Upgrade Path from 20D

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by alp_hizal, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. My current kit is a 20D and EF-S 17-85 f/4-5.6 IS USM as a walkaround lens and EF 70-200 f/4 L for the long end.

    I am using this setup since 2006 and I believe it is time to upgrade.

    My priority is to buy the glass and flash first and then upgrade the body. However, your comments are very welcome at this point after you check my wish list for lenses.

    I am planning to keep 20D as a second body and buy a used 5D mark 1 body, or buy a 40D / 50D to replace 20D to use it for a while with the new glass (say, until 5D mark ii hits the used market with a decent price tag compared to now)

    I did a lot of reading about 40D/50D`s AF and it gives me the impression that they perform better than my 20D. Is it a good idea to spend some additional $1000 for a new body keeping in mind that I will use it for at least 1-2 years more before buying a 5d mk ii.

    To give a better idea of my photography style,

    I do not feel the need of really fast lenses at wide end, f/4 s will do good for me. I would like to hear some recommendations on which primes to add to the two lenses i listed below to use in low-light conditions for the wide end. (keeping in mind that i will wait a while before changing to FF)

    Also, i am not into pixel peeping and do not really like comparing equipment for their extreme/on the edge performances. As far as I have seen/read all below lenses have good build quality and decent performance. My criteria is to buy glass that i can use for a long time and get the most of the creativity out of them.

    For the long end, i prefer faster glass since i shoot interiors, races and live scenes. I am thinking of replacing my 70-200 f/4 with a f/2.8 some time but not before i buy other zooms and body, it will be my last move.

    EF 17-40 f/4 USM L with EF 24-105 f/4 USM L IS
    430 EX II

    The EF 16-35 f/2.8 L is an attractive lens but it seems better to buy the 17-40 and a fast prime for the wide end. What do you think?

    Any other idea / pathway is very welcome since there is not a "all time best" combination.

