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Thursday, October 28, 2010

My New Camera and Why I Bought It

I often get asked what camera I use. And, this past week when I was in the process of buying a new one and tweeting my way through the experience, I would get all kinds of responses from fellow tweeters. So, I’m deciding for you that you are interested in my camera and I’m going to tell you all about it. Plus, I’m excited. Downright bubbly, in fact.

(Disclaimer: All the info in this post is either my own opinion or what I learned while researching this stuff…I’m no expert. Let me repeat, I am NOT an expert! I just love sharing what I learn to save you some legwork! Also, nothing in this post is sponsored.)

For the last 3+ years I’ve been using a Canon Rebel XT. It was only $500 new and it’s been a great camera. It certainly gets the job done. Lately it’s been getting errors here and there, which is annoying when you’re shooting photos for a local restaurant and miss the moment that the milk gets poured into the coffee. ARGH! Plus, it’s only 8 MP. For heaven’s sake, phones are catching up to that number. Also, the ISO doesn’t go very high, which isn’t helpful in a dark restaurant. My food blogging has simply outgrown my Rebel.

This is my old camera. It’s been real, Rebel XT.

A quick side note. I use the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 lens for my food photography. I love this little lens. It’s cheap. And it does wonders in low light situations, has beautiful shallow depth of field (you know, fuzzy backgrounds), and I can get really neat shots of food and kids alike. You get a lot of bang for your buck with this lens…I highlyย recommendย it.

Speaking of Canon. I know you’re probably thinking, Canon or Nikon? In all honesty, I don’t think it matters that much. The biggest reason I chose Canon years ago was simply because it was less expensive. And that’s about all I have to say on the subject. I know, so helpful. Ree wrote a couple posts about the subject here and here, if you’re interested in her opinion and comparisons. Bottom line for me – I already had a few Canon lenses, so I stuck with Canon.

Okay, so back to camera shopping. I spoke with many experts, got many opinions and decided NOT to get a full frame camera (I don’t really need it…I mean, maybe want, but need? not so much). Which left me with the Rebel T2i, 50D and 7D (in order from least to most expensive). The T2i is 18 MP, the 50D is 15 MP and the 7D is 18 MP. I ditched the 50D – less megapixels for more money than the T2i? No thanks. The camera store guy told me to not bother with the 7D – that if I didn’t get a full frame Mark II, then I should get the T2i. I must admit, I didn’t really trust him at first…but after even more research, I realized he was right. At least for my needs. Here’s why.

The 7D and the Rebel T2i are essentially the same camera. When they designed the T2i, they incorporated many of the 7D’s features.

The main differences are user interface (both are great, just different), the build (the 7D has more metal construction, is more durable, and, as a result, much bigger and heavier), continuous shooting speed (~8 frames/sec on the 7D, 3.7 frames/sec on the T2i), and focusing system (more complex and advanced on the 7D).

The main similarities are they have the same megapixels, movie quality is identical, and image quality is identical (at least according to the camera store guy). And, keep in mind, the camera store salesmen are on COMMISSION…and they were all advising me to go for the T2i, which is HALF the cost. That’s saying something.

I chose the T2i because I almost never use continuous shooting mode, I like having a lighter camera since I often throw it {carefully} in my purse when we eat out, and even though the focusing system is fancy schmancy on the 7D, it’s fancy enough on the T2i.

So there you have it! I’m the proud new mama of a Rebel T2i. Yippee! (Update 12/23/12: Since I wrote this post, Canon has come out with the T3i and the T4i. These are just the newer versions of what I have and you can get the T3i at Costco these days for the same price I paid for my T2i. All the above applies – these are just newer and improved versions of what I have.)

Check out that giant beautiful screen on my new T2i. Alright, you can’t really tell in this photo, but the screen is seriously beautiful. And it’s better quality than the 7D’s screen.

