My first foray into digital photography came courtesy of the Agfa ePhoto 307, following several years of shooting on Minolta 35mm film SLRs. Much has changed since the brick-like 0.35MP ePhoto 307 was on sale – including what I shoot.
Initially, this tended to be a mixture of street scenes, candids and landscapes, plus producing work assigned on the various film photography courses I attended in evening classes.
Photography became more involved for me when decent DSLRs became affordable and enabled the magazines I wrote for to reduce their budgets for commissioned photography; if an editorial piece didn’t require a lighting rig to be set up by a professional photographer, then jobbing hacks like me were sent off on a story with a DSLR to shoot it themselves.
With a range of Minolta AF and MD glass already in my camera bag, I originally flirted with the idea of going digital via the Sony A-mount and lens adapter route, but Chichester Cameras did me a good deal on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and accessories bundle; having lusted after an EOS 5 during my days shooting film, it wasn’t a difficult sale.
And the 5D Mark III has been a very solid and dependable tool: it is still going strong after eight years, during which I have invested incrementally in Canon’s EOS ecosystem.
My journey with the 5D Mark III has been a productive one: I’ve photographed travel, documentary, street, vehicles, portraits and heritage subjects – and working from home in lockdown gave me the chance to explore still-life and practise studio lighting techniques.
But it feels like the right time to shake things up a bit. Having enjoyed using a Sony A7 III (opens in new tab) and Canon EOS R (opens in new tab) this year, I have no reservations about taking the plunge and crossing over to the mirrorless space.
MPB is the world’s largest digital photography gear resale platform (opens in new tab): it’s the perfect place to find second-hand cameras and lenses, or to trade in old kit to fund new purchases.
Dive into Niall's kit bag
1) Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II
New price: £N/A
MPB price*: £819 (Excellent condition)
Okay, I realise that I’d be better off with a prime lens for shooting scenics and landscapes, but this wide zoom enabled me to shoot vehicle interiors alongside travel images for a number of years and always did both jobs really well. I did consider the EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM at the time of buying this lens, but have never regretted taking the more expensive option of the two.
2) Canon EOS 5D Mark III
New price: £N/A
MPB price*: £809 (Good condition)
Nearly a decade after it launched in 2012, the EOS 5D Mark III is a modern classic, and it’s hard to find any owner who’ll say a bad word about it. More modern connectivity and a rear touchscreen would be nice to have, but the 5D Mark III handles well, and its 22.3MP full-frame sensor produces such terrific images. A great all-rounder that will never let you down.
3) Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
New price: £969
MPB price*: £699 (Good condition)
Having made the odd foray into macro photography over the years, I thought I needed a lens like this. And while this optic produces great images, I haven’t shot as much macro as I thought I would. But the fact that you don’t have to use it strictly for macro – I’ve shot archival work and also portraits with it – means that it’s a lens that I will be keeping in my camera bag.
4) Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II (opens in new tab)
New price: £1,740
MPB price*: £1,299 (Excellent condition)
Widely regarded as a stand-out Canon lens, this standard zoom has seldom been something that I’ll leave at home. It has always produced the goods, doing everything I expected from it – and more. The 24-70mm focal range is at least three lenses in one, while the fast aperture and build quality of this optic make it very dependable when called on. All in all, a great investment.
5) Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM S (opens in new tab)
New price: £1,179
MPB price*: £549 (Good condition)
As a former owner of Canon’s EF 70-200mm f/4L II USM, I always intended to upgrade to its faster sibling. But as this would have required finding a decent chunk of change, the launch of the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM S, for a much lower price, was very welcome news. Yes, this lens is bigger and heavier than many of its peers, but the image quality is superb.
6) Canon XC15
New price: £2,049
MPB price*: £844 (Well used condition)
Purchased so that I could have a pick-up-and-shoot camera for filming video, this 4K camcorder has a 1-inch 12MP sensor and a focal range of 24-240mm in 35mm terms. Easy to use, the XC15’s pair of XLR audio jacks also make it a go-to device for recording interviews. Yes a DSLR or mirrorless can do what the XC15 does, but often you just want a dedicated tool to do a particular job.
* Prices are subject to availability and are subject to change
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II – top-quality standard zoom
New: £879 • MPB price*: £1,299 (Excellent condition)
A standout optic from Canon, its image quality is excellent and the rugged construction is very reassuring while in the field.
Time to trade it in?
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
MPB trade-in price: £620 (Excellent condition)
While this DSLR has served me very well indeed over the years, I think it’s time to switch over to a mirrorless setup and future-proof myself, while there’s still some value left in this old workhorse.
1) Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab)
New: £4,299 • MPB price*: £3,989 (Like New condition)
The obvious step would be to swap one ‘5’ for another. The R5’s 45MP full-frame sensor is also capable of capturing 8K video in a portable mirrorless body.
2) Canon EOS R6 (opens in new tab)
New: £2,599 • MPB price*: £2,229 (Excellent condition)
Less than half the amount of megapixels than the R5, but for an outlay that mirrors that fact. The R6 is even more affordable when bought pre-owned.
3) Sony A7R III (opens in new tab)
New: £2,199 • MPB price*: £1,859 (Like New condition)
This camera is great value – and given that I can use my Canon EF glass on it via Sigma’s excellent MC-11 adapter, it looks even more compelling.