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By Erick Lirios

Photography is a field where equipment always plays a part. People usually start with something cheap and work their way up. Recently, some things on social media have cropped up that make it necessary to look into this question. For one, there’s this woman who didn’t know much about photography who bought a ton of equipment (a semi-pro body, four lenses, a flash, and two radio triggers) in one go.

The pro and the entry-level: Which will you use?

What’s wrong with that? Nothing except maybe the fact that she was easily made to buy stuff that she might not need or eventually want because it doesn’t suit her shooting style. It may well have been a case of the filthy salesman trying to make a bigger commission and getting a person who knows little to buy more.

Another post on social media was one where a professional photographer using a Canon 5D Mark III and a whole slew of L lenses suddenly bought a low-end Canon, the 1200D (if I’m not wrong) and started doing shoots with the “lowly” kit lens, the 18-55mm EF-S. Frankly, the first version of that lens wasn’t so good but it was good enough. I still remember a photo in a major photography magazine that was shot using that lens. One friend, veteran photographer, Emilio Esguerra, likes to mess with people’s minds, shooting all around with an entry-level camera and the 18-55mm and, when people start playing smart, telling him he should get a better lens, he pulls out his phone and starts showing all the magazine covers he’s done with that lens.

How does this affect us?

Should you get an expensive camera body or not? Best answer, get both if you can. If one body gives, you still have another. You may miss some features or have to deal with more (or less) weight but you don’t want to be in the middle of a shoot with no camera.

What if you’re just in the buying stage and the budget is tight? If the budget is tight, it’s really a simple choice: Go for the cheaper body but buy the best that you can get. Let’s say you have only P30,000 for the body and you’re choosing between a brand new 700D or a second hand 70D. Perhaps get the 70D because it has better build quality and does some things faster but choose the 700D because it still has a warranty, is much lighter, and has most of the features anyway.

Are there even pro jobs you can do with the “amateur” 600D? Certainly!

Are there even pro jobs you can do with the “amateur” 600D? Certainly!

Should someone even consider the 700D? Certainly! The 700D is lighter and the batteries are cheaper. It may not be as fast as a 70D in terms of shooting speed but do you really need something as fast as 7 frames per second? The 700D shoots “only” at 5 frames per second but the almost “pro” film camera, the EOS 5, shot at that same 5 frames per second while the former top-of-the-line EOS 1N shot at a 6 frames per second but with a power booster! The professionals did fine with those speeds. Really.

But you say you’re more interested in autofocus speeds. With the same lens, those two camera bodies focus pretty much the same. While the 70D does have 10 more autofocus points than the 700D, it’s not like the nine AF points of the 700D will debilitate you immensely.

What about the build quality? The 70D is obviously better and you feel it when you hold the body. Will the 700D crumble when you grip it too tightly? No. Will it survive the same type of fall the 70D survive? Maybe not. Will it be damaged if dunked in water accidentally? Most likely but that goes for the 70D as well.

What about me?

I have the 5D Mark II as my main body (can’t afford the 5D Mark III much less the Mark IV) and my back up bodies are the original 5D, plus a 40D and the 600D. What? You still shoot with those? Yes, and my clients are happy. A friend of mine and I shot for a book I was editing and writing for and both of us shot with our aged 5D Mark II bodies.

However, the most recent purchase was the second hand 600D. I wanted something light for personal shoots especially anything like street photography. I do miss the full-frame sensor when I shoot with it but I appreciate the weight. I started shooting digital with a 10D and only got a full-frame camera in 2009 and I know how to deal with the smaller sensor; it’s usually just a matter of taking a few steps back. Plus, did I mention the 600D’s light? Coupled with a tiny Industar 50mm lens, I’m hardly noticeable in public. Now, if I were to bring out my 5D Mark II with my favorite lens, the 24-70 f/2.8L, I’m suddenly a very conspicuous photographer. You can imagine how difficult that makes life when shooting those areas where security guards will run after you when you look “pro.” More than that, the combo is feeling heavier on the hands.

All in all, the cameras in the 5D series are fantastic shooters but they can be just heavy especially with a big L lens. Like it or not, there will be times when something like a 600D can do the job —while giving your hands a much needed break from all the weight.

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