Back to lenses. I actually upgraded to the Canon 50 mm f/1.4 because I use my 50 mm every darn day of the week and love it and the 1.4 has a cool focusing feature and for heaven’s sake it works in even lower light. I couldn’t resist. But, honestly, the 1.8 is great. Awesome, in fact. I’m giving mine to my mother-in-law with my old camera…I can’t wait to see what her artistic eye will come up with now that she has a decent camera. (Merry Christmas, Pat!)

For general shooting I use an 18-55 mm lens. Both times I bought my cameras, I bought the body only and did not buy the kit lens, which is the lens that comes with the camera. The 18-55 mm that I purchased is basically a nicer version of the kit lens. I’m keeping this lens and will continue to use it, even though the 50 mm stays on my camera most of the time.

Wish list lenses: 100mm macro 2.8 L and the 24-70mm 2.8 L. These are the lenses thatย Helene Dujardin uses on a daily basis, and just look at her beautiful work. Time to start saving some money! (She’s actually “mad” at me for spending money on the 1.4…she wanted me to save up for the 24-70. Sorry, Helene! Hope you’ll forgive me!)

I hope this is helpful! Please feel free to pipe in with your own opinions or if you have any questions!

Thanks to Helene, Ree, Broderick and Heidi (as well as the helpful staff at Keeble & Shuchat, where I bought my camera) for all their help over the last week as I waded through indecisiveness!

AND…just when you thought this post was finally over…the Shutter Sisters wrote a great article today,ย Creating Your Digital Camera Wish List.


  1. This is spectacular!! I really appreciate reading posts such as these explaining why you chose the camera you did. I have dreams of upgrading from my PowerShot, and reading explanations such as these really helps point me in the right direction! Thank you!!

    • Jane Maynard

      yea! I’m so glad you find it helpful! I just know when I started the search for my new camera, it was daunting figuring it all out! kind of how I felt the first time I bought a car seat ๐Ÿ™‚ love helping others out!

  2. 2

    I am not so much mad at you than always thinking in terms of “patience” and “saving” but you will never go wrong with a beauty such as the 50mm 1.4. OK…don’t try the 1.2 because you’ll want it immediately. I know I do. Do I need it…not really right now..

    Need…want… sucks that most of us have to choose ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jane Maynard

      I will avoid the 1.2 at all costs.

      need, want, need, want….gotta love life.

      thanks for everything, helene!

  3. Love this post!I have a T1i, but heard there may be a Mark III next year, so I’m holding on and saving money for a 24-70 too. My 50 mm 1.4 is the only lens I use. I love it!

  4. 4

    This is fantastic! A wonderful tool for upgrading your already mouth-watering post.=)

  5. I have a super cheap camera 100 bucks can’t afford anything else but it works for me since it is just for family pictures and such nothing professional. but if i could afford to buy a dream camera I’d so get this! ๐Ÿ™‚

    you take great pictures!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks for all the info, one day I’ll win the lottery and get this ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. 6

    Whoever your mother in law is- she is one lucky mother!

  7. 7

    there are lots of differences between canon and nikon that can be debated, but like you say, one is not overall “better” than the other, just different depending on what you’re doing with it.

    full frame would be silly for food photography in my opinion, although many of the full frame sensors are superior at high ISO and would thus improve low light photos in restaurants and such.

    let me know when you can afford the 24-70, so i can be jealous and tell the wife, “but jane has one!”

    kudos on the new f1.4, i love that lens (nikon’s equivalent). i actually love mine so much that i have been expanding my prime lens collection, because the optics are just so much better than a telephoto. i also shoot a 35mm f1.8 which is good for a little wider shot, and helpful if you’re shooting your kids indoors. Not as sharp as the 50mm, but superior to the 18-55 or any zoom lens. canon’s equivalent is a f2.0 35mm, which i’m sure is great. You should check it out. (canon also makes a 35mm f1.4 – >$1000)

    • Jane Maynard

      I actually bought the 35 mm f/2.0 the day I bought the camera…but then I returned it. I need to spend money in spurts instead of all at once! and then everyone on twitter was like, “don’t return it!!!” one day… ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. 8

    In any case Jane, I think YOU could take great photos with any point-and-shoot. You’ve just got the eye and the talent.

