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I was going through different models of Canon and found that the price range of the camera body for entry level DSLR is lesser than the semi-professional DSLR although both of these range of cameras offer the same specification, same pixel count etc.

  • So, what is the logic behind the phenomenal price gap even though the specs are same?
  • Coming to the next question, keeping in view that the specs are alike, should I go for a cheaper camera body so that I can invest more on the lens? Or does a higher price tag essentially mean better a camera?
  • Are lens compatible for any camera model for a particular brand say for example a lens EOS 60D would work for EOS 550?
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Ria - Welcome to photo stack exchange! You have asked many questions here. We try to limit to one question per "question", so please open separate questions if you have multiple. –  dpollitt Nov 21 '11 at 21:18
    
I believe your main question is duplicated in this question: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/788/… –  dpollitt Nov 21 '11 at 21:19
    
The lens compatibility question is a qualified "yes, with some exceptions". See photo.stackexchange.com/questions/380/… for an answer specific to Canon. –  mattdm Nov 21 '11 at 21:24
    
Thanx all:I have deleted the last question only,others still need to be answered please. –  ria Nov 21 '11 at 21:33
2  
Well,there are so many jargons in the link provided by dpollitt which is difficult to follow.A short concise answer for a novice in covering aspects of price and features would be helpful. –  ria Nov 21 '11 at 21:58

3 Answers 3

There are lots subtleties and each manufacturer has its own selection of things they like to exclude from lower-level models but a few key specifications explain most differences:

  • Sensor size. A bigger sensor cost more and offers an advantage in terms of image quality. In most cases, it also forces you buy heavier and more expensive lenses.
  • 100% Viewfinder. If you want to actually see everything exactly as framed you need a 100% coverage finder and it will cost you.
  • Weatherproof construction. The upper-high-end models are weather-sealed against rain, snow, sand, dust, etc. Not only do you pay for this, you have to pay more for lenses too because a non-weather-sealed lens on a weather-sealed body equals a non-weather-sealed camera.
  • Dual Control-Dials. This always comes more more external buttons and means faster and more efficient operation and fewer trips through the menu system.
  • Continuous Drive. Higher-end cameras often can shoot continuously faster and for longer which is appreciated for sports and action photography to capture the peak of the action.

There are reasons to choose a camera depending on each of the above points but once you find a camera that satisfies your needs, any money left-over is certainly much better spent on lenses. Lenses end up being a long-terms investment and usually rise in value, while cameras improves much faster and are less durable than lenses due to their complexity.

Normally, lenses that are designed for a mount and sensor size will work on any camera that matches or ones with smaller sensors. So an EF-S lens works on 7D, 60D or 500D but not on a 5D. An EF lens works on all Canon DSLRs. It works the same way for Nikon and Sony which have both cropped-sensors and full-frame DSLRs.

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Another aspect not frequently discussed is the number & type of auto focus (AF) points present. So, while the 600D & 60D may be very similar, the 60D has better AF points (all cross type vs 1 cross type for the 600D), while higher end bodies like the 1Ds are even better.

In addition to this, some of the AF points only work when you use a lens with a certain minimum aperture (typically minimum of f/2.8 is required). Ex., in the 550D\600D, the centre AF point functions as a cross type only for lenses with a minimum aperture of f/2.8. Otherwise, upto f/5.6 it acts as a horizontal sensor, & you lose AF ability beyond that altogether. While for something like the 1Ds, the cross AF points can function even at apertures as high as f/5.6, and can still work when you hit f/8 (say if using extenders).

Coming particularly to the choice of lenses with respect to this point, some of the ultra zooms like the Tamron 18-270mm has a minimum aperture of f/6.3 at the telephoto end, and so you end up losing on the AF ability.

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I've also noticed this when comparing the 5DMII and 1DsMIII. Autofocus is noticeably better in ambiguous situations on the 1Ds, presumably because it has more AF points. –  Steve Ross Nov 22 '11 at 7:44

In the broadest sense, the higher up the range you go, the more durable, and the more "custom" you can set the cameras up. Things like the material that the camera body is made out of and the shutter improve as you go up the line. They also add a great deal of custom functions that allow you to customize the camera for your purposes and situations. Many of these features are things that professionals will demand and require because they shoot the same thing over and over and they want the highest possible performance.

Another big difference is the actual sensor size. As you move up the range, even from a point and shoot to an entry level DSLR, and finally to a professional or at least more expensive body - the sensor will become larger. This allows for the pixel density, or amount of pixels squeezed into the chip to be less per inch. What this means in real terms, is better high ISO or noise performance in low light(or any light really). So if you love taking shots indoors without a flash especially of moving subjects, and dislike noise or grain then a higher end body will allow you to do this.

As far as spending more money on the body or on the lenses, I always recommend spending and or saving your money to buy lenses. Camera bodies change frequently with technology, and lenses are typically a much better long term investment.

As far as lenses, Canon DSLRs either use EF lenses or EF-S and EF lenses. The EF-S lenses are only compatible with the crop sensor cameras such as the 60D, 7D, 550D/T2i, etc. Where as EF lenses are compatible with all current cameras. You will want to look into the differences between the lenses once you decide on a camera, but before purchasing lenses.

Sorry if the above is too high level, I left out many, many details, but on purpose.

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minor typo : 55D , but could confuse people new to DSLR :) I don't have edit right so I shall leave it to you. –  Gapton Nov 22 '11 at 3:43
    
In case of lenses designed for crop sensor, Sony's full frame mirrorless cameras recognize "crop-lenses" and automatically switch to use only middle area of the sensor. With Sony A7R the crop-lens image size is 16 Megapixels, while 36 MP with lenses designed for full frame. –  Esa Paulasto Oct 24 '13 at 5:57
    
@EsaPaulasto - This question isn't about mirrorless so that comment is not really applicable. Also, Nikon does the same thing that you are describing on their DSLRs for example, which would be on topic. –  dpollitt Oct 24 '13 at 13:10

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