My local camera shop has a secondhand Canon 1D MkII for sale for approx £500, as a current 450D user is this worth the upgrade or would I be better off saving for a new 5D or 7D?

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Simon, I think you need to tell us a bit more about your shooting style and your expectations. If you shoot sport events and own a good telephoto lens and find your existing photos being too often out of focus then 1D mk2 seems like a worthy upgrade but it all depends on personal preferences and needs. For example for me it is simply too bulky and I would miss many pictures as the camera would be left at home more often then not \$\endgroup\$
    – kristof
    Aug 25, 2010 at 15:55
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I think kristof nails it. This question is tough to answer without knowing what you shoot. Also consider that the 450 is a tiny camera compared to the 1D2. If you're use to the size and weight of the 450, even with grip, you might be in for a shock. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Aug 25, 2010 at 17:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I mainly shoot landscape and nature, with a bit of motor sport too (oh and the kids of course). I don't need to upgrade but what can I say? I'm a gear head... :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Simon
    Aug 26, 2010 at 12:25

5 Answers 5


2 years ago I upgraded from a 400D to a 5D(Mk I), and am really happy with the upgrade. At the time, my primary reasons for upgrading were:

  1. Full-frame sensor size, compared to APS-C (I know this doesn't fully apply to you)
  2. Spot metering
  3. It was a bargain! (And bought from a friend who I knew looked after it)

In terms of saving for a 5D Mk II or a 7D, and before buying this, I think you need to consider where you want to go with your photography. Personally, I see the 5D II and 7D being similar in terms of levels, in the same way the 1D and 1Ds are on the same sort of pro-level. The differences are that the 5D is full frame, and so more costly, but the 7D is faster. Do you want speed or a full-frame sensor? (I'm assuming the video differences are irrelevant since you're looking at a 1D Mk II)

I sold my 400D for about £350, I seem to recall, with kit lens and some accessories and bits and bobs, so you can deduct a bit off the price.

If I were in your position I would be severely tempted to go for it, but bear in mind a few things:

  1. EF-S lenses won't fit a 1D body - if you've invested in these then it'd put the brakes on things for me. I knew I wanted to go to full-frame at some point, so only had EF lenses.
  2. It's a bigger, heavier body (obvious I know), so may be less convenient to have with you as much as the smaller 450D.
  3. It's a pro-level body. It certainly makes you look more professional, and the bodies can take more abuse, but they're also more likely to have been heavily used already - I'd make sure it was in good nick, still.
  4. Reduced megapixel count. If you crop frequently and want to print big, then you may have to work on your framing/get longer lenses to allow you to get the crop you want in-camera.

For reference, here are the links on the Canon site to the 1D Mk II and the 450D

  • \$\begingroup\$ The 7D is faster, but also has a killer AF system. The 5D2's af performance is quite a bit dated. There are plenty of 5D2 v 7D threads out there. I went with the 5D2 because I shoot wide. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Aug 25, 2010 at 17:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. I think the point in my head at the time was that the two cameras are very different, and it'd be a good idea to work out what you want from your next camera first. \$\endgroup\$
    – Edd
    Aug 25, 2010 at 20:50

For that price, I would grab a 1DMkII. That sounds like a pretty good bargain. Its about the same price as my 450D when I purchased it new (well, perhapse a couple hundred more), and even though the 450D has a larger MP count, the 1D still has several advantages:

  • Larger sensor (1.3x crop vs. 1.6x crop), so wider FOV
    • It'll make better use of EF lenses, however it will not be compatible with any EF-S lens
  • Better ISO capabilities
    • Overall ISO quality is likely not that much better
    • You have extended range (50 through 3200)
    • You can adjust ISO in 1/3rd stops vs. 1 stops
  • Much finger grained control over most settings
    • White Balance/Tint
    • Far more custom functions than the 450D
    • Larger range of exposure compensation
  • Better Auto Focus system
  • Higher flash sync speed
  • Higher burst rate for continuous high-speed action photography
    • 8.3fps vs. 3.5fps
    • Larger buffer allowing more continuous shots without slowing down
  • Better battery life (due to built in battery grip)
  • Fully environmentally sealed and more ruggedly built
  • Support for multiple types of storage (CF, SDHC)
  • Many more benefits

