It wouldn’t be a year in photography without at least one of the Big Boys of photography world (those boys being Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Pentax) announcing some new piece of equipment that sets everyone off, racing to give their money away so they can have the “latest and greatest” that money can buy. As a technology buff, I am particularly susceptible to this tendency, so I always have to take a step back and look at my current setup, as well as the rest of the options available before I can pull the trigger (or trip the shutter, since we’re using “photo speak” right now).

So…I set out to look at the major features in the EOS line since that’s where my lenses are. Within my price range (under $1500) are the XTi, 30D, and 40D. I also included the 20D in my comparison because even though it’s been discontinued, it still is available through online auctions and various community forums for sale, and the spec sheet is readily available online (I used the specs from B&H). Given the number of options, even within the Canon line, I had to set some minimum. So, I told myself that in order to make it worth the expense, I would need to see at least 5 major features/reasons in order to justify the purchase. I defined a “major” feature/reason as something that either represented more than a 15% increase in numerical value, or a feature that was completely lacking in my current setup.

With my benchmarks set, and my expectations in place, I put together the following chart for the consumer/entry pro level EOS bodies that Canon offers:


The benchmarks indicated the following results:
• XTi – 2 features/reasons: Discarded
• 20D – 3 features/reasons: Discarded
• 30D – 5 features/reasons: Candidate
• 40D – 8 features/reasons: Candidate

With two pretty clear favorites, I looked at the differences between the two, and the 40D does seem to have enough of a distinction (3 features) from the 30D to justify the increased expense (Mega Pixels, screen size, and Frames/sec). What also tipped the scales for me in my decision was that since I don’t buy new bodies as regularly as some, as there have been 3 new releases since my last purchase. That being the case, I will probably be better served by getting the newest one so that it can last as long as my XT has (3 years).

For those with other Canon bodies, a similar system could be used to determine whether an upgrade is justified, depending on what you are looking for. For those with Nikon bodies looking to upgrade, the decision-making process should likely be weighed within your own DSLR system, but the principles used above could be applied equally there as well. As for Olympus, Pentax, and Sony – what are you guys smiling at? (Something tells me they will be following the lead of Canon and Nikon but at lower price points down the road…)

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