Photographer

It’s Time for a New Camera!

I’m about to buy a new Canon DSLR.  But how do you choose from the swarm of models out there? Here’s a quick review of some of the relevant specs, and how I made my decision.

History

Daddy brought home a Canon rangefinder SLR from Okinawa way back in the day (film! mercury-based batteries!), so I became a Canon girl with my first DSLR back in 2005. It was the Rebel XT. I used it for about a decade, mostly in auto mode. Eventually I got tired of correcting every shot in Photoshop and actually learned to use the thing.

That drove me to get an upgraded body, but I was cheap. I bought a new (but released 3 years earlier) T3 back in 2014. Few of my shots needed outright correction. I felt like I knew what I was doing, and I started reaching for harder shots and making specific choices in exposure and focal length. I quickly found a new problem: between my eyesight limitations, the difficulty reviewing shots while outdoors, and the T3’s autofocus, I started missing shots I really wanted. And thus – my first real upgrade since I started shooting over a decade ago.

Comparison

Hubby asked me what I wanted while I was whining about the T3- possibly to shut me up. I didn’t miss a beat. I said, “The 5D Mark 4!” He had that speculative, about-to-spoil-the-wife look, and I had to say, “No, no, no, that’s way too expensive!” And then I had to figure out what it was that I actually DID want.

I knew I wanted out of the Rebel series, and that the 5D was considered the high end, professional level. Other than that, I had no clue. So I put together a list of things I was likely to do with the camera:

  • Outdoor photography (landscape and critters when I can catch them)
  • Some cosplay photography
  • Travel shots– architecture, landscapes
  • A little tiny bit of astrophotography

I was going to need a wide range of ISOs, really good autofocus (I have trouble judging crispness on a small screen), and the biggest, brightest screen I could get. I wanted to geo-tag my photos when possible. Also, I was having trouble with my 50mm prime. When in a tight space (specifically, on a Destroyer Escort!), I couldn’t get as much field of view as I wanted. I decided on a full frame camera.

Off to the Canon site to pull data from the spec sheets!

  1. Generally speaking, the lower the model number, the ‘better’ and more expensive the camera. That’s not true in Rebels, where the model number is simply sequential.
  2. The later version of a given model is a Mark whatever, and they are often much improved over previous versions. When looking at someone’s review, watch out for the Mark of the camera they are discussing.
  3. PEOPLE DON’T PUT FRIGGING DATES ON THEIR POSTS! It’s a sloppy, terrible practice and they should all be ashamed.

Here’s a table of everything I found out from my somewhat-random list of candidates.(I also stuck the 1DX in there for S&Gs.):

 

Criteria 1DX M4 5D M4 6D M2 7D M2 80D T7i
Price (USD) 5500 3500 1600 1800 999 699
ISO Range 100-51.2k 100-32k 100-40k 100-16k 100-16k 100-25.6k
AF Points 61 61 45 65 45 45
Top Shutter Speed (sec) 1/8000 1/8000 1/4000 1/8000 1/8000 1/4000
Frames Per Second 14 7 6.5 10 7 6
Metering Points 360k 150k 7560 150k 7560 7560
Resolution (megapixel) 20.2 30.4 26.2 20.9 24.2 24.2
Shutter Lag (ms) 53 58 250 265 270 250
GPS Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
WiFi No Yes Yes Adapter Yes Yes
Full Frame Yes Yes Yes No No No
Sensor Dual Digic 6+ Digic 6+ & Digic 6 Digic 7 Digic 6 Digic 6 Digic 7

*I went for worst/best case when there was a range, but did it the same way for each camera

You could make a pretty good argument that the 7D is as good, or better, than the 6D. I felt, though, that the 6D Mark 2 was my best fit. Why?

  • Slightly cheaper
  • Wider ISO range
  • Higher resolution
  • On-board WIFI

The one thing that the 7D has that I wish the 6D had is the faster shutter speed. On the other hand, I don’t plan on shooting a lot of high-speed action, so it’s a loss I’m willing to take.

Now, the 6D M2 has some haters. They don’t like that it’s missing 4k video (which is not an issue for me), and they don’t feel like the dynamic range is sufficiently better than the M1 or Nikon cameras to justify the expense. Fair enough, I suppose, but those arguments don’t apply to me, and I suspect they don’t apply to the majority of buyers. Who moves from a 6D M1 to a 6D M2? For this kind of money, I would expect someone to be coming from the Rebel line (like me), or if they started at the 6D M1, they’d move to something with significant gains, like a mirrorless, a 5D, or a 1DX.

Whatever your current camera, if you’re looking to spend this kind of money, I recommend renting or borrowing a body first and forming your own opinion.

Autofocus

Here’s a quick comparison of all the auto-focus patterns in the various cameras:

I grabbed these from the user manuals on the Canon site.

I find it really interesting that some of the models have all of their autofocus points concentrated in the center of the frame.  This can make some artistic framing a bit more challenging – if you want the main focus on the edges of the frame, it would mean some manual focusing.

Links

These sites do a great job of testing and reviewing a buttload of lenses, which played a long way into making my decision on lenses and whether or not I really, really wanted full frame:

Here are the spec sheets:

And the manuals: