Dilemma, Upgrade or Switch

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Essjay, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. Essjay macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    Hi Guys, I am in need of your expert opinions:

    I have been shooting with the Canon Rebel Xsi for nearly a year using the Kit 18-55, the 55-250 tele, and the 50 1.8 prime. I have been enjoying the camera but I think it is time for me to upgrade the glass. I was looking at both the 70-200 f/4 and the 17-55 f/2.8 IS. I was leaning towards "L" glass because I think I might want to upgrade to a full frame camera later on (when the mkii goes down in price). I think most of my shooting is done within 100mm so maybe I should look at something like the 24-105L which leaves me with the possibility to always upgrade to a FF camera.

    I then realized that maybe I should switch over to Nikon before its too late, I do alot of night shooting and I hardly make any big prints so more MP does not make any difference for me. I was looking at the Nikon D300 or D90 but then I would also have to buy new lenses something I am willing to do. If I do go this route I have someone who is willing to buy the Rebel with the lenses for a fair price, so that would not be a problem. Is the difference in noise between the Nikons and Canon (mkii) so obvious or will I not see the difference, I cannot shoot above ISO 800 with the Rebel before the image becomes unusable.

    What do you guys recommend? Upgrade? or Switch?

    Thanks guys.
  2. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000


    Nov 16, 2006
    New York City
    I very much prefer Nikon but I'd say stick with what you know. Keep the XSI and pick up some really excellent lenses. If you're shooting a lot around 100mm, some good choices would be the

    100mm f/2 prime @ $375 new
    135mm f/2L prime @ $900 new

    Both of those would really enhance your photography because they introduce bokeh and in the case of the 135, sharpeness and color that is just unachievable with any of your other lenses.
  3. mdo574 macrumors newbie

    Nov 19, 2008

    i would go for the d300 awsome camera
  4. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Opinions are like skin pores, I've got two billion, sixteen million of them- give or take. :)

    The most important question comes first- what shots aren't you getting, with what sort of of subjects in what sort of lighting at which focal length? (there's going to be a quiz!)

    Again, another question (dammit, I'm stuck on informed opinion again!):

    What would be your impetus for changing (I think upgrading is too strong a term) to "full frame?" You get less pixel density for the dollar (insert your currency in place if necessary) and you're shooting up to 100mm on a 1.6x crop factor body- that makes you normally shooting at up to 160mm on a full frame body, so you're looking at 150mm or 200mm max focal length lenses, which are going to be bigger and more expensive than 100mm lenses (that's not a bad thing per se, but it's a factor.)

    If it's just high-ISO, then do faster lenses negate the difference? IOW, have you done the math to figure out what exposures "work" for your shooting?

    You likely won't get more than a stop or so better high-ISO on a D90. If you want high-ISO, then you're stuck ponying up for a 5DII, D700, D3 or such. But I think we need some clarification on what you're shooting at night that requires better than ISO 800. Frankly, the 40D should do about the same as the D90 ISO-wise so dumping lenses and switching systems is only interesting of you really need a feature or are convinced that Canon's going to continue to produce high-density sensors on their FF bodies and that you need ultra-high ISO.

    Now I'll ask the next most obvious question. Can you bring more light into the equation? Flashes are cheaper than high-ISO sensors by a long shot, and allow significantly more control over the resulting image.

    Finally, if you want a full frame body that beats your current high-ISO performance, why not get a 5D mk I? With careful post-processing you can go between 1600 and 3200 and you can get a gently used one for about the price of a new D300.
  5. beatzfreak macrumors 6502

    Jan 11, 2006
    I'm in a similar situation, except I have a 4 year old 350/XT and have out-grown it. I'm not heavily invested in Canon yet and am considering switching over to the Nikon D300.

    I'll be going to B&H this week to check out the D300, D90 and the 50D in person. If possible, I'd suggest you do the same.
  6. SWC macrumors 6502

    Jan 6, 2004
    Just my opinion here based on what I have seen but I currently have a 40d and a friend with a 50d. I would say youd be better served by the 40d for the price difference. The 50d seems to be a bit noisier in it's results but these weren't side by side same settings, same object so ymmv. But overall for what you gain I would snag the 40d and put the difference towards glass.
  7. Essjay thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    Thanks for the replies guys.

    To answer the quiz questions :cool:

    1. I mostly shoot in dim to very low light with most shots coming under the 100mm focal range. These shots are usually taken of people or architecture.

    2. The main reason for changing would be for wider angle work which I am interested in. And from what I have read the image quality is better + better high ISO performance.

    3/4. I have not done the math yet, not sure how. But I do have the 580 EX II flash but most of the time I find that the reach is not long enough, for those few times when I am not shooting under 100mm. I will still end up shooting at ISO 400/800 to compensate for the lack of flash. Most of my work is done without a tripod so I cannot go for a longer exposure either.

    5. If I were to get a FF I think I would go for the MKII just because the video interests me, I would not buy the FF for a few months atleast because I need to get some good glass first. I think teh MKII will drop in price so that helps.

