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Author Topic: Change the camera.. or change the lens?  (Read 2188 times)
StephenEdgar
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« on: March 10, 2006, 05:37:47 PM »
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Hi Folks,
I'd appreciate any feedback on the following query. I currently use a Canon 300D (Rebel) together with Canon 24-84 and 50mm (1.4) lenses for the bulk of my photography (nothing exotic..travel,  portraits etc). I try to extract the maximum quality from the gear I have and generally work with RAW files 'processed' in  ACR3.2. I'm reasonably happy with the quality of the pictures I can get from this set up (the 1.4 shots are particularly impressive), but I feel that newer DSLR cameras seem to give 'better' image quality
If I wanted to 'move up' a notch in image quality (dynamic range, resolution, sharpness etc), would it it more sensible to invest in better quality lenses (such as the Canon L series) or would I achieve better results upgrading to to one of the newest DSLR'S such as a Canon 5D
I appreciate there are many variables in a question like this, but I'm wondering if there are clear advantages to upgrading the sensor or the lens given the set-up I currently have and what is now available on the market.
Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated
Regards
Stephen Edgar
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Gary Ferguson
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« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2006, 03:27:41 AM »
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If I wanted to 'move up' a notch in image quality (dynamic range, resolution, sharpness etc), would it it more sensible to invest in better quality lenses (such as the Canon L series) or would I achieve better results upgrading to to one of the newest DSLR'S such as a Canon 5D

Be careful Stephen, you're heading down a road that leads to a Phase One P45 and Rodenstock Apo-Sironar Digital HR lenses!

Seriously, if you're chasing "quality" then the first and most important quation you need to ask yourself is what size prints do you make? If the answer is A4/9"x6" or smaller then you'll find it very difficult to significantly improve on your current results through equipment.  Indeed even if your ambitions extend to A3/9"x14.5" prints you'll likely discover that the most important gains will come from better technique. Careful exposure; a tripod or bracing yourself more firmly; balancing shutter speed, ISO, and aperture to maximum advantage; attention to post processing; and meticulous effort with focusing will all yield real increases in quality.

Of course none of these is as sexy as a shiny new 5D or 85 1.2L, but the hard truth is that your current gear is far more capable than that used by most of history's greatest photographers.
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StephenEdgar
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« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2006, 04:18:04 AM »
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Hello Gary,
Thanks for your comments. I take your point about print size! Interestingly, I recently bought an Epson A3 printer and it was at this point I began to 'notice' my image quality wasn't good enough! Perhaps you are right..looking at improving technique might be one answer. (But you are right..not as sexy as a new 5D  )
Thanks for the input
Stephen
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Gary Ferguson
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2006, 07:17:28 AM »
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There's strong arguments for better lenses, especially as the theme of the day on this forum is the limitations that lenses impose on quality. Furthermore, there's a lot to be said for the general principle of investing in value holding glass rather than camera bodies with an upgrade cycle of 18-24 months.

However, having said this, in your case I'd recommend the 5D.

IMO a D Rebel is starting to look strained at A3, I appreciate that many satisfied D Rebel owners will vigorously dispute this, and with the right subject and right technique I freely concede that it's capable of producing a satisfying A3 print. But absolutely everything has to be spot on, which in real life is rarely the case.

I use a 5D along with a 1Ds Mk II, and for most shots printed to A3 or smaller, I can't really tell the difference. For hand-held photography I don't believe there's any difference to tell! The results from the 5D also stand favourable comparison with the Hasselblad medium format film shots I've taken.

In other words I believe that with the 5D the digital market has arrived at an important milestone, a (relatively) affordable full frame camera that's capable of fully exploiting available printers and lenses. It's a camera that will give many years of service in the upper reaches of the quality spectrum, and allow you to pick up used or discounted prime lenses from the huge reservoir of EOS optics.

Just my opinion.
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jimhuber
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« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2006, 08:42:19 AM »
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I have a Rebel XT and 5D. Which one to use comes down to print size. More megapixels equals bigger possible prints. What you'll want to know is your personal threshold of "good enough". For a long time I was very satisfied with 180 pixels per inch (ppi), so with the Rebel XT I could print up to 13x19. But as my shooting and Photoshop skills improved I started being more critical, wanting 240 to 300 ppi. The extra pixels of the 5D allow me to print a full frame up to 12x18 at 240 ppi. A 1DsMkII would give me some room for cropping, but frankly I just can't afford it.

Crop some photos and print the crops at various resolutions: 180 ppi, 200 ppi, as high as you want to go. Then you be the judge of how good is good enough, taking cost into account. Then it's simple arithmetic to calculate how large of a print you can make from an image of given dimensions.

With all of that said, the newer generation of camera sensors is indeed better at high ISO sensitivity, too. I find myself using ISO 400 to 800 more often than I ever thought I would, but am very pleased with the results after processing by Noise Ninja. Yet another possible reason to upgrade the camera.
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2006, 11:05:41 AM »
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Hi Folks,
I'd appreciate any feedback on the following query. I currently use a Canon 300D (Rebel) together with Canon 24-84 and 50mm (1.4) lenses for the bulk of my photography (nothing exotic..travel,  portraits etc).
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I have the exact same equipment but also have had the opportunity to shoot with 10Ds, 20Ds and a 5D from time to time along with several other lenses ranging from cheap Sigmas to L lenses.

The 50mm f/1.4 is one of Canon's sharpest lenses. Buying more glass, while beneficial over the 24-85mm, will not net you images of any higher quality than what you get from the 50mm.
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