I’m About to Drop Nearly $10,000 on New Canon Gear: I Must Consider These Two Things First

I’m About to Drop Nearly $10,000 on New Canon Gear: I Must Consider These Two Things First

I’m incredibly nervous. $10,000 is a lot of money. In fact, I can’t remember ever spending $10,000 at once. With that in mind, there are two things I must think about before I hit that big, blue "buy" button.

For most purchases we make beyond daily life necessities, including those extravagant ones that make our accountants’ hearts skip a beat or two, we can pretty loosely throw them into two major categories: emotional and rational. Ever heard of the term “impulse buying”? Of course, you have. It’s when you buy something on a whim without giving the purchase the kind of careful consideration your bank account may have wished you had. We often make such purchases because our hearts rule our heads so strongly at the time that we simply don’t want to rationalize things carefully. We just want to buy things that make us feel good. Think retail therapy.

Rational buying, on the other hand, is pretty self-explanatory. We take our time and meticulously think things through and weigh up a whole host of factors and criteria. We often vacillate between the pros and the cons and seek advice from any number of people, including friends and family, and online reviews from those we’ve never met before we finally decide to pull the trigger.

So, when it comes to the impending departure of $10,000 from my bank account for a whole range of new Canon gear, how did these two factors influence my decisions?

The Emotional Side

I want the new Canon EOS R5. And I want some lenses like the RF100-500mm and the RF 800mm to complement the purchase. It’s that simple. I’ve seen a gazillion reviews of the camera by now, and it looks like everything I want, notwithstanding the overheating issues. And I feel like if I’m going to go in on the new mirrorless EOS R5, then I may as well take off my shoes, socks, clothes, and cap and go all-in on some lenses as well to really make the most of its capabilities.

This looks exactly like the camera I've been waiting for.

2020 has been a year from hell for almost all of us, for many reasons. The issues and ripple effects related to COVID-19 have had an impact on me, both personally and professionally. I was supposed to present at a conference in Bali in February, but that got canceled. My mother was supposed to come and stay with me here in Japan for a month in March, but that got canceled. And I was supposed to have my first exhibition at a conference in Sydney in September, but that, too, has now been canceled. I couldn’t even leave Japan if I wanted to, because reentry is banned to all non-citizens. Thus, emotionally, it has been hard to pick me up from these setbacks and missed opportunities I was anticipating with such delight, so the idea of some fabulously fancy new gear is something I’m really looking forward to.

The second part of the equation, emotionally speaking, relates to my father. He’s 87 and has been in a nursing home for 3 years now, back in Australia. When the ambulance got to him 3 years ago, he was lying in bed, completely emaciated, and weighed just 39 kilograms (86 pounds). He was taken to hospital where he was drip-fed for a month, then taken by air ambulance to the nursing home. He hasn’t walked since he got to the home, and even though he’s relatively happy and healthy now, there’s always a tinge of regret and sadness in his voice when we talk.

Why? Mostly because he feels like he never lived life as he should have, nor explored many of the interests he had. He grew up in London during WWII, left school at 17, worked odd jobs, then joined the British Royal Navy at 20, where he rose through the ranks until he finished at 40, at which time he emigrated to Australia as a “10-pound Pom.” Unfortunately, his navy rank meant nothing in Australia, and he had to start all over again. He worked as a truck driver until his forced retirement at 68, then his body pretty much collapsed on him. In his own words, he worked from 17 to 68 and never took a break. Then his body broke.

Because of that, he is always telling me: “live life to the fullest, Iain, and never talk yourself out of things you really want to do.” I have always faithfully carried that attitude and approach to life with me, and it has led to my travels around the globe and the life I’ve set up for myself here in Japan with my family. And it will also drive my decision to buy a load of new Canon gear, too. He’s already given it his enthusiastic stamp of approval and reiterated a number of times the notion that you must live life as best you can and never neglect to make yourself happy, as well as those around you.

