Upgrade recommendation please

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
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illumnae
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Upgrade recommendation please
4 months ago

I currently shoot with a Canon 600D/Rebel T3i and am thinking of upgrading my camera body. The stuff I generally shoot are:

  • Perched birds (chances for birds in flight are a bonus, but very very rare where I am)
  • Wading birds
  • Small wildlife (squirrels, lizards etc.)
  • Macro subjects (insects and other creepy crawlies)

I shoot the above together with my wife, and we generally visit local parks or wooded areas every weekend for this (we're in Singapore, which is a very built up city-country with not much wildlife to speak of and all of it rather small). Eventually, when our photography skills improve, we hope to start taking trips out in the region (Southeast Asia) for nature photography trips, hopefully culminating in a safari trip one day.

I use the Tamron 150-600mm for the first 3 subjects and the Canon 100mm Macro USM (non-IS) for the last one. No plans to upgrade the telephoto lens (can't afford fast primes), and I will eventually upgrade the macro lens to a 150/180mm one for more working distance, but that will probably be next year or beyond. We shoot handheld at the moment, but will invest in good tripods in the near future. Majority of our shots are taken while walking around, and given the skittish nature of local wildlife, there isn't much opportunity to set up a tripod to shoot.

The reasons for me wanting to upgrade are as follows:

  • Ergonomics - I have large hands and would prefer a slightly larger sized body than a Rebel body
  • Dials - I would like to have 2 dials instead of 1 to be quicker in changing my settings
  • AF - I would like a more sophisticated AF system than what the Rebel provides, especially for quick subjects like birds and wildlife as I've missed a number of shots due to focus not locking quickly enough (I know some or most of this can probably be attributed to user error, but this user would like a better AF system)
  • IQ/Noise - I have shaky hands, which sometimes forces me to bump shutter speed up beyond the "usual". On cloudy days, this can cause ISO to go up as high as 3200 (usually max 1600 unless it's a really dark day), which results in very noisy pictures

The 2 bodies that I am considering upgrading to are the 70D or the 5D3. The 70D resolves 3 out of the 4 problems I listed above, with the only remaining issue being IQ/Noise. I've read reports that the 70D has less noise, or that the noise cleans up better, but I've also been told that if shooting in RAW, then the 70D is for all intents and purposes equal to my current 600D in relation to IQ/Noise.

On the other hand, the 5D3 solves all the problems I listed above, but creates another problem - loss of reach. I am very much enjoying the 960mm equivalent created by the crop factor in the 600D, and it would really suck to lose that extra reach especially when my current subjects don't always fill the frame even now. In addition, the 5D3 is 3x more expensive than the 70D and would require me to save up for a number of months more while with the 70D I can upgrade immediately.

I have considered the 6D as well, but wrote it off due to its primitive AF system that's the same as my 600D AF system. I also don't want to wait for the mythical 7D2 that may or may not appear ever.

Appreciate your recommendations on what to upgrade to, given my circumstances as outlined above. Is the IQ/Noise improvement of the 5D3 worth the huge loss of reach (given the subjects I shoot) and about half a year more waiting over the 70D?

 illumnae's gear list:illumnae's gear list
Canon EOS 70D Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD
Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EOS 600D (EOS Rebel T3i / EOS Kiss X5) Canon EOS 6D Canon EOS 70D Canon EOS 7D
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