What to do? Upgrade from 400d




I have been reviewing the comments on here for a while and thought often about posting. But it is a Rumors (sic) site and I prefer to shoot than talk. However in the last week (literally 7 days) I have come across 3 circumstances were my 2 400ds have really let me down. I need comforting and some good reasons for my better half to change.

First, evening rugby match, where the flood lights, ISO performance and 70-200 F4 L could not cope with what was going on. Following day poorly lit museum which did not allow flash or tripod so had to shoot hand held at whatever ISO the 400plus settings would allow. I reviewed at the end of the first stint and went around again at ISO400-800 doing the best I could. They are ok but I am still disappointed, binned 80 % of shots, none have got 4 or 5 stars. Finally been out today, at a safari park with indoor play area. Outside is ok but internal performance on the indoor slides is frankly rubbish. I ended up using off camera remote triggered flash to try to make up for the low light, binned over 70%, no 4 or 5 star shots.

In good light I love the 400ds, I have worked over the last few years to get the best out of flash (strobes), 3 manuals on cheap rf triggers. I shoot mainly in av priority 70%, tv 10%, manual 10% and p 10% (normally because I am tired/ inebriated/ flustered to be bothered to work out what to do). In reality 90% of the P shots are binned due to the reasons I take them (tired/ inebriated/ flustered).

I thought I had worked out that I really needed to save for a 5D3 to get over the frustrations the last week, but the comments on here, Nikonrumors and other photography sites have me confused. Given that I have the nifty fifty, 70-200 f4 L, 11-16 Tokina EFS lens, canon 15-85 EFS lens, I am not sure whether to cash it all in and go Nikon (D600 or D800), or stay with Canon and go 5D3 or 6D. Until it is out (6D) I am not sure whether the whining that goes on here is relevant to my decision. I can get my kit to work and happy to work at it, I hated the first 4 months after I moved from Windows Vista to Mac, but I would not go back. I have to work with Windows at work but at home, Mac all the way. So Nikon would hurt in the short term but longer term I can work with known issues with any kit

So really confused and would love some input, expecting it to be Canon +ve though just as I expect the Nikon boys to be Nikon +ve.

History wise, I had a Pentax film camera, then went Fuji as a first digital, followed by a Nikon P&S, then a Canon P&S. The 400d was only bought to hang off the back of a telescope, but poor conditions has seen it used in a more conventional role. I detest the softness the kit lens if it helps, hence the 15-85 EFS.

Shooting wise, 50 % is of the family during days out and holidays, the remaining 50% tends to be static views, landscape etc but some of that is because I know the setup I have cannot cope with fast action or low light situations. Typically shoot 6000-8000 frames a year, bin less than 20%, but only have 4/5 star rating for 10-15%. I am picky and in reality only print the top 10% for albums and even that is too much!! I could do with shoot less and think more generally but that still would not help in the situations I have find myself in above

I only have 2 400ds because I lost the use of one due to being in a dirty, dusty environment and ended up losing the use of it due to dirt on the sensor, subsequently cleaned by me. I have looked at more old tech from ebay but the costs versus the issues I have, I cannot see the rationale for spending more money just to get marginal improvements. It is not a business for me but something I enjoy doing and I have had enough success to print some shots at 24x16in and have them professionally framed and displayed.

I would love to take the kit off the disillusioned Canon shooters out there but suspect that words are cheap, actions are more serious. I am pretty sure that I am going to save for 6 months and get a 5d3 but want really want cheaper, quicker solutions. I need a silver bullet and my hand holding. In reality I am likely to keep the EFS kit just as an easy low risk everyday system for when I want a camera but do not want to carry around a large piece of kit saying mug me.

Thanks in advance and sorry for the long ramble.

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Mar 25, 2011
There are lots of possibilities
A fast f/1.4 prime would gain two stops in low light, but you can also get a extra stop by upgrading to a 5D MK II. Do both and gain three stops. Thats a huge difference.
Consider a 50mm f/1.8 or a 30mm f/2 for a economy way to get more stops. A 40mm f/2.8 is cheap, sharp, and will add a stop. As much as I love my 70-200mm f/4 IS, it is not a low light lens.
Going to a 5D MK III will add yet another 1/2 stop.


Mt Spokane Photography said:
Consider a 50mm f/1.8 or a 30mm f/2 for a economy way to get more stops. ..........

As much as I love my 70-200mm f/4 IS, it is not a low light lens.


I have the 50mm 1.8 but did not have it with me at the museum, a travesty given it's size. I looked at the 70-200 2.8 but felt hanging a 1600GBP lens off of what was a 250GBP body at the time was a little extreme. I could not justify it at the time and really did not understand the limitations of the f4 either, it was the first lens I got a few years ago. I do tend to use the 15-85 a lot and I suspect it has made me lazy ref getting good shots with the fifty. I have forced myself to go out with only the fifty at times. I do not really enjoy it but it does force a certain perspective into shooting subjects.

Thank you for the input


Feb 13, 2012
Having to shoot something with f1.something, if you actually would want to shoot at f2.8 is not a good option. By using only fast primes you may actually create limitations to how you shoot.

Achieving depth of field in reasonably sharp focus is one thing, but consistently being able to nail spot-on focus shooting wide open is quite another. Your keeper rate may benefit a lot from upgrading to a low-light-capable body such as a 5D Mark II or 6D, which allows you to use the f-stops you want, when and where you want it.


Time to upgrade methinks.

I used a 400D for around 3 years, and loved it for what it was... an entry level camera.

You are bang on, in good light it's a great wee camera, if you need to rack up above ISO800 then you are almost inevitably going to bin a few shots in post.

The 400D was digic 2, the digic 4 and digic 5 cameras are giving you much better high ISO shots, I am confident using my digic 4 cameras at 1600 or 3200 with a little extra post prod work (shoot raw, luma NR, sharpen)

But the other half of the equation is getting light in, and between the two keeping the shutter speed up.

I can speak of the Nikon experience. But it seems a waste when you have some nice lenses that will translate to other EOS bodies.

The Tokina restricts you to APS-C perhaps (although it will mount and operate well enough on FF at 16mm)
The 50mm f1.8 is good enough, but cheap enough also to not be a deal breaker
The 70-200 f4 is a good lens, but a stop slower than your best option - the non-IS f2.8L
The 15-85... not a fan. Crap max aperture.

A couple of 550D or 600D's would be a step up (if you want to run two bodies) I got reconditioned ones from digigood on ebay, pretty cheap! No problems.

And maybe a fast telephoto, like an 85 f1.8 or 100 f2.0.

Great optically, very fast focusing.

If you want to make the leap then now isn't a bad time to buy a 5D2. Still a brilliant camera, and a big jump in high ISO IQ from the 400D.

So three solutions:

More work in RAW
More up to date body
Brighter lenses


Thanks guys and sorry for not picking up during the week.

The comments re dof have been pertinent for me, as I have tried the lenses fully open, with both the dof issues but for me also a loss of sharpness, although to be fair it's the noise I notice the most, which prompted the original post. I am wary of more glass at the moment because, most of the time, what I have I enjoy. Although faster glass would open up more possibilities rather than pushing both the body and the lens to the limit.

New body, 2nd hand or new, costs, but there is a camera body fund that gets added to as I lose weight. A great motivator. I suppose I am trying to to ensure I can make a move that is going to keep me happy for a few years.

I do need to sharpen up my raw editing skills, I use Aperture for most shots, and dabble with PSE for gross manipulation and combination effects.

Thanks again
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