The Rational Side

And that brings me to the rationalization side of things. With a purchase of this magnitude, of course, I have to turn my heart off for a few moments and lead completely with my head, devoid of any emotion. The first thing I considered was money and the impact an outlay of this size would have on my family. Ironically, I’d been frightfully frugal in the 18 months prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in the knowledge that I had conferences, exhibitions, and my mum’s visit to account for. Thus, when they all got canceled, I had myself a nice little unexpected war chest burning a hole in my pocket. I’m not a big spender at the best of times, and I ensure my two young daughters have everything they need and more, so when I looked at my accounts, I felt I was in a reasonably good position to go ahead with the purchase.

It sure is an expensive lens, but I think it's worth it, for reasons below.

Secondly, I had to think about the gear itself. I asked some honest questions, most of which revolved around whether the gear I wanted could do more than the gear I currently use. In answering those questions, I kept coming up with solid reasons to get the Canon EOS R5 and some RF lenses, mostly telephotos. For example, a lot of my paid work relates to surf photography, particularly big wave photography in the southwest of Japan. For that work, I currently use the Canon 7D Mark II, because it has an APS-C sensor that allows my Tamron 150-600mm lens to effectively become 960mm, and its burst rate of 10 fps is faster than my Canon 5D Mark IV’s.

The biggest problem I have with the 7D Mark II, however, is that its sensor is only 20 MP. This means that I am incredibly limited with the cropping I can do and the range of compositions I can create for different publications. I could switch to the 5D Mark IV, which has a 30 MP sensor, but its burst rate is only 7 fps, which is a big loss when you’re shooting surfing. Also, because it’s a full frame camera, I’d lose the 960mm reach I get on my Tamron 150-600mm. On top of that, Tamron’s native teleconverter is only available for the G2 version of the lens, whereas I have the G1 version.

For those reasons alone, I have been contemplating what to do for a long time now. I was strongly considering the Sony a7R IV because of its two-in-one sensor setup but was hesitant to change to an entirely new ecosystem. So, when I saw that the new Canon EOS R5 has a 47MP sensor and a burst rate of 12 fps (mechanical shutter) and 20 fps (electronic shutter), it was like my prayers were answered at once. When you add to that the new 1.4x and 2x extenders built specifically for the RF lenses, it was like someone from Canon was dwelling inside my head.

Can you imagine putting a 2x extender on this to make it 1,600mm? Atmospheric haze, I'm coming for you!

I could shoot with the RF 100-500mm, use the dedicated 2x extender with it and get an effective 1,000mm, which is more than I currently get with my Tamron and 7D Mark II. Or I could put the 1.4x teleconverter on the RF 800mm and get 1,120mm. Plus, I’d have a sensor that’s about 2.5 times bigger than the 7D Mark II’s to play with and crop with. That is absolutely perfect for my specific circumstances, and I’m almost giddy at the thought of the options that would become available to me.

There are many more rational reasons I could delve into, but the final nail in the coffin was confirmation recently that there will be no new models of the 5D DSLR from Canon. Essentially, this means that mirrorless bodies and RF lenses are the future for Canon. There is nothing wrong with my current gear, but I think it has been surpassed by a lot of other brands and certainly by the new EOS R5. I’m happy to keep the gear I have and pass it down to my daughters or even get an adapter to use with the EOS R5, but I have to acknowledge where the future lies for Canon and its evolution.

Summing Up

My DSLRs and EF lenses have served me tremendously well over the years, but it’s simply time to move on. From an emotional viewpoint and a more rational perspective, I’m more than happy with my decision to outlay such a vast sum of money on new gear. It will help me with work, it will improve my work, and it will feel really good. And don’t we all need some of that in these trying times? Some people spend their hard-earned cash on cars, others on jewelry, and others on two-week vacations with the kids. This time, I'm spending mine on new camera gear I've been eyeing for quite a long time, and I can't wait for its arrival, despite the obvious dent to my finances. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Iain Stanley's picture

Iain Stanley is an Associate Professor teaching photography and composition in Japan. Fstoppers is where he writes about photography, but he's also a 5x Top Writer on Medium, where he writes about his expat (mis)adventures in Japan and other things not related to photography. To view his writing, click the link above.

