Quagmire: buy 40D or wait?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by flinch13, Jul 18, 2008.

  1. flinch13 macrumors regular

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    #1
    I've had a canon Rebel XT for about six months now, and it's served me well. However, I'm starting to feel limited by it. I already own a few lenses that are (a lot) more expensive than the XT was, and I feel like it's time for an upgrade to a semi-pro model. I've heard nothing but good things about the 40D, but at the same time, I don't want to buy one if a new model (50D?) is just about to take its place.

    Can anyone guide me in this choice? I'm about to start my senior year in college, and very much planning to take a digital photography course; are these reasons enough to upgrade now?
     
  2. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000

    taylorwilsdon

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    #2
    If you're going to do Live cashback and pay $600-$700, I say do it now. If you aren't, maybe see whats on the horizon. Photokina isn't too far off.
     
  3. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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  4. flinch13 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #4
    Thanks for your replies!

    The best price I can find out there is ~$800, which isn't bad, but maybe I should just wait until Photokina. It's just in a couple of months, after all.

    The problem with the XT... let me see...

    I have been using the XT for several months now and it has been very good to me. However, as I have become more proficient, I have become faster at using the camera than it is at taking a shot. 8 megapixels is okay; I'd like something a bit better. Last generation digic technology, IQ on the 40D is supposed to be on-par with full-frame cameras. The LCD! Going from a 1.5 inch invisible LCD to a 3 inch one would be SO much better. Pentaprism viewfinder, not this tiny little very dark mirror one. You have to hold down a little button to change the aperture, and the menus are screwed up because you have to use directional buttons to navigate them, and ISO is an annoying thing to change; the camera is cheaply laid out and TOO SMALL! Lastly, and most importantly, BUILD QUALITY. I'm constantly afraid that my rubber and plastic XT will fall out of my hands and shatter into a million pieces. The 40D, on the other hand, is solid as a tank (so I've heard) and weatherproof. I mostly do nature photography, so stability and resilience to natural conditions is necessary. I must say though, the XT did survive the wet season in the Australian rainforest for me just fine, so maybe I underestimate it a bit. It's just that a $300 camera is not meeting my needs as a photographer any more, and I need something that's not so entry-level.

    Anyhow, I'm pretty much set on waiting until Photokina in September. If a new 40D replacement doesn't appear, chances are the 40D will still be there and less expensive than it is now.
     
  5. Nuc macrumors 6502a

    Nuc

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    #5
    From what I've seen the 30D is not that much less than a 40D. So your resale value would be pretty good. You would probably only lose ~$200.

    I have the 40D and love it. I would highly recommend it!

    Nuc
     
  6. vga4life macrumors 6502

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    #6
    Why go from one cropped sensor body to another? Save those pennies and buy an original 5D after Photokina - folks should start dumping them once the Canon 5D replacement and Nikon 700D are available.

    Once you go full-frame you'll never go back, b'lieve. Then keep the XT as your backup body.
     
  7. Full of Win macrumors 68030

    Full of Win

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    #7
  8. dllavaneras macrumors 68000

    dllavaneras

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    #8
    That only works if flinch13's lens collection is EF. If most of the lenses are EF-S, then he/she'd have to sell most of them to get EF lenses, since EF-S lenses don't work on FF cameras.
     
  9. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #9
    It doesn't seem like any of your issues with the XT are "limiting" in terms of actual photography; but if you really don't like the camera that's a good enough reason in and of itself. I would, however, make sure you've handled a 40D before purchasing - it may share a lot of the same traits that annoy you about the XT in terms of buttons, navigation, etc.

    The move up from 8 megapixels is almost certainly less of an advantage than you seem to think it is because of the tradeoffs that come with increased sensor size (diffraction limits hit sooner, hand-held shots require a bit more discipline to really take advantage of the sensor resolution, etc.).

    If you're not satisfied with your current photos, it likely has more to do with your technique - unless you can point to specific, identifiable problems with your current photos that can be tied to specific, identifiable shortcomings in the current camera that aren't present in the new camera. It is really unlikely that your photos will improve just because you get a new camera.
     
  10. flinch13 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    Wow, what great comments; this is good stuff!

    Anyhow, here are my thoughts. I would upgrade to a full-frame camera if I thought it would benefit me proportionally to the cost. The 5D is twice as expensive than the 40D, and I hear that it is not weatherproofed/not as solidly constructed as the 40D (honestly, this is a much bigger concern for me). Besides, I kind of like the fact that my EF zoom lenses get an extra kick from the 1.6 crop factor! Also, my favorite lens is an EF-S lens, so unless anyone here can REALLY convince me that going to full frame is worth it with my budget, I'm not going to ditch it.

