If a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is thirty pictures per second, does that mean a one minute video is worth 1.8 Million words?
For as long as I can remember, I've wanted an awesome camera. While I'm no pro, and don't intend to be, I think I fall squarely into the category of "enthusiast."
But it wasn't until I attended a meetup for Cliff Ravenscraft in 2014 that I really understood the value of a high-end camera. Up until then, I'd been satisfied w/ cell phones (don't judge), and point and shoot cameras.
I remember buying a brand new Canon back in 2004(ish). I paid $400 for it, it was about the size of a deck of cards, and it shot with about 4 megapixels. I thought I was hot shit. Then, before Ashley and I went to Costa Rica, I purchased a Nikon L820 with a 32x zoom.
Again, I felt awesome.
But in a dimly lit back room of the iFratelli restaurant in Grapevine, Texas, Cliff let me use his Canon 60D to take pictures. So in one hand I held my L820, and in the other, his 60D.
The difference in picture quality was staggering!
Point & Shoot vs DSLR
Some of you photo pros out there will laugh at this section (or skip it), but I think it's worth including. I didn't know why anyone would spend $1000 or more on a camera until I saw what you're about to see.
Like most point and shoot cameras, the L820 is great when there is plenty an abundance of light. On sunny days or inside with all the lights turned up to bright, you can take some pretty awesome pictures.
For example, here's a photo of Jeff Goins and me taken with my Nikon Coolpix L820 with a 20' window behind the photographer:
Even in the middle of the afternoon with a huge window for light, you can still see some shadows, especially on our shirts. However, if the lighting isn't just right, you get something like this:
The technical specs for both of these photos are f/3.4, ISO 180. I only barely know what that means, but I do know that an f/3.4 means only a little bit of light makes it into the camera lens. When that happens, people and scenes look very dark.
Notice the difference?
This picture was taken with $450 Sigma lens with an f-stop of 1.4. I don't know the exact calculations, but the amount of light that lens lets in is exponentially more than with an f/3.4.
Putting aside the technology for a moment, I want to point out that even though I didn't have the greatest camera back in 2013, I was still out there taking pictures. They might not have been perfect, but I still took them.
While attempting to build a business, grow an audience, start a blog, etc., too many people wait until they have everything "right" before they get started. Instead of doing what they can with what they have, they wait. And, while they're waiting, the moment ends and the opportunities pass them by.
Don't let that happen to you.
Why Did I Buy the Canon 80D?
I've been wanting to do more photo sharing and video in my business for years. Though it was mostly an excuse, I felt hampered by the lower end technology. Though I did what I could with what I had, I wanted to do more. And, I wanted to do it with the best-possible equipment.
After seeing the drastic differences between my Nikon L820 and Cliff's Canon 80D, I was convinced of the value of an expensive camera. I mean, that thing didn't take one bad shot! Since most conferences and meetups are held in dimly-lit rooms and restaurants, and some even after hours, I knew that a point and shoot camera wouldn't cut it.
That said, it was almost two and a half years before my business was in a position to purchase a $1500 camera kit. So I waited.
During that time, Canon released the 70D, and then the 80D in the middle of 2016. The newest version of the camera included a swiveling touchscreen (so you can turn it around to face the front), wifi, and a whole host of other options that techies like me love.
I also wanted the ability to swap out lenses. In addition to the lenses I purchased with the camera (details below), I purchased a f/1.8 lens that does amazingly well in low-light conditions.
Isn't that picture incredible?!
The answer is "yes, yes it is!"
More Than I Need?
While I admit the Canon 80D has way more features, settings, buttons and dials than I know what to do with, I still wanted to buy the best. I figured that I'd rather have the best camera and only use part of its features than have a mediocre or mid-range camera (not necessarily the same thing) and use all of its features.
Plus, I've also learned the valuable lesson that no tool is used solely for the task for which it was purchased. Even a simple hammer evolved to have a crowbar tool on the back. Therefore, whatever tool I buy has to be of high quality and have the ability to do more than it was designed for.
My philosophy is to buy the best product I can, buy it once, and move on to the next thing.
What's in My Pack
So, what all did I get? What equipment and gear do I carry with me?
Ok, here's the fun part. This is where I share all the goodies I got to go with my new camera.
Canon EOS 80D
This is the mack-daddy of digital cameras. Before you go up to the professional level, the Canon EOS 80D is as good as it gets.
Lens 1 - EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
The EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II is a great basic lens. It's so good (and basic) that it came with the bundle I purchased.
Though it doesn't let nearly as much light in as the EF 50mm f/1.8 I mention below, it does allow you to get closer to the person or object you're photographing.
Lens 2 - EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM
This is the lens they let you play with in the store. The EF-S 55-250mm is great for basic zooming and showing off how good the Canon cameras are at a distance of about 50 yards (that's about the furthest I could test in the store). As with the 18-55mm lens, this one is best for well-lit areas.
While this isn't a telephoto lens by any means, the EF-S 55-250mm does a great job of taking pictures up to about that 50 yard mark.
Lens 3 - EF 50mm f/1.8 II
I purchased this lens solely for taking photos in low-light conditions. While it doesn't let in as much light as the f/1.4 Sigma lens I used on Cliff's camera in 2014, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II is about $325 cheaper.
While this lens performs amazingly well in low-light, it does zoom in on the object a fair amount. And, since it's a fixed lens, you can't zoom in or out.
Lens 4 - EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM
Also known as a "pancake" lens, the EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM got added to my list of lenses because it's better at low light than the lenses included with the kit, and has a wider angle than the EF 50mm.
This lens, however, does NOT have image stabilization. As with the 50mm above, this is a fixed lens without zoom capabilities. However, neither of those things are necessarily drawbacks for amateur photographers.
Add-Ons & Accessories
As with any major purchase, there are other accessories you can buy to make your life easier. I got this 32gb memory card (which I'll probably replace with a micro SD card and adapter so I can use all of the cards I have for my GoPro HERO5), an extra battery, and this camera bag (but I'm not thrilled with it - I don't want a bag that screams "there's a camera in here, steal me!").
I also decided to upgrade my tripod to something more sturdy and capable of carrying the heavier 80D which weighs around 2 lbs without a lens. To meet that need, I purchased the Sunpak Ultra 7000TM. I haven't had any issues with it so far, but I've only had it a few days. I also like that it has a removable monopod.
Does the Canon 80D take good pictures?
I'll let you decide =) Here are some images I've taken over the past few days using different lenses. Where I could, I've labeled the lens I used. Click on the image to open the full-sized shot in a new tab.
It's really no question whether or not the Canon 80D takes amazing pictures. We really don't have to wonder if you get a great camera for your money.
But is the Canon EOS 80D something you should buy?
Regardless of my decision to buy, I think the answer is "yes, you should buy an 80D."
Most of us aren't likely to buy very many cameras during our lifetime. Some people even keep a camera longer then they keep a car. Since you're probably going to keep whatever you purchase for a very long time, you should buy the best one available.
I look around my office and I see things I've had for 10 years or more. My habit of buying the best and holding onto it has not only served me well, but I think it has saved me a lot of money over time.
Humans have incredible vision that's linked to memories, feelings, emotions and our history. Early humans drew on caves so they could pass stories from one generation to another and show their kids what life was like when they were their age. Fortunately for us, we have the Canon 80D.
For your convenience, here's a complete list of everything mentioned in this post: