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02 July 2008

Photographic kit upgrade process pt.II

Following the lens upgrade earlier this year, the second part of this upgrade process involved acquiring a new camera body.

Budget issues aside, I reckoned that upgrading from an EOS 350D to a 400 or even 450D would not yield a satisfying technological leap (even though the 450D is already two generations ahead of the 350D).
Hence I started saving money to upgrade to a moderately priced mid-range or top-range body. Knowing that the terms "moderately priced" and "top-range" together are a physical impossibility (or a black hole shall form on the 3rd ring of Saturn) and that the 5D is getting *really* old now, I was left with one choice - the EOS 40D.

The hand grip is light-years better than the 350D. Not only because it's a physically bigger camera, but also because its surface is that hard rugged rubber. The 40D is also 27% heavier than the 350D which can be an issue, in particular if used with a heavy lens (like mine). So this new kit's total weight went up 36% (from 540+385=925g [350D+Sigma DG 18-125mm f/3.5-5.6] to 740+715=1455g [40D + Sigma EX 24-70mm f/2.8]). But I got used to it and the added performance largely justifies the added weight.

Having a higher pixel count was a nice addon to the upgrade's value, but it wasn't a decisive factor (also because the lower range 450D has an even denser sensor). However, the 40D's sensor has other less obvious but very interesting advantages like singnificantly lower noise at higher ISO values. I refused to use ISO1600 on the 350D and only very rarely I used ISO800. On the 40D, most images are well usable by high standards at ISO800 (although noise can be visible in shadowed areas) and only careful analysis will tell ISO100 from ISO400. So sensor noise is much better (less) on the 40D which, along with auto ISO selection allows for extra flexibility with less fiddling.

Partial weather sealing is another nice feature that Canon has added/improved since the 30D. L-class Canon lenses and the Canon 580EX II flashgun consolidate this feature. A large 3" LCD screen has been fitted mostly for the joy of the marketing department, and a Live-View mode in which the screen is supposed to work as a simpler point&shoot model. I find it useful sometimes but not that often. The image size increase was also well welcomed. As was the vast array of extra features.

With everything accounted for, it's a great camera body, it made a brilliant upgrade and with the Sigma EX 24-70mm f/2.8 MACRO it builds good semi-pro body kit.

So what's next? Something's already on its way. After that, I haven't decided yet. Maybe an ultra-wide angle lens, or instead a nice telephoto? Only time (and money) will tell.

Cheers, PJ.

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