Quick guide to some used Canon dSLR cameras

I've been using mid-range Canon EOS digital single lens reflex (dSLR) cameras since 2003 and I thought I'd write up a quick guide for anyone looking for a used model. Now that dSLR's have been on the market for well over a decade, there are quite a few used models available at bargain prices.

Canon 10D: Great camera when it came out, but now it's really showing its age. It doesn't take EF-S lenses and the high ISO performance isn't all that great. Still, a used model is dirt cheap.

Canon 300D/Digital Rebel: The first digital Rebel, it was also the first Canon dSLR under a $1,000. Some people don't like the plastic body, though I never had a problem with it. (You see, cameras come with these things called straps, that you put around your neck.) It's a decent camera, but the focus is soft and the "creamsicle" tinged color it adds to every photo is a bit nauseating. But, if you like gauzy, over-warmed pictures, it's one to consider.

Canon 20D: For me, this was Canon's breakthrough camera; it shot great, sharp pictures and never let me down. The shutter is a bit noisy, so move up to the 30D, if that's a problem for you. Otherwise, this is a used camera you can own with pride. Excellent high ISO performance through 1600, good at 3200. There was just something special about the 20D, I've had better cameras since, but none I was more fond of.

Canon 5D: Another camera with a breakthrough price when it came out, the 5D was a full frame dSLR for $3,000. It's a great camera, with some of the nicest color results I've ever seen, but in the end, I missed the APS-C format and sold it to get a 30D.

Canon 30D: The 20D refined, with a much quieter shutter, otherwise, pretty much the same as a 20D. Maybe it's just me, but I think the 30D had better low light autofocus than the 20D. If I had to choose between a 20D and a 30D, I'd take the 30.

Canon 40D: The 20/30D on steroids, this camera shoots 10 megapixel photos at a fast clip with a color quality that rivals the 5D. A nice camera with enough resolution for larger prints than the previous models, or just extra room for cropping. The 40D was the first camera in this series to feature automatic sensor cleaning and improved weather sealing. Excellent high ISO performance through 3200. Also the first in the series to have a "live view" mode, which I've never used and know nothing about.

Canon 50D: The 40D on steroids, this camera boasts 15 megapixels per shot and an ISO range that expands to 12,800. However, the expanded ISO isn't the best quality, though the 6400 setting is pretty good. The pictures have exhibited some unexpected fringing. I love the big rear LCD. The live view mode is said to be better than that on the 40D. The 50D is a mixed bag, but a camera worth knowing nonetheless.
As of this writing (October 2011), the 50D is still being produced by Canon, so a used model is likely to be less of a bargain than its older brethren. With the advent of the much changed 60D, the 50D marks the end of an era for this series of cameras, whether diehard fans of the older models give up their 50D's remains to be seen.

With the exception of the 50D, which I'm still getting to know, I have used all the above cameras a lot. (The last time I backed up my digital railroad photos, it took 42 DVD's.) They are all good cameras, and they all withstood plenty of the demanding conditions associated with railroad photography. My highest recommendations would be for the 20D or anything after that, earlier models border on the obsolete in photo quality and performance.

Photo: Canon 20D Some rights reserved by iJammin

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