I purchased my current digital SLR in December of 2004. It is a pretty decent 8.2MP SLR from Canon’s prosumer line, which is sort of the cross over from the consumer to the professional lines. It’s a really awesome camera, and it’s been great to learn on. That being said, technology has continued to improve over the last few years, and my camera is becoming more and more out of date.
The main problem (if you can call it that), is that my camera has a 1.6X crop factor. What that means is that the CMOS sensor inside is smaller that the size of a 35mm film, so part of the image falls on the area outside of the sensor and gets thrown away — this effectively crops every single shot that you take on the camera. So, if you have a 50mm lens on a 1.6X crop factor, it effectively acts like a 80mm lens on a pure 35mm DSLR.
Is that bad? Well, the first problem is that it’s very hard to get a true wideangle on a 1.6X crop factor. I have a 17mm zoom lens that when placed on my Canon 20D actually seems more like a 27mm lens, which isn’t very exciting by comparison.
There’s actually a benefit to a 1.6X crop factor though, and here it is. It’s pretty difficult to make lenses sharp on the edges — most lenses are really sharp in the center, but become rather soft near the edges. So on a 1.6X crop factor body, you are effectively throwing away all the soft areas of the lens, which is sort of a small bonus.
I have been saving money for the last six months or so with the expectation that I will buy a new camera body sometime in the next six months. The shutter assembly on my 20D is pretty much doomed to fail pretty soon, so I either have to replace it (which is around $400 I believe), or just buy a new camera.
I was originally thinking I would get a full frame camera, but with Canon’s recent announcement of the EOS 40D, I think I might be leaning towards that. Compared to my current camera, it has the following improvements.
- 10 MP as opposed to 8.2 MP
- Built in integrated sensor cleaning system that uses ultrasonic vibrations
- 14 bit DIGIC III processor compared to the 12 bit DIGIC II
- 6.5 frames per second up to 75 shots! The 20D can do 5 fps up to 30 shots
- Larger viewfinder
- Interchangable focusing screens for manual focus — this just doesn’t exist on the 20D
- ISO setting directly in the display – on the 20/30D you have to hunt for it in the menus which is idiotic considering how often it’s used
- Quieter mirror mechanism — this is actually pretty big for me. The 20D has a very loud shutter release since it uses a spring to pull the mirror up. In quiet situations, the 20D really stands out when you take a shot. The 40D has a servo controlling the mirror, and apparently it’s about 1/4 as loud as the 20D.
- More accurate focusing sensors
- Partial weatherproofing
- 3.0″ LCD – the 20D has a 1.8″ I believe, so this is a huge step up
- Live View – you can see what the CCD sees in the viewfinder somehow
- Auto ISO for most modes which actually seems rather intelligent
- sRAW (small RAW) for reduced size RAW images
As you can see, there are a ton of improvements compared to my camera. The list price is $1399 for it, and it starts shipping in a week or two. I paid $1999 for mine when it came out, so it seems like a pretty good deal. If I do this, then I would have my 20D as a backup camera for weddings and what not, which is probably a smart idea. Plus, I also have my film body that’s full frame, so I might just stick my wide angle on that for events and shoot those in film.
A full frame DSLR will run over $3000, and I’m not sure I’m ready to take the plunge yet. So, I think I’ll be grabbing a 40D sometime soon.