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Upgrading From The Most Popular Real Estate Photography Camera

Published: 28/02/2013
By: larry

The Canon 5DMkII is the most popular real estate camera used by readers of this blog (17.5%). The 5DMKIII and 6D have been out for quite a while and the 5DMKII was officially discontinued at the end of last year.

So there are 18% or more of us wondering when we get ready to upgrade which is the best upgrade path? I thought it would be interesting to take a general look at the main considerations and get the advice of the readers that have already made an upgrade.

I know, Nikon people will say I should include the D600 and D800. But we all tend to be trapped in a system by the glass we have. The images I've seen from the D800 are beautiful. If I didn't have all this Canon glass I'd be tempted to move back to Nikon. Perhaps a separate post on this subject later.

The video above goes into all the detail comparisons. Here's how I would summarize the research I've done on the differences between the 5DMKIII and the 6D:

  1. Price: First of all the 6D is close to half (within $300 of 1/2 price) the price of the 5DMKIII.
  2. Image quality: 5DMKIII has better low light image quality than the 6D and 5DMKII. For an actual comparison see this video at 3:50. I've heard people argue that 6D has better image quality because it has a newer sensor but this video comparison indicates otherwise.
  3. Size and weight:  The 6D  (770 grams) is smaller and lighter than the 5DMKIII (950 grams).
  4. WiFi and GPS: 6D has WiFi and GPS built-in and it's optional on 5DMKIII. Frankly I don't understand why it's taken camera manufacturers so long to realize WiFi and GPS should be in every body!
  5. Card slots: 6D has only a SD slot while the 5DMKIII has one SD and one CF card slot.

Ultimately this is going to a price trade-off for each one of us. What is the experience of those readers that have already upgraded to one of these Canon bodies.

28 comments on “Upgrading From The Most Popular Real Estate Photography Camera”

  1. I upgraded to the 5D3 because of the quality at the higher ISOs. Shooting real estate video all ambient it's important to me to have the best quality possible at 1000+ ISO. I haven't played around with the 6D but the 5D3 feels really good in my hands. I like the menus and button locations and it's a very solid camera. Also, I really like having the dual SD/CF card slots - I always shoot to both cards so I have a backup, just in case I have a card crap out on me at a shoot (it happened a couple times on my 5d2).

  2. Why the need to upgrade. If we are strictly talking Photography and not video, and real estate/interiors only then there is absolutely no need to upgrade from say a 5dmkii or a 1ds Mkiii.

    Shooting iso 100-400, lighting the shot, you will not know what image was shot with what camera.
    However i can tell you, i would much prefer shooting interiors with a 1dsmkIII and a 24mm tse MKii, then a brand new d800 with a sub par 24mm pc-e

    Spend your money or more lights, advertising, or education not on a new release body.

  3. I'm with Malia. I switched from a 7D to a MkIII and shooting with higher ISO gives me so much more flexibility. Especially with video and interiors when light is an issue. And it's always an issue for every room changes. Setting up a shot requires less time and I'm way more confident I "got the shot" when I leave. The larger screen makes a huge difference too. Plus, it's bomber. I worry less about taking it into the elements like Dave Dugdale did.

  4. Discussions and comparisons like this are splitting hairs for the most part. All of these cameras are great tools in a professional's experienced hands. Pick your flavor and enjoy. For me, I'm interested in the WiFi feature of the 6D and the Canon apps for tablet / phone integration.

  5. I agonized over upgrading when the mmiii came out. It was very expensive compared to the used market for great condition mkII's and it seemed top offer only slight improvement over the mkII in IQ. Ultimately i chose it because of several things. Here is my list on no order of preference.
    1. Electronic level. Faster than a bubble and visible in the dark.
    2.Silent shutter. The houses don't care but I don't just shoot houses.
    3.AF. Much improved for my non-ststic shots.
    4. SD card allows me to use a WiFi card to shoot to my iPad. I look way cooler to my clients.
    5. Rear screen display magnifies to check focus so much better.

    IQ is the same for all intents and purposes but the color rendering is quite different. Need to be careful when mixing images from the same shoot.

