Upgrading from a Basic Canon Rebel DSLR

I’ve been focusing a lot on photography lately. I learned how to use my camera in manual mode as part of my Thirty Before 30 list, and then I improved my skills with a Photo 101 course. I finally feel like I know what I’m doing, but I’ve realized that I’ve reached my camera’s limitations.

My trusty Canon Rebel XT (350D) has been good to me. Yes, there have been a million improvements on it since mine came out in 2005, but I never felt the need to upgrade until now. My camera is only 8 megapixels, and I can’t go above ISO 400 without noticeable noise (not that the camera goes above 1600 anyway). Our bungalow is dark and taking photos inside has been challenging, so I’m looking for better ISO performance (and better quality overall).

It seems like every blogger with a fancy camera is using a Canon 5D, and I assumed I would upgrade to one as well. Except the more I did my research, the more the Canon 7D started to sound really good. It even does some things better than the 5D (a faster frame rate, and 19 focus points instead of 9, to name a few). Yes, the 5D is a full-frame camera, and it performs exceedingly well in low-light situations, but I think I’m going to be very happy with the 7D for years to come. I may upgrade further to a 5D eventually, but in the meantime I can invest in lenses.

Speaking of lenses, I have the nifty fifty, and I also have a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di Lens. The Tamron was purchased a few months ago as an upgrade to my Rebel’s kit lens while I save for a Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM AF. (I think.) The Tamron is a great, inexpensive lens, and I’m excited about using it with my 7D.

I have a post planned for later this month about taking photos of your home, so I’ll take a little time to get to know my new camera before then and I’ll let you know how it is. Now, I’d love to hear from all of you… Are you using a point and shoot, or do you have a DSLR? I’m not a pro (yet), but I can try to answer any questions you may have. I feel like I’ve learned so much even though I used to find all of the information overwhelming, and I want others to know that they can learn it too.

99 Responses to “Upgrading from a Basic Canon Rebel DSLR”

  1. Gail May 12, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    As a professional photographer, I have to say I LOVE Canon — the color quality just can’t be beat! Nicole, I love hearing you’re doing your homework in all of this and educating your followers as you go along!

    Smart choice to save a bit on the body and invest in better glass. I recommend starting a wish jar to save up for the Canon 24-70 lens. With kiddos, it’s a GREAT zoom to have in your arsenal and will blow you away with the quality.

    No doubt you’re discovering that, like so many hobbies, photography can get expensive!!!

  2. kelsey May 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    We got a DSLR in January. My husband takes my outfit photos every day with the Canon T1i. We are really happy with it! Will probably upgrade (like you are) down the road!

  3. yvette May 13, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    I’ve been debating between the two as well – I really, really want that full frame, but like you, have found the 7D to be the fan favorite these days…

  4. Andrea B May 14, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    I want a DSLR so badly! Fortunately, my hubby has a good Canon point-and-shoot that actually has manual settings that we can “fake it” with to take pictures.

    I have no formal photography training and pretty much know next to nothing other than my background as an art minor to give me a good foundation for composition, color, etc. I’m kicking myself for not taking photography classes in college.

    (Side Note: I did just sign up for Lynda.com, however. I’m using it primarily to beef up my knowledge of design software, but if any other bloggers are in my beginner photographer shoes, I highly recommend it for photography lessons, too. For around $25/month it has video classes that walk you through the tricks of the trade.)

    I’m bookmarking this post for future reference for the day when I’ve saved up enough to buy a Big Girl camera. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Dariela May 18, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    Congrats! It feels good to invest in a tool that will help you get higher places!!

  6. Jennifer May 19, 2011 at 1:00 am #

    I love my 7D!!!! i hope you do too=)

  7. Brooke June 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    I learned on a Rebel XT and last fall upgraded to the 7D. A world of change for the better!! It’s so much simpler to use with that wheel on the back! You’ll fall in love instantly. I know you will!

  8. Stephanie December 4, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    This is exactly what I am spending HOURS at night researching trying to decide! I know this post was awhile back. Have you been happy? I have a rebel from 2006 and I love it, but like you have used it to it’s limit. My home is dark and I am taking photos of my little ones in here most days. I can’t go above ISO 800, so I am ready for a higher option! I feel like since I am investing so much, I should just go ahead and get the full frame, but have some hesitations of the jump. I think a 7D sounds like the good next step. Just wanted to know if you have been happy with this decision :) Thanks for sharing all this.

    • Making it Lovely December 5, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

      I’ve been really happy with my 7D! It’s so much better than my old Rebel was.

      Full disclosure though: I still sort of long for the 5D.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks:

  1. Happy Weekend | the paper pony - October 16, 2012

    [...] my favorite photographers ever ever.  Tons of inspiration on his website. • Nicole talks about upgrading from a basic digital SLR • I love photobooths at parties and these props on Oh Happy Day are so fun. Plus there’s a [...]

  2. My Essential Photography Gear | Making it Lovely - March 21, 2013

    [...] no longer have that camera or any of those lenses. I sold the Rebel with its kit lens on eBay when I upgraded to a better camera body, and later sold the Tamron as well. I sent the 50mm back to Tristan so she can pass it on to her [...]