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  DSLR Tips

Canon digital SLR upgrade - EOS 350D / XT versus EOS 5D Gordon Laing, November 2006

Canon EOS 5D upgrade introduction

When Canon launched its EOS 30D and EOS 400D / XTi digital SLRs, it’s fair to say a great many 20D and 350D / XT owners thought twice about their upgrade paths. Because while both new models are great cameras with decent enhancements, neither offer a sufficient leap for most owners of their predecessors to justify upgrading. This equally applies to owners of the previous generation, the 10D and 300D / Rebel, for whom the 20D and 350D / XT didn’t originally tempt.

So the question facing owners of Canon’s 10D, 20D and even 30D, along with the 300D / Rebel and 350D / XT, is what should they buy for a really significant upgrade? Since we’re probably at least six months away from an ‘EOS 40D’, the most obvious answer is of course Canon’s own EOS 5D, but this has implications beyond upgrading from, say, a 20D to the 30D.

Canon EOS 350D / Rebel XT and Canon EOS 5D

The big selling point of the Canon EOS 5D is of course its high resolution full-frame sensor, but for people who’ve only ever owned Canon EF-S mount digital SLRs, the switch will involve more than just a new body. After all if the only Canon body you’ve ever owned is a 20D, 30D, 300D / Rebel or 350D / Rebel XT, chances are you mostly own EF-S lenses designed for their physically smaller sensors.

These EF-S lenses simply won’t work on full-frame bodies like the 5D, so an upgrade will mean investing in not just a new body, but new EF optics to go with it. If you’re a 10D owner (which was EF-mount only) or already have existing EF lenses, then the move will clearly be less expensive, but if you have to change all your lenses as well as the body, you may as well also consider a different manufacturer altogether.

Brand loyalty is however a very powerful emotion, and once you’re familiar and comfortable with one manufacturer’s way of doing things, it can be hard to change. So this feature is written for owners of Canon’s 300D / Rebel, 350D / Rebel XT, 10D, 20D and even 30D who are wondering whether it’s worth upgrading to the 5D. What differences could you look forward to, not just in terms of image quality and lens coverage, but also build, features and handling?

In this feature we’ll describe the major differences between all the bodies listed above, but will concentrate on the EOS 350D / XT versus the EOS 5D. To make it more interesting we’ve also tested each body with premium lenses sharing similar coverage and features. So for the 350D / XT, we’ve fitted the Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, and for the 5D we’ve gone for the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0L IS USM. Both share roughly the same equivalent range along with Image Stabilisation features, but just how big a step-up is one combination from the other?

So this feature is as much about comparing the typical lenses you’d be using with each body as it is about the features and quality of the bodies themselves. Many of our optical results for the 17-85mm lens equally apply if it were fitted on the 20D, 30D or 300D / Rebel, allowing owners of this lens and these particular bodies to also see how they’d benefit from upgrading to the 5D with the 24-105mm.

Click here to view the 5D video tour

Ultimately this feature is about comparing the design, features, handling, and quality differences between these cameras and lens combinations, as oppose to a detailed run-down of their complete specifications. If you’re interested in these finer details, please also refer to our reviews of the Canon EOS 350D / XT, Canon EOS 5D, Canon EOS 30D, Canon 17-85mm and Canon 24-105mm. This feature is designed to compliment, rather than duplicate these in-depth reviews, so you may wish to have them open at the same time for reference.

So read on to discover if the EOS 5D and 24-105mm is the ideal upgrade for you.

NEW: Check out our Canon EOS 5D Mark II review

Testing notes

The 350D / XT and 5D bodies used in this feature were running firmware versions 1.0.1 and 1.0.3 respectively, while the serial numbers for the 17-85mm and 24-105mm lenses were 92001769 and 305841 respectively.

Following our convention of using default factory and best quality JPEG settings to test camera bodies unless otherwise stated, our EOS 350D / XT was set to Large Fine JPEG mode, sRGB, Auto White Balance, Evaluative Metering and Parameter 1 for colour, contrast and sharpness. The EOS 5D was set to Large Fine JPEG mode, sRGB, Auto White Balance, Evaluative Metering and its Standard Picture Style.

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All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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