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upgrade to full frame or not?

Ray Simpson , Jun 17, 2012; 10:52 a.m.

I recently upgraded to an EOS 7D from a much used and much loved 30D. Had funds allowed I would probably have upgraded to full frame at the time.
I now have the opportunity to upgrade (?) to a 5D Mk II that is in mint condition but would be interested in opinions as to whether I should or not. I have always considered that full frame is the place to be, but the 7D is such a good camera.
I do not need the 8FPS that the 7D offers for the type of photography I do. I consider myself a competent photographer. I have been involved in a few exhibitions of my work and have some success and work to continue this progress, which is partly why I feel I should take the opportunity?
Opinions please?


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Dennis Zaebst , Jun 17, 2012; 10:58 a.m.


You're going to get wildly varying opinions on this topic, and it has been discussed extensively here on photo.net. I have a couple of questions for you: 1) What do you think the 5DII will do for you that the 7D will not? 2) What kind of photography do you do?

Roy S , Jun 17, 2012; 11:16 a.m.

I have a 5D Mark II and don't regret buying it for a second..I also have a D800 and still use the Canon almost every day...it is a spectacular camera and I have never had any of the focus issues others seem to complain about...disclaimer...I am a professional artist, but not a professional photographer. However, I do know a good image when I see one. In my opinion, you cannot go wrong with that camera.

Mark Pierlot , Jun 17, 2012; 11:22 a.m.

If you do decide to pick up a 5DII, Ray, may I suggest that you hang on to your 7D if you can.

I have a 5DII and 7D, and find the dual format kit to be very useful. I tend to use my 50D while walking about when the light is good and I envision needing more reach. And I tend to use my 5DII indoors, where the light is often less than optimal and the camera-to-subject distances are shorter.

Richard Hatch , Jun 17, 2012; 11:24 a.m.

I went from a 450D to a 7D and then a 5DMKII. I much prefer the images from the MKII. The 7D gets very little use now and is in "backup" status.

Tom Burke , Jun 17, 2012; 12:10 p.m.

Richard said:

I went from a 450D to a 7D and then a 5DMKII. I much prefer the images from the MKII.

That's the key point: what is it about these images that makes them 'much preferable'to those from the 7D? And I suppose a follow-up question would be, what sort of images are they?

(Not arguing, btw - just keen to understand.)

Philip Wilson , Jun 17, 2012; 12:29 p.m.

It depends on the lenses you have. If you have a good selection of lenses for full frame then you will not regret it. If your lenses were bought for APS-C - then they may not work out as well. Obviously EF-S lenses will not work at all but even your EF lenses will have a different angle of view.
Tom I find the 5DII images are "better" than my 7D. Two areas really, firstly they are clearly better at high ISO - from 800 up the 5DII produces cleaner, sharper images. Secondly the 5DII images have a lot more exposure tolerance than those from the 7D. This is very noticeable at 400ISO or above where the 7D will either blow highlights or lose shadow detail in difficult situations. The 5DII allows a much better recovery in these circumstances. I know that DXO mark shows the same dynamic range up to 400 ISO but this is not consistent with my findings. If I am shooting sports or birds in flight then I will take my 7D or 1DIIN. For almost every other subject I will pick the 5DII. This is not to say the 7D is a bad camera - just that the 5DII has better IQ (although it is inferior in a number of other areas). The other thing I prefer about the 5DII is the wider angle of view from my lenses (they are all full frame) and the bigger viewfinder.

Tudor ApMadoc , Jun 17, 2012; 12:43 p.m.

I shot SLR / film for nearly 40 years, my first digital camera was a Kodak DC200 (1MP, really). When it came time to move to a digital SLR, I waited and bided my time. I saw the noise issues with the non full frame sensor cameras. As I waited, 2 things happened. They started to improve the noise correction of the smaller sensors and the price slowly came down on the full frame sensors.

I read up on the noise correction - found that they give up sharpness to achieve that correction. I waited some more. Finally the 5D came out in 2005 and the noise levels (uncorrected) were astonishingly low. At the time I was using a Sony F828. I dumped that for the 5D and 3 different lenses. I upgraded to the 5D MII, then to the MIII when they first came out.

Two main advantages that I see.

  • With the same resolution sensor, an APC sensor with noise correction turned off will have much more noise that a full frame sensor with it's noise correction turned off
  • Having shot 35mm film for years, I don't have to do that mental calculation to covert focal length.

If you do decided to go to a non-full frame sensor camera, but are thinking about it in the future. I would recommend not going with any of the "S" lenses as you not be able to use them with the full frame camera.

Sarah Fox , Jun 17, 2012; 02:17 p.m.

I wrote this a while back. It might help you to sort through some of the details:


Richard Hatch , Jun 17, 2012; 04:37 p.m.

Tom: Excellent Questions (thanks for noticing)
On the one hand there is just a global "feels good" kind of quality that I noticed right away when I made the switch.
To break it down I would say the components that make up the "feels good" are the following:
1. a more natural depth of field... I say more natural because the extra separation of the subject from surroundings seems that way to me. It is another step removed from what I would all an unnatural depth of field that comes with a point and shoot and to some degree an APS-C sensor. I don't have to go out of my way as much to get the look I like.
2. a broader range of "workable" ISOs... the much noted better low light/less noise especially in the 1600 range.
3. and something I can't prove (or even care to try)...they hold up better when approaching the limits of post processing. (I don't always get the perfect exposure)
Other than that.... I just like it.... a lot!

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