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Photography Question 
Hans Abplanalp
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2005

What Camera to Buy?

I've been using a Canon 350D Rebel for a few years and intend to upgrade. My main subject is landscapes. I'm torn between the Canon EOS 60D and 7D. The question is, is the 7D worth the extra cash? Also, would I get better results by buying just a 60D or 7D body and a high-end lens? And if so, which lens would be recommended?
I'd be grateful for any input.

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5/24/2011 4:41:53 AM

Lynn R. Powers   Hans,
I hate to be contrary (Naw, not really. :)) but I say neither. I base this on you stating, "My main subject is landscape." The Canon 5D or 5DII is the better camera especially if you are printing or having larger than 8x10 prints made. The larger sensor makes a considerable difference. 24x36mm vs 22x14.8mm or 1 1/2"x 1" vs 1" x 5/8". Which one do you want to capture a scenic on and have enlarged to 12x18" or larger? Which one would you rather have to crop?
The original 5D only has 12MP but these are large light-gathering pixels. There's lots of detail in the shadows as well as the highlights when properly exposed. Be sure to use Raw or Raw+JPEG.
The full-frame images are much easier to process. There is really something special about the 5D images. I can walk into the local custom lab and spot a print that came from the 5D. They have been described as "creamy, not having the digital look, wonderful" and a few other great words. The transition of tones is smooth with no banding even in the sky. Many knowledgeable photographers have both the 5D and the 5DII. The 5D is reserved for landscapes and portraits.
Usually they will walk out the door for general photography with the 5DII. But I have taken photos of birds in flight with a 300mm f4L IS and a 135mm f2L using the 5D plus beautiful flower photos as well as landscapes.
The 5DII has twice as many pixels and better high ISO (6400). The 5D is only good up to 1600. It also has video and "live view" capability, plus for macro it will give sharper detail. It cost $1000 more than a used 5D. It also has a few other features and is a newer camera with all the pluses that go with it. I still prefer the 5D prints but that is me.
If your prints are going to be 8x12" or less or you are only going to be using the photos for slide shows or the web, I would choose the 60D. At 18MP, it is the same as the 7D and it has all the controls you need for landscape photography. If you like bells and whistles, the 7D has them and will be of assistance in other areas of photography. Of course, this comes at a price.
Lens for the 5D & 5DII would be the 24-105 f4L to start. If you need, or want, a longer lens, the Canon 70-200 f4L IS is the sharpest of the breed except for the 70-200 f2.8L II which cost $2.5K. For wider angle, the 17-40mm f4L is recommended. Landscapers generally do not need the f2.8 that the 16-35 provides. Heck, you can increase the ISO or have the camera on a tripod, best, and take a longer exposure.
For the 60D, I would think the 15-85mm f3.5-5.6 and wider the Canon 10-22mm f3.5-4.5. As for longer, go back to the 70-200 f4L IS.
For your landscape photos, please use a sturdy tripod as much as possible as well as remote release. Also get a double bubble level to insert into the flash bracket of the camera. It lets you know when the horizon is tilted and eliminates straightening the image and consequential cropping. But do crop for the best photo.
Good luck on your decision.
PS: I've been accused of being bias. Naw, not me. :=)

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5/24/2011 6:21:46 PM

Christopher Budny
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/3/2005
  If you are down to those 2 cameras, I'll assume you've ruled the 5D out of budget - same place I was at, when it came time to upgrade from my Rebel. I was torn between the 5D(i) and 7D - I just couldn't justify the extra $1k then.
I now have (and love using) the 7D, but frankly, I can't imagine it has a single thing that would be more "useful" to you in landscape photography than what the 60D provides. The sensors are, for all intents and purposes, identical. Megapixels, processor, HD-video... same. The feature set on both is nearly identical. The 7D brings faster frames-per-second, which is not at all critical in landscape photography; nor, I imagine, do the 19 focus points (7D) matter dramatically more than 9 focus points (60D). The 60D brings a higher-res LCD screen (always nice!) that is articulated. And for me, what I wouldn't give to FINALLY have a Canon that doesn't use Compact Flash cards!! (I've had 2 different laptops now that have built-in SD readers - I go get the 7D, with its bulky Compact Flash cards, and Canon finally adopts SD in their lineup!! Argh!)
I'd say find the best deal on the 60D, take the savings, and invest in an L lens, or the phenomenal 10-22EFS, as Lynn mentions.
P.S.: As for enlargements off either, I'm sitting next to my gorgeous 20x30 print of my January GP winner (toot, toot! ;) shot on my 7D, with the same sensor chip as that 60D. In my experience, you can safely go well beyond 8x12 prints! I even have some beautiful 18x24's from my Rebel, hanging at home.

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5/24/2011 7:14:36 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Hello Hans,
I completely agree with Lynn as I too love landscapes and my 5D Mk II blows away the 20D and 40D I started with.
I also bought a used 1DS (also full frame) before I bought the 5D2 and full frame is all I want to shoot with now.
I will probably keep using my 5D2 for several years to come as I don't need anything more in a camera.
As Lynn referred to - I shoot Raw and many times I don't really even need to do processing as the images come straight out of this camera looking incredible.
my .02

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5/24/2011 7:21:19 PM

Hans Abplanalp
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2005
  Many thanks Lynn, Christopher and Carlton, your advice is very helpful.

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5/24/2011 10:18:59 PM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2003
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One advantage the 60D has over the other models mentioned that is a great feature for landscape shooting is the articulating LCD with live view.

People who have not used that feature don't appreciate just how excellent it is for getting very creative perspective without having to get into physically difficult (sometimes impossible) positions to compose the image.

I shoot with an Olympus E-5, and I can't tell you how often I use the articulating LCD to compose images from an angle close to the ground, or from high above my head. Below are a couple examples of images composed using the LCD -- the flower image would have been nearly impossible without it, as the camera was on tripod positioned on top of a rock wall around a pond with the camera several feet above my head angled down (I used a cable release.) The second image was shot with the camera just inches above the ground which was messy and wet.

God Bless,

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5/31/2011 1:10:37 PM

Hans Abplanalp
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2005
  Hi Greg

Thanks for your input. I have in fact opted for the 60D with the Canon AF-S 15-85 lens, thanks to the knowledge of the guy above (thanks again). It's only been a short time but I am very pleased with the results so far and as you mention the articulating LCD certainly is a great benefit. I shot a church ceiling at an almost impossible angle with my old Rebel a couple of days before I bought the 60D and virtually had to lie on the floor.

Great shots of yours!

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5/31/2011 1:49:12 PM

Howard J. Sheffield   I agree with the responses about the full frame 5D and 7D. I have had the 7D since it hit the market but have found that I have continually gone back to the 5D for about everything except for shooting birds and sports where things like the crop factor and video is helpful. I am waiting for the 5DIII and will probably sell my 7D then and keep the 5D which is better for macro photography.

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6/2/2011 12:17:48 PM

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