the truth is I did not want to spend much on them until I was set on Canon, and furthermore set on the crop sensor. I am at the stage where I want to purchase wide angle lenses for landscape and had the Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 or Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 in mind to start with. Although the Canon does seem a little pricey on looking at sample images. Although f3.5-4.5 does sound more appealing, but not essential. I wanted to make sure I was set on a crop body before I purchased an EF-S Lens.

Thanks for the advice. Time to do some thinking before January sales kicks in! :)




  
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jbyrne
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Dec 31, 2012 15:25 |  #11

michgirl wrote in post #15428208 (external link)
Last year I faced the same question with my T1i. I purchases the 5dii with the kits lens, 24-105. I also had the 50 mm f/1.8 and was astonished by the difference with noise and high ISO. I did sell my Rebel and EFs lens and it was so worth it. Right now the 5d II is at a fantastic price. If you can afford it, you will never regret it. This is a very capable camera!

I am expecting the 5D II will come down in price a little over the next month being as the 6D is on high demand. But was not sure of the jump to a 5D III was worth it (it is much much more expensive at the moment!).

Do you find the quality of the images with the 24-105mm lens and 5D II is dramatically different to your T2i? Do you not miss the extra reach of the crop body sensor?




  
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TSchrief
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Dec 31, 2012 16:07 |  #12
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To improve the noise profile, you'll have to go to full-frame. Don't expect more than one stop, even with a 5D3. Your money may be better spent on a few fast primes. Your current camera will focus faster, and more accurately, with USM lenses that are f/2.8 or faster. The 85mm f/1.8 is very snappy. I've never used a 100mm f/2, but lots of people like it. A faster lens will also allow you to dial back the ISO a notch or two. Two stops lower ISO will do more for your noise problem than a FF body. Of course, both would be even better.


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michgirl
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Dec 31, 2012 18:46 |  #13

jbyrne wrote in post #15428355 (external link)
I am expecting the 5D II will come down in price a little over the next month being as the 6D is on high demand. But was not sure of the jump to a 5D III was worth it (it is much much more expensive at the moment!).

Do you find the quality of the images with the 24-105mm lens and 5D II is dramatically different to your T2i? Do you not miss the extra reach of the crop body sensor?

When I upgraded, I went from the 15mm-85mm EFs to the 24mm-105mm, so the reach was about the same as far as what I was use to. When I crop and blow up is when I notice the most improvement in iQ. Definitely there was a great improvement in noise with high ISO. There seems to be more depth to my photos, colors and contrast. One other thing I noticed was skin tones. With the 5dii, the skin tones were more true than the Rebel.

With a crop camera, you don't really have more reach. It just crops the picture so it appears that way.

Before I upgraded to the 5dii, I posted, asking about the same question, "is it really better?" someone responded "of course it is, why do you think it cost more?" so yes, it is a worthwhile upgrade, and I truly feel if you are going to upgrade a Rebel, going Full Frame is the biggest bang for your buck.


Robin
Canon 6d / EF Lens: 24mm-105mm / 40mm f/2.8 / 28mm f/1.8 / 50mm f/1.8 / 85mm 1.8 / EF 70-300mm II USM
Canon T6i / EFs Lens: 24mm Pancake / 18-55mm STM / 18-135mm STM / 55-250mm STM

  
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Dec 31, 2012 18:54 |  #14

TSchrief wrote in post #15428481 (external link)
To improve the noise profile, you'll have to go to full-frame. Don't expect more than one stop, even with a 5D3. Your money may be better spent on a few fast primes. Your current camera will focus faster, and more accurately, with USM lenses that are f/2.8 or faster. The 85mm f/1.8 is very snappy. I've never used a 100mm f/2, but lots of people like it. A faster lens will also allow you to dial back the ISO a notch or two. Two stops lower ISO will do more for your noise problem than a FF body. Of course, both would be even better.

Count me as disagreeing with respect to the noise improvement :). Going from a T2i to a 6d or 5d3 is a bit better than one stop. Additionally the ability to clean the noise and the quality of the noise is much different.


Jason

  
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TSchrief
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Dec 31, 2012 19:48 |  #15
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jase1125 wrote in post #15429032 (external link)
Count me as disagreeing with respect to the noise improvement :). Going from a T2i to a 6d or 5d3 is a bit better than one stop. Additionally the ability to clean the noise and the quality of the noise is much different.

I was just reporting my experience. My only FF is the 5D. I can't argue with you, the other bodies may be better. Definitely agree that the noise from my 5D is much less annoying than the brightly colored dots I get with the 60D at high ISO.


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