5d Mark II, new lens(es), or just patience

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by matthew_sullivan|1, May 9, 2010.

  1. I have an upcoming trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Coupled with a generous wife who is willing to buy me some new camera equipment for the trip and I have started to gravitate towards purchasing a 5d Mark II with 24-105L. This would not exhaust my budget, but would probably be the last large camera related purchase for a couple of years.
    Before spending this large amount of money on what will be amateur camera equipment, I wanted to research if this was a good use of money. Based on the many helpful discussions I've read on this and other boards, opinions seem to fall broadly into three categories:
    1) The 5d2 is a great camera and takes absolutely amazing photographs. It's absolutely a worthwhile upgrade if you can afford it.
    2) The 5d2 would be an improvement, but for most people the improvement is only marginal and that money is much better spent on upgrading other equipment, especially lenses.
    3) Even expensive lenses are wasted on amateurs; for most practical purposes what you have is more than sufficient and you shouldn't think spending money will make your photographs significantly better.
    The first relevant question is "what do you like to photograph and why". I like taking pictures of places I go. Landscapes, nature, and buildings in general--waterfalls, clouds, flowers, lighthouses, and skyscrapers in particular. I'm also starting to get more interested in macro work beyond just flowers. The photographs are shared with family and friends (who at least complement them out of politeness); the most practical application is as wall decoration.
    Of course, an insightful question often asked, "what is it about your current equipment that you feel is limiting?" For the body, I feel like I can take pretty good (for me, at least) pictures in bright daylight, but start running into quality issues above ISO 400 or so. I also think that image quality starts to suffer when I print at or above 11 x 14, especially since I have to crop to fit those dimensions. I recently purchased a 100mm macro lens (non L) and have really been amazed at how much better the pictures I take with that lens. The images are much sharper than I'm used to and also have a more appealing quality that I can't quite identify. I don't know exactly why there is such a difference--it could be the improvement from the lens, it could be the added care that has to be taken with a fixed focal length lens, or it could just be coincidence.
    So, the question is: should I upgrade my body, lenses, both, or neither. If the body, is the 5d2 a good choice? Would I be better served getting a used 5d or a newer crop body? The lenses I currently have are:
    1) EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
    2) EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
    3) EF 50mm f/1.8
    4) EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
    5) EF 100mm f/2.8 MACRO USM
    what lens upgrades, if any, would make sense? Thanks for any insight.
  2. Matthew,
    I think your plans to purchase a new 5DMKII are very sound along with the zoom lens. I assume you mean the IS version. It would be a great walk around handholdable lens. B&S has a pretty good price bundle saving you a couple of hundred on a kit.
    You know of course the EFS lenses can't be used on FF boddies like the 5D.
    If you purchase the 5D I would definitely sell lenses 1,2 on your list and possibly 3, & 4.
    Good luck and have fun.
  3. I'm a huge fan of the 5D family. The mark II is awesome and coupled with the 24-105 it makes a sweet combo. The only lens I would keep is the 100 Macro. The sale will help fund your full frame. I would also get a nice tripod for the trip. Later on you can get a 70-200 to complete your kit. With the purchase of the mark II, you can leave your camcorder at home as well. Good luck on your trip and happy mothers day. v/r Buffdr
  4. Upgrade from which body?
  5. If you are getting the 5D II with the 24-105 kit lens, that would be a great combo. With your current camera and the 70-300 lens, you are good for most wild life shots too. Also a good polarizer and a graduate filter, together with a sturdy tripod and you are all set. Just my opinion.
  6. My 5DII is my favourite DSLR (I prefer it to my 7D or 1DIIN) especially for the type of shots you have in mind. Of the lenses you have, two will not work on the 5DII (the EF-S lenses) and one might not produce great results (but I have not used the 70-300). If you want to use your EF-S lenses (and I understand the 10-22 is quite a good lens) then you may want to consider the 7D. The 5DII and the 24-105 make a great combination and a few filters will set you up. like Andy I suggest a Cir Pol and one or two ND grads (get a sqyuare system like Cokin). If you can only afford a single ND Grad them the 2 stop is the one I find I use the most.
  7. First, I don't think that you can say in a general way that expensive equipment is "wasted amateurs." There are amateurs... and then there are amateurs. It really comes down to how you use the equipment and for what purpose. Some like the feeling of carrying around gear that looks pro - I'm not impressed. Others put the equipment to good use, shooting with skill and care and then producing very high quality results that they print.
    The 5D2 is an excellent camera of many purposes - but it isn't automatically the best or the right choice for everyone. So many people are looking for someone to tell them what the "best" camera (or car, or TV, or phone, or computer, or restaurant, or hotel...) is so that they can acquire the thing identified as "best" without really having to understand what these claims do and don't mean. For some photographers and some uses the 5D2 can certainly be the "best" choice, but for other photographers and uses it may well not be the best.