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Ian I really enjoyed your article. Especially the part about your father. Good advice he gave you. I lost my father June 2018. He was 11 days shy of 88. I sure do miss him. My 86 year old mother lives with my wife and me. I value the time I have left with her. That being said, go enjoy your new gear all you can. I think you will like it. I bought an EOS R this past December and I really like it. All my EF lenses work perfectly with it. There are a lot things you will like about it over your DSLRs and some things you may miss but I think you will be pleased especially since the R5 has so many improvements over the original R. Especially in the AF department from what I have read and watched online. Of course its overheating problem seems to be the only thing most reviewers seem to be talking about. I would say it's much ado about something that I wasn't surprised about. Canon made a big deal over the video specs and its biting them in the ass right now. I'm a stills shooter and I think for a stills shooter the R5 and R6 should be a big hit. Do keep us informed about what you think about your new system and how it performs. And my best to you, your family and your father!

Cheers Patrick. I made a choice to settle in Japan and love life here, but the big sacrifice of course is that I don't have immediate access to my family - either in Australia or England. It was heartbreaking thinking about the state my dad was in but he's somewhat pulled through the other side now. Within the boundaries of parental responsibility, I think it's important we don't forget that we are still individuals, too. We're not "just" parents. So, yeah, this time, this purchase is all about me.

The overheating issue is a concern but, like you, I don't shoot video. At all. So in my specific situation, it's a non-starter, really. And I will be doing lots of comparisons with 5DMK4 vs 7DMK2 vs EOS R5 and EF lenses vs RF lenses....

Iain I usually research things to death before I buy. Cameras, computers, cars... What ever. ;-) I would wait until there are some reviews from some trusted sites and ignore the clickbait couple and the big hair guy as they tend to go a bit overboard sometimes. Especially when something first comes out. Not saying all their content is like that. Sometimes it's pretty good, sometimes not. Anyways, finding every flaw and making a big deal out of it is the trend ya know. Regardless of brand.

You can always rent an R5 and EF to RF adapter and try it first. You can buy the R5, adapter and upgrade your lenses later on. Used or refurbished can save you some money too. Has worked great for me.

I'm not a DSLR vs Mirrorless kind of guy. I have both and use both depending on my needs. But I will say the mirrorless does have some very handy advantages. Especially for night or low light photography with the EVF to name one of my favorite features. There many others. Battery life isn't going to be like a DSLR so keep that in mind. From what I have read about the R5 and R6 and from my use of my EOS R, I think you would be happy with the R5. Especially for stills and that's your thing, so, there you go! :-)

Cheers Patrick. If I’m completely honest, we (family, wife etc) have a couple things on the horizon my wife has been on at me about for ages. New washer/dryer combo, redo the outside deck etc etc.......I feel like if I don’t shoot from the hip now my beloved camera gear money will find itself magically morphing into home renovations and disappearing into a tradesman’s pocket. No no no no no :)

Plus, I live in the boondocks of rural SW Japan (Miyazaki). I don’t even know a place that sells the EOS R5 here , let alone rent them (and RF lenses)

"redo the outside deck" Same Project for me as well as front porch. I know the feeling. Fortunately for me I'm an HVAC contractor and can do a lot of other things beyond that. Not much time for fun in the summer for me so that is a fall project. Tell wife you need camera to document work on deck!!

Is there not a place somewhere in Japan where you can rent photo equipment by mail? I've rented from Lens Rentals before. They ship, you use, then ship back. I doubt they ship to anywhere but US and Canada.

re. Your second paragraph, I really don’t know. I speak pretty fluent Japanese, but my reading of kanji (characters) is bloody hopeless. That means for important documents I need to get my wife involved. When it comes to my boys and toys obsession with camera gear, that never ends well!! Up in Tokyo, Osaka Etc I’m sure there are plenty, but as I said, I don’t know the legalese process involved yadayada yada. Japan and paperwork ain’t pretty.....

