Is it better to invest in glass, or a body?
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I am, for all practical purposes, a hobbyist photographer. I don't always carry my camera with me, and when I do have it, I typically have a purpose behind carrying it. I also don't have a ton of lenses (3 total, 1 of which is prime).

At this point in time, I am using a Canon EOS Rebel T3i and have been for years; but I am also always tempted to purchase the next shiny thing (and have been able to remarkably hold off this long).

My lenses are:
Canon EF 85mm F/1.8 USM prime
Canon EF-S 18-55mm and Canon EF-S 50-250mm kit lenses (F/3.5-5.6)

I would absolutely love to eventually get a Canon EF 135mm F<2 lens, but all of them I have found at this point are relatively expensive (~$1000) and I haven't convinced myself to take the plunge.
Alternatively, I have considered upgrading my body to something a bit more powerful. The cameras I have spent the most time drooling over are the Canon EOS 5DS and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II.

I guess this all just really comes down to asking some more knowledgeable people on the subject for their opinions on what I should do, or what they would do if they were me. Do I upgrade my body? And if so, what would you upgrade to? Or do I continue to slowly collect glass?

Do give you a bit more insight in what I enjoy photographing (since I could see that influencing decisions): I typically shoot my dogs, random objects around the house/ outside, and family members with some trips up to the mountains for nature and wildlife photography. I would absolutely love to capture lightning photos, and have tried a few times, but I do believe I will need a better camera body (sensor) for that since I found mine to have some defective sensor areas at long exposures with large F-values (18 and above).
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thumb_uprattyny Say, Ltrammell55, and 28 others
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BetaWar
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victim_of_technology
1
May 31, 2019
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Get a really great 50mm for a base. I use the Canon f1.2L but there are lots of others. After that explore the extremes get a great 105mm prime and a something 24mm or wider. Prime glass all the way!
May 31, 2019
mravitz
8
May 24, 2019
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We all love the newest "shiny" things, don't we! My advice for most users is to invest in glass first and learn to get the most out of what you have... However, I do have "rules" about technology and some specifically about camera bodies. Note that it all depends on what you use your camera for, but here goes: My First Rule: If you can buy it, it is obsolete! This applies to most technology today. The next great thing is in development and, as my luck runs, will appear just at the moment you make that investment... Camera bodies have come a long way since the T3i. (I am a Canon fan.) There are a few reasons to buy a more modern camera body. First, you can get more resolution with a T6i or T7 series. At least 33%! With the 80D you gain Dual Pixel Auto Focus (DPAF) and a Pentaprism instead of a Penta mirror. The DPAF is valuable if you shoot movies. The camera's ability to focus while you are shooting, ie. following a subject, is almost instantaneous. A huge improvement over the T3i. The Pentaprism provides a brighter view than the Pentamirror used in the T series. In my case I upgraded to the 70D, which I bought used. It uses the EF-S series lenses and will give great results with your 85mm EF lenses too. While the resolution upgrade is a little more than 10% it has the DPAF feature. As I shoot both sports and family style video it is a vast improvement. (I am waiting to see what replaces the 80D before I change bodies again.) One last improvement with a new, more modern body, is visible dynamic range. The ability to capture a wider range of light intensities without over exposure or under exposure. Too little light gives you the red/grey/black blocks of color in the extreme shadows that means there wasn't enough light for the sensor. I like the idea of a 5DS or 5D mk IV, but that would require an investment in new lenses, other than your 85mm the full frame cameras will not look good with the EF-S lenses. I hope this helps you think through to a decision.
(Edited)
May 24, 2019
cheapbutgreat
102
Nov 3, 2018
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The best camera is the one that you have with you. You might look at adding a smaller, pocketable camera, like a Sony RX100 MK IV. If you want interchangeable lenses, look at something like the Panasonic GX85 or GX9. The GX85 with 12-32mm (24-64mm equivalent) and 35-100 f4 (70-200mm equivalent) is quite compact. The cameras and lenses out of the micro four-thirds system are quite good - Panasonic has several Leica designed lenses and the Olympus lenses are also top notch. Prices are generally lower compared to the Nikon-Canon equivalents.
