I started off with an MFT camera after a lot of research, and now I find myself in a position wanting to upgrade to a camera+lens with good autofocus response. I wish I knew earlier, that this was a factor in choosing a camera/system. Now before my next purchase I wanted to know what are the top features that people consider while upgrading their gear. Listing those from experience in a single place would be very useful. Now to rule out the subjective nature from the question, I am going to list down things that I have come across till now,

  • Upgrading to full frame for more pixels and data basically
  • Faster burst rates and buffer performance
  • Faster and efficient autofocus
  • Physical aspects weight, ease of holding
  • Availability of more lenses for a specific purpose (eg sharp lenses at some particular focal length range of one's preference)
  • last one would be fancy features like wi-fi and better video capturing etc.

Is this a comprehensive list or am I missing any major points still?

  • 4
    You missed "Dropped old camera and it's broken" :-) – Philip Kendall Oct 9 '14 at 22:07
  • 1
    I kind of like to think of cost when I'm upgrading :) – JenSCDC Oct 9 '14 at 22:47
  • Any feature could be a reason. I'm sure there are some people who have upgraded their camera because they liked the color of the new camera (body) better. – AJ Henderson Oct 10 '14 at 15:11

I think you've identified features that people upgrade to a new camera for, not the reasons people upgrade. You don't upgrade to get a faster AF system, you upgrade to be able to catch focus on the basketball player running by you, for example. You need to identify what you want to do and how your current camera is limiting you (and be sure that this is a body or lens problem and not a user or configuration problem) so that you can figure out what features you need in a new body.

  • Thanks Dan! I've made some chnages in the text to reflect that – dbza Oct 9 '14 at 22:25

Every improved feature is a a reason to upgrade for someone. There are plenty which come to mind but it depends on where you are starting from and your photography:

  • If my camera did not have a 100% coverage viewfinder, it would be the first reason to upgrade.
  • A weather-sealed body and matching lenses is essential for some environments. I don't control the weather when I'm on vacation (or ever) but I want to keep shooting.
  • More external controls make a body more efficient and help achieve results faster.
  • Larger pixels for higher dynamic-range and lower image-noise.
  • Higher resolution for increased maximum print sizes.
  • Higher minimum shutter-speed to freeze faster action.
  • Longer maximum shutter-speed for extreme low-light photography. Even with a BULB mode, many cameras have a maximum exposure-time.

Some features can be built-in for convenience even though they can be added with an accessory too. For example, Interval-Timer, GPS, WiFi. Other features such as HDR and Time-Lapse can be done via software or in camera. Again, what matters is what is important to you and, in the end, you have to compromise too. You can want a full-frame DSLR which shoots at 12 FPS but may not be willing to carry its weight.


I'll add that workflow enhancements are nice. The 7D has a joystick, but the 70D has an 8-way dial that has the wheel and OK button built in. I found that I would fat-finger the button/wheel when using the dial and that wasn't fun.

When I initially upgraded to the 60D one of the features I wanted was to be able to reverse the direction of the wheel's effect on aperture (in Av) or shutter speed (in Tv). At the time it was a benefit to me that the wheel move the light meter reading in the same direction (as in, adjusting the wheel to the left moved the meter reading to the left)*.

Some other features that I want the 1DX for are better battery (I understand that it has a higher voltage than the others which results in faster AF), a 100% viewfinder (for composing, sometimes it's annoying when you get things in the frame with a <100% viewfinder, but it can always be cropped out), dual card slots (the 5DIII and 7DII both offer dual card slots, but it's CF/SD combo, not dual CF, which ends up being an either/or in most cases; the 5DIII slows the CF down to the SD when used together, no word on if the 7DII does that yet or not).

Some people like how a camera looks for various reasons. If you have an obviously pro body it can give customers some sense of confidence in your value (same reason you show up in nice clothes and act professionally). On the other hand, travel photographers, or photographers that work in public, but don't often work in front of their customer, may prefer something a little less obviously expensive.

Also, there are some more nuanced differences in how things work. For example, the 7D and 70D share the same autofocus sensor, but there are autofocus features (I believe this one in particular is called AF-expansion) that are disabled in the 70D.

One thing that bugged me about trying to find a compact(er) camera for travel is being able to do long exposures. The Canon P&S cameras don't have bulb mode and the EOS-M doesn't have a cable release port (it can use an IR remote, but that doesn't work for long exposures/bulb mode AFAIK). I ended up going with the Sony RX100mII.

Not all Canon cameras with a popup flash will trigger off camera flash units (I think most/all of the recent ones will, but I remember this being a problem in the past).

*Canon meters read -0+ and I understand that Nikon meters read +0-. So Nikon may do this right out of the box because the meter is backwards.

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