I want to buy a Canon SLR. Maybe you do, too? So I read a bit, mostly from a couple of websites, and this is what I came up with. These days, their confusing array of features is a part of the marketing. I’ve tried to cut to the essential differences between the camera bodies.

Consider these questions, then read the extended discussion. Do you want 10, 12 or 15 megapixels? 12 is probably more than enough, as discussed below. Do you want good or the very best image quality? Probably, they all take good photos. Do you think DV is valuable? Maybe you want to use the camera to do short videos that you’ll post on a blog, from time to time. Do you need 3 or 6 fps when taking bursts of pics? With each of these decisions comes a price, and with that comes less money for lenses. Basically you can use the same lenses on all of these.

Okay, so megapixels: Olympus recently announced a decision to focus on 12 MP and below, because they came to the conclusion that with the exception of special users, 12 MP is more than enough for almost everybody.

Your choices boil down to 15 MP (50D, T1i), 12 (XSi), or 10 (40D megapixels, XS).

Then, how important is having the newest image processing technology? Pick very or not so much. The 50D and the T1i both have the newest fangled DIGIC 4, the rest I mention here are DIGIC 3. There is a discussion of the various claimed differences, here: Basically, newer tech = better pics = higher price = less money for lenses.

Then, how important is it to be able to take more than 6 frames/sec? Otherwise, you get 3. That is basically what distinguishes the 50D & 40D from the rest, as they say can do 6 fps and the others are spec’d at only 3. Probably, it doesn’t really matter for most people, unless you are doing action photography professsionally.

So considering those dimensions, it should be pretty easy to choose. Megapixels, image processor, burst at 3 or 6. Not so difficult, now, and with the price figured in, it should be a cinch.

50D, $~1200 / ~$1000 refurb, body only (HD, 15MP, DIGIC 4, 6 fps)
40D, $900 / $700 refurb, body only (10 MP, DIGIC 3, 6 fps)
T1i, $800, body only (15MP, DIGIC 4, 3 fps)
XSi, ~$600 / $470 used (12 MP, DIGIC 3, 3 fps)
XS, ~$500 (10 MP, DIGIC 3, 3 fps)

Now, lenses are where you want to spend the good money.

http://www.adorama.com/SG3014EOS.html?sid=1238460918410310 describes a recommended “normal” lens for $409. Then,
http://www.adorama.com/CA1002AFU.html is a telephoto, for $410. These are from the photo.net page, and I recommend reading that whole page, if you’re serious about buying.

If money were no object, I’d get the T1i. But looking at this closely, I’d say XSi or XS look good, too. How much do you feel like spending today?

One thing about the T1i is that it’s advertised as being “full HD spec video,” but it turns out that it’s only 20FPS at the full-frame HD size of 1080pixels wide, and 30FPS at 720pixels wide. So don’t think you can actually shoot full-size, full-speed video with the T1i, which is one of it’s marketing highlights, and is misleading.

Final thoughts: get one of the more affordable ones, then trade up, later; it’ll have
decent resale. Buy used through a store with a warranty to save and cover your bases.


  • Posted on 6. May 2009
  • Written by admin
  • Categories: photography
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