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

It sure doesn’t happen often, let me assure you! That’s why I’m making the most of it :)

Lyle Mariam's picture

I've already jumped in with both feet and my initial order totaled over $7,000 US. I want to buy two more lenses and that'll set me back another $5K. I'm just parked on the front porch waiting for FedEx to show up! :)

What I've learned is that when you say, I don't need an R5, I'll go with something cheaper but I always end up with buyers remorse and end up buying what I wanted in the first place later. Then I have to sell what I bought initially so in total I spend more than if I would have purchased what I wanted initially.

Iain Stanley's picture

Crack open a beer and get me one. We’ll wait on the porch together!!

Eran Cohen's picture

Hello Sir,

Given your rational reasoning from the article, it seems to me like you should have no doubt.
It is totally worth it for you: In the case in which the new equipment does get you the winning highest quality picture possible, that gives you the competitive advantage - you just got to have it.
The emotional side only preceded the rational side because it's faster, like a kneejerk. You just knew you wanted it, then you understood why.

Enjoy it, and I guess you will see your investment return to you very fast back, and then some.

Mike Ditz's picture

Like a photo teacher I had said to me when I went down a "should I buy this rabbit hole", most cameras are better than most photographers. If you want it and can afford it, buy it...
If your lifestyle is affected after spending $10k, maybe it's not the best idea right now.

Iain Stanley's picture

Yeah good point. I think many people don’t know half the things their cameras are capable of. Fortunately, with all the restrictions around the world right now, I have some spare money saved.

Matt M's picture

I just bought an entirely new system too. I laid out about 20 different options in a spreadsheet and tallied up the final cost of all of them. I had dividing lines - if I went past this price point, I could get a high res sensor. If I went past another price range, I could shoot 4k60. And so on. I ended up going with an a7R4 and the tamron trio. Seemed to be the best mix of capability and value for me. Little to no limitations, a great lens ecosystem, and offered the most bang for the buck.

Iain Stanley's picture

Awesome! I love the look of the a7r4 and it was a tossup between the EOS R5 and that one. Coz I shoot so many high frame rate sequences of surfing, I thought the MP sensor size of the Sony might be a tad too big to deal with in terms of 1,000s of images on consecutive days. But no doubt a great camera. And I love Tamron. Great lenses that just work without any fancy frills. I reckon you made a great choice

Stephen Gatley's picture

Ian Stanley You do know Canon has an insanely good 32 megapixel APSC camera, as a matter of fact they have 2!. The 90D & M6ii the image quality is insanely good why spend $10k to be a beta tester forget that...

John Adams's picture

If you know exactly what tools you need for your type of photography, whatever that is, then there isn't much room left for rationalization or emotions. I mean these things are tools that do specific jobs. There is no place for emotions because I don't see how "emotions" can help you at all. You're not buying a piece of art or something subjective like that.

Desmond Stagg's picture

Wouldn't it be better to save your reserves for darker days? I haven't had a paid shoot since January this year, just surviving off my reserves. I did want to splash out on the new Sony 12 - 24mm GM, but common sense prevailed.
I would love to upgrade my cameras as well with the new A7sIII, but will save the money for the even gloomier days around the corner! You just don't know what the government's around the world are up to!!!!
My present equipment will, when orders come in again, cover my needs admirably!
I know we all love to buy new goodies and I am no exception.

Iain Stanley's picture

I don’t work a lot with individuals, but rather publications and companies. Thus, my work hasn’t dwindled that much, to be honest, because most of my paid work is domestic and hasn’t been affected too much by restricted int’l travel. And darker days? Do they get any darker than these?

Desmond Stagg's picture

re: Do they get any darker than these? Yes, they certainly will. As a journalist I have access to very useful sources.

Mike Ditz's picture

The only photographers I know who are working have editorial clients, in the US that is considered Essential. My work is more B2B or Corporate and they are "starting to think about planning something in the future".
Good that you are working still.

Martijn Kolen's picture

The only thing it this I'm questioning is if you need both those lenses, particularly for the surf photography I'd think the zoom lens and the converter would serve you better than the long prime.

Iain Stanley's picture

This is true. Where I live, however, there are a couple vantage spots to shoot different angles of particular waves that, as far as I know, have never been shot before. They are a fair distance and I’ve always pondered the possibilities. It might be a mistake on my part to get the 800mm to explore them, but I’ll take the risk and hope for the best. Just hope I don’t get attacked by the wild boars and monkeys in the forests!

Boy W Camera's picture

Ian, you have thought this out very well. Take a friend along in the forest and have them carry a baseball bat. That is all I can add.

Iain Stanley's picture

For me or the animals?!? Haha

jean pierre (pete) guaron's picture

When you get round to solving atmospheric haze, drop me a line - I'm shooting a different combo based around my Nikons, to get 1600mm, so that I can shoot a panorama of an island 15 miles of the coastline, here in Fremantle WA - the haze gets me, every time!

Iain, if it floats your boat, do it. I've spent a lot more than that on my gear, but with the exception of a couple of gaps I now have pretty well everything I need. And at my age, it's too late for me to do it all over again, just because they're now promoting mirrorless, where mine is all DSLR. So I'm afraid the only way I'll ever get to appreciate the quality you can achieve is by looking at your photos. And I'll have to be content with what I can produce with mine.

Iain Stanley's picture

Yeah I don’t know any secrets....I’m hoping the clean air down here might help me but I imagine Fremantle is pretty clean and crisp too.....See how we go. And yeah, I’m in my mid-40s and my daughters are 4 and 2. So I felt it was now or never coz my bank account ain’t gonna grow much from here!!