After selling my 1Dmk2 last year the time has come to get myself a new body, all along I'd decided that I wanted to do more "wow" pictures, big landscapes and do some more portait photography (up until now I had been doing mainly motorsport photography).

My budget is such that I can't afford a 5Dmk2, so the obvious candidate would be a 5Dmk1, its been around for a while and is famous for producing stunning images.

However, the thought has crept into my head that a 7D might be a better option, it's had the benefit of 3 or 4 years extra development and the Dual Digic4 processors, but has this allowed the image quality to catch up with the 5D?

(I'm trying to keep the question generic, but if you want to tailor your answer I use 17-40L, 50mm and 70-200f2.8L and I'm not bothered about shooting video)

3 Answers 3


As a former 5D owner I can tell you that using full frame, even on a camera as 'old' as that one, is a joy. The colours and image quality on that 12MP sensor are amazing. You will notice the benefits particularly with your 17-40mm lens.

If I were in your position, I wouldn't hesitate to pick up a second hand 5D.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer, it looks like I need to borrow my Dad's 5D and see what the shots I get out of it are like.
    – LC1983
    Jan 21, 2011 at 18:51
  • I picked up a second hand 5D , as a stop gap camera and have been using it ever since. Really pleased with it.
    – LC1983
    Oct 27, 2016 at 14:48

How do you define image quality? Depending on the lens you may be able to get more detail out of the 7D, you may also get less noise and greater dynamic range (in good light, where read noise dominates and the extra light gathering ability of the FF sensor doesn't count as much). The 5D might have advantages in micro contrast and dynamic range in low light. It's hard to make definitive comparisons.

What improvements in technology will not yield any time soon is the beautifully shallow depth of field you get with a FF camera, especially in wide angle views. Nor can technology replicate the large bright viewfinder.

What technology could have addressed but hasn't is the lack of prime lenses designed for the APS-c sensor. So as it is FF has a sharpness advantage with most primes (at least in the centre). Lens hoods on EF lenses are also more efficient on full frame as they match the field of view properly.

So in short FF is about more than just image quality (which is subjective and hard to pin down anyway). As you mention landscape and portraiture I would definitely recommend picking up a 5D!

The biggest "technological" improvements on the 7D are video, live view, autofocus and continuous shooting speed. It sounds like you don't need these. In comparison improvements in image quality are more incremental.

  • Image quality is a tricky one, I guess high ISO ability and depth of colour etc. I know both will be fine for large prints and sharpness. Lens hood for the 17-40mm is sorted as I have the one for the EF-S 17-55 from my 20D days.
    – LC1983
    Jan 21, 2011 at 18:49
  • Good point about the lens hood not optimal for APS-C. I can think of at least one EF-S prime lens - the EF-S 60mm. Now, can you please clarify the "sharpness advantage"? One can think that b/c APS-C uses only the center of the image circle, then the image, as a whole, will be sharper than ona FF - or did I misunderstand you?
    – ysap
    Jan 21, 2011 at 21:22
  • 1
    @ysap If you take a FF camera and an APS-C with the same megapixel count, same lens, the FF camera will have bigger pixels and so will be less demanding on lens resolving power of the lens. If your FF lens is abismal in the corners you might get better average sharpness with a crop, usually with full frame you get sharper centre + slightly softer corners with wide angles, and sharper images everywhere with telephotos. There was a question on this exact subject, see: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/3370/…
    – Matt Grum
    Jan 21, 2011 at 21:29

I owned a 7D (I don't any more), I would do big landscapes with a 5D.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.