Gotcha!! :-) Well what ever you decide to do best of luck to you and I'll be watching to see! I enjoyed our conversation Iain!

It has been obvious for years that the future of photography outside highly specialist niches is going to be the MILC - and then in due course what one might call the MLLC or mirrorless liquid lens camera (although that's probably a couple of decades away).

As for spending a wodge of cash on shiny new Canon gear, there are good reasons why you should and why you shouldn't.

You shouldn't because:

1. Unless your work is extremely specialist, it is vanishingly unlikely that your existing EF kit will not do the job;

2. Your 7D Mk. II will work fine five years from now, or ten. It's not all about megapixels, in fact it rarely is apart from high end glossy magazine work and that's only because the picture editor wants to be able to crop savagely;

3. Novelty for its own sake is awfully tedious;

4. Let other suckers, sorry, I mean discerning early adopters, bear the high cost of new stuff and then buy it when it's much cheaper.

You should because:

1. It can be a tax deductible business expense;

2. It's new and you have to have new because it's new;

3. Your hands get cold in the winter;

4. It's your money and what you do with it is up to you.

Frankly I'd wait for the prices to come down. On the other hand, the more people move into Canon mirrorless now the cheaper second hand EF lenses get and that makes me happy, so fill yer boots.

Your list of shoulds make it perfectly clear you don’t think dropping $10K on brand new gear is a sensible idea ;-).

I really can't imagine how you formed that impression...

"Your hands get cold in the winter" Hahahaha!

All good points and well taken but a lot of my work is for magazines. And waiting for prices to come down....how long do you wait....? There's always a (good) reason to wait, as you stated. But sometimes you just gotta take a leap of faith

That's true, and whether to take that leap of faith is a question only you can answer.

That said, buy a 5D Mk. IV today and it will still serve you well at the end of the decade if you look after it. You don't need to spend a fortune on new lenses, and of course the camera itself is not so expensive.

Just because something is new does not mean it is better, although much of the marketing industry is based on the assumption that it is. As has been observed, people would wear a gold-plated dog turd round their necks if they could be persuaded it was fashionable - following photographic fashions is fine and indeed necessary if you want to sell your work, but that simply does not extend to buying fashionable gear just because it is fashionable. Will it give you appreciably better finished photographs - if yes, buy it, but if not don't waste your money.

With all due respect, did you read the whole article? I already own the 5D MK4

The point is that a 5D Mk.IV will serve for many years to come. It is not suddenly defective because a shiny new model has come out, nor because there will not be a Mk.V.

Don't buy expensive kit just because it's trendy, really.

Agree on the 5D4. I’ll keep it happily and use it if/when I need it or just give it to my wife/daughters to use. I have no complaints whatsoever about the 5D4, it just seems to me that the EOS R5 is a much better camera, more so when paired with RF lenses

And I also agree with shiny object syndrome. But believe me, I’m anything but fashionable. Just ask my wife and kids how they feel when I walk out the door with flip flops on, a 4 day growth, a Hawaiian shirt with buttons missing and shorts with half my daughter’s breakfast still on them :)

I don't think he did. I think he was more interested in trying to sound clever. Probably hangs out on DPReview.

If you are buying it for your business, every penny you spend will come back sooner or later. If you buying for your personal enjoyment and money you are going to spend do not make a dent in your finances, then just go ahead and enjoy it. If you may need these money for a rainy day, then delay your purchase till the better times.

Point 1, yes I agree, completely. That's the plan anyway. Point 2, agree again. Who doesn't like new stuff!?! Point 3, my wife doesn't know yet :)

you may be correct about Point 1 and 2 - but I am not sure about point 3. She knows.

"Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way"

- Paul Anka

That’s a lot of rationalization! If you can afford it, and especially if it’s for your business, then sometimes you just have to give into “the heart wants what the heart wants” emotional side. Now, the next question is: do you go emotional or rational when deciding to sell you old gear and recoup a big chunk of the cost?

haha normally I limit articles to about 1,000 words or so. This one topped 1,700 and I could've rationalized a lot more! The plan is to keep all my gear and just hand it down to my daughters and hoe they'll take an interest in photography and join dear old dad out shooting in the future.

