Upgrade Time

Well I have been using my 7D for quite a few years now and she has proved to be a superb piece of kit, there is nothing I don’t like about the camera but there is always room for improvement.

I decided I wanted to upgrade to a full frame camera, the 7D is a Canon camera so the question was do I switch manufacturers as there are other manufacturers that offer full frame options Sony and Nikon to name just two. There are pros and cons with every camera and every camera manufacturer so I had to consider my options carefully.

I decided after much deliberation to stick with Canon for two main reasons, I have a lot of Canon accessories such as lenses, batteries and flash guns so to upgrade all of this will cause the cost to escalate. The second reason was familiarity and handling, I know how to operate a Canon camera as all their D-SLR cameras are very consistent in operation and also I like the way the Canon cameras feel in my hand, I have tried other manufacturers and they don’t feel right for me (that is just me).

So which camera well I whittled it down to few options, Canon 6D, Canon 5D MKII and Canon 5D MKIII I did look at older models of the 1D but I wanted a more up to date sensor. So now there were three possibilities, after much googling and investigation I eliminated the 5D MKII as I would be unlikely to find one that had not had heavy use and we were looking at slightly older tech than my 7D.

So if I upgrade to full frame camera what do I actually need well I have a flash (canon full frames don’t have built in flashes), I have 2 Zoom lenses that are compatible (70 – 200 & 70 – 300), a macro lens 15-85 EF-S standard zoom and 10-20mm EF-S wide angle lens ahhh wait EF-S lenses won’t work with full frame so what to do. Well the wide angle I don’t use a lot so I can live without that but the 15-85 is a big problem as that is my most common focal range so I need to get a new lens with my camera body okay but hang on I can’t get a 15-85mm full frame lens why is that? Well the answer is to do with the APS-C sensors that Canon uses in that is has 1.6 x crop factor (1.5 for Nikon and 2 for Olympus) which means that my 15-85 is actually equivalent of a 24 – 136mm range okay so I now need a lens which starts at 24mm to 136mm as a standard lens! Well the best match I could find with good reviews was the 24-105 F4L so that was the option I went for.

The next job after all of this was to set myself a budget, on setting this and looking at brand new prices I knew my budget was too low however all was not lost there is the second hand option I looked at 3 places, eBay, Amazon and various camera shops that sold second hand gear.

With eBay there was very little second hand but there were brand new cameras in budget with 3 years warranty wow bargain, sounds too good to be true well these were grey imports i.e. the genuine article but intended for sale by Canon in another country which means they are not covered by Canon’s warranty also the accessories such as power leads will need an adaptor and you may not get a manual that is in English.

So if you buy a grey important depending on where it comes from you are taking a big risk if it is faulty, if your eBay seller is based abroad then you could be liable for VAT/Import Duty (which is more than likely not included in the price) if the EBay seller is UK based then chances are it has avoided VAT/Import duty which is against the law and unfair competition to UK sellers.

Okay so that eliminated eBay, so next stop was camera shops unfortunately I could only find one second hand body which was a 5D Mk III which was above my budget and had no lens, it is also fair to say a camera shop will be more expensive as they usually provide a warranty and of course they need to make a decent cut as they have overheads such as rental, rates and salaries to pay.

So my last port of call was Amazon or rethink my budget at that point I came across a second hand 6D with the 24-105L lens (only 6 months old) that was £66 over budget so I got in dialogue with the seller, he sent me photographs of the camera, told me why he was selling it, confirmed he had the original box and I was able to persuade him to sell it to me for my budget, I was protected by the Amazon buyer protection and also because I paid by credit card I was protected by the card companies insurance. The camera arrived a couple of days later and all was in order, I made sure I took it out the same day and checked it worked as expected including using my flash etc, there were also tell tail signs the camera was as the seller told me such as a UK warranty card, UK power leads and the name and copyright info set in the camera settings matched the name of the seller.

As I have mentioned before upgrade my primary camera was a 7D and whilst the 6D is full frame it is in some way’s a downgrade but I had worked that out beforehand so here are the advantages and disadvantages and how I viewed them, you need to also consider I have kept my 7D.


  • Full frame
  • Better dynamic range
  • Better noise reduction at high ISO’s
  • Better DOF (depth of field) control
  • Built in WIFI
  • Built in GPS


  • Slower burst rate so not as good for fast moving subjects solution use my 7D
  • Less focus points this is really only an issue for wildlife/sports photography so use my 7D in those situations.
  • Full frame means my lenses have less reach i.e. 1.6x crop factor, again use my 7D.
  • No built in flash, I have an external flash so not an issue.
  • No external flash controller, I have a separate unit for that so not an issue.
  • Uses SD cards and not compact flash, okay so I have to buy some SD cards but they are cheaper than compact flash.

If I had gone for the 5D MK III the most of the disadvantages would have been solved however it would still no have given me the extra lens reach, a built in flash but more importantly I now have a second camera body as backup should either fail or if I shoot an event and don’t want to keep swapping lenses.

Going through this process has made me think long and hard about:-

  • Getting the best for my money.
  • What I want from an upgrade.
  • What camera features really are important to me.
  • What I really need and whether I can work around it.
  • An evaluation of my current kit and what I really can’t live without.

So in all this was a great exercise and at the end of it I have ended up with a new camera body and lens I am happy with, so I hope you find this article useful whether you are upgrading your camera or buying for the first time whether it is a high end D-SLR or a compact.

This entry was posted in Camera Equipment, Photography.