On the flip side, there are some detractors:

  • Older technology, using Digic 2 and 8mp sensor
  • Smaller view screen (2" vs. 3", lower res)
  • Compatible with fewer lenses
    • Only supports EF lenses, but is also not a full-frame sensor
    • Does not support EF-S lenses that a 1.6x sensor like the 450D would
  • Larger and heavier to lug around than a 450D
  • More complex camera that requires more knowledge to fully take advantage of

Probably not.

The 1d is a pro level camera, but it is also a fairly old model relative to the 450D. While the build quality is probably higher and it has the look and feel of a pro camera, from a technical aspect, it really isn't that much higher quality, and in some ways it's actually lower than the 450D. The 450D has a digic 3 processor and a 12MP sensor, vs the digic 2 and 8MP sensor in the 1d, which will improve the in camera processing. That said, the 1d does have some other features (more AF points, weather sealed, 1.3 vs 1.6 crop, etc.) that you simply won't find on an entry level dslr.

Also, another concern is the shutter actuation count on the 1d. Being a pro level camera, you can expect that it was previously owned by a pro, so the shutter count is probably pretty high. While the quality is higher in a pro level camera, any mechanical system is prone to failing eventually, so you might actually have more life left in the 450D.

If I were you (and actually as a 450D owner) I think the better route is to pass on this and save for a 5D. The exceptions to this would be if:

  • you need a weather sealed camera
  • the shutter actuations are low
  • you need a larger sensor
  • you primarily use EF (not EF-S) lenses

If you want the pro look without switching, one way to get there is to get a Battery Grip and SpeedLight.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Any technological edge that the 450D has is going to be pretty minor. Digic 3 and a 12mp sensor are not enough. The larger 8mp sensor of the 1DMkII is more than enough to create extremely high quality images. There are still plenty of technological bonuses to a 1DMkII as well that outpace what is possible on a 450D. The biggest concern really would be the shutter actuation count...however the 1D has a shutter with at least twice the lifetime of a 450D. If I could get a 1DMkII for $700-800, I would do it in a heartbeat. I may not get rid of my 450D, but I'd still get the 1DMkII. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Aug 25, 2010 at 13:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Very true, I only meant to show that a "pro level" beat an entry level in all aspects. \$\endgroup\$
    – chills42
    Aug 25, 2010 at 13:55
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think its a good idea to pass and save for a 5DMkII...not sure I would take a 5DMkI over a 1D Mk II, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Aug 25, 2010 at 13:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jrista ...if you can find anywhere that has stock of the 5D Mk II (Probably just a coincidence that there are rumours about a new model from Canon to be announced tomorrow though) \$\endgroup\$ Aug 25, 2010 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've heard rumors about a 5DMkIII for a while...its what I've been waiting for myself...but I didn't realize there was one about it being announced tomorrow... :o \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Aug 25, 2010 at 17:12

Every upgrade should have a reason. So ask yourself:

  • What are the features that you're missing in your 450D?
  • What are the features that you're expecting from 1D?
  • What else do you need to upgrade (probably lenses)?
  • What are the up and downsides of 1D (covered by chills42 and jrista)?
  • Is it suitable for the kind of photography you do?

And finally - will it improve your photos?


The Canon 1D MkII is a professional grade camera - see review of it here: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos1dmkii/ £500 seems like a bargain especially if it was about £3000 when new. Even though it is 6 years old I am sure it will take better (and faster) pictures than most new DSLR's of that price. You need to consider the size and weight of the 1D but it would make you look like a pro. If it was me, the 450D would be on ebay and I would have the 1D instead.


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