Nov 3, 2018
Calaverasgrande
1469
Oct 3, 2018
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A few months ago I would have told you to go out and get a used Canon 6D. An older camera to be sure. But it completely stomps the APSC Canon offerings to tiny plastic and silicon bits as far as image quality, even if AF is not stellar. Or I might suggest that those EF-S lenses are the bottom of Canon's barrel (no pun intended). They only work on APSC cameras, and with some exceptions, most EF-S lenses are no representative of the great Canon glass reputation. Though the 85mm F1.8 on the other hand, is one of my favorites. But it's worth noting, that is not an EF-S.
However in the last few months I've been taking peeks over the fence into the neighbors yards. Fuji for one is very impressive in what they can wring from an APSC sensor, and how compact and well built their camera bodies and excellent APSC lenses are. Likewise Sony stuff is very well regarded for it's dynamic range and video features. Though I find the Sony A7 series not as user friendly as Canon, Nikon or Fuji. Adding to this current multitude of choices, Canon and Nikon both just dropped the curtain on their next generation mirrorless full frame cameras. This is essentially the death knell for their old DSLR cameras and the associated lens mounts. I'd say it is not a good time to invest in a new camera or body. If you get new lenses they will only work with Canon's next gen mount with an expensive adapter. Me personally I am bailing on Canon until things settle down. I'm going to pick up a Fuji Xpro2 or XT3 and a compact wide prime lens for my walk around shooting. Save my Canon full frame for concerts and events. I figure by this time next year there will be a clearer picture of where digital interchangeable lens cameras are headed.
If you are intent on spending on camera gear, get another prime lens, used. The 35mm F1.8 is really good. Also the 100mm F2.8 L is an amazing sharp lens on macro, or tele shots. On the other end the 40mm f2.8 is not the worlds greatest lens. But it's a very compact prime that will make your camera easier to have with you more often. I've captured a lot of great shots with the 40 that I'd have missed if I had the much bulkier 85mm on instead.
Oct 3, 2018
Lefibonacci
622
Nov 6, 2018
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Thank you! I see you on MD often (in addition to speaking with you in the past) and you always give well thought out explanations and input. Much appreciated. I wanted an XT-2 badly in the past, so I may look in to the XT-3 at this point. Or, I am sure I could find a killer deal on the XT-2 on Black Friday - perhaps too early for a deal on the XT-3 at this point.
Nov 6, 2018
Lefibonacci
622
Nov 7, 2018
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How about XH1 VS. XT3?
Nov 7, 2018
quihgon
96
Oct 3, 2018
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Both, every camera system has pros and cons. Nikon hands down best for stills, Cannon hands down best for video. Sony is the best mirrorless but most expensive lens's.
Oct 3, 2018
Rikilol
3
Jun 1, 2018
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Seems like you are pretty focused on Canon. But before actually making the decision of investing more in either glass or body, I'd say, decide on a system you'd want to pursue. Looking at your current setup, I don't think you are that heavily invested into Canon to say that a decision must be made with a Canon product. Personally, I think DLSR days are numbered. I shot with a Nikon D750 semi-professionally. Although it got the job done for the most part, it does have some problems. 1. If I had trouble using the auto-focus, most likely due to low light. Then the manual focus system is almost un-usable to me. I know there is the focus indicator, but if auto-focus didn't work, the focus indicator won't really help that much either. The keep rate in these occasions are really low for me. IMO, focus peaking should be a basic feature in modern digital cameras. The Nikon D850 has them, but it's quite an expensive body. 2. The limited AF points that are only available around the center of the frame. I understand you can focus and recompose, which is almost a must for these DLSR bodies, but it's very hard to nail focus when shooting on wider apertures.
I was in the same camp to say "always invest in your glass first." However, that's no longer true. The newer high pixel count sensors, specifically, the 40MP+ sensors on the Nikon D850 and Sony A7Rii and A7Riii really exposed some of the short comings of some of the older lenses. I believe there is a review floating around the internet somewhere detailing about how some of the Nikon lenses felt obsolete. So if you decide to invest in more glass, keep this in mind. There is no silver bullet to say any lens design would always stand through the test of time.
