Yep, I think this question has been asked quite a number of times, just thought I should ask based on what I need. I'm currently using a (close to) 4 year old 550D, so I was thinking it was time for me to upgrade. I am now choosing between upgrading to either a 7D or 5D mark II (mark III is pretty out of my price range for now, so hopefully no one suggests the mark III instead).

I'm leaning quite heavily towards the 7D, because I'm really very happy with how my current crop lens is serving me quite well for basically every single purpose I use it for, be it portraits, landscapes or even the occasional sports photography like the cheerleading competition I did last week. And also I just bought a cropped aspherical lens which I haven't really gotten around to playing around with, and I'm rather reluctant to sell it without using it much. Upgrading to another crop body like the 7D would allow me to keep all these and save me the trouble of upgrading lenses together with the camera. But there's the issue of the 7D and 550D having the same sensor, I feel like I will be upgrading just for better functionality and build.

On the other hand, the 5D mark II obviously will have better image quality, but it's the thought of upgrading my lenses together with the camera that turns me off, it just feels like extra cost on top of the already more expensive 5D mark II, which I don't think be able to afford (the lenses, not the body). The only EF lens I own is the 50mm f1.8, which isn't flexible enough for my needs.

For the record, I do mainly travel-type photography and some cosplay portraits whenever there are conventions. Anything else is based on what I feel like shooting at that time. My current main lens is the Sigma 18-200mm, which I really love due to its versatility, I feel like there's nothing I can't take with this lens.

One of my ideas was to upgrade to the 7D first, then slowly phase out my crop lens and introducing FF lenses to my inventory, then make the jump to FF when I think I need another upgrade. Do you guys think this is a good idea, or should I make the direct jump to FF? My priority right now is actually cost, because I'm not really working as of now so I have no income, but its the allure of higher image quality in the 5D II that's giving me a headache. Any advice would be welcome here. Thanks a lot in advance.


Let me start by saying there isn't a wrong answer. Either camera you suggested is a HUGE improvement over an entry level model and you are jumping pretty much clean over the mid-range models. I personally jumped from an xTi (400D) to a 5D Mark iii, but I made that large of a jump because I was starting commercial photography work on the side.

I know you hoped people wouldn't say it, but unless you can get a really good deal on the 5D Mark ii, the 5D Mark iii is a very significantly better camera in terms of AF capability. That said, you mentioned you lack much in the way of EF lenses.

What you may want to consider is continuing to use your 550D a bit longer (if it isn't limiting you and you aren't having problems) and instead, start investing in better lenses. If you start buying nice quality EF lenses now, you will get more out of your 550D in addition to being ready to make the jump to full frame without excess cost in the future.

The 7D is a great option as well if you really want a stronger body now, but if you eventually want to get to FF, I'd see it as a waste of money compared to buying lenses if you are still happy with the performance of your 550D.

  • Thanks for the advice. The idea of upgrading my lenses before my body has never passed through my mind, all I've been thinking of is that my camera probably needs an upgrade because current technology is so far ahead of my current camera. Now that you mention it I do feel pretty satisfied with my 550D currently except for that cheerleading competition when I wished I had a faster FPS and better noise control. This is definitely something I would think about. Thanks again :D – Lion Apr 4 '14 at 14:20
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    @Lion - keep in mind, faster lenses = better noise control too. Won't help with the FPS, though it will help with focus speed. – AJ Henderson Apr 4 '14 at 14:30

You say the 550D is happily serving all your needs and that you're only looking to upgrade because "it is time".

May I suggest keep your 550D. It's a great camera by all means and you're already enjoying it. You can put the money you were going to spend on the camera (both that you mention would set you back more than a thousand pounds) and instead invest in a nice lens or two.

The EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM is a stalwart of the full frame community (the EF 24-70 f/2.8L USM is also nice but may be out of your price range). Or if you want to do something creative, perhaps the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM? Or for landscapes & architecture, the EF 17-40 f/4L USM?

It seems as you aren't sure what you want from your next camera just yet. Until you do have a specific need that your 550D doesn't do, just bide your time and increase your creativity through lenses. You never know - by the time you do get around to needing that new camera, the 5D III may have dropped enough to be within your budget! ;-)

Just my 2c worth.

  • Haha I'm probably going for second hand bodies so it definitely won't set me back a thousand pounds (a second hand 7D can be bought at 400 pounds where I'm from). That said, like I commented on AJ Henderson's post this is definitely an option I'm now considering, because all of a sudden it just made a lot of sense to me. Thanks for the advice Mike, and thanks a lot also for the lens recommendations :D – Lion Apr 4 '14 at 14:41
  • I have a 500D. I rented a 70D last weekend and watching ISO 6400 become usable was very nice! Apart from that, I suspect that I need improvement more than the camera does. ;-) – Michael H. Apr 4 '14 at 14:43

I suppose it really does come down to your needs and how you plan on using your camera and for what purposes. I would personally go for the 7D as it saves on upgrading the lens etc like you mentioned.

I suppose if your on a budget then get the 7D you miss out on image quality but it does serve its purpose for what you NEED.

  1. I would wait till may-june to see how Canon 7D Mark II will look like. Craig from CanonRumors rate it as CR2 which means that this is a trusty source. Anyway, rumors about 7Dmk2 are floating around from some time now, hence it should appear sooner than latter.

  2. A 7D2, even if it will be outside of your price range, will lower the prices for the other options.

  3. Why not go to 70D which has a much newer sensor and a better tech all around. I would definitely consider it if I would have like you EF-S lenses. Wait for the price drops after 7D2 launch or after Photokina in autumn when most probably Canon will announce something new as well.

  4. No 5D2 IMHO. The switch isn't worth it now. 5D3/6D are much better (sensor, AF etc.). You're right saying

One of my ideas was to upgrade to the 7D first, then slowly phase out my crop lens and introducing FF lenses to my inventory, then make the jump to FF when I think I need another upgrade.

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    Well like I said one of my main concerns were cost, so honestly speaking I was looking more towards second hand bodies. A second hand 7D could be obtained at cheapest SGD $800 (about USD $650), while even a "second hand" 70D would cost more or less the same as a brand new set (about SGD $1500 or USD $1200). I was considering the 70D a few months back, but I eliminated it because of price, and I don't see it dropping anytime soon either. – Lion Apr 4 '14 at 14:05
  • As for 7D2, yea it's definitely going to be out of my price range, but it's probably good for comparison, and also probably you're right that it might push the prices for other bodies down, so I guess it's a plus point, although I'm not sure I might wait until its release to see if prices will drop further. And about the 5D2, not worth it even though it's still going to be a considerable upgrade from what I have? Anyway thanks for the advice. Really appreciate it. – Lion Apr 4 '14 at 14:10

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