I ran safaris using a Canon EOS20D, and a clutch of what are now "L" lenses and not "L II", e.g. "EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM" and "EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM". Had to quit, but kept all my gear. Clearly, i need to ease into a more advanced camera body. The Canon Mark 5D III model seems along what I'd eventually like to get back to, and would be something that seems to be one I could hold onto as a second body hopefully. I'm curious if the first edition Canon L lenses are going to hold up, quality-wise. I was familiar with the limits of the IS in the L zoom models when I was using them. I don't mind upgrading way in the future, but assuming that my eventual goal would be along the lines of what's speculated about the potential release of a Canon 5D V later this year, do 1st edition Canon L IS lenses seem reasonable to work with for a while?

  • There's far too much that's down to individual requirements/expectations/style/goals. However, personally I would recommend either the 7D Mark II (yes, it's a crop sensor, but in my experience it works great with EF L lenses, and even gives you the illusion of a little extra telephoto reach; not the best in low light, though) or a 5D Mark IV (you could do the Mark III if you want, but make sure you examine all the improvements made in the Mark IV). You could even look at one of the new mirrorless models with the EF adapter... – twalberg Apr 5 '20 at 14:48
  • Why do you "clearly... need to ease into a more advanced camera body"? Have you considered mirrorless with electronic adapter? – xiota Apr 5 '20 at 14:52
  • Thanks so much for the quick responses. Yeah, I was avoided a crop sensor. And I've completely missed the mirrorless arrival other than just picking up an ELPH (please don't snicker, it's for concerts). I like being able to have my fingers on knobs and buttons that click so everything is in my head and not on a screen. I know they seem to be the way forward with plenty of advanced tech, but I think for what I did, the joy was in adjusting on the fly and never leaving that eyepiece. That took years of practice, hence needed to ease back into old skills and new options. :) – Willis Apr 6 '20 at 17:05
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    Well, you should be able to get the 5D III used for a good price, why not just go for it. – Robin Apr 7 '20 at 20:42
  • Am just on that tipping point, and I think sums it up pretty well. It was much easier when starting the business and money was available for new tech! Cheers – Willis May 2 '20 at 9:03

Those L lenses age very well. Meaning, there is almost no reason to quickly upgrade to the newer models. It is very reasonable to keep your "old" lenses. Yes, the IS is better now but that's really small differences in really high end products.

So I'd start with getting a current body and start shooting. The "old" lenses won't hinder you in any way. IF you think you are resticted by the lenses, you can still upgrade at a later time.

  • So good to hear. I was really worried that the tech had somehow changed between the bodies and II lenses making more responsive or something. It seemed plausible after not touching a camera for 14 years and the last time I did was when mine was RAPIDLY going out of date. Thanks. I was hoping to hear news along those lines as well. – Willis Apr 6 '20 at 17:08

Since you've set down photography and are revisiting it now, it's my guess that the question is less about the camera, but how you'll feel getting back into it, and what the activity will mean for you/how you'll use it. (If you know this, sharing would help the recommendation.) For that reason, I'd suggest the best value-buy in the ballpark of your skill.

The Canon 6D has been very good to me, as an 'entry level' full frame that should be more than sufficient to get you warmed back up. I picked up a 6D Mark ii refurbished (by Canon) for $800 a few months ago.

Then, once you've got a camera in hand that you're not afraid to use (it takes less to justify going out for pictures with a $3000 body vs $800, in my opinion), you can start to answer the more personal question about which technology is worth my money, these days.

  • I was asking and have been appreciating the answers because it's not so much a revisiting as it would be a return to a major hobby. I'm not looking to get anything new now, just trying to refamilarize myself with the new bodys, knobs, buttons, and seeing if or how quickly it comes back. Thanks for the suggestion on the 6D Mark ii, will look into it! – Willis May 2 '20 at 8:53

What to do depends on your personal priorities and budget. Your current Canon EOS 20D should be suitable for refamiliarizing yourself with photography while you consider your options.

  • Don't buy a new camera – Why did you stop using your camera for 14 years? If you're likely to stop using it for another decade, purchasing a new camera may not be ideal.

  • Crop-sensor DSLR – Probably the least costly and easiest upgrade that would work with your current lenses.

  • Full-frame DSLR – However, if you have no specific need for full frame, it may not resolve any dissatisfaction you may have with crop-sensor.

  • Crop-sensor mirrorless – The EOS-M series would be the easiest to use with your current lenses. Your lenses may or may not work with other systems.

  • Full-frame mirrorless – EOS-R series would be easiest to use with your current lenses. Bodies with IBIS appear to be in development. (If there is no urgency, I would wait for IBIS.)

As for your lenses, Canon L series lenses are generally well regarded and should be worth continuing to use.

  • If you were previously satisfied with images your lenses produced, there is no reason you should be dissatisfied with them now.
  • Upgrading camera bodies can improve image quality. This image demonstrates differences in image quality taken with the exact same lens and settings on different camera bodies.
  • Non-IS lenses may soon be able to benefit from image stabilization, depending on how IBIS is implemented in upcoming Canon mirrorless cameras.
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    Wow, thanks for the comparison shot. I had no choice in my stopping photography. I was extremely specialized on East African wildlife/landscape as a safari driver/instructor. There was some corruption (not on my end) but I had to get out fast. After that, it was hard to find interesting shots in Mississippi. I was looking for something more recent only to get the number of knob turns and button clicks trained in - slightly OCD :) Wildlife is mainly boring, but when it picks up, you can't put your camera down to adjust a setting. Gonna stick with the Full-Frame. Thanks for the info! – Willis May 2 '20 at 8:59

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