Angela Nicholson explains the benefits of buying a second DSLR and compares some of these more affordable DSLR cameras with enthusiast-centric models

Buying a second DSLR – Canon

Canon has an extensive range of DSLRs, which means there is a second body to suit everyone, but the EOS 1000D is the most affordable option.

Canon EOS 7D DSLRCanon’s EOS 7D, which sits at the top of the manufacturer’s APS-C-format line-up, is the current object of desire for Canon enthusiasts. Like the EOS 550D, the EOS 7D has a pixel count of 18 million, which is the highest of any of Canon’s sub-full-frame DSLRs, so any second body is going to produce smaller images.

In many ways the EOS 550D is the perfect second body to the EOS 7D, but its street price is in excess of £600, which many may consider a little high for an enthusiast’s second body.

EOS 5D Mark II users, however, may be tempted by the EOS 550D, especially bearing in mind its impressive low-light capability and noise control.

Canon EOS 1000D DSLRCanon’s EOS 1000D has a more palatable street price of just under £300 (£298.99), and apart from the video controls, it has a very similar layout to the EOS 550D.

Its pixel count, though, is rather low in comparison with the EOS 7D at 10.1 million. This means that 300ppi prints made from EOS 1000D images measure 12.96×8.64in (32.9×21.96cm), while those from the EOS 7D are almost 6in longer at 18.72×12.48in (47.55×31.7cm).

Image Quality

The EOS 1000D is capable of recording lots of detail, especially in raw files, achieving a maximum resolution score of 22 (raw)

and 20 (JPEG) in our tests. This compares with scores of 30 (raw) and 28 (JPEG) with the EOS 7D. However, the differences are much less obvious in images sized for making A3 prints. I recommend avoiding the kit lens, though. Buy the EOS 1000D body-only instead and use the best optics you have available. If large prints are required, stick to the lower sensitivity settings as the higher resolution images withstand interpolation using Genuine Fractals or Photoshop more successfully.

The EOS 7D has a different metering system from the rest of Canon’s DSLR line-up, but this is hardly likely to cause an enthusiast problems when swapping camera bodies. Canon uses the same
white balance system throughout the range, but there are slight differences in the results when using the same picture style.

The EOS 1000D produces JPEG images that are generally a little more vivid and warmer than the EOS 7D. Fortunately, this is easily dealt with by shooting raw files. Alternatively, the Picture Style Editor software allows users to load matching custom styles to
both cameras.

Quick control dials

Canon quick control dials: Canon enthusiast-level cameras have a large Quick Control Dial on the back

Image: Canon enthusiast-level cameras have a large Quick Control Dial on the back

Canon uses quite different design principles for its novice and enthusiast-level cameras, and although both control systems work well, switching between the two takes practice.

Models from the EOS 50D upwards have a large Quick Control dial with a central ‘Set’ button on the back, which can be used for scrolling through the menu, selecting setting options and adjusting the exposure. There’s also a mini-joystick-type Multi-controller which, as well as providing an alternative method for navigating the menu and adjusting settings, is very useful for selecting the AF point quickly.

Navigation buttons

Canon navigation buttons: Canon entry-level models have navigation and shortcut buttons on the back.

Image: Canon entry-level models have navigation and shortcut buttons on the back

Models below the EOS 50D (the EOS 550D, EOS 500D, EOS 450D and EOS 1000D) make use of four navigation buttons, which also have shortcut options rather than the dial and Multi-controller. There are also shortcut buttons on the EOS 7D, but they are predominantly arranged on the top-plate, rather than on the camera back.

Other buttons, such as the Menu, Picture Style, Review, Information and Delete controls, are also in different positions, which takes some getting used to. Unlike the EOS 7D, EOS 50D, EOS 500D and EOS 550D, the EOS 1000D doesn’t have an interactive control screen that could offer a means of standardising setting adjustments.

Full-frame users

Owners of full-frame cameras, such as the EOS 5D Mark II, who are looking for an APS-C-format DSLR to act as a second body need to bear in mind that the smaller sensor crops the view they normally see through their lenses.

This focal length magnification factor can be very useful when shooting distant subjects, but it isn’t so helpful when wideangle views are required. It makes sense, then, to use the full-frame camera for wideangle shots and use the smaller format camera with a longer lens to capture more distant subjects.

When shooting fast-moving sport, if the full-frame camera has a better AF system than the APS-C model, it is better to use the larger format camera for most of the shots and the other DSLR to record action that is either closer to or further away (depending upon the lens mounted).

Although Nikon and Sony full-frame DSLR users can mount APS-C-format lenses on their camera, Canon users cannot.

  EOS 5D Mark II EOS 7D EOS 550D EOS 1000D
Date tested 17 Jan 2009 7 Nov 2009 27 Mar 2010 2 Aug 2008
Pixel count 21.1 million 18 million 18 million 10.1 million
Street price £1,690 £1,225 £634 £298.99
AF points 9 19 9 7
Max sensitivity range ISO 100-25,600 ISO 100-12,800 ISO 100-12,800 ISO 100-1600
Memory card CF CF SD SD
Battery LP-E6 LP-E6 LP-E8 LP-E5
Grip BG-E6 BG-E7 BG-E8 BG-E5

  1. 1. Choosing a second body
  2. 2. Buying a second DSLR - Canon
  3. 3. Buying a second DSLR - Nikon
  4. 4. Buying a second DSLR - Olympus
  5. 5. Buying a second DSLR - Pentax
  6. 6. Buying a second DSLR - Sony
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