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.

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Previous comments
Iain Stanley's picture

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.

Malcolm Wright's picture

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.

Michael Dobson's picture

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.

Iain Stanley's picture

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

Vincent Quantinet's picture

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.

Adam Hynes's picture

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.

Iain Stanley's picture

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!

nigel walker's picture

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.

Iain Stanley's picture

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.

Dan Friedman's picture

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.

Iain Stanley's picture

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

John Nixon's picture

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. 👍

Iain Stanley's picture

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

hey ab's picture

LOL. Dave has some great advice too.


Dan Donovan's picture

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

Vincent Quantinet's picture

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!!!

Iain Stanley's picture

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 :)

John Tran's picture

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

Iain Stanley's picture

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 :)

Lukasz Szeflinski's picture

For 10k you would have Sony with fantastic much sharper lenses than canon rf, battery life and smaller size. Waste of money tbh.

Chris Charles's picture

A lovely read Iain. Its nice to get a glimpse of your personal perspectives, that weigh on all of us & have a big impact on the decisions we make.

When you say that you will miss the reach of APS-C vs FF & will have to use an extender, bear in mind that the pixel pitch of the R5 is very close to that of the 7D2, & you will have almost the same number of pixels describing your subject with the R5 as with the 7D2, just more cropping room, better IQ, higher frame rate, etc,

So splash out & tell us how you get on:
How does IBIS work with EF IS lenses?
Which works best: (R5+EF-RF adaptor+ EF extender+ EF lens) or (R5+RF extender +RF-EF adaptor+ EF lens)?
How does the EVF latency affect surf photography?

Iain Stanley's picture

Cheers Chris. You make very good points re. 7D2 and I took all that on board but your last points describe the things that swayed me. Where I live is very rural, which means many of the vantage points to big wave locations (my bread and butter) are simply not accessible. I have actually taken a scythe to some bushland areas to cut out hideaway spots to shoot from but they're still a good distance across the bays. If I didn't need the cropping factor (extra MP) and the frame rate, I think I might have held off or gone for the R6.

But I'll definitely keep you updated and abreast of my experiences - as objectively as I can!

S Tamminga's picture

Very nice evaluation. However, I don't understand one thing : you don't want to go for the Sony because you don't want to switch ecosystem, but then you do that anyway by switching to Canon R. Why not consider the Sony then as well, which also comes with the new best-in-class subject tracking, which is very useful in your surfing photography?

Iain Stanley's picture

Mainly because I’ll probably keep all my old Canon gear and lenses and get the Canon adaptor. I could go a Metabones etc but I also thought the a7r4, which looks like a brilliant camera, was just a little too much at 60 something MP. 47MP on the EOS R5 is just about right, I think

John Gambriel's picture

I am in much the same boat as you. 7D M2 Shooting primarily with the 60-600mm Sigma and a 28-300mm Tamron for Wildlife. I was NOT happy when it became apparent that Canon was NOT going to continue the line. I pre-ordered the R5 (Body Only) and hope to get it in the next day or so with the EF to RF adapter. Very excited about the Human/Animal eye tracking and my first foray into full frame. I will likely rent the RF 100-500mm with the teleconverter to see if the IQ is better than the 60-600mm and may also rent the new teles I have a Sigma TC 1.4 for use with the 60-600 as well. Cost of the equipment was a big price tag but the newer memory cards/reader is no small investment either. I can appreciate your father's advice...I had a six-way cardiac bypass with a side of valve replacement last December and, although I am fully recovered, my appreciation for life and all its entanglements has significantly risen. Have fun stretching your boundaries...as I will.

Iain Stanley's picture

Glad to hear you're well now! I'm actually looking forward to comparing the EOS R5 with 800mm and the 7D2 with my Tamron 150-600. I think I'll also get an adapter just to keep in my back pocket

Rob Gatson's picture

I already have the 800/11 in my hands, although im using it with an EOS-R, and I can tell you it works flawlessly. yes it is for outdoor bright light, but the image quality is phenomenal. I had considered getting the 100-500, but ive been using a Sigma 150-600 on my R since I got the R (and used it on my 5D before), and the image quality and focus is so good, I cant imagine the 100-500 being much better, and its faster than the 100-500. But that 800 for the price is magical.

Iain Stanley's picture

Excellent to hear your positive experiences. Yeah, the 800mm defo won't be for dark, fading light photography, but I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what it can do in the middle of the day when I shoot typhoon waves

Alfred Anheier's picture

Interesting dilemma, having money to burn... Anyway, my only comment is that the 800mm is a fixed aperture, and that with the extenders you lose 1 fstop for the 1.4x and 2 fstops for the 2x extender, turning that f11/800mm into a f22/1600mm. If you always have plenty of light, it might not be a problem.

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