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Gear Talk => EOS Bodies - For Stills => Topic started by: biscuit on November 11, 2012, 11:53:57 AM

Title: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: biscuit on November 11, 2012, 11:53:57 AM

Hi all,

I am looking for some advice about upgrading my current camera.  Here's what I have at the moment:

Canon 550d, 50mm f1.4, 70-200 f4 L IS, 430EX II flash, Sigma 17-50 f2.8 OS

I am interested primarily in portraits / people (maybe 80%), about 3/4 of which is of my 3 year old daughter.  The rest is mostly travel.  I do not do any wildlife, sports etc, that have special requirements.  A 3 year old is a fairly high-speed object with erratic movement though.

There are two reasons for upgrading.  The first is that the autofocus of the 550d struggles with fast moving subjects (i.e. children).  The second (less important) reason is that low light performance of the camera could be better.  I am generally happy up to about ISO 800, but after that it degrades rapidly.  I have also found the performance of the 17-50 disappointing, but I think this is because the AF system is particularly ill-behaved with this lens; the keeper rate is lower (maybe 60%), and there is fairly consistent back-focus which I can't correct.  I generally do not print anything larger than 8x10.  I will occasionally shoot video, but nothing serious.

I am trying to decide between the 7D and a 5D III.   In the 7D case, I would stick with the 17-50 and hope for improved performance given the better AF system and AFMA.  In the 5d III case, I would sell the 17-50 and replace it with a 24-105 f4.  I live in central Europe and hope to buy something on my next trip to the US in about a month (delivered to a friend's house to collect).  For this reason, the 6d and 7d II / 70d (if they ever appear) are not options.   Prices here are much higher, and I will not be back to the US for at least a year after this trip.  I also tried a Nikon d600, but really didn't like the ergonomics, plus I don't want to dump everything and start again.

The 5d III offers everything I want of course and is FF, but the price is very high and the camera is basically overkill for my purposes.  I don't care so much about the super robust build, dual card slots etc, and would gladly pay less to give up these features.   In this case I only have sufficient budget to buy the kit with the 24-105, which would leave me with a 3 lens configuration (50 1.4, 24-105 f4 and 70-200 f4), which will not actually be taking advantage of some of the camera's AF capability, and moving from the 17-50 f2.8 to the 24-105 f4 partially offsets the ISO improvements.   I can get the 5dIII + 24-105 kit for about 3750 USD.  That's not from an authorised dealer, but I don't care because I won't be in the US to return it anyway if it breaks.  I can recover ~450 USD by selling the 17-50 in this case, so say 3300 USD net.

The 7d is maybe a more logical choice for me, since it is a lot cheaper and addresses the more important AF concern.  However, I am not keen on buying something that is about to be replaced by a newer model.  It also has the same sensor as my 550d, so presumably the same low-light performance. The video capability is somewhat worse.  Refurbs go for about 1200 USD on occasion.  Given that that is about 2000 USD cheaper than the 5d III option, I would also consider buying some additional lenses;  probably the 24-105 f4 anyway (I realize not a popular crop choice, but the range I like most on crop), and an 85 f1.8 or 100 f2.  Even with those two added to the purchase, the total cost is several hundred dollars lower.

I'm grateful for any advice or other ideas.



 
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 11, 2012, 12:02:10 PM
You mention being dissatisfied with the ISO performance of your 550D. The 7D uses the same sensor.

I think you'd be very happy with the 5DIII.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: robbymack on November 11, 2012, 12:16:56 PM
If you can swing it the 5diii is great. If you just don't want to put down the cash for it I'd say try a few different lenses,  the canon 17-55 f2.8 is substantially better than the sigma in the af department IMHO.  Although I would still seriously consider the Nikon d600 despite not really liking the ergo (that is usually something you can get over with a little time). Cheaper than the 5d, similar image quality, and likely much better than a 6d. other than your sigma lens the 50 1.4, 70-200 f4 IS, and 430ex should fetch a quick used sale for you so I don't think it would take all that much time to turn those around. Then just bargain price your sigma and it will move.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: bdunbar79 on November 11, 2012, 12:25:43 PM
What the heck are you guys talking about?  The D800 is the ONLY logical choice here, as it is THE greatest camera ever.  And don't shoot RAW, or that means you suck at photography.

Joking aside, if you can afford it then yes, the 5D Mark III is terrific and I think even though the cost is so high, it would be an investment you'd surely appreciate down the road.  I admit I have a pair of X's but I use the 5D Mark III just as frequently, especially when I want to crop really far.  It's a great camera and the AF system is really good as I've shot tennis with it.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: Mt Spokane Photography on November 11, 2012, 12:34:04 PM
You mention being dissatisfied with the ISO performance of your 550D. The 7D uses the same sensor.