  9. Enjoyed this post and thanks for your helpful tweets. I am teetering on making my ‘new camera’ decision finally and this – plus your links – has helped a lot.

  10. 10

    I have the Canon T1i and I love it. I bet the 2 is just as spectacular if not more!

  11. 11

    I really want a new camera for when the baby arrives in March — I’m still using my Canon G9 and want/need to upgrade to an SLR. This was really helpful!!

  12. 12

    I actually have the 50mm 1.4 – I bought it instead of the 1.8 in the beginning because I read so many reviews that the 1.4 is SO much better than the 1.8 and totally worth the money. I’m interested to hear how they compare for you! (Although I am saving up for the 24-70 – I want that lens SO badly!)

  13. 13
    Nikki CB

    Awesome! That is very exciting. I have so much still to learn about using my Nikon D40.

  14. 14

    I have a feeling you just convinced me to purchase another lens… like today! I just got the T21 a couple months ago and fear a lens-buying addiction!! I got the lens kit, but also purchased the 60 mm macro and while I love it for some food photos, I really want to try something new. I’m such a beginner, so I might just get the 1.8, but now I’m tempted to get the 1.4! Thanks for this review ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. 15

    Let me know how you like the 1.4. I have the 1.8 and really like it but I want a new lens. Of course I want a new camera too, maybe for Christmas. Thanks for doing all the research for me:) Have fun with your new toys!

  16. 16

    lens buying IS an addiction.. just when you think you have THE perfect lens – someone tells you about another great one – or you find a new style of photography to practice!

  17. I’m learning SO much about cameras! I’m using my husband’s Nikon and I’m still intimidated by it. I loved your post and the picture of camera in camera was a lot of fun!
    I need a LOT of practice. I’m still getting photos that are too blue or too yellow. I’m trying to play with light. Baby steps.

  18. I know I already raved to you on Twitter about this post, but really, it was fantastic! I did a bunch of research after reading this and everything sync’d up. I had been on the fence about making the big jump to SLR, and… I did it! I got the Canon T2i yesterday and just in my bit of playing with it, LOVE it. I signed up for a class later this week to really understand the world of SLR, but seriously, this camera is fantastic! Your lens recommendations were great… I couldn’t be happier! Thank you!!!

    • Jane Maynard

      YEA!!!! what a wonderful comment to start the day with.

      and…everyone else…did you read what she said?!?! I will not lead you astray! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      have FUN, christine!

  19. 19

    I got the 50mm 1.8 for my birthday this year (to go with the rebel XSi I got for Christmas) It has really helped me learn how to compose my shots. This post was great! Thanks for all the info!

  20. 20

    Hi Jane,

    I have the T2i, too! I’m still learning and now a 50mm is definitely on my list. I thought to get 1.8 since it is more affordable, but do you think I should just save more and get the 1.4? I do a lot of food photography so I’m think you’ll say yes…


    • Jane Maynard

      I don’t know, I think you should go for the 1.8 now! I loved mine and the only reason I got the 1.4 is b/c I wanted to give the 1.8 to my mother-in-law and figured I may as well splurge since I could. the 1.4 is cool….but that 1.8 is definitely great, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Aw, thanks for the reply. I only realized after I commented that this was a old post! I had somehow missed the fact that you started with a 1.8. I guess I’ll do a little rearch and see what the 1.4 gives me versus 1.8. I’m not a serious photographer so perhaps the extra would be lost on me anyway!

      Thanks again!

    • Jane Maynard

      it just gives you more ability to use it in even lower light…but you’re going to get plenty of a shallow depth of field with the 1.8 and it will be great if you’re not a serious photographer. as you read, I used the 1.8 for all my blog photos until just a few months ago! ๐Ÿ™‚

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