    I'm still going to wait and see what comes at photokina. Hell, I might see the introduction of the 50D and decide to buy a new 40D at a steal of a price! I'm pretty happy with my technique, and with my current camera. I have, however, held and used a friend's 10D, and boy, was there a difference between that and the XT! It was a bit heavier, of course, but it felt solid as a rock, and being able to change aperture and shutter speed without holding down a button while turning a wheel seems was AMAZING. I know, it seems like a small thing, but it's a big deal to me. Plus; the IQ is supposed to be far better than the XT. I know, they have the same sized sensors, but size isn't everything! They have different types of sensors and different image processors, so it's likely that the 40D has superior IQ.

    I'm no professional, nor do I plan to be one in the future. But as a field biologist and general lover of nature, I plan to be outside taking pictures VERY often. I am in need of a camera that will serve me faithfully in all climates and conditions of weather for a few years. As far as I can tell, the 40D is the only currently existing model that will provide this type of service while remaining within my budget (~$1,000).
     
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #11
    Never buy a new camera for a photography class. If the class is any good you will know 100 times more after the class then before the class and will be able to make a more informed decision.

    One other thing, you really should tell us why you don't like your current camera. What images have you not been able to capture with it or what shots have you missed. Are there not enough pixels to capture all the detail your lenses can capture? WHen buying a new camera is helps to think about exactly what it will do that your old one won't
     
  12. law guy macrumors 6502a

    law guy

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    #12
    The Canon $200 rebate expired at the end of yesterday. Did you buy the 40D when it was still on instant rebate sale? It seems like your choice would be a little harder (or at least more expensive) today.
     
  13. flinch13 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #13
    I figured I had made it pretty clear but I'll say it again.

    Basically the XT is not up to my standards as far as build quality is concerned. I suppose that won't matter terribly during the school year, so I probably will take the digital photography course with my current camera. However, I will upgrade in the future; there's no question about that. I will need a more robust camera in the future.

    So far I haven't really had any complaints per se about the XT's image quality; a bit of noisiness in darker conditions, not a fast enough shutter speed to capture some of the more timid animals I pursue in the field, such a small screen that I can't really tell if I've got the shot or not, etc. Of course, I can still "get the shot" most of the time.

    Of course, the rest of my reasons are anecdotal. I've read a lot about the 40D, and though I can verifiably proof that the IQ is better than that of the XT, I believe it because of the hundreds of reviews from users and professionals out there.

    In any event, I love the response that this forum is getting. I appreciate your comments, everyone, and I've decided to wait until January to get a new camera. By that time, things will probably have worked themselves out.

    Now, can anyone tell me what the real benefits of full frame sensors are?
     
  14. law guy macrumors 6502a

    law guy

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    #14
    There are three that come to mind:

    At wide open apertures, you'll get a nicer more pronounced bokeh across the frame. The difference between an 85 1.8 capture on my 30D and 5D was really something. There are some technical articles out there explaining why this is the case.

    Less pixel density on the sensor means pre-noise reduction that there sensor can capture at higher ISO with less noise (which is a good thing as noise reduction smudges a little of the fine detail and allows you to go even higher with noise reduction). This can be a money saver depending on your needs as going a full stop up in speed allows the same light collection as going a full stop up in lens aperture (although there are DOF, AF, and brighter finder benefits to a faster lens). Of course combine the higher ISO with the faster lens and new low light territory opens up.

    If you shoot wide, you get the benefit of that mid-range zoom's 24 (ala a 24-105 f4L or 24-70 f2.8L - both of which I've owned and are wonderful on the wide end of FF). Slap a wider lens on like the 16-35 f2.8L or 17-40 f4L and my goodness.


     
  15. Hmac macrumors 68020

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    #15
    More megapixels does not mean "better" unless you are routinely printing at 20x30 or more. If not, more than 8 megapixels might actually mean "worse".
     
  16. flinch13 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #16
    Now, I've heard this before, but never really understood completely. Can you describe why this is the case in lamen's terms? Thanks very much!
     
  17. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #17
    1. Physics make diffraction happen sooner on a smaller photosite, meaning that smaller apertures will be less sharp on a higher pixel density sensor. For instance, on a 12.4MP APS-C camera shooting at f/11 will produce softer pictures due to diffraction (actually starting at f/8.9,) on a 6MP APS-C camera you see it starting at f/16 (actually f/12.9), so if you're shooting at f/11 to get a large depth of field in a landscape shot, the 6MP image is likely to be sharper if the lenses are equal.

    2. Higher pixel density means smaller photosites, which mean capturing fewer photons, which mean more amplification necessary to produce the same image, which means more noise (this is why smaller sensors are always worse than larger sensors of the same generation and overall number of pixels in terms of noise.)

    3. More technique issues due to the higher capture resolution- if you move the body when shooting, it shows up more.

    4. More flaws in poor lenses show up sooner, again due to the higher resolution.

    FWIW, you can shatter even high-end pro bodies if you drop the camera, if you're unsure of your grip, a good strap, or better yet a good tripod is cheap insurance.
     
