Do I need to upgrade my Canon T2i (550D) camera?

I’m going through the equipment I need for a future scanning project. I’ve bought a macro lens, a digitizing adapter kit and everything else that I need. But now I’m questioning if I should, or actually need, to upgrade my camera to something better.

My current camera is the old Canon T2i (550D) 18 MP camera from 2010. I’m not interested in moving to full frame. I’ve looked around for both used and new cameras in my area and my options are:

  • Keep the Canon T2i (550D), 18 MP.
  • A used Canon 7D mark II, 20.2 MP, cost around 450-500 USD.
  • A new mirrorless Canon R10 24 MP, cost around 1,000 USD.
  • A new mirrorless Canon R7 32.5 MP, cost around 1,600 USD.

If it wasn’t for this scanning project I would never consider upgrading my camera, my old T2i is good enough for my everyday needs, I don’t even use my DSLR that much any more. But would upgrading the camera to any of the above improve the image quality or make the scanning process easier?

Perhaps setting the correct focus would be easier with a mirrorless camera?

Since upgrading the camera would cost me anywhere between 500 to 1,600 USD and I wouldn’t have that much use for the upgrade other than for this scanning project. I would want a significantly better end result for it to be worth it for me. Any thoughts?

Your sensor is pretty old so modern sensors will have more dynamic range which might help but I don’t think the megapixels will matter that much given that you’re not looking to go beyond the 24/32MP mark. I use both a 16MP & 24MP Fuji APS-C, although I tend to use the 24MP for camera scanning there is very little noticeable difference between 16 & 24MP even using Vlad’s Test Target let alone an actual slide or negative.

I would say that for me mirrorless is so much easier to use for camera scanning though, having come from full-frame Canon. Seeing the actual exposure, zooming in to focus, focus aids such as focus-peaking and the ability to use old (vintage!) lenses from other manufacturers (such as the 55mm Micro-Nikkor that is often recommended on here), even the flip screens that these cameras often have, these all make the job easier. Canon mirrlorless are expensive though whereas s/h 24MP Fuji or Sony APS-C (A6xxx series) are much cheaper to get hold of and work well for this.

I think your money might be better spent on a good macro lens if you don’t have one, you can tell the difference between good and bad macro lenses at 16MP.

Thanks for your reply.

I’ve just done my first test scan with my existing camera, the Canon EF-S 60/2,8 USM Macro lens and Negative Lab Pro. It took some time to get the white balance and colors correct, hopefully I’ll get better and faster at it, but I’m happy with the result of my initial test with a 35mm negative. The result is better than what I expected.

But I’m still unsure about the megapixels and the sensor.

The raw image is 18.0 MP, after cropping I’m left with 14 MP. If I frame the negative better I think I could get close to 16 MP after cropping out the borders. At 100% it looks great, but if I zoom in to 300% there’s noticeable grain.

Would a camera with 28 MP (2 x 14 MP) look the same as my 14 MP photo zoomed in to 200%, or would the increased megapixels and a more modern sensor make it look more like in the 100% grain-wise but zoomed in as the 200%?

If the grains are coming from the the negative film itself, then I assume more megapixels wouldn’t actually make the image appear less grainy or sharper compared to what I’m currently getting?

I suppose one question you can ask yourself is how many pixels do you need. To keep the matths easy let’s say you end up with a cropped frame of 4800 x 3200 pixels then at 300 dpi that’s 16" on the long side, a pretty decent sized print really. I’m not sure aboout that grain, it looks a bit odd to me but maybe try some different negatives with different subject matter and see how it looks in darker tones maybe (i.e. lighter parts of the negative). Is the original negative well exposed?

The good thing is that you can see this ‘grain’ but a more exacting test of the lens and the alignment of your setup would be if it is still there towards the corners. It would be an exceptional lens that held centre sharpness right into the corners but some lenses fall off noticeably.

On the face of it I’d say that was a good result.

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