I think you'd be very happy with the 5DIII.
I'd also vote for the 5D MK III,  I preferred my 5D MK II over my 7D, but did not do much in the way of challanging sports photography.  The 7D does not have good high ISO performance, but its usable to 1600 if you use RAW.
5D MK II with truck goinng away from me, center point. It was at 5/5.6 which gives enough depth of field at that distance to make fast AF less important.
(http://www.mount-spokane-photography.com/Family/The-Destroyer/i-3xqHNCq/0/L/untitled%20%28187%20of%20305%29-L.jpg)
 
 
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: JPAZ on November 11, 2012, 01:41:08 PM
My 2 cents...Was shooting a 50d and was frustrated with high ISO noise.  Were that not an issue, I was otherwise happy.  A friend has a 7d.  While it is a step up from the 50d, the high ISO noise performance was not enough improved, IMHO, to justify moving to this body.  I did go with a 5D3 (long thoughts about the $) and wow, I can't believe the difference!  Then, add in the focus point improvements and I am really convinced I made the right move.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: TriGGy on November 11, 2012, 01:54:11 PM
If you can make it happen, go for the 5D3. You have to consider the possibility you might have wished that you did get the 5D3 months after you return to Europe and that would probably be stressful.

If budget is a problem, then yes, 7D may be good for you *for now*. You will have a camera with the same sensor and metering system but with more control and useful capabilities than you current body. Think of it as a 550D on steroids (except for the high ISO performance). With the 5D3 the ISO 12800 is usable except for pixel peepers. The new generation Digic 5+ processor makes a big difference. 

As all with "big ticket" purchases, there will always be some feeling of buyer's remorse at first but in my case, as cheapskate as I am who would more than likely return stuff for a refund, I never got to regret my 5D3 purchase - it's more than my 7D can do and I am very happy with it. The +$4000  I paid for the body with the battery grip is a distant memory now and I don't miss it anymore (and I only bought the 5D3 last August).

I wish you the best whatever choice you make.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: biscuit on November 12, 2012, 03:04:29 PM
Hi again, OP here:

Sincere thanks all for the advice.  I am of course convinced that the 5DIII is the better body, but I confess that I was a little surprised by the unanimity of opinion. 

I'm hesitating because with the 5DIII I would end up with just the 24-105 f4, 70-200 f4, and a 50mm prime.  With the 7D I could get the body and also a few primes (28 and 100 say), with cash to spare.  (Realistically I might buy even more lenses, leaving no cash to spare...)

Is the 5D option really so much better in low light that it offsets the slower f4 24-105, bearing in mind that much of my use would be indoors? 

Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 12, 2012, 03:24:58 PM
I'm hesitating because with the 5DIII I would end up with just the 24-105 f4, 70-200 f4, and a 50mm prime.  With the 7D I could get the body and also a few primes (28 and 100 say), with cash to spare.  (Realistically I might buy even more lenses, leaving no cash to spare...)

Is the 5D option really so much better in low light that it offsets the slower f4 24-105, bearing in mind that much of my use would be indoors?
I think the 5DIII low light advantage definitely offsets the stop lost going from f/2.8 to f/4.  A larger issue is that for many ambient interior scenes, even f/2.8 is not enough - on a FF camera, let alone APS-C. 

As for primes, using them wide open in low light has it's disadvantages, too - thinner DoF being the main one.  But the great thing about a FF camera is that you have more choices - a thinner DoF for a given max aperture, plus the ability to shoot at higher shutter speeds with a slower lens or a stopped-down fast lens.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: crasher8 on November 12, 2012, 03:28:14 PM
I went from a T2i to a 7D to a 5D3. Wish I would have skipped the 7D. I suggest sell all you have except the strobe and prime. Get a 5D3 and 24-105 f/4IS.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: DCM1024 on November 12, 2012, 04:37:56 PM
I went from T2i to 7D to 5D2 and wish I had skipped the 7D. We have monitors set up equidistant from the sofa, and you can literally see the iq difference between the 5D and 7D while sitting on the sofa. 5D3 would be even better for high ISOs and AF. We did get a 5d3 loan from CPS to compare to the 5D2. Missed all the great prices before MAP went into effect unfortunately.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: canon_convert on November 12, 2012, 05:06:22 PM
Someone posted this deal in SD.... Not sure if a scam btw. Bite if you are feeling lucky ;)

edit : looks like they changed the price now...it was 2899 earlier for entire package

http://www.ebay.com/itm/350641987179?afepn=5335869999&campid=5335869999&PID=1225267&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEWNX%3AIT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/350641987179?afepn=5335869999&campid=5335869999&PID=1225267&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEWNX%3AIT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649)
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 12, 2012, 05:11:49 PM
Well, just to jump on the bandwagon...   ;)