    Thanks a bunch!
  2. You raise a lot of points, so the combinations of the variables are substantial.
    From a 20D, pretty much all directions are up. I still shoot with mine, however, in preference to an XTi; but I did go for a 5D mk 1 because of some legacy shift-lens issues. Otherwise, I'd probably have got a 50D.
    If you're going for an APS-C body, then definitely keep the 17-85mm and the 70-200L - you're not going to do better without spending a lot of money.
    For the 5D, you may be able to do as I did and get the 24-105mm (which is very much like the 17-85 on the smaller sensor) for a good price. I also got a good deal on a 430EX speedlite, so with my older telephoto zoom and my beloved PC-Nikkor 35mm, I'm all set to go. I've kept the 17-85 and the 10-20 for my 20D and XTi, but did end up getting some interim shorter lenses for the 5D, looking forward to a TS-E 17mm when I can amass the spare change required.
  3. Tough question...
    First off, I see no reason to upgrade to a newer crop body if your plan is to get a 5D sometime soon. The 20D is a great workhorse camera with a good AF subs system. FWIW, I've not done any systematic/quantitative comparisons, but my impression is that the 40D's AF isn't any better than the 20D's. YMMV, of course. It sure sounds like the best "next body" for you is a used 5D.
    For lenses, the 17-40 and 16-35 are both well respected. I don't own either (and I'm not sure if I've ever even borrowed one from CPS), so I'll leave the detailed comparisons to those with more experience. Your desire for a fast/wide/prime is particularly difficult. On a FF body, there are lots of options, but the only Canon prime below 20mm is the 14mm f/2.8L (at $2150).
    Personally, I'd look at a used 5D and some kind of FF wide-angle lens. The (relative - $500) bargain 20mm f/2.8 would be a good choice (although, for not much more you could get the 17-40mm...).
    Alternatively, you could get either of the two "L" zooms and use them at 16 or 17mm as moderately wide-angle lenses on your 20D for the time being, start looking for a FF camera as soon as you can afford it.
  4. I use Canon EF 17-40 mm F4 L on my 20D. Works very well and I definitely recommend it. If you are not planning to
    purchase FF any time soon, then for wide angle I recommend Canon EFS 10-22 mm. It is an outstanding lens for 20D.
  5. I use my 17-40 f/4 on my XSi and 7D, and it works superbly. I also thought of the 16-35 f/2.8 when I bought it, but it's a very small difference for such a big amount of money, in my case (due to the little use I give to wide angles). The image quality of the 17-40 f/4 is very good, AF is pretty fast, the lens feels sturdy and well-built, it serves as a very good walk-around lens for my cropped-sensor cameras, and is wide enough for the type of photography I like doing. Here you can see how much it can fit into the image on a cropped sensor (the whole Empire State building from about 7 meters away):
    About the camera body, I second Geoff's opinion. Jumping from the 20D to the 50D will give you very small benefits. The 20D works pretty good as a back-up camera already, you should focus on getting a used 5D, or perhaps gather the money to get the 5D Mark II. Again, in my case I went for the 7D instead of the 5D Mark II due to my shooting style, don't know if it'll suit you but, I must say that the 7D is outstanding.
    Another thing I would do, similar to what JDM said, if you're staying in the APS-C realm, keep the 17-85, or perhaps upgrade to the new 15-85 f/3.5-5.6 IS, but if you're going for the FF 5D (be it Mark I or II), sell the 10-22 and the 17-85 and buy a 24-105 f/4 together with the 17-40 f/4 (in other words, get rid of EF-S lenses).
    Erwin Marlin
  6. A lot depends on your budget as well. The 40D's AF does work better than the 20D's from the reviews I've read, and it should since all 9 AF points are cross-type sensors, making the AF more sensitive. Also the noise performance on the 40D appears to be better than the 20/30D with the DigicIII chip working hard to eliminate noise at higher ISOs. I think that if you weren't wanting to spend a fortune on a body at the present time, then a 40D or 50D might not be a bad move for the time being. I had considered a lot of options including the 5DII as well as a 40D, but once the 7D was announced my mind was made up, and that was my choice. It's an outstanding camera as Erwin stated, one you should definitely look into...literally and figuratively!
  7. Thanks for the responses.
    This brings up the question will 40D be a good backup camera when I manage to buy a FF body? Like 1-2 years after today. Or stick with 20D and spend the money on glass as long as it clicks...
    As far as I understand from your response, my proposed lenses will pair good keeping in mind that i will move to FF some time..
    Now new questions.
    I feel like I will be going with 17 - 40 and 430 ex ii first. Then save some bucks for the 24-105.
    When i look at BH`s website i can see they only have 24-105 as a "WhiteBox" item in stock. Anybody has any idea what does that mean?
    Second question, do you have any experience that prices fall down after christmas? Shall i wait or buy what i need right now?
    Thanks a bunch
  8. You got me right about the lenses, yeap; the lenses you proposed are economical and deliver very good value for every penny you pay for them (17-40, 24-105 f4).
    When B&H, or any other store, has an item under "white box" category, it means that the item came bundled with a camera body but it was then separated in order to sell each item on its own. In the case of a 24-105 f/4, it was probably bundled with a 5D Mark II, but the store decided to sell both items individually.
    About the christmas price fall-off, don't know; sorry.
    Erwin Marlin
  9. I had the same exact setup you have now and recently sold the 17-85 and got the 17-40 and the 50mm 1.8 to fill the gap. I love this setup and this would be especially good with a 5D. Now you have wide to tele. But with the 5D you could have super wide to tele and keep the 17-40 on the 5D for landscape and the 70-200 on the 20D for wildlife and have to change lenses a lot less. I know to most people on here this would be a sub par setup, a 1st gen. 5D and a 20D, but I would love to have the convenience of two bodies. Sometimes I wanna slap people that talk about needing better equipment and which multi thousand dollar lens to put on their multi thousand dollar bodies. Must be nice to have those problems. I am not complaining at all about my setup, I have very nice equipment and am satisfied at the moment, but my big lust isn't a 400mm 2.8 on a 1DS MkIII, its just a 1st gen. 5D. Sorry for rambling.
