I currently have an EOS 3000V. It was my first SLR and I thought that the romance of film would outweigh the impracticalities.

It's served me well for a couple of years, but I'd really like to step things up a bit in terms of going digital and in terms of the quality.

I'd like to be able to use my existing lenses (without an adaptor) and I'm interested in CHDK - so it really has to be a canon.

My question then: Where is the sweet-spot between price and quality when it comes to 2nd hand Canon DSLRs?

  • 6
    I may be mistaken, but I don't believe CHDK is available for Canon DSLRs, just point and shoots. It probably won't influence your decision, but it's worth bearing in mind.
    – Mark
    Aug 16, 2010 at 21:47
  • @Mark, that's correct.
    – Reid
    Aug 16, 2010 at 21:48
  • 1
    There isn't any universal sweet spot, it all depends on how much money you want to spend and how much camera you need.
    – Guffa
    Aug 16, 2010 at 22:13
  • 1
    That's really sad regarding CHDK. I'm hoping it's because it's not needed as much on the DSLR range...
    – Tom Wright
    Aug 17, 2010 at 9:51
  • I've found that the things missing from the DSLRs from CHDK can be done with external equipment (e.g. an intervalometer for time-lapse or timed exposures > 30 seconds). Aug 19, 2010 at 3:21

4 Answers 4


At the moment 450D or 40D could be good purchase. They are quite modern but they lack video shooting so they are not that 'hot' any more.

For CHDK get a second hand IXUS or similar, older models are cheap. The only CHDK like project for DSLR is the magic lantern project for 5DII and 550D.

  • 1
    The 400D and 1000D are also in approximately the same category. I'd recommend them over the 300D/350D as Canon made some big improvements to ISO levels above 200 since then. Aug 19, 2010 at 3:30

You may want to consider full frame, given that you're coming from film and will have FF capable lenses. In which case, a second hand 5D (mark i) will be a good bet.

  • Great tip. I'd not thought of that.
    – Tom Wright
    Aug 17, 2010 at 9:54
  • On the other hand, your lenses will definitely work on the 1.6x crop, so depending on your lenses it might be a good thing to have them all "upgraded" to 1.6x their focal length. It's more likely to be a problem on the wide end rather than the telephoto. Your 50mm would be 85mm, so you'd want a 30mm to replace it. If you've already got a 30mm then you'd need 20mm to go that wide (which is starting to get a lot more expensive). Aug 19, 2010 at 3:28

Consider that the camera body is a far distant third when it comes to (image) quality, with Photographer and Lenses being First and Second, respectively.

So perhaps this formula: Given a certain budget, the sweet spot is the difference between your budget and your lens choices.

In other words, pick out lenses, and whatever money is left, pick the body.

To put things in perspective, here is the flickr pool for the Canon Rebel (aka EOS 300), which was Canon's first entry level dslr, which you can purchase on Ebay for around $250.

Since the 60D is right around the corner, the current sweet spot is the 50D used (once the 60D is announced, you will see fantastic bargains on Buy and Sell forums).


With Canon dSLR bodies, the sweet spot typically tends to be a prosumer APS-C body, one generation back. So, in this case, the XXD body that's one generation back from the current one (once a 7D successor arrives, this could include both the XXD and 7D lines). While the sensor and processor will be older, the range of usability features and the two-wheel controls with top LCD, and hardier build, make for a better set of features over a brand new dRebel XXXD model.

At the time I'm writing this, that would be a 60D body, used or refurbished. Typically, getting a factory-refurbished XXD one-generation-back body costs roughly the same as a brand new latest-model XXXD body. (Again, at the time of this writing, Canon USA's selling refurbed 60D bodies for $576.99, and a brand new 700D/T5i body from B&H costs $599.00).

Full frame bodies now have lower-end lines, and once there is a successor to the 6D, then the 6D might also be included, but full frame tends to have a "hidden" expense in that it can only use full-frame glass, and typically has a high-enough resolution that higher-end glass is a better fit, so as a "bargain" buy, it's unlikely to be as good as APS-C bodies.

As for the CHDK, that's more for Canon P&S cameras; for Canon dSLRs, look at Magic Lantern.

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