Let's talk! Should I upgrade to the Canon EOS R, R5, R6? Or buy a 70-200 mm f2.8 III, f4.0 II lens?
Let's talk is my new series of videos where I talk about photography and filmmaking tips. In this episode, I want to discuss the reasons why I decided to buy this a new lens instead of buying the camera body every one is talking about: the Canon EOS R. With all the money I saved, I also got something else: read till the end to learn what!
With everyone talking about the EOS R and the rumors about the EOS R5 I started asking myself if it was a good idea to buy a new lens for a DSLR. I almost decided to change my camera body and go for a more compact system as I was planning to go on a trip to Italy at the beginning of May.
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Let's talk a little bit about the gear I bought over the year and why I bought it: you will see this was important in making the final decision about what you should be buying next.
The first DSRL I bought was the Canon T2i and it was known at the time as the best DSRL for entry-level photography and offered incredible video. I knew I wanted to take my photography more seriously but I also wanted to be able to take good videos. About after a year using it, I bought the 18-200 mm lens. This was probably one of my best investments in photography. Its versatility meant that I could get wideish angle photos at 18 mm and telephoto photos at 200 mm. It's an APS-C sensor and so the range was about a 24 to 320 mm equivalent. Over the year I took some of my favorite photos, still to this day, with the T2i. I actually also still use it when skiing or other activities where my camera could get broken. It's also the camera I used to film most of the old videos I have on my YouTube channel.
The camera had two big flaws: there is no autofocus in video and the low light performances are not great. At that point I started to take more pictures of the stars and the were making short films for fun on the side.
It decided that it was time to upgrade after using it for almost 8 years! After looking at all the different options I decided the 6D MK II was the camera that fitted me the best. It had great autofocus, good low light performance and was weather sealed which is important for me because I take most of my photos outside.
Just like the EOS R when it came out, it didn't have great specs on paper but when you used it you realized that it was actually a great camera. Matti Hapoja made a video talking about why he tough it was the best vlogging camera at the time.
I was so excited when I got the camera but I had one big problem: my old APS-C lens wouldn't work with the camera. It's a rocky mistake, I know. At that time I knew that I wanted two lenses for my new camera: a 70 - 200 mm and 16 - 35 mm lens. My problem was that I didn't have the budget to buy both. I decided to buy the 24-105 mm kit lens. It's an overall great lens and a good compromise between the two others.
In the last months, I decided that with my upcoming trip to Italy it was time to invest in a new lens. The longer focal range was what I missed the most during my time in Vancouver so I decided that I would be getting the 70-200 mm f/2.8 MK III. I started telling myself: Isn't the lens that everyone has? It must be the must-have lens for me too?
Then all the rumors and great reviews about the EOS R started to affect me. I started asking myself: should I switch to the EOS R? The camera is light, the lenses are smaller, the video has c-log, it shoots in 4k. The weight and size were a big argument for me because space in my backpack while hiking is always a problem. Also, DSRL is getting old. Does this mean the lens will soon have no value?
When I started having all these questions, I found the Canon 70-200 mm f/4.0 MK II. This lens came out not even two years ago and it's has everything that the f2.8 version with a smaller aperture but most notably with half the weight.
The stabilization is simply insane. I am actually amazed that this level of stabilization is even possible. Also, I don't need the f2.8 aperture because I won't be using this lens to take portraits or other types of photos that require a very shallow depth of field. It is very important to keep in mind what will be your use case when buying new gear.
All this to say that when I discovered this lens it reminded my one thing: lenses are more important than the camera body. It might be cooler to buy a need camera body because it's full of new features but with my current 6D MK II and my DJI Osmo Pocket that can film 4k video, I didn't see why buying an EOS R in the new future would help me getting better picture or video. The 6D MK II also has some advantages like better battery life and an optical viewfinder that is great in low light conditions. I also don't have powerful enough computer to edit native 4k footage, so I need to use proxies for everything over 1080 which is a pain.
I haven't talked about the price difference up to now but that was also a huge factor in the decision. The EOS R with the 70-200 RF lens is about 5500$ Canadian dollars.
The Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8 MK III is about 2000 and I looked at the mark II and it wasn't much cheaper because it's still a great lens.
I got the 70-200 mm f4.0 lens for around 1000$ at a very discounted price. A thousand dollars. That's a fifth of what changing to the EOS R would have cost me. With all the money I am saving, I decided that this leaves me enough money to get the next lens I wanted to purchase: the 16-35 mm f2.8. For this one, I will be buying the MK II used because it's significantly cheaper than the MK III with not much visual difference in the picture. I also try to be used when it's possible because it's better for the planet and landscape photography is all about preserving the natural environment.
So for less than 2000$, I will have a 70-200 mm and 16-35 mm, two lenses I wanted for years!
I hope this article helped you realized, just like I was reminded, that you shouldn't be always wanting to buy the newest camera every time one comes out. Investing in good lenses will always be a better investment than a camera body.
I also want to remind you that if you can't afford these cameras and lenses, start with your smartphone, then upgrade to a sub thousand dollar camera like the T8i: it has great photo capabilities and 4k/24 fps video with autofocus! Then invest in lenses and only upgrade to a new body when the benefits are clear for you use case, just like when I upgrade from the T2i to my 6D Mk II.
Just to be clear, I am not saying you shouldn't be getting the EOS R, just don't make the switch just because everyone else is making it! It's great to keep in mind that the lenses you invest in will work with the EOS R using an adapter so you are not losing money when you will decide to make the switch. For me, this switch will probably happen when I decide that I need to upgrade to a better video workflow. But this will also mean upgrading my computer to produce content in native 4k (or 8k, who knows!)