    If you shoot with technical skill and care, use good lenses, understand how to apply skillful post-processing, and regularly make large prints of subjects with significant detail (to make up one type of example) a 5D2 could be the best choice. If your shooting varies from this a bit other options could be "best." (do you print large? Do you need features like faster burst rate? Do you really want to carry around a big DSLR and a bunch of lenses and a tripod?)
    If I had to generalize, I'd tend to agree with parts of your second point in the numbered list. For many people the advantages of the larger format will not end up making much difference in their photography. This is not to say that the 5D2 isn't a great camera than can produce "better" images in some cases than alternative camera X - it just means that its "betterness" is in areas that may not affect everyone's photography.
  8. I'd sell all of the lenses you currently have (or all but 100mm) and get 5DII with 24-105 in a heartbeat. You will not be disappointed. As an added bonus you will have possibility to shoot high quality videos as well. I actually like faster lenses on 5DII, especially when shooting videos, for shallower DOF so in the future you might be interested in 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8 and some fast primes
  9. You haven't said which camera you've currently got, but given the list of lenses you have, it's obviously an APS-C body. Also, you say you have the 18-55 rather than '8-55 IS'; if you do indeed have the non-IS version of that lens then that means you have a camera a couple of generations old.
    It would be a pity to lose that 10-22, it's a good lens, and is effectively wider than the 24-105. I can see an argument for doing one of the following:-
    a) continue using the 10-22, 50mm, and 100mm macro, but get a new lower-cost APS-C body: there are some good deals on the 500D / T1i currently. Then get a 24-105mm and use it on the the T1i. That gives you a big upgrade in both lenses and body/resolution, and will permit you to move to full frame at some time in the future if you want to. Yes, the focal length of the 24-105 isn't ideal with an APS-C body, but it fits well with the 10-22.
    b) commit to APS-C and buy either the 7D or the T2i, plus the 17-55 f2.8, plus the 55-250mm. All of these will be a big step up from your current main lens (the 18-55) and what I assume is your body.
    On the other hand: if what you want is the 5DII + 24-105, go out and get it! Objectively it may be no better than the 7D + 17-55 (in fact there are those would argue that the latter is the better system), but if that's the system that you'd feel positive about, that you would want to pick up and use, then go for it.
  10. Matthew, I'll add my voice to the chorus of recommendations for the 5D II and 24-105. The 5D II is eminently suited to your applications, and the 24-105 is a versatile, high resolution zoom (at a great price when sold in the kit). Later, you might want to add a 17-40 and a 70-200/4 IS L. That trio of zooms with my 5D II (or 1V) comprises my walkabout kit.
  11. It can be very expensive to get the last bit of image quality. The 5D MK II (which I have) is almost twice as expensive as the 7D ($100 rebate right now). You won't be taking twice as good of photos with it. The Canon 10-22mm is a great lens, I sold mine for the Canon 17-40 "L" and I still miss it. In my opinion the 10-22mm is better (far less distortion at the wide end). If I were in your shoes I'd get the 7D and add the Canon 17-55mm IS and you'll still have close to $1,000 left over from the 5D II + 24-105mm combination. The 24-105mm "L" is a great lens but again it has a lot of distortion at the wide end - all of your horizons will be bowed and applications like Lightroom have no tools to fix this. The 7D, 10-22mm, 17-55mm would be very diffiuclt to beat and your Canon 70-300mm (I have one) will do really well too.
    Good luck.
  12. That is quite a bag of gear already. My thoughts for you would be sell lens 2) and get the 17-55 2.8 IS and call the lenses done. If your camera is an XTi or newer aps-c body there is no nead for an upgrade.
    My emphasis would be on on three Singh-Ray filters at least (two stop soft step, circular polarizer, 3 stop hard step) and a quality ball-head for my tripod, plus the Canon angle finder-C.
    You already seem to have very good gear, and I personally believe items like the graduated filters and polarizer will make more difference in your image making potential at Yellowstone and Grand Teton than any possible body/lens upgrade over what you already have.
  13. One more opinion. I currently shoot with a 7D, the 10-22, the 17-55 2.8. I use the EFS 17-200 as a walk around lens. These lenses are a great combination with this camera, and I have had one-man shows and sell a lot of my work. With a bit of help from Genuine Fractals I have printed BIG and on canvas and aluminum sheets. Do not discount the 7D. Take a look at www.photodiscoveries.com. Everything there is shot with a 7D or a 40D. the Africa pictures are with a CANON 500 f4.
  14. The most important piece of equipment you will bring is an alarm clock to wake you up before sunrise and a solid tripod for long exposures in those spectacular lighting conditions. It doesn't really matter what equipment you have during most of the day; most scenic photography under overhead direct lighting is ugly and uninspiring. You can use the time to scout for locations to revisit when the lighting is better.