One thing to be aware of with the R5, is that RAW files are lowered to 13-bit when shooting highest framerates (High-speed Continuous+, including 12fps) on the R5. It is the same for many other high resolution cameras, but your 7DII (and the R6) keeps it at 14 bit even at highest (mechanical shutter) framerates. If you are shooting with high ISO, 13vs14 bit probably doesn't matter, because dynamic range decreases with higher ISO and the extra bit isn't needed (as I understand). But if shooting at low ISO, it might make a little bit difference in possible dynamic range.
Of course compared to 7DII you still get bigger sensor and higher resolution. But just one of those small tradeoffs buried in small prints of specifications that most doesn't think about.

Still Image Type:
JPEG: 2 compression options RAW: RAW, C-RAW 14 bit (14-bit with Mechanical shutter and Electronic 1st Curtain, 13-bit A/D conversion with H+ mode, 12-bit A/D conversion with Electronic shutter, Canon original RAW 3rd edition) HEIF: 10bit HEIF is available in HDR shooting with [HDR PQ] set to [Enable] Complies with Exif 2.31 and Design rule for Camera File system 2.0 Complies with Digital Print Order Format [DPOF] Version 1.1

Besides that, I think R5 looks like the most interesting mirrorless on the market if you can afford and justify the purchase. It is outside my reach, and I wouldn't like to make the decision for anybody else :-)

Excellent points, thanks for that. Normally, it would be out of my reach too. But I guess a tiny sliver of silver lining in this horrendous year is that I've done absolutely no spending.

Sounds like you should do it but I would STILL wait until a couple of months after it hits the shelves, just to make sure there aren't any gotchas that Canon will fix in the next batch.

Yeah I never dive straight in. Unfortunately, the timing of the release coincides exactly with the start of the typhoon season here in Japan. That's when I make a lot of my sales. So if I waited a few months, I'd likely miss out on this whole typhoon season for shooting. Dive in and regret it later haha!

Really? Why would your sales be better during typhoon season?

because most of my work that sells the most and for the highest prices comes from shooting big waves. The big waves come during the typhoon season

Ima wakata! 🙂 So why don't you have a few in your portfolio? Even on your website, there aren't any on your home page.

1. There are plenty on my website in the Galleries section.
2. I can't put images on my website that I've licensed to external parties.

Enjoy your new gear.
I look forward to reading some write ups from you about it in the future, as your write up of your decision making process was a joy to read.

Very interesting points. I'm currently considering the purchase of the eos 1dx mk3, having sold my mk2 for what I consider to be a a pretty decent sum, some while ago. I was also looking forward to thinking about the eos 5d mk5, until sadly I heard that canon has given up on! Though I understand they have something else in mind, though how good will that be?!! I really don't want the r5 as its pixel count is too high for what I want. The R6 would be a much more preferable option, but I'm reserving a decision until it launches and gets properly tested by independent sources and will definitely not be making any decisions until the end of the year. The 1dx mk3 will probably come around September. Even that model isn't perfect, though one might think for its price, it should be! Mind you, in my opinion, it's still way out as the best dslr and hybrid overall that we'll see some while to come.

Yes I was also strongly considering the R6, too, until I saw the sensor was 20mp. That's just too small for "my" needs, and is one of the main reasons I wanted to move on from the 7D2. 47MP seems like a nice in-between of the 5D4's 30MP and the Sony a7R4's 60 something MP

Hi Michael, I too am looking at the R6 and also delaying until the end of the year. Difficult to justify the R5 at this stage and the required infrastructure to fully utilise its potential.

