Today I own a Digital Rebel XSi and the only EF-S lens I have are those that came in the kit.

I've been reading a lot trying to decide for my next body, but oh boy, what a tough decision!

I'm between the 5D Mark II and the 7D.

Among the type of pictures I plan to take are:

  • Portraits;
  • Landscape/Nature
  • Pictures at parties and other environments in low light condition.

Should I go 5D Mark II or 7D?

Updated for clarification:

"the only EF-S lens I have are those that came in the kit." does not mean I only have the kit lens. It means my investment in EF-S lenses is limited to those that came in the kit. Besides the kit lens, I do also have a EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM and a EF 50mm f / 1.2L USM. Neither of which are EF-S lenses.

I also have a Speedlite 580EX II.

I have found that under some situations where I can't use the speedlite, I have already maxed out shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings on my XSi. That's the reason for wanting to upgrade to a body that offers better ISO and performance under low light conditions.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Also relevant: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/840/dx-or-fx-lenses \$\endgroup\$
    – Reid
    Oct 10, 2010 at 3:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also relevant. This user is asking if he should go from 5DMII to 7D: Replacing my XXD with a 7D? photo.stackexchange.com/questions/3819/… \$\endgroup\$ Oct 10, 2010 at 5:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks for the clarification. I think the confusion on the kit lenses stemmed from two things: first, since you didn't mention any other lenses at all, we read "only EF-S lens" as "only lens"; second, since this site has users of many photography systems, we don't know the Canon jargon and don't know that EF-S refers to APS-C-only lenses. \$\endgroup\$
    – Reid
    Oct 10, 2010 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ The 50L on the 5DII is brilliant. I actually had a muffler shop weld my 50L directly to the body. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 8, 2010 at 6:08

5 Answers 5


It depends on what you want out of a body upgrade. If you want certain features, better build quality, handling, ergonomics, or user interface, then you should pick one of those bodies.

If you want better pictures, then do not upgrade your body. I think you would get a lot more out of buying better glass and a lighting setup(for portraits and indoor) for your XSi. With the kit lens, you are severely holding back your XSi. The XSi is capable of stunning images.

Glass, technique, and post processing are the most important when taking the shots you have mentioned. In sports, you do get limited earlier by a lower body for predictive AF, but an entry level with great glass can still produce stunning sports photos. And a body like the 7D will still produce stunning portraits, landscapes, and low light party photos.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Please see the information I added to the question. Thanks for the link! \$\endgroup\$ Oct 10, 2010 at 17:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the update. I still highly encourage upgrading to some of Canon's excellent constant f2.8 zooms first. \$\endgroup\$
    – eruditass
    Oct 10, 2010 at 17:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I plan on buying a EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM (usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/cameras/ef_lens_lineup/…) together with the new body. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 10, 2010 at 17:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ While I do agree with Eruditass that the XSi (which is the camera I have) is certainly capable of taking some amazing photographs, as someone who has used it for almost a year and a half for landscape and wildlife photography, I can warn you: It WILL be the limiting factor. I can't count how many times I wish I had a wider field of view with my 16-35mm L lens, or how many times I wish I had better ISO performance for low-light evening shots or shots of birds. I put all of my money into lenses early on, and have kind of been regretting the cheap body lately, and wish I had a 5D. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Oct 10, 2010 at 18:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Eruditass: Actually, he stated that he only has one EF-S kit lens, and that all the rest of this lenses are EF lenses. Given that he does have other EF lenses, and is planning to get the superb 24-70mm L along with a new camera, I think a better body will do him wonders. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Oct 10, 2010 at 20:04

For pretty much all of the types of photos you wish to take, the 5D II will be a better camera than the 7D. The 7D excels at action photography, with its superb AF system, high burst rate, and high resolution. It is an ideal camera for sports, wildlife, and birds in flight. Its high resolution sensor makes it easier to get good high res crops. The APS-C sensor also helps give telephoto lenses greater reach than a FF, which is ideal for wildlife and bird photography.

With the 5D, you get a full-frame sensor with larger photosites. This gives it much better low-light, high-ISO capabilities than the much higher density and smaller sensor of the 7D. The larger sensor is ideal for landscapes as well, and should do great for high tonal range portraits (I know many wedding photographers who live by the 5D II.) The 5D won't do particularly well where you need super fast and capable AF or burst-rate shooting. This rules out most sports, and makes photographing birds in flight more difficult. It can still do excellently for wildlife photography of animals that are not running, or perching birds.

  • \$\begingroup\$ There are various rumours going around that the 5Dmk3 or equivalent will come out in 2011, and will pick up some of the newer features from the 7D, so it would really just come down to sensor size in that case (if you can wait a few months...) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 25, 2010 at 1:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @drfrigsplat: Aye, the 5D3 will pick up some of the 7D's features. It will get a similar (but not identical) AF system, and probably the LCD viewfinder. It won't, however, get the considerable speed of the 7D, keeping the 7D as an ideal camera for sports and wildlife. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Nov 25, 2010 at 3:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ One of the main reasons for the slow shutter speed is the size of the sensor/mirror assembly and also the size of the files, at something like 25mb per RAW file. As far as I have read elsewhere. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 8, 2010 at 8:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Nick. Yup... 25MB and sensor/mirror size \$\endgroup\$ Dec 8, 2010 at 21:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hindsight is 20/20, LOL. the 5DIII finally arrived in 2012 at 22.3MP, the same focus system as the 1D X that is far superior to even the 7D's, and 6fps compared to the 8fps of the 7D. I don't think anyone was quite expecting though, in 2010, for the price to jump $1,000USD from the 5DII! \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Feb 3, 2013 at 15:59

I'm unconvinced you need to step all the way up to the 7D or 5D-II. I don't know the Canon lineup, but IMO you should consider the midrange APS-C bodies instead - 50D or 60D based on a very quick glance at the Canon website. You could put the $500-1000 you save towards better glass, which is going to be a more efficient use of your IQ-improvement dollars and a more lasting investment.

This is particularly true given that you have the just the kit lenses now; much of the capability of fancier bodies will be wasted if they are not accompanied by corresponding lens upgrades.

Frankly, you might be perfectly happy with one or more better lenses and waiting a bit on the body upgrade.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As a Canon bod, I'd suggest it is often better to skip a range if you can afford it - better to get the low light performance of the 5D over a 50D for the sort of shots Alfred said he was after (If he'd said sports, then I'd probably fall on the side of the 7D) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 10, 2010 at 9:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the input Reid. By "the only EF-S lens I have are those that came in the kit" I meant that I don't have other EF-S lenses which are specific for APS-C bodies. I would be able to carry my two other lenses (one EF and one L) to a full-frame body. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 10, 2010 at 11:14

Not sure this is the right place, but I thought I would let you guys know that I went with the 5D Mark II.

The new body with a couple of L lenses (16-35mm f/2.8 L and 50mm f/1.2) and a Gorilla Pod did wonders (when compared to my previous photos) on my last vacation.

If I were to classify the importance of each of these factors in the improvement of the quality of my photos, I guess the order would be:

  1. Tripod
  2. Lenses
  3. Camera Body
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    \$\begingroup\$ I just saw this question, and was going to chime in with: "Eh, you know, if you're agonizing over this decision, you really want the nicer one. Life's short — go for it!" \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Dec 8, 2010 at 0:53

As per jrista's breakdown, it sounds like you would get more out of the full frame sensor of the 5D Mark II than the faster, action oriented nature of the 7D. But the 7D is still a fantastic camera.


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