  18. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #18
    You mentioned that you routinely photograph animals. (Assuming that means animals in the wild) If that's a big part of your photography, I suspect DX and its 1.5-1.6 crop-factor "magnification" might be more valuable to you than any advantage an FX sensor might have over DX.
     
  19. flinch13 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #19
    I think I'm going to have to agree with you on that one. While it's a pity I won't be getting the very best results on my landscapes (smaller apertures will apparently produce diffraction on a 1.6 crop factor sensor), I suppose that will be at the cost of the very valuable magnification I'm getting. Plus, there are a bunch of EF-S lenses out there that I'd be excluding from my kit by upgrading to a full frame. Besides, I've been getting fantastic results just using Autopano pro for stitched panoramas, so I can make do without the larger sensor (I think). Ultimately, I always have the most fun when I'm shooting wild animals, so the extra zoom power (without having to spend the extra cash on lenses) is rather important to me.

    What a wonderfully fun and terribly confusing hobby!
     
  20. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #20
    It's not cut and dried. Animals are often most active around dawn and dusk, and if they're moving, then two-three stops of ISO might be preferable to a crop factor if you can get close enough or have a long enough lens. A lot depends on how close you can get, how small the animal is, how quickly it moves and when you're photographing.

    For instance, if you're photographing animals just before sunrise and they're on the move, you may really need both a 400 f/2.8 lens and the ability to shoot at ISO 4800.

    You can almost always arrange to get closer (hides, stalking, high tolerance subjects, baiting, nature parks...,) but it's very difficult to arrange behavior to make an animal active in a different part of the day. But some of that also starts to hit into ethical issues.

    With that said, if you don't have the time, skills, patience or environment to move closer, then the crop factor bodies give you more resolution on a smaller target.
     
  21. flinch13 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #21
    Good points, certainly. I have no idea if I'm wrong to do this, but I tend to stick to an ISO of 100 no matter what. Maybe it's caused me to loose the shot a couple of times; I have no idea! I have to say though, the extra reach is rather important to me. You're right; I haven't yet had the patience, luck, time, or funding for "moving closer"; I can't say I have much real experience either. But I think I have quite few years ahead of me, so who knows? If I suddenly become rich, I'll be able to afford a full-frame camera, a gamut of new lenses, and the time it takes to sit for hours in a hide not working in a real job to pay off my student loans.
     
  22. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #22
    Those are excellent points. Plus there's no rule that says you can't just crop an image from a full-frame sensor to get that "DX crop factor" - it'd just mean a 5-6 megapixel image rather than a 12 megapixel one.

    So I guess, as per usual, it helps to really look at the photography you're actually doing - or hoping to do - and then try to objectively weigh the pros and cons of FX versus DX (or "Camera A" feature set versus "Camera B" feature set), to see which is the best fit for your specific situation.
     
  23. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #23
    I upgraded from the XT to the 40D, and could not be happier. I thought of upgrading to the 5D, but it meant that i would have had to buy additional telephotos lenses. I am not a professional photographer, just the average picture taker, and cropped sensors are not a hindrance whatsoever for the type of photographs I take. These mainly consist of landscapes, and wildlife such as moose or smaller.

    So far I haven't had the need of better water-tightness with any camera I have used, including film cameras. I don't shoot by the surf, nor when raining heavily. I do take photos for short period of times when the temperature may be down to perhaps -50 degrees, get inside my truck to warm up, and then back out for a few more minutes. Sometimes it is a little windy and dusty where I take photos, but other than that, and repeating myself, weather resistance has not been an issue.

    While the XT is more of a point-N-shoot camera with some manual control, the 40D is too, except that in the Creative Zone modes it allows you to control everything you want. Every button is placed right on the spot you need it to be, and soon enough you don't have to pull your eye away from the viewfinder to change some of the settings.

    Although wildlife tends to enjoy the evening and morning hours, in Alaska it's still quite clear around 9:00PM in July. In fact, the sun is shinning at that time of the evening, so I haven't had the need for super fast lenses. I mostly use an EF 200mm f.2.8L prime for taking pictures of moose (the same one I used with my XT). The average distance is perhaps 150-200 feet or so. If moose get closer, than I move back as needed, but 200mm is plenty to avoid walking into their safety zone. I have taken photos of moose in the middle of the day, too.

    The best wildlife lenses are very expensive, but even on the XT these would make a big difference in image sharpness, brightness, etc.
     
  24. flinch13 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #24
    Wow; you're my photography clone! I can't agree with you more about L lenses, they make a huge difference (I just got the 200mm 2.8 L myself, and I love it)! It sound to me that an upgrade, eventually, will be the right thing to do.
     
  25. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #25
    You're better off knowing how your camera performs at higher ISO and going there when you need to- ISO 200 means shooting in half the light at the same speed, or half the speed in the same light- 400 doubles it again- shooting wildlife you need to know how far you can go.

    Yep, and the more types of photography you do, the more you either compromise or end up with multiple bodies.
     

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