Myth busting: Why today’s cheap DSLRs are brilliant.

 (image courtesy of
I will need to upgrade my aging Canon 40D at some point in 2010.  Its image quality doesn’t match that of my other camera, a Canon 5D, and its poor LCD screen and colour rendition are frustrating.

I’m increasingly tending toward buying an ‘entry-level’ DSLR, instead of spending £700 or more on a back up camera.

What I’m looking for:
– A camera which offers image quality better than my Canon 40D
– A better resolution LCD screen
– Good low light performance that is passable at 1600 ISO

What are my options?

Well, Canon replaced the 40D with the 50D.  This has a better screen and more megapixels.  However the best UK price I can find is £715.  My first choice full-frame 5D only cost me £800, and I could pick up another for that price!   The 50D is overpriced then.

Canon’s new flagship 7D is the talk of the town at the moment.  It has an impressive list of features, but at an equally impressive price of £1200.  (For those that care, it is Canon’s attempt to rival the Nikon D300s.)  The 7D has one massive flaw in my opinion – it produces almost as much ‘noise’ at 1600 ISO as the Canon 50D.  As a wedding photographer who consistently needs low light performance I’d rather spend an extra £500 and get the Canon 5D MkII that is full frame and much better in the dark.

Canon’s 500D has the same sensor as the 50D, fitted into a smaller body.  The 50D is better weather sealed, shoots faster, and has slightly better focusing, but has very similar internals to a camera that costs £200 less.  In the hands of a good photographer the 500D will produce images just as good as the 50D. The 500D has an outstanding LCD and cleaner files at 1600 ISO than my old camera.  Sorted?  Not quite.  Nikon went and made the D5000…

The D5000 is £80 cheaper than the 500D, and has fewer megapixels, but that equals better low light performance.  Nikon has the edge over Canon in that department anyway.  Nikon’s D5000 files are better at 1600 ISO than Canon’s 7D files.  Believe it or not,  a £430 ( £380 with a special Nikon discount atm) consumer aimed Nikon would take better pictures for me than £1200 of Canon professional camera!   Sadly all my lenses are Canon.

It will be interesting to see how good cheap DSLRs become in 2010.
I’ll let you know what eventually ends up in my camera bag.


About David Charlwood

I am a professional photographer, specialising in weddings, working across the UK, based in the South East. View all posts by David Charlwood

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