10 years later. Same DSLR camera. Am I crazy for sticking with it?

Which Camera?

10 years ago,a 19 year old me took the plunge and spent about £500 on a new camera, the Canon EOS 550D. Also known as a T2i and Kiss X4 depending on where you live. Back then that made it one of the single most expensive items I owned!

That was a lot of money to me but in photography terms, it isn’t much at all. Digital cameras can cost between £100 to £2500+.

Canon EOS 550D Specifications:

18 MP APS-C CMOS sensor
DIGIC 4
ISO 100-6400, H:12800
Up to 3.7fps shooting
Full HD movies
7.7cm (3.0″) 3:2 Clear View LCD with 1,040k dots
iFCL metering
Quick Control screen
Ext. Mic socket
Movie crop
1080p Video

You can learn more about all of these features on Canon’s website.

Why did I pick the Canon EOS 550D?

I picked the 550D because it occupies a middle ground between an entry level DSLR like the Canon EOS 1000D and the EOS 7D. 

It meant that without breaking the bank, I could buy an enthusiast level camera. The Canon 550D gives a good taster of pro features. There’s also the added bonus of freeing up some cash to spend on a decent lens too.

What is a good beginner camera in 2020?

If I were looking to get started now, I would have these cameras at the top of my list:

  • Canon EOS 2000D
  • Canon EOS 4000D
  • Canon EOS 250D
  • Canon EOS 800D

You probably noticed I didn’t include other brands, honestly I’ve never used another brand. I can’t comfortably recommend others at this point, but a quick Google search pulls up these contenders:

  • Nikon D3500
  • Nikon D5600
  • Pentax K-70

One thing that is worth keeping in mind when you choose your first SLR is that different brands operate differently. You would have slight differences in settings. Camera lenses would need swapping if you switched brand when you upgrade (unless you buy a conversion lens). As a result you will likely stick with one brand over another for the long-term.

When I purchased my camera my intention was to buy it as a starter camera. I planned to upgrade for more professional shots in the future. I honestly did not expect to be using the same camera 10 years later!

Here’s why I stuck with it…

All I really want from a camera is reliability and great quality photos. This camera for my enthusiast purposes, has continued to provide exactly that.

Maybe I’ve just grown attached to it or maybe I’ve just never been convinced I need to spend thousands on an upgrade.

canon-550d-example-photo-leaves
Picture taken on a Canon EOS 550D with Sigma 105mm F2.8 Macro Lens

Either way here are 6 more reasons I still use it:

Durability

It’s a real warrior, I’ve thrown it in the bottom of a backpack on hiking trips, taken it out in the wind, rain and the dark. It has never failed to provide consistent, detailed images. I’ve never had any technical issues, or any problems with moisture in the screen, all the dials still work as they should, it still feels new!

Battery life

The battery life is solid. I usually get at least half a day of taking still photos on one battery, even now after 10 years of on and off usage.

18 Megapixels is enough for me!

I’ve never been convinced that more megapixels automatically means better photos. You need more megapixels for large prints, to be able to crop photos heavily or perhaps for better noise reduction when you down sample a photo.

Since I’ve produced images primarily for social media such as my Instagram page, or small photo prints, I’ve never felt the need to upgrade. One thing that may change my thinking on this in the near future though, is the continuing improvement of screens on phones and computers. The better the screen the more obvious lower resolution photos become.

I bought a new lens instead

Honestly, any time I’ve actually started to debate upgrading this camera, I’ve ended up investing in a new lens instead. If you’ve got a solid, high-speed lens then you’re going to produce images that look like they should have been taken on a more expensive camera. 

As a matter of fact , I’d bet that the majority of the times I’ve been asked what camera I’m using, there’s an expectation an expensive camera did all that work. Here’s a little secret for you, it was probably the lens!  Liking that nice bokeh, that shallow depth of field? Maybe the crispness and lack of noise in the image? 

canon-550d-example-photo-leaves
Picture taken on a Canon EOS 550D with Sigma 105mm F2.8 Macro Lens

Getting a good lens means you can shoot at a wider aperture, with lower ISO, resulting in less noise. You can isolate a subject more easily by blurring the unwanted backgrounds. The secret to the almost dream -like photos I take of the nature around me is a combination of a prime lens and a wide aperture.

canon-550d-example-photo-birch-tree
Picture taken on a Canon EOS 550D with Sigma 105mm F2.8 Macro Lens

The power of Lightroom

Lightroom is so powerful now that even on my mobile, any noise I do add to the image with a high ISO is easily taken care of. You don’t notice the fix on social media. Perhaps for a big print it would be worth the investment in a better camera. But for screens and small prints Lightroom does an incredible job of removing noise. 

Combine Lightroom with shooting in Raw and you can really pull out the detail and textures in a shot too. 

Here’s a photo I took recently where I’ve used a shallow depth of field for that nice bokeh effect as the light comes through the trees. It was low light in the forest at the time I took the photo, I had to bump up the ISO. I’ve removed the noise in the Lightroom and cranked up the detail in the photo.

canon-550d-example-photo-birch-tree-fungus-horseshoe
Picture taken on a Canon EOS 550D with Sigma 105mm F2.8 Macro Lens

Low cost to replace

I’ve saved the biggest reason until last! I’m an enthusiast, right now I take and share photos because I love it. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and being part of the community. I’m not making a huge profit selling photos, I can’t justify spending a lot of money on insurance, or new cameras. 

The single biggest reason I’ve stuck with this camera is because I don’t need to worry about it being stolen, broken or lost. It would cost me about £200 to replace now. This means I’m not nervous about taking it to a sketchy neighbourhood or have it dangling around my neck whilst I climb up slippery ladders next to waterfalls. If I spent over £1000 on a new camera I’d probably never leave the house with it.

Closing Thoughts

Of course, all of this is not to say I’ll never upgrade. I have a lot to learn and perhaps the more I learn the more I’ll be convinced I need to upgrade.

I started this blog with this article because I want to explore the idea that you can produce brilliant high quality photos, build a community, and even create great photos for print, with less than £500 if you consider the price of the Canon EOS 550D today.

For now though, there you have it, my main reason for not upgrading my camera in 10 years! How does this compare with you? Would you hold on to a camera this long? 

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