I bought a Cannon Digital Rebel XTI with a standard EFS 18-55 lens years ago, but haven't used it for some time. I recently had children and want to get into photography. I am a total amateur, so please bear with me!
I'm trying to figure out whether to (1) upgrade the Digital Rebel XTI body, (2) upgrade the EFS 18-55 lens, or (3) both. I'd REALLY like to spend less than $500, but could be persuaded to spend more.
Here's some information about me:
I like a versatile lens, but I primarily enjoy taking close-up portraits. Right now, I just print 5x7's to frame, but I'd like to explore printing much larger prints.
So, is my camera so outdated that I need to get a new body, or will I get more bang for my buck by buying a new lens?
Thank you for your help!
"I am a total amateur, so please bear with me!"
So was everybody at one time so lets get on. I would very first suggest you use what you have and see if it does it for you. Virtually anything you buy today will be a huge improvement but may not be much better than what you have for what you need. Printing a 5x7 is a pretty simple, not too demanding task.
"I'd REALLY like to spend less than $500, but could be persuaded to spend more."
That's not going to buy you a significant improvement in gear. Yes, more current but not so much better. Because you need to upgrade both the camera and lens. However, both are working as expected try them out first. I will suggest something that will make more of an impact on your photos than any thing else you can do and that is a post editor.
Canon has one that is free. It is called DPP4 and you can d/l it from the Canon web site. Of curse the ultimate is Photoshop but it is $10 bucks a month to use. And tip number two at no additional charge si to set the Rebel to use raw file format mode. You will get far more editing ability using it. So, two suggestions are free to do and one is not. Good luck.
If you look into a new body at that price range you will NOT gain any improvement. Except for a new image sensor and the camera will still use the same old AF system. Your current camera body will still work fine. You could upgrade the lens to the newer EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens. Or you could look into the EF 50mm F/1.8 STM lens which is on sale right now. This lens would work great with your Digital Rebel for portraits.
If you are happy with the photos that you are getting with your present camera and lens, you could consider adding a Canon EF-S 18-135mm f-3.5-5.6 IS USM lens. It will give you a greater zoom range and more versatility, especially capturing moving children. It is a very sharp lens.
To be honest, I have to agree with the observations of all of my colleagues. Your budget will not really buy you a significant upgrade to the lens and body.
If you are going to invest, then I agree that the first thing to consider is a better lens. I actually still have an XTi and its original 18-55 optic is pretty obsolete now - there have been several new variants with improvements in the meantime. However, as you have suggested that you want general photos of the family plus some portrait work then both the lenses suggested would be of use: one to replace the 18-55 being the 18-135 STM or USM, and to work on portraits the 50mm lens - so if you can afford both optics that would give you much better capability for both purposes. In the meantime, if you can afford only one, then I suggest the 18-135 STM.
Canon sell refurbished lenses that are essentially like new and come with a warranty via the following website: Shop Canon Lenses, Refurbished Lenses | Canon U.S.A, Inc. You could keep an eye on it for when they become available. Another site to consider is KEH: Used Canon EF & EF-S Lenses - Buy & Sell Online at KEH Camera. They deal in second hand gear and if you cannot find one via Canon within your budget this site might be a good solution.
As you say you are 'a complete amateur', I am going to suggest that you would do well to improve your knowledge of image control and composition by embarking on some study, some of which can be done through the web. Skill definitely trumps gear when it comes to getting good photos.
If you check your local library's on-line catalog, they may have an item for LinkedIn Learning, and if it IS available, you will have free access, via your library login, to a training site that has (amongst other things) a huge collection of educational materials on a vast array of subjects including photography - from using various cameras specifically, to understanding exposure and composition, through to post processing and things like portraiture.
Given that I am not familiar with your level of knowledge, I can also recommend the following as a general introduction to photography by National Geographic photographer Chris Bray:
Learn Photography - Simple, Practical - Free Photography Course 1/10 - YouTube
These are but two sources, and I am sure my colleagues can suggest others - I would encourage you to check them all out - you can never learn too much!
If you want to use your camera to the fullest, it's worthy really learning the controls and features of whatever camera you are shooting with. I have been shooting for over 40 years and still refer to the manual for any new body I use.
This is a link to various You Tube tutorials on your XTi:
(2) canon rebel xti tutorial - YouTube
A link to the manual for your camera - definitely worth downloading the PDF and referring to it:
Other resources are local photography groups.
This is incredibly helpful. Thank you, Trevor (and everyone else). I really appreciate your time.
I'm going to take your advice and focus on acquiring the fundamental skills before going out and buying a ton of new equipment. For now, I'll probably just upgrade the lens, so I have something a little better to learn with. The 18-135 STM seems pretty flexible, which is appealing. With that being said, I most enjoy taking close up action shots and candid portraits (like the photor attached). I very rarely take landscape shots, etc. So, I am at least somewhat intrigued by the EF 50mm F/1.8 STM. .
If you can afford only one lens, for the types of subjects you are considering, I still think the EF-S 18-135 STM or USM is a good starting point as a general all-round lens that can help you develop your skills.
To demonstrate, I have delved back into my archives and come out with the following images. Unless identified, these are all taken with the XTi (or as it is called where I live, 400D) and the one of the 18-135 lenses - which are optically almost identical.
The point of all this is to suggest that these units are capable of rending acceptable results in the areas in which you show interest - the rest is up to you.
When you do decide to upgrade, I would encourage you to read THIS ARTICLE and consider the questions posed. It also contains references for study.
In support of Ernie's comments, definitely PP is a part of the production cycle. As may have been mentioned, there is free software from Canon, called Digital Photo Professional, and you should have access to it via this link: Canon Support for EOS Digital Rebel XTi | Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Another piece of free software requires no installation - it runs from a web link - is called Photopea. It has capabilities similar to the highly regarded, but not cheap, Photoshop. You can get to it by going to Photopea.com. There are extensive tutorials with the software.
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