    Sorry I could not go into more detail but I am leaving for a few hours and will check back then.

    Thanks in advance!
  8. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Architecture will almost always be better off a tripod (you get to level the camera for a start.)

    You say you're making only small prints- I'm not sure you'll actually see IQ differences in that case. Perhaps instead a 10-20mm or so lens would be a better investment unless you need to shoot moving subjects in low light with it- which will not be cheap on a FF camera with a wide-angle rectilinear lens.

    The 580 is GN 191 (that is 191 feet at ISO 100) which comes in at about 105mm, at 14mm it's still almost 50 feet. Adding a second 580II boosts the 105mm number to almost 270 feet and the 14mm number to almost 70 feet. Perhaps you are not adjusting your flash power sufficiently?

    As far as the math goes, at ISO 800, how many stops underexposed are you? Add larger apertures, higher ISO or longer shutter speeds to compensate and find out what the sweet spot is- then you'll know if larger aperture lenses or a new high-ISO sensor is the right answer.

    Personally, I'm not sure there's a lot of price wiggle room in the mkII- but with the economy sucking there's a chance Canon over-manufactured up front so we'll see. However, if a mk I gets you two stops (4x the light) then I'd probably look more closely at it- the D700 has visibly better high-ISO performance, but no movie mode, so you really need to decide which is more important.
  9. jbernie macrumors 6502a


    Nov 25, 2005
    Denver, CO
    Without getting too involved, you have a $370 Canon only flash that is I think the best one for the hot shoe without going to a full lighting setup, you also have some experience with the Canon menus. You also have 3 lenses & a body.

    To me, it sounds like you left the idea of switching to <insert brand> too late. If you go and get a 40D or 40D + kit lens you get a better camera and have a decent selection of lenses, though maybe not the absolute best lenses.

    Given someone is willing to buy the XSi & lenses (does this include the 580 speedlite?) you could go for a 40D + 28-135 kit lens, another faster lens for the night photos, keep the speedlite and still have a familiar menus.

    The 5DmkII if you can find it in stock is $2700 for the body only at reputable dealers (Bestbuy, Adorama, B&H, etc), add on the new lenses and you are looking at an easy $4000-5000 depending on your lens selection.

    Some of the others are probably in a better position to advise you on what will get you the best value for money but the 40D route might get the better results for a lot less money or same money with more/top notch glass.

    note: I have no experience with the Nikon side of the house so I can only comment on the Canon side. I have a 40D w/28-135mm kit lens & the 50mm 1.4. I wont make any claims to be a pro :rolleyes: but here are some night photos I have taken: http://ibernie.smugmug.com/gallery/6206661_YCEny#391255935_ufogR
  10. Essjay thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    Thanks for the advice, I think I will read through my flash manual again to make sure I have everything setup correctly. At ISO 800 I am usually 1-2 stops under exposed with the rebel 800 is the max before the images are too grainy for my liking. I will shoot with my aperture wide open (around 5.6 with the kit + tele), and shutter pushed to the highest setting before blur starts to become an issue.

    I think a 2.8 lens would be a step in the right direction as it would give a stop over what I currently have. It seems the consensus is that I should stick with Canon, any personal lens recommendations? I have read that the 17-55 2.8 IS performs extremely well compared to A similar L lens but it only fits on the crop bodies and I want to keep the door open for a FF if need be...

    Thanks again for all the replies really appreciate it!
  11. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    f/2.8 is two stops over f/5.6, or 1/4th or 4x the light depending on which way you go. I don't shoot with Canon bodies all that often, and when I do it's someone else's with whatever lens they have on it.

    I'd offer this suggestion though- if the 17-55 will work, look for a good used one that'll hold its value rather well and then figure you're only really spending the depreciation between when you buy and when you sell it- so it'll be quite cheap.
  12. beatzfreak macrumors 6502

    Jan 11, 2006
    If I stay with Canon, that's probably what I'll do. I just need to hold the 50d in my hand, they may not have a 40d demo. Photography is becoming my livelihood(well, part of it), so I need to invest a little $$$. My XT is a hunting machine in low light with large apertures, and it drives me nuts.

    Are you shooting RAW or jpg? I've had some luck with NR software. I shoot a lot of low light events and more often than not flash is not allowed. Noiseware has worked very well for me and saved me some shots.
  13. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Hmm, I find this inaccurate cause even at ISO1600 the image is still usable as long as you are not being picky on the noise level or just mentally giving you an excuse to get a new body.

    Here is a tip, there is a custom function in the Rebel XSi menu which allows for high ISO speed noise reduction and something noise reduction, one has an auto mode so I guess it means it will switch back and forth between NR on and NR Off, another one is it will disable your burst mode and AEB but that's okay as long as you are not taking sports.

