Photos Spare Cycles MythBusters

Canon Camera Upgrade Lust

Photo Marketing Association (PMA) 2006 is over and a couple Canon cameras caught my eye*. Both have me thinking, "Upgrade! ... at a much later time when I have more money... which of course means that there will be even newer cameras to catch my eye."

The first is the SD700 IS Digital ELPH. I've used ELPHs since the S400, which I replaced with the smaller SD300 after I wore the S400 into the ground with constant abuse. I didn't see the SD300 as much of an upgrade as a replacement, but it did add faster startup times and a much smaller body. If I hadn't broken the S400 I would probably still be using the older ELPH today.

SD700 front SD700 back

The SD700 is the first new ELPH since the S400 to really get my attention. First off, the Canon engineers have finally figured out how to stick 4x zoom into the tiny ELPH form factor. Then they added Image Stabilization (IS) and ISO 800 on top of that. There are other features to admire in the SD700, but it's these three that set it apart for me against previous ELPHs. My ELPH is the camera I always have on me and it's the camera that I rely on to get the shot regardless of the conditions. The IS and ISO 800 capabilities would give me additional flexibility in darker situations (e.g. restaurants) without having to resort to picture-ruining flash and the 4x zoom would get me that extra step closer to my subject.

30dThe second camera to catch my eye is the EOS 30D, which is a new addition to Canon's Digital SLR line. I'm currently using a Digital Rebel 300D that's excellent for it's price tag, but has plenty of shortcomings for cycling photography. The EOS 5D has given my camera cravings since it's announcement, but it's $3,000 price tag keeps it out of my reach. The full frame sensor is also an argument against me buying it for sports photography as my 70-200mm f/4 lens would no longer be the 112-320mm f/4 lens it is with the Rebel 1.6x crop factor. I probably couldn't afford the extra $1000 to upgrade the 70-200mm and a 1.4x extender might slow down the lens too much**.

The EOS 30D is an attractive compromise. At $1400 it's less than half the price of a 5D but can shoot 5 frame per second (fps) -- that's 2 fps faster than the 5D. It doesn't have the full frame sweetness and big viewfinder of the 5D, but the 1.6x crop factor provides that economical zoom. Another compromise is the smaller 8MP sensor versus the 12MP 5D. Some of the other niceties:

  • RGB histograms
  • Improved AutoFocus (the bane of my Digital Rebel)
  • Simultaneous RAW and JPEG recording
  • 30 JPEG/11 RAW photo buffer
  • 0.15s startup time -- I've lost far too many photos due to the slow startup time.

Don't get me wrong -- if offered to buy me either the 5D or the 30D I would choose the 5D without hesitation. But part of the gadget-buying-lust fantasy is the small, minute possibility that one might actually someday have enough expendable income and the 30D looks like you get a lot for what you pay for.

* Some non-Canon equipment caught my eye as well, but I committed on the D-SLR line and I like my ELPHs
** One could always crop the 12MP photo of the EOS 5D down to 8MP or 6MP and come up with the same 'zoomed' photos, but that's yet another extra step of processing.

Amazon links to equipment mentioned in this entry:

Comments (2)

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Just curious, what is your justification for 30D over Digital Rebel XT?


Bob Atkins has a good comparison against the 20D (the 30D should be strictly better):

For me it comes down to what I want to use the camera for, as well as the fact that I already own a Rebel 300D. I want to use it to take cycling photographs. The Rebel XT isn't much better than my Rebel 300D in this regard. The only real improvement for me in that category is that AI servo mode is directly accessible. 6MP versus 8MP is a very small upgrade.

When response time matters, i.e. the time it takes to input my settings and take the photo, then the 30D is a clear winner. It has a much better autofocus system both in speed and precision -- the poor AF is what I dislike most about my Rebel. It also has quicker controls for accessing ISO, AF, and other settings. It also shoots 5fps and can shoot 30 JPEGs in burst mode versus 3fps and 14 frames for the Rebel XT.

There's always operator error to consider, but I think I am getting very close to the limits of my current Rebel when it comes to taking cycling photographs. There was a time where I was considering just getting a Rebel XT, but now I just don't think it would actually lead to better photos. For my non-cycling photos I don't think the 30D would let me take better photos either. My Rebel 300D is a great camera. It's just that in my favorite application, cycling , I believe it is costing me shots.

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