The RF system is still very new. In 2 or 3 years there may be some great lenses from Sigma or Tamron that are great and much cheaper. Also, I would compare your current lenses to the new ones. I usually go into a camera shop with my camera and tripod, and do a lens test with my existing lens and the potential new lens. Are they all that much better than your existing ones to be worth purchasing? The last thing I would consider is the Low light sensitivity performance with an F 11 Lens. Do you shoot very high shutter speeds? How fast of a shutter speed will you be able to get away with at F11 and the highest ISO you are willing to accept? It seems like high ISO performance would be very important for this type of photography, since you probably need at least 1/1200 shutter speed.

all excellent points, and I weighed them heavily in my head. I also own a bunch of Tamrons and Sigmas and love them. Zero complaints at all. I'll keep using them with an adapter. As for the 800mm, I agree with all your points. Of all the lenses I'm interested in, it's actually the cheapest at about $899. This from the Canon blurb "An Optical Image Stabilizer helps to minimize the appearance of camera shake by up to four stops to better enable working in low-light conditions and with slower shutter speeds." made me think "ahh bugger it, it's been a crap year, just take a chance and hope it's a thing of beauty" or a paperweight haha!

You have a specific use case related to your work so it seems completely reasonable. Plus you can sell the kit you won't be using to offset some of that cost... plus the write off, which someone else mentioned. Over the life of the camera and the work you do this makes sense.

But there are a few other considerations as well which are not so obvious. Having new kit can light a fire under you creatively because you just recommitted to your path. It's easy to get stale doing the same old thing and having a piece of kit extends your ability to get that perfect shot. I know people always say it's about ability and craft but for something like surfing there's nothing you can do to get closer and get more frames. That extra frame and focal length might get that expression as the surfer comes tumbling down.

I have a few regrets in my work and one of them is not investing in the best equipment early on in my career. I took such risks to put myself in unique situtations only to capture less than good material. I didn't give the experience my full measure. And yes a function of this was my inexperience but it's also, I should've had a longer lens, a faster lens, higher resolution, a camera that doesn't overheat etc. I owed the situation the very best image I could capture and in many cases I failed.

I look back on some of my first 35mm film work and see how soft the images are because I bought really cheap slow lenses. How I wish I could go back and change that.

For those working in unique environments it's worth considering how valuable 8k archive footage will be in the future.

yeah that's a great point. No matter how much we love photography, we go through grinds and funks. Having a totally new system and potential possibilities has me feeling like a 3.yo on Xmas morning, right now.

Great article and excellent advice from your father. However, others have advised you wait until prices come down and that may be good advice. If your only qualm with the 7D2 is the pixel count when you crop, check out the app: "Topaz AI Gigapixel". You can enlarge images significantly with absolutely no loss of detail and, in fact, the result may look better than the original. So, this may be a great temporary solution to allow you to keep your existing gear and be very happy with it. Whatever you decide - all the best.

Great info, thanks! I'll look into the Topaz software, most definitely.

Go for it. Enjoy it. Write a follow up in a year’s time about how it was the best decision of your working life. 👍

I love your sanguine outlook. Let's hope so!

LOL. Dave has some great advice too.


I would let other people test a completely new camera before purchasing it.


Excellent article. As you said, life shouldn’t be simply about rational choices. Who wouldn’t love to be be in a position of having 10K to spend on shiny new gear? Especially when not at the detriment of your financial situation. Enjoy your new purchases!!!

Thanks! This year has shown us many things, including the reminder that life will always be unpredictable. As long as I'm not spending my daughters' school uniform money, then go out and enjoy it, I think. I can't take the camera gear with me when I die, but I can give it all to my daughters. That in itself played a factor in my decision making :)

as long as ur responsible and living within ur means (which seems u are), if u can afford this new gear, i say go for it and enjoy the hell out of it.

especially with the lessons we are learning from this pandemic, we r not promised tomorrow and life is fleeting. live with no regrets my friend

Exactly right. My father, as I mentioned, is a perfect example. He worked his bum off for more than 50 years and barely spent a penny on himself. Now he's stuck in a bed for the rest of his days and can't get to enjoy the fruits of his labour. It's a sobering lesson but one I'm heeding well - work hard, save for the betterment of your family's future, and spend on yourself if and when you can :)

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