With the advancement of digital technology, there are so many things that modern body can do. Some of the features I love and look for are things like: 1. Stablization, whether it's in-body stablization or the availability of lenses with built-in stablization. Better yet, hybrid stablization, look at Olympus, Panasonic, and Fuji for example. 2. Edge to edge AF points. This just allows for way more freedom in composition. 3. Focus peaking and live view magnification. This is for manual focus, focus peaking is especially nice because it allows for fast manual focus when you are shooting objects that might be moving. 4. Eye-AF from Sony. The Eye-AF in the third generation Sony cameras are simply amazing. It just makes any portraiture work much more enjoyable. 5. Fast AF, cameras can always do better in this regard. Even the D750 have some predictive algorithm when it tries to focus on moving objects, doesn't really work that well all the time, but better than nothing.
My suggestion would actually be to look at what kind of technology is available, what you think would be essential, then make a decision on whether you want to stay with Canon or not. The T3i is a pretty old body now that almost any upgrade to it would be a huge upgrade in every way.
Jun 1, 2018
seadad990316
11
May 31, 2018
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Personally I would get a new body. You have a good selection of decent lenses. As a self proclaimed hobbyist your glass meets your needs.
I would choose a full frame over an aps-c hands down. I don’t have a specific body recommendation, I shoot with film cameras. Get what your budget allows.
May 31, 2018
Nikondevotee
1
May 28, 2018
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Get a couple of the all time favorite prime lenses ( these should be around a 100 a piece pre owned on amazon) . A 50/1.8 (also called the nifty fifty- this is a classic portrait lens) and possibly a 35/1.8 or a 105/1.8 , depending on what you are into. For this small investment you can take your pics to the next level. Based on your posted pics, you are naturally talented (framing, light etc). Your next investment should be in post processing software ( an older version of Adobe light room - again less than a 100). The last step should be to get a better camera - T3 is consumer mass market kind of category. Move up to the prosumer level (affordable cameras with more kick) like a 60 D or 70 D, depending on your budget. I am a Nikon guy and upgraded my D 7000 ( prosumer, 8 yr old camera) to a D 500 ( last yrs upgrade) and will tell you that the pictures come out much better with the newer technology, with the same lens and post processing... Your current camera is a cropped frame . If you decide to go to the next level with a 6D Mark 2, you might have to buy a totally new set of lenses, as the 6D is full frame and your lenses are for cropped frame. Good luck!!
May 28, 2018
yanjay
9
May 24, 2018
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I would go against what most said here and suggest that you upgrade your body. T3i is quite old and imo lack some of the functions that you would find in the models from last few years. I think you should consider investing in a more recent full frame body. If I am in your show I would go for the 6D Mark II with a full frame zoom lens(there is a kit that comes with a 24-70 f4) which is a decent L lense.
May 24, 2018
Calaverasgrande
1469
Oct 3, 2018
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I had the T3i and later upgraded to the 6D. The jump in image quality was impossible to ignore. However there is also a jump in camera build quality, and usability. On the T3i I had to turn off a lot of camera functions because it would impact AF and continuous shooting performance. On the 6D the Digic processor is much faster (and/or it has more buffer) so it does not bog down quite as fast.
Oct 3, 2018
Stevem415
17
May 21, 2018
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Agree with that glass is the one to invest in. Bodies are a necessary purchase for the technology like sensors+image processor, i.e. image quality, color science, dynamic range, low light performance, or certain features like video. You pay more to be first on the block with the newest technology; the best cost/performance is to buy a slightly older body (Eg. Canon EOS 5D Mark 2 or 3 instead of 4). The only consideration when buying glass is weather you eventually upgrade to a full-frame body because then you need to buy FF lenses instead of buying a nice APS-C lenses and having the change them when moving to FF.
May 21, 2018
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