  6. I have to say the biggest reasons were for my non architectural work. Otherwise I would have just gotten another mkII

  7. I am moving over from a Nikon D7000 to a Canon 5D MKII. I wanted to get a full frame camera with the idea of getting a Tilt-Shift lens in the future and better lenses than the current Nikon DX offerings. Either way I was going to have to buy new lenses so it didn't matter if I chose Canon or Nikon. I got interested when the D800 came out (too expensive), then the D600 (dust issues). The Canon Tilt-Shifts seem to have an edge if online reviews are to be believed and the L lenses get consistently well rated. The Canon 5D MKIII (body only) at £2000 vs a new 5D MKII bundled with a 24-105mm L lens for £1700 gives me the basis of a good kit. Now have a second-hand Canon 17-40mm lens for real estate work. The D7000 will now be used only for 360º panoramic work or backup in case it is needed. Two separate kits from two camera-makers might prove annoying, but so far is working out okay. Total upgrade cost for a new body and two decent lenses for £200 more than a 5d MKIII body alone. I may be five years behind, but it is all new gear to me. I will probably add a MKIII in the future once prices fall further or good second hand ones appear on the market.

  8. I'm with Charlie and Malia. I shoot a lot of real estate video as well as a video blog for the areas I market. I joke that the camera can shoot great video in the dark, and it can! I walk out of houses sometimes and just know I got the video. On my 7D, I knew the photography was set, but I never knew on the video. The high ISO's on this thing are amazing! It's like putting a red cape and a big "S" on the front of the lens. Couldn't live without it now that I have it. Charlie convinced me that for the few hundred bucks, and the video reviews comparing both, that the 5D MIII was the way to go.

  9. I love the video on the 5D3 but now that I'm doing more non-RE video work I just invested in the C100. Initially I thought that would be exclusively used for non-RE work but I just used on a property video last weekend (mostly on a whim to see how it would handle interiors) and I have to say that I'm completely blown away. I don't imagine I'll be using the video on the 5D3 for much other than B-Roll and as a 2nd camera for interviews.

    For the naysayers I'll say this: if you don't understand the need to upgrade then you probably don't need to. You'll know when you start hitting the limits of what your current setup can provide.

  10. @ Michael / Josh. I get what you're saying. But with the low light sensitivity, I think I'll sell my lights. And with the audio headphone jack, I know I will only have to capture it once. Another time saver hands down. So as much as one can say you don't need the latest and greatest, I can attest my MkIII is saving me time and money.

  11. I upgraded to the 6D. Image quality is superb. Good big files to work with. and the built in WiFi and ability to frame a shot through your iphone/ipad is priceless for those tight Back-against-the-wall shots. Would appreciate a vertical level as well as horizontal. Other than that its a great choice for the price and I could use the money saved by not buying the 5DMKIII to buy a slider and jib for video shoots!

  12. I am buying a 5Dmk3 today after saying I would since they came out. Its a big decision financially but I am upgrading from my 7D that is over 3 years old and will now be able to use my L series lenses. I have definitely hit the limits of the 7D in low light and I fear I am going to bust the shutter on it shortly. This video was great as I was considering a 6D but now the extra on the 5D seems justified.

  13. I bought the Mark III because my Mark II's shutter count was just under 200,000 actuations (the mirror assembly's only rated to 150,000) and I couldn't afford the downtime. Having two bodies also meant not having to change lenses as frequently (ie. less dust getting to the sensor).

  14. Glass will always trump sensor. Unless your camera is so old as to out of step with current RAW processors, it's more important to improve the quality of the lenses. Your lenses will be with you for the full length of your career! Obviously, if my 5dMii suffered a mechanical failure tomorrow, I'd be getting the Miii, but until then...I can get more bang for my buck with lenses, lighting, and most of all, technique.

    Also, very few of us are really using our cameras to the the full extent of their capabilities. When you've really "maxed out" your camera body, THEN you could think about upgrading.

  15. I agree with Scott. It's the glass that matters the most. Put your money on great glass and you won't regret it!

    I still shoot with a 5DMkII and I still love it! I added Magic Lantern ( a few months back and that has really opened up some very helpful additions. The folks behind Magic Lantern are working on a new version for the 5DMkIII. Once that comes out I might be more interested in upgrading.

    I do have my lustful eyes on a CamRanger ( though! That looks like it will finally ship images to an iPad and control the camera from the iPad without the funky kludges that we've been suffering prior to this.

    For me I've been much more interested in buying add ons that extend the usability of my 5DMkII as apposed to spending much bigger money on an upgrade.

  16. Most of you are light years ahead of me. I'm still using my 5D Mark 1 (The Original). Using L glass.
    Yep, I want the Mark III bad but may just get a new Mark II for around $1,500? I could definitely use the higher ISOs.