I went from a T1i to a 7D to a 5DII to a 1D X.  I'm glad I didn't skip the 7D, because it made up for the 5DII's shortcomings in AF and fps. But if there had been a 5DIII available at the time, I would not have bought the 7D.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: ashmadux on November 12, 2012, 05:14:38 PM
Skip the 7d (maybe)

I had both cameras, and just sold my 7d - so my t2i (get a grip!) is my workhorse at the moment until i replace the 7d. Everyone says that both cameras uses the same sensors, but there is a DRAMATIC iso noise difference if you are a pixel peeper. The 7d's images are a mush fest compared to the 550. The iq differences relate to how the 7d sensor pushes the highs, leading to wonderfully contrasted images. But look into those shadows...uh oh...the noise is ugly. 7d iso 100 noise alone should keep you away from it....its really really bad. So bad I sold my dearest.

IF you are a pixel peeper, stay away from 7d. If you are not, then go all in. Its a fabulous body. The handling, is just awesome..its an absolute pleasure to handle.

So I think your 550d focus issues possibly come from your lens (sigma? not surprising) and possibly technique. With both of my rebels my hit rates are north of 80 percent, and thats for fast moving people in the street with endless variety of lighting conditions.

I LOVE my t2i.

At the last fashion week, photogs kept asking me what body i was using, as it has the 70-200 2.8 mk ii attached to it...and i kept saying, dude, its a rebel....yup!

Last year i took the 7d to Singapore. This year, t2i all the way.


-ed
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: RustyTheGeek on November 12, 2012, 05:22:16 PM
If you get the 5DIII, I would love to hear how your low light AF performance goes using the 24-105 (or any lens FTM).  Mine was pretty pathetic as others have reported with their 5DIII bodies.  Regardless of how it works for you, specify what settings you are using, whether flash is used, etc.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: dhofmann on November 12, 2012, 05:26:00 PM
Have you experimented with bounce flash, light modifiers (bounce card, etc.), etc.  to get better low light performance? An external flash can create pleasing light if you know how to use it.

Canon's EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM is supposed to have better autofocus than the Sigma.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: Daniel Flather on November 12, 2012, 06:29:20 PM
My 2 cents...Was shooting a 50d and was frustrated with high ISO noise.  Were that not an issue, I was otherwise happy.  A friend has a 7d.  While it is a step up from the 50d, the high ISO noise performance was not enough improved, IMHO, to justify moving to this body.  I did go with a 5D3 (long thoughts about the $) and wow, I can't believe the difference!  Then, add in the focus point improvements and I am really convinced I made the right move.

Me Too, I went from a 50D to the 5D3 and still have to get used to the fact that I can now use iso 6400 without it going to sh*t.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: biscuit on November 14, 2012, 03:24:10 AM
OP here again:

Have you experimented with bounce flash, light modifiers (bounce card, etc.), etc.  to get better low light performance? An external flash can create pleasing light if you know how to use it.

Canon's EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM is supposed to have better autofocus than the Sigma.

Yes I have.  At the moment I am making fairly heavy use of bounced flash indoors to avoid using high ISO.  It is not always practical though, e.g. if I am not at home and don't have the flash.  It is also distracting sometimes for kids and they decide to come over and stick their fingers on the lens.

So I think your 550d focus issues possibly come from your lens (sigma? not surprising) and possibly technique. With both of my rebels my hit rates are north of 80 percent, and thats for fast moving people in the street with endless variety of lighting conditions.

Hit rate is no problem for still objects, but it struggles in cases where someone is moving (usually quickly) straight towards me / erratically etc.  I have done a lot of experimenting in case that it is operator error, and I am fairly confident that I am doing as well as could reasonably be hoped.  The hit rate with the Sigma is lower than with the others (in any situation), but the AF performance (specifically AI servo) is a general issue.


Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: biscuit on November 14, 2012, 03:28:14 AM
OP once again:

I think I have decided to just go for the 5D3 option.  I was hoping to get it in a kit with the 24-105 at a sub-MAP price from ebay.  However, it seems that most of the ebay sellers, or at least the larger ones, will not accept a European credit card for delivery to a US address.