    And like someone mentioned, you are too late. You got a kit lens and 2 lens and you even got a flashgun. But hey its your decision, I like Nikon higher end DSLR (D300, D700) much better then Canon (50D, 5D Mk II). Lets hope Canon will change their strategy and bring more useful pro stuffs down the line cause honestly, I dont think the 50D is the "correct" competitor to the D300 and the 5D to compete with D700. The only reason why it is compared in that way is because of how the companies promote like the 5D is the cheapest FF alternative in Canon lineup while the D700 is the cheapest FF in Nikon line up and such.

    So to stop my ramblings, you could switch but take note that Nikon FF lenses is usually more expensive then Canon equivalent and if you are going Nikon, get the D300, forget about the D90, its a much better camera.
  14. Essjay thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    I am shooting RAW, I have not had that much luck with NR software, I will try noiseware maybe it will do the job..

    @wheelshot Sorry unuseable was a bad description but they do become too noisy for my liking and I tend to avoid 1600 as much as possible.

    If I invest in lenses, I agree it is the best thing to do, I am at the mercy of Canon to move away from the MP and improve the noise. Do you guys believe that Canon will go this route or will they continue to boost MP and forget what their (semi)professionals want?

    Thanks again
  15. vga4life macrumors 6502

    Jun 16, 2004
    If you do mostly hand-held night shooting (especially with available light,) forget zooms.

    Your dream rig for that application is a 5D (Mark 1 is fine) and a set of fast primes (35/1.4L, 50/1.4, 85/1.8, 100/2). That's a bit of an investment.

    Failing that, consider the Sigma 30mm/f1.4. (~$380, e.g. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0007U0GZM)

    A 30mm prime lens on your crop body is a "standard" 48mm-equivalent. I guarantee you will have a blast shooting in low light with no flash at usable ISO levels. You'll never get that with a zoom lens (f/1.4 is a full 2 stops faster than the fastest Canon zooms) and shooting a standard prime for a while will improve your photographic technique.

    P.S. - get that fancy speedlite off your camera. A better investment for you might be a remote flash trigger and a little grip equipment. Start reading here, now. http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html
  16. JFreak macrumors 68040


    Jul 11, 2003
    Tampere, Finland
    Put your money into good quality lenses first, then upgrade the body when it becomes a limiting factor on your setup. So I recommend you stay with the Canons you already have; switching to Nikon means you'll have to start from zero and sell everything you have. Pain! Canon lenses are at least as good as Nikon lenses so you can just as well choose the easier way.
  17. JFreak macrumors 68040


    Jul 11, 2003
    Tampere, Finland
    Now that's a great lens for very little money :) but it's not for full frame
  18. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    If you have a lot of Canon glass, wait for them to catch up.

    If not, buy a D700 and start building your Nikon full-frame glass collection.
  19. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Huh? I thought Canon and Nikon got a very good wide range of lens choices
  20. stevo8 macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2007
    I found myself in your shoes not too long ago. While I love the nikon bodies, I dont care for the lens selection in comparison to the canon lineup as well I I like the interface on the canons much more. With the economy like it is, the best thing you can do is to have cash in hand and just check your local classifieds all the time. I do a lot of low light shooting as well and found that my money was best spent splitting it between glass and a new body(had a 20D).

    So I ended up picking up a 40D for about $600. The iso control is awesome, and the automatic sensor cleaning is more then welcomed. I also picked up a 24-105L which is a F/4 sure, but with IS it makes up for it a bit and covers the focal range I want. With so many people buying the MKII in kit form the price of the 24-105 has dropped drastically and I ended up getting a new one for $675. As for a wide angle I would HIGHLY recommend the tokina 12-24. Its a great wide and I know a lot of people who prefer it to the canon 10-22, plus its cheaper.
  21. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 12, 2005
    OP...You've already received a lot of good advice imo...especially from compuwar.

    I would suggest approaching your photography challenges differently. IS/VR glass and better ISO performance cams are great, but they aren't the best IQ solution.

    I would like to emphasize a few things:

    1 - Quit torturing yourself...Get a TRIPOD!...and a good one (at least $600). Cheap tripods are worthless.
    Example: Hakuba HG503MX with a Markins Head.

    2 - Long Exposures.

    3 - fast primes

    Trying to "replace" a tripod with IS or VR lenses etc will not work. I'm not saying it isn't helpful, but it isn't remotely as effective in many circumstances...such as night photography! A good tripod is one of the best investments you can make.

    I highly recommend reading some of the night photography websites....I think you'll quickly see a pattern in terms of equipment used. Maybe start here:

    Also...investigate lighting deeply. A good place to start is here: http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/
    Controlling light is the holy grail.

    Nikon is kickin' some serious booty right now, but I don't think switching is the "answer". A 5dmkI would be an excellent choice for non action shooting. Even a 40D would be a nice upgrade for you. I'm not a fan of the the new 50D. 40D had better IQ imo.
    If you decide to switch...
    If you want a versatile (fast action, sports, etc) machine...D300. If you don't shoot a lot of action, the D90 is an outstanding choice.

    good luck!
  22. Essjay thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    Thanks for all of the advice guys, I will definitely take a look into the prime lenses...

    I am reading through The Strobist right now and the stuff in here is very helpful thanks for the link!

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