    Want vs. Need. A photographer's dilemma.


  17. Video is my issue as well. I'm more than happy with my 7D for photos but as soon as I start shooting video tours, I'm always trying to fix noise in post and bumping up the exposure (too much but no other choice) when shooting because the seller lives like a vampire. It's such an investment for the 5D miii but I guess its worth it, huh? Shooting with a Steadicam, I have to have use auto ISO and when it gets up high, it kills me. What glass are you guys using on it with video? Any other benefits for video other than low light? Not that there needs to be!

  18. I dont do video at the moment, so my main concern when I went to upgrade from my 60D were the features for still photography. I bought the 6D and the MK2 but after some testing I found that I still preferred the 60D for interiors. What did it for me was the flip out screen and the 10-22mm lens. I know these may sound like obscure reasons to stick with a crop sensor camera but (for PFRE) it came down to speed and ease of use. I am so accustom to using the flip out screen that not having it meant I had to adjust the way I had been shooting. I have a 17-40mm L but I dont even use it because I get more out of the 10-22mm and being able to stick the 60D in a corner and still compose the shot. I suspect this will change, however, once I incorporate wireless control of the camera into my set-up...

    I suppose it comes down to what what and how you are shooting... I do know that having used the best glass I could afford right from the beginning, regardless of what body I used, played a big part in the results I got. So +1 on worrying about the glass first, probably some of the best advice I took starting out with all of this.

  19. Like Mike, i´m using the Canon 5D Classic and even wanting or desiring a MkII, mostly for higher ISO, i think this camera is still a good body for PFRE with the proper lenses.
    Like the guy of the video comparison, i think also that having a D60, 7D or a 5D I or II, the upgrade to a 6D or the MkIII it´s difficult to justify in a reasonably way unless you need a second body.

  20. Generally I shoot mostly video with the 7D and was a bit reluctant to upgrade to the 5D3 but about four months ago I upgraded and couldn't be happier.

    I just want to point out a couple of things relative to shooting video, for those that say this wasn't much of an upgrade over the 5D2 and that getting better glass is better than upgrading the body, I disagree. I know that goes against conventional wisdom but when shooting video I shoot as flat and unsharpened as possible in the camera, initially the video from the 5D3 looked much softer than from the 7D but it cleans up SO much better. I can sharpen and ad vibrancy in ways that I couldn't with the footage from the 7D. Being a Full Frame camera the 5D2 was much better at stills than the 7D but I think the video between the two cameras was comparable.

    Not sure what they did, they may have changed sensor size so that it filters much better in a 16x9 video world, whatever they did the image quality improvement for video is significant over the 7D and 5D2 and that was with using L-Glass on both.

    Funny thing is now not only do customers want me to shoot video, they all seem to want me to shoot stills too so I've taken the plunge into strobes and I'me having fun. I'm sure I could have done the same thing with my 7D but the results of both my stills and video are noticeably better which just makes working with this camera that much more fun.

    I have a 60D as well that I don't think Ive taken it out of the bag since getting the 5D3, I still use my 7D. Looks like my niece is getting another camera...

    Richard, that CamRanger looks very interesting.

  21. OK smart peeps (seriously 🙂 ). Here's my situation. I sat on my 30D for a lot of years because I was shooting in a studio using their gear, so I had no reason to upgrade my own equipment. Now I'm out shooting RE on my own, and the 30D paired with my Tamrom 10-24 is just not going to cut it any more. I'm considering the 6D (cost savings is the whole game for me) and the Canon 16-35. I've done the 'buy middle road' glass gig and I'm over it. I don't ever want to see another purple fringe or cyan mountaintop for the rest of my life! Also, if it isn't sharp, throw it off of a cliff.

    Anyway, what are your thoughts on that combo? The wi-fi will come in extremely handy for shots backed into a corner. Plus, I need the quality as I'm about to start shooting multi million dollar homes.

    Thanks for any advice!

  22. @Marvin- I've used a 16-35mm on a 5DMKII and a 1Ds before that and I'm VERY pleased with the 16-35mm. I think it is the best wide angle lens you can buy for the full frame Canon bodies although some like the 17-40mm too.

  23. @Marvin- I just upgraded from the 30D to the 60D and I'll I have to say is WOW! Should have done that a long time ago. The 60D's sensor is a big game changer for me. But I'd suggest the Cannon 10-22 lens on the crop frame 60D. I'm not sure the 16-35 will be wide enough.

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