This Canon Gear Is 10x More Expensive, but Are the Results 10x Better?

When you put a Canon 5D Mark IV and an L series lens up against an entry level Canon with kit lens, you're obviously going to get better results with the more expensive option. But are the results 10 times worth the price?

How many different ways can you say that it's not the tools that create the masterpiece, but rather the person using them? A piano doesn't compose a concerto, a typewriter doesn't write a great novel, a camera doesn't make a great photo. The list could go on and on, however, I think we can all agree that, by and large, when you pay more for a certain piece of technology or tool of the trade, you get something of a higher quality with more features and benefits. But are those features, benefits, and results worth the extra price that you pay? And if you pay 10 times more, are your results 10 times better? It's difficult to answer these questions, because results and criteria might be subjective, and one person may have a different standard of grading than another. Be that as it may, The School of Photography's Marc Newton has put a Canon 5D Mark IV paired with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L lens up against an old Canon 1200D with 18-55mm kit lens for your viewing pleasure. That entry level DSLR body has been discontinued in many countries but you can still get an entry level Canon DSLR with an 18-55mm kit lens included for about $400. One thing I must point out is that Newton's video emphasizes the point that the more expensive pairing is $4,000, but the 1200D is only $200, however it should be noted that he's using the price of an old secondhand 1200D model he picked up, which I didn't think was apples and apples.

So, what of the results? Ultimately, whether one set of images is 10 times the quality of the other images will be subjective, and there may be other factors that you look for when you outlay for gear. But do have a look and let me know your thoughts in the comments below. How did the Canon powerhouse stack up to the cheaper version?

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22 Comments

Jared Polin does videos on this subject regularly. In good conditions with skilled photographer you it will be difficult to tell the difference. But, where the 5D and L glass will work in the poor lighting and weather conditions. The 5D and L glass is weather sealed the 1200 is not. Being able to get usable images in the difficult situation has value. Also the 5D and L glass is built for pros and will take a beating and keep working where as the 1200D will fail. Finally the 5D has a higher expected shutter life than the 1200D, all things being equal the 5D will outlive the 1200D.

John Ellingson's picture

I'm with you. I use Nikon and Sigma Sport gear and the weather sealing and durability of the gear is a critical factor on location.

Iain Stanley's picture

Which Sigma Sport lens do you have?

EL PIC's picture

These are improvements although subtle. It’s like a Ford Focus vs a Bentley .. they still get u there.

Jan Kruize's picture

Well..... actually he says buy a cheap camera and our workshops. I think buy the camera that fits you and stay far away from the schoolof photography.This man talks complete nonsense.

Yes, entry level cameras can take great photos. The T5/1200D takes great photos. What you pay for in a more expensive camera doesn't always directly relate to just image quality. You get focus points, focus speed, more buttons for quicker setting changes, better low light performance, more megapixels for cropping, dual card slots, weather resistance, etc.

Iain Stanley's picture

Yes, that’s exactly why I said it’s such a subjective issue. Everyone’s criteria will most likely always be different

Rod Kestel's picture

I had go with an entry level Canon recently (my usual a is 7d). Can't say much about the image quality, but the usability drove me nuts. Sure you'd get used to it but the highest spec cameras are way ahead, methinks.

Iain Stanley's picture

Was it a Canon and Canon? I own 3 Canons from entry level to 7D to 5D and I find the usability pretty similar across the board

Rod Kestel's picture

Yeah those models I agree. I think it was a 550D. The low end models do away with a few of the controls on the back, eg the wheel.

Rick Nash's picture

Canon deliberately segments their camera lines which occasionally creates inferior technology in higher lever cameras over newer cheaper models. Specifically in regards to this article, the 7DII's sensor was inferior to the 80D's sensor. A long tine Canon user with mediocre skills, the better sensor improves the image quality and at times helps me 'find' better subjects as it inspires visualization through the lens. ... not just another soft, lifeless image.

Iain Stanley's picture

Both the 7D and 80D are APS-C format cameras. How does one or the other help you find better subjects?

Kenneth Muhlestein's picture

Why do i keep coming back to fstoppers? Oh yeah, i need a good laugh and ego boost every once in a while.

40 minute video to compare these two set ups? While I appreciate the guy’s enthusiasm and efforts, he loses me when he misstates the 24-105 lens’ FL and then alludes to the iso being “really high” in the first test, 1600 or even 3200. Stopped watching the comedy show after 2:35. Can’t wait for the comparison of the Nikon 850d and an etch a sketch.

40 minutes...wow.
I'll just go with the olad adage that most cameras are better than most photographers.

Gil Aegerter's picture

No good photos were taken before the latest camera came out.

Interesting video. There used to be a vast difference between the low end and high end in terms of dynamic range and noise, but to be honest I haven't picked up a cheap body for a long time now.. One point he got slightly wrong was comparing depth of field, yes the 5d had a slightly lower f number lens but at the same field of view, the full frame sensor will have shallower depth of field. I thought this was evident in some of the images. I also though it was a very static simple shoot with very little challenges. But depending on what photography you do, you can make up you own mind :-)

Michael Jin's picture

Law of Diminishing Returns...

This matter I well-known, and can be explained as a instance of diminishing returns:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diminishing_returns

It typically costs more to increase the quality of a good or service, but these cost increases do not scale in unison with the increases in quality. Thus, a camera-lens combo might cost 10 to produce 2 units of photo value while a second camera-lens combo might cost 20 to produce 3 units of photo value and a third costs 30 to produce 3.5 units of photo value. One spends more to get those last bits of photo value.

Thus the great cost of the Zeiss Otus lenses.

The greatest increases in quality issue from improvements in the base technologies used to produce value. This explains the relative comparability and near equivalence of (allegedly) inferior Canon sensors and of (allegedly) superior Sony sensors. A photographer can take good photos with Canon gear even though that sensor does not perform as well as a Sony sensor.

Iain Stanley's picture

Throw the great big elephant into the mix - the person with the best post-production skills trumps either lens owner....

Photographers take and edit photos. Gear is a secondary problem.

I'd be the same photographer whether I use my 6D or if I were to win the lotto and bought a Phase One IQ4. My editing skills would not change if I also bought a $50K workstation. Sad , but true.

EL PIC's picture

Your cell phone photos would be better if your phone cost 10x more but not 10x better