  10. Keep your 20D - it is a great camera. Buy the 17-40mm f/4L - it will turn your 17-85mm into a desk paper weight overnight. Warning: L glass is very additive. Save your money for a used 5D - a camera similar in operation to your 20D, but oh the image quality! Good luck!
  11. Thanks for the responses.
    Nathan - I also want to keep my 1.6x Body next to a 5D.
    Erwin - I think I will buy the 430 EX II first. I have to decide on which lens to buy first..
    Additionally, no one posted any comments on primes! :)
    I would also like to hear your recommendations on which primes to get for the long end to support 70 - 200 f/4.
  12. The 430 EX is a very nice flash; I own a copy and, although I haven't used it much, it has been very handy in some occasions.
    About the long end, If you do trade your 70-200 f/4 for an f/2.8, you won't be needing any other prime to support the long end; I can assure you that you'll prefer the versatility, excellent bokeh, and very nice IQ of this lens. However, if you want to keep your copy and, instead, buy some primes to help you out with wider apertures, you could try the 100mm f/2.8 Macro. It's an excellent lens, with great DOF, great IQ, fast AF, and will give you the ability to shoot macro as well (although it's a macro, it works outstandingly for portraits). If you're looking for something longer, you could try the 200mm f/2.8 L. It's a very sharp lens at an affordable price (for the serious hobbyist or professional photographers, that is). Anything beyond the 200mm is way too expensive, in my opinion, and anything before the 100mm is too short.
    There aren't any other better primes between the 100-200mm range. I've read and heard that the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 Macro is a very good lens as well, with great IQ, but I haven't tried it myself so I can't recommend it quite yet (though I'm a canon-ist, I like all my equipment to be from Canon, but that's just me).
    Erwin Marlin
  13. Erwin,
    I am planning to keep the f/4 and buy the 85mm f/1.8 and give it a try. This 85, is very attractive in terms of applications with a 1.6x body and I think i will use it frequently and have fun with that.
    135 f/2 L is also an intersting and reputable lens, but it will take some time before i buy that lens. I want to play with my current gear for some time. The 200mm you mentioned is also a good one but maybe will go better with a 5D when i get one.
    I also like to stick with Canon gear :)
    I got permission from a pro photographer to take pictures for a wedding this December. This is quite exciting! That will be a good opportunity for me to develop some skills for this kind of photography.
    If I can afford it by then I am planning to add the 14-70 f/4L to my kit. I will borrow a Rebel XTi body and use it with my 20D.
    Probably the 17-40 will be on my 20D and I will use the 85mm and/or 70-200 f/4 with the Rebel. 430EX II will find a place depending on the scene i guess.
    Any recommendations on the wedding setup ? :)
  14. In terms of upgrades to the 20D in the same series -- the 30D is probably not worth the trouble, since it offers only incremental advantages over the 20D. 40D, on the other hand, is a real upgrade and probably represents the best compromise in cost effectiveness. 50D also a real upgrade, but the 7D is a whole new class of APS-C cameras, and clearly signal (together with the new EF-S lenses) Canon's commitment to this format.
    That being said, if you don't need video, a good used 5D (mine was only driven on weekends by a little old Leica collector) is a wonderful camera, but it does make the EF-S lenses useful only if you keep your APS-C cameras as back ups. Both the 16-35 and the 17-40 are great lenses, but maybe more so on the APS-C than on the 35mm format (see Photozone.de reviews on both formats of these lenses). If you are sticking to APS-C I wouldn't rush to replace your 17-85. I'm still waiting on reviews for the new 15-85 replacement, but it costs half again as much.
  15. My 20D just died and I picked up a 50D as a replacement. Initial thoughts: a very similar camera with almost 2x the megapixels and a very nice screen. There are definitely some tweaks to the body that I appreciate - programmatic control of what some buttons do, changed menuing system, but nothing earth-shattering. Still very similar to my 20D. I'm looking forward to spending some more time with it to see what advantages surface. ISO Noise looks marginally better, but time will tell.
    I fondled the 7D in a store and was in love. Seeing the low noise at high ISO makes me long for it as well as the integrated flash commander capabilities. However, it was too much more expensive than the 50D for me, now. I also looked at the 5D I and II, but decided that the 50D was a better fit as an all-purpose camera right now. Ideally I think I'd have something like a 5DmkII + 7D setup, but it's only one body for me right now (borrowing/renting when the need presents itself.)
    I also have a 17-40 and love the photos from it, but often find that I want faster glass. Don't get me wrong, when f/4+ is OK, the 17-40 is a beauty.
    I find having a 50 f/1.8 and 85 f/1.8 to be a good compliment to my 70-200 and my 17-40. I picked up a cheap Sigma 24 f/2.8 for low-light wider work. The down side, it only worked on my 20D at 2.8. I justified that by saying if I wanted to shoot at f/4, I'd pull out the 17-40. Made it not very versatile but a helpful specialty lens. I haven't decided if I'll keep it around. I don't use it often.
    a 430 is a good addition to any bag. It was my first flash and still a workhorse. I've since added a 580 and a few cheap-o flashes with some cactus radio triggers, which have also been helpful, though not perfect.
    Not sure if that answers any questions... upgrades are always a fun time. Good luck!
  16. Note: the 15-85mm IS new lens is reviewed now by Photozone.de. It's better, but not what I had hoped for, alas. (link )
  17. I have the 17-40L 70-200 f4L and a 50mm 1.8 to fill the gap. This is a great prime at a great price. My primary use for this lens if family gathering shots, and since I won't be blowing up a shot of grandma eating cake to a billboard sized print, I didn't see any need in spending much money on this lens. I've heard great things about the 50mm 1.4 and of course the 1.2 L version. Also, I always hear people swearing by their 85mm primes. Although it's very expensive and I don't know how much use it would get, I think the 14mm L would be an awesome lens to see on a FF body.

Share This Page