This is an unexpected snag.  I have never had this problem before, and purchased all of my current kit this way from Adorama/B&H.  Any ideas here?  Will Adorama/B&H negotiate sub-MAP prices by phone?  I know that a few weeks ago, pre-MAP enforcement,  their prices were considerably lower.

Thanks again for all of the advice.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: Maui5150 on November 14, 2012, 05:58:42 AM
You like to waste your money.

If 80% of what you will shoot is portrait, then my a 5DMKII and better glass.

While some of the ISO is better on the 5DMKIII and the AF greatly improved, most of that will help the sports or activity shooter. 

Current 5DMKII owner who moved up from the 550D about a year ago, and more than happy with the move.   The new AF on the 5DMKIII may help me get a slightly better number of keepers, but that is hard for me to justify a $1400 increase in price, where that could go to upgrading my 50 1.4 or 85 1.8 to the L versions, not to mention you will loose reach jumping to FF.

For me, I am saving for another year or so and going to the 1DX or perhaps the large MP on the horizon depending on where it fits capability wise.

For where you are and what you shoot, going to a 5DMKII and then selling your 70-200 F4 IS and going 70-200 F/2.8 IS II is about the same as buying a 5D MKIII but a more significant upgrade. 

Given the generations of where the 5DMKII and MKIII are, a 5DMKII will do better than a 5DMKIII with cheap glass. 

Generally glass matter more than the body.

Only major upgrade in the MKIII is AF.  I shoot sports occasionally, and I could not justify the price jump to only go to the 5DMKIII so saving up another $3K to make a much more significant jump. 

Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: bycostello on November 14, 2012, 06:03:10 AM
i'd go for a 6d.. i'd like the gps on it for my travel stuff...
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: M.ST on November 14, 2012, 06:09:51 AM
If you only interested in portraits don´t waste a lot of money for the 5D Mark III and get the 5D Mark II with one or two good L lenses.

The EF 24-105 IS is not a perfect lens for portraits. It´s only good between f/9 up to f/16.

Don´t buy the 7D and wait what is coming new next year.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: Marsu42 on November 14, 2012, 12:46:07 PM
i'd go for a 6d.. i'd like the gps on it for my travel stuff...

... as an alternative, just get a $40 gps tagger which lasts 24h, is likely to be more precise, doesn't drain your camera's battery and keeps on tracking when your camera is safely inside your bag. The downside is that you need to merge the gps log with the shots afterwards, but this is really a minor issue and it's a good idea anyway because geosetter also puts the location area and city names inside the exif.

The one thing that would have been nice for in-camera gps is to log the direction the camera is pointing to - but alas, Canon didn't include it (Nikon taggers for the hotshoe have it).
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 14, 2012, 12:54:35 PM
The one thing that would have been nice for in-camera gps is to log the direction the camera is pointing to - but alas, Canon didn't include it (Nikon taggers for the hotshoe have it).

So do Canon's GP-E1 and GP-E2. 
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: Marsu42 on November 14, 2012, 01:01:32 PM
So do Canon's GP-E1 and GP-E2.

They do!? Thanks for the information - I never looked at the features after I had a look at the price (afaik Nikon bodies have a dedicated gps port longer than Canon / at all, thus they've got more and cheaper 3rd party logging solutions).

But esp. in this case it's a shame Canon didn't include this one useful feature in the 6d (if I read the specs correctly) because with the direction and the lens info it's possible to determine the exact area the picture covers.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 14, 2012, 01:57:24 PM
But esp. in this case it's a shame Canon didn't include this one useful feature in the 6d (if I read the specs correctly)

You did, AFAIK.  The specs for the external taggers mention location and cardinal direction, the 6D specs mention only location.
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: daniemare on November 14, 2012, 04:03:14 PM
The 5d III offers everything I want of course and is FF, but the price is very high and the camera is basically overkill for my purposes.  I don't care so much about the super robust build, dual card slots etc, and would gladly pay less to give up these features.


Same boat as you with a fairly similar kit (I have the 500D).  I can wait for the 6D as I also think the 5DIII overkill and I can thus not justify the price.  I also do not care for those added features, but I do understand more pro orientated users' need for it.

From all my reading here and questions asked, I think full frame is the way to go, so I cannot wait.  So I will also sell the 17-50 and 11-16
Title: Re: Help me upgrade my 550d
Post by: Zv on November 15, 2012, 06:35:31 AM
I went from a 550D to a 7D too for the same reason as OP. I kept missing shots due to the slowness. I adore my 7D, but sadly since I got the 5D II, it has been mostly unused. Glad you chose to go with the 5D III, you'll appreciate it in the long run!