So, I have been trying to do some candid photography in indoor events like birthday parties, get togethers', etc. I have always had issues either with blur, under exposed pictures (because I tend to use fast shutter speed to capture the moment). Then I added faster lenses (f/2.8) initially, a tripod little later, and a hot shoe flash a little later(I prefer not to use it as it attracts the subject's attention). I definitely started seeing some improvement but my pictures are still blurred or are still under exposed - meaning not up to the mark. The only thing left for me to do is to push the ISO & as I did, the pictures started becoming very grainy/noisy. Now, I am starting to think if it's time for me to upgrade my Canon T5i to maybe a Canon 5D Mark IV?

If I have to upgrade to a high ISO body, should it be the Canon 6D or the Canon 5D Mark IV? Which of these is a good value for money body in the long run? Is the $1900 difference worth the 5D IV?

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    I assume you mean 6D Mark II, because there's really no question about whether that upgrade is worth it. The original 6D's focus system was pretty badly crippled, IMO. – dgatwood Nov 14 '17 at 18:54
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    Throwing money at a pro-grade camera body is probably not your best route. There's no reason a T5i with an f/2.8 lens should not be able to capture very good images even at ISO 100, especially if you shoot outside. You would probably do better doing some reading on exposure, and the factors that affect it (primarily aperture, shutter speed and ISO), and how they're inter-related, and then practice, practice, practice. – twalberg Nov 14 '17 at 19:11
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    @twalberg Yes, a T5i can do a good job outside. But the OP here is talking about indoor events, and has done all the right things (fast lenses, tripod, flash) and they're still struggling. – Philip Kendall Nov 14 '17 at 19:20
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    f/2.8 isn't really that fast for indoor low light work. That's where fast primes shine, but you've got to develop your technique well enough to use them with razor thin DoF. – Michael C Nov 14 '17 at 20:57
  • Note that the 6D has a cropped viewfinder. I would avoid it and simply go with a 5D just to be able to frame properly. – Itai Nov 15 '17 at 4:53

Moving from an APS-C camera released in 2013, and especially one that has a sensor that dates back to the release of the 7D in 2009, to a full frame camera with a more up-to-date sensor should give you some significant improvement in terms of noise when shooting at high ISO in low light situations.

I find that I can use my FF cameras at about one stop faster ISO than my APS-C bodies with the same generation sensor technology and get about the same signal-to-noise ratio in low light. You can probably add another half stop or so due to the improvements in sensor technology between 2009 (when the T5i's sensor first appeared in the 7D) and the sensors in the current 5D Mark IV or 6D Mark II.

If your fastest lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, though, you're still going to be hamstrung by the speed of your lens a bit. A FF sensor is not a magic bullet. There will still be times when you will get noisy and blurry pictures using a FF camera with any lens.

Look into an f/1.4 or f/1.8 prime lens along with a larger sensor if you really want to be able to shoot in low light. Of course the narrower depth of field you'll get from using a wider aperture will be compounded by using a camera with a larger sensor - so you'll really need to up your game in terms of shooting technique and controlling autofocus.

As to whether the 5D Mark IV is worth the premium over the 6D Mark II all depends on how useful the extra features offered by the higher priced camera are to you. You might find this comparison from The-Digital-Picture useful. If you're looking for the largest 'bang for the buck', you might also consider the 5D Mark III which is still available new from many retailers at a fairly deep discount. Here's The-Digital-Picture's comparison between the 5D Mark III and the 6D Mark II. Just for completeness, here's the 5D Mark IV vs. 5D Mark III comparison.

  • I would not recommend the 5D Mark III in this particular case. For low light, the 6D, 6D Mark II, or 5D Mark IV produce significantly better images. (The 5D Mark III was one of the last Canon cameras that was still prone to banding in low light,) – dgatwood Nov 14 '17 at 22:38
  • @dgatwood Only if you are intent on pulling detail out of extreme shadows that were dark at the time you took the photo. And it is still a lot better in low light than the Canon 18MP APS-C sensor that was near ubiquitous in Canon's crop body lineup for a while. – Michael C Nov 15 '17 at 0:45
  • It's true that it doesn't affect every shot, but when you end up pushing the shadows or boosting the image electronically to avoid smearing, it's one area where the 6D/6Dmk2/5Dmk3 can really shine over the 5Dmk3. And the other area is also low-light-related—specifically, AF sensitivity. The center point on the newer cameras will focus in ambient light as low as -3 EV, while the 5D Mark III only goes down to -2 EV. So the newer cameras can focus in half as much light as the Mark III. And the 5D Mark IV in live view mode goes down to -4 EV (a quarter as much light). – dgatwood Nov 15 '17 at 1:26
  • @dgatwood Again, that's all well and good if you need that additional capability and don't mind spending for it. Personally, I've shot in near darkness with a 5DIII and the AF worked just fine with a fast lens (50mm f/1.4 or 135mm f/2) when I properly pointed it at a line of contrast. But all of the above are a more significant improvement over the T5i than any of them are compared to each other. – Michael C Nov 15 '17 at 3:24
  • A landscape outside under a full moon high in the sky with no other light is about -2 EV to -3EV. Does the question above indicate any need to shoot somewhere that dark or darker? It doesn't say, "I need a camera that can do better shooting a black cat in a coal mine." If the OP is using flash, there's also the possibility of using near-IR AF assist provided by either the flash or a wireless trigger with an AF assist emitter. – Michael C Nov 15 '17 at 3:38

You're asking about upgrading a body, from a Rebel to a Pro camera, but that's not really the question, is it? That's a clarification point on a solution to which you've already arrived. To summarize: Your low light photos suffer motion blur or underexposure, and you've decided that you need a new camera to solve that problem. You're not correct.