    Probably what you like about your 100mm macro is the high contrast of this particularly nice lens. Most all of the "L" lenses deliver this. Pick the one(s) that have the focal length and features that you want. Most are most conveniently used on a full-frame body such as the 5D2 although they will work on your camera. There are a lot of really important convenience features added to recent bodies (both full-frame and crop) such as Live View, better LCD screens on the back for image review and micro-focus which you will like if you have an older body. I shot out west with an 8mp 30D and it had good image quality for 13 x 19 prints. The 5D2 will let you take that to about 20 x 30.
  15. 5d2 is great for landscapes, if you came to a point where your half-sensor limits you, otherwise, it would be better to get a lens with a cheaper body -- that's a general rule.
    For something like a "once in a while trip" I would rent a lens. In your case I would rent a 300 mm f/4 IS, places like borrowlenses.com or lensrentals.com mail it to you, and this lens should be around $40 + $20 shipping to rent per week, and it would be a good lens to try there.
    That would be a good lens to own at some point, but with renting you can get a preview, and find out if it would do what you think.. for you.
    Have you tried a waterfall filter, since you said you took pictures of waterfalls?
    Have you tried Graduated Neutral Density filter?
    Have you tried using a prime, even if it's in the range of zoom lenses you have, going out with just a prime or two can change how you think and make you take different pictures.
  16. Matthew you still haven't responded to the question of what body you currently have...
  17. I agree with Robert, RENT the whole 5DMK II kit for the week from one of the vendors above and use your current kit as backup. Get a decent tripod and some filters and "be there" as others have said before sunrise and at sunset. Then you can see if you really like full frame - otherwise enjoy the trip! If you do decide to buy, Canon just came out with a $100 rebate for this camera and/or the kit.
  18. First, thanks everyone for all the insightful and helpful comments. I'm always amazed at how friendly and helpful strangers can be when talking about something they enjoy. I hope I didn't upset anyone by implying something was wasted on amateurs--I certainly don't think such things and was only trying to exaggerate the differences between the three sets of opinions. It probably would have been better to use the word "novice", as amateur can mean both someone who is inexperienced and someone who with vast experience who makes their living in other ways.
    Second, I'm completely sorry for not mentioning earlier the camera I have--it was in an early draft of this message but somehow got cut out of the final version. I have a five year old Rebel XT (350D). I'm well aware the the 10-22 are 18-55 wouldn't be useful on a full frame camera; the 10-22 is probably my second favorite lens (behind the 100 macro), but I usually find the wide end too wide for most things and don't think I would miss the 16-24 range too much.
    The very first accessory I bought for my XT was a circular polarizer and it would be the first accessory I buy for any new lens I would get. I hadn't used any other filters, so I'll look in to what and how those can be used. I've ordered a couple of well-reviewed books on digital photography technique for landscapes, but if there are suggestions for good books or websites that would be appreciated, as well.
    I hadn't considered the 7D at all--it seemed like the camera was a big improvement on all the things I'm not as interested in (speed, focusing). Those things certainly aren't hindrances, though, so I'll look more closely and see if that may be a more appropriate choice. I'll also look at the T2i.
    As for lenses, if I decide to stay with what I have or simply get a crop body, it seems like the best choices for upgraded lenses would be either the 17-55 or 15-85. The 24-105 or 24-70 also seem like good lenses, especially when coupled with the 10-22, so I'm considering those, as well. Given that I don't mind changing lenses or carrying a fair amount of heavy equipment with me (it slows me down enough so that my in-laws can keep up), should I consider going with prime lenses instead of zooms? If so, are there any suggestions as to which primes would be appropriate? Thanks as well for the suggestion about lens rentals--I had looked at the prices for a local place and they were so high I put the idea out of my head. The places referenced above are much more reasonable.
    Thanks again for your help.
  19. Matthew,
    I came from an original Canon Digital Rebel and stepped up to the 5D. What a step it was! The images that the original 5D can create are spectacular! And the 5D mark ii is beyond stunning! My advice would be to sell your current crop of lenses except for the 100mm macro. Buy the original 5D and have money left over for either a 24-70 f2.8 or 24-105 f4 IS (good walk around lens), 70-200 f2.8 and a finally a 17-40 f4. You will then coupled with your macro have all the lenses you need for almost any application. On the other hand you could spend money on the 5d mark ii with the 24-105 f4 IS and have the ability to take stunning high definition video! Which is a plus. Either way your still coming out on top. If your looking for something to last you years and years the Mark ii may be the way to go since it is newer and will be competitive for a long time to come...but don't count the original 5d out either...its a bangin camera : )

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