There is a lot of literature on low light shooting technique, and if you have specific questions about that, please post them.

But, you could look into fast primes - the 50 f/1.4 for example is 2 stops faster than your f/2.8. That's the difference between 1/30 and 1/125 shutter speeds.

You can learn to bounce your flash off the roof or walls or even remove the strobe completely and use it off-camera from somewhere else in the room. (In small rooms, I'm a fan of using a Fonger style diffuser placed a few feet above the camera and bouncing the light off the ceiling).

And finally, you can start to bump the ISO. I know you mentioned noise in your post - but I'm seriously doubting the perception of it. Even your T5i should be fine at 1600 if your intended output is 8x10 or less, given some noise reduction in post.

I highly recommend that you read up on exposure and low light shooting techniques. You can take some pretty great shots with your T5i and some faster glass.

But, if you're just looking for reasons to upgrade...scrap this answer and enjoy your Mark IV.

  • Looking into faster primes is a very good suggestion. That's how I ended up with f/2.8 from the kit lens, but it looks like its still not enough. I am not looking in to upgrading but deciding to add another FF body to my gear. So, in that case do you think I should go with a Canon 6D Mark II+faster prime or the Canon 5D Mark IV, considering I have a budget of $2500? – deppfx Nov 15 '17 at 7:04
  • @deppfx I would look to Michael Clark's reviews to help you decide. Personally, I've gone from a 20D (2005) to a 60D (2015) to a 5D MkII (2017). My budget always goes to glass. (Or vintage lately - been shooting a lot of 35mm and 120 out of a Canon SII and Pentax 645, respectively) My familiarity with older sensors is why I think you could get by with the T5i - but if you've got the budget, well, I definitely love my FF. Either way, I don't think you'll be disappointed. – OnBreak. Nov 15 '17 at 16:13
  • @deppfx - I would also re-frame your question to discuss the high ISO differences between the two, among others. Your question as it stands, "Do I Really Need..." is somewhat off-topic, and most photographers will always so, "No. Learn to use what you have. You'll know when you need more." – OnBreak. Nov 15 '17 at 16:23

I often use dpreview.com's Side-by-side camera comparison feature to compare cameras.

The 6D mark II and the 5D mark IV are both going to capture about the same image. You would be pretty hard pressed to tell them apart, although I've heard the 6D mark II is a little noisier.

You would need to compare there other features to decide if the 5D mark IV was worth the extra money to you. I for one like the additional controls of the 5D.

  • I would think that the difference between 27 and 32 MP would make the images captured by the 6DII vs the 5DIV substantially different... They may be similar in tonality, color, etc., but they will not be "about the same image"... – twalberg Nov 14 '17 at 21:46
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    Meh. It's 6240 x 4160 versus 6720 x 4480. That's less than an 8% difference in horizontal and vertical resolution. Such small differences are usually not noticeable. – dgatwood Nov 14 '17 at 22:43
  • @dgatwood It may be only a 7.7% difference in one particular dimension, but it's an 18.5% difference in total pixel count... Enough for some significant difference in fine detail. – twalberg Nov 15 '17 at 3:28
  • What additional controls does the 5D Mark IV have over the 6D Mark II? The 8-way inner ring between the "Set" button and the outer "Quick Control Dial" fulfills the same function as the 8-way joystick on the 5DIV. – Michael C Nov 15 '17 at 8:09

This is probably not the answer you want to hear but IMHO if you want to create better images I'd suggest putting some time and effort into improving your shooting technique not in purchasing new/more gear.

Your Rebel is more than capable of creating pictures that are in focus, have no blur and are at least "snapshot" quality.

If anything, buying a more capable FF camera will only serve to make deficiencies in your technique more obvious since a better camera is often less forgiving of operator errors.

There are lots of youtube videos, books, community college classes and so on that are aimed at all levels of photographers.... from rank novices to highly experienced. That's where I would be investing my time if I were you.

It's certainly true that a $4,000 DSLR will operate better in low light than what you have. And investing in better glass is always a good idea. Ditto for tripods, off camera flashes and so on. But the problems you are describing sound a lot more like "operator errors" than anything seriously lacking in the gear you already have.

Perhaps you have a friend/relative who knows something about photography. Someone who shoots in full manual! Ask them to take a few shots with your T5i and see how they come out. If s/he gets a few dozen decent images then you'll know that your camera is fine and all you need to do is learn how to use it more skillfully.

It takes years, sometimes decades and in my case, a lifetime to learn how to be a half decent photographer. The issues you are experiencing are the same ones most of us struggled with at one point or another. So stick with it and good luck!

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