Today was a real treat, we were visited by Canon Senior Professional Market Specialist for Field Market Support Jim Rose with the much anticipated Canon EOS 5D Mark II.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Let’s answer the big question on everyone’s mind:
This is the best camera Canon has every built. Jim Rose
I got the opportunity to play with the 5D Mark II and photograph with it. Long story short: it is very much worth the wait. It may seem arrogant and perhaps even premature to say, but I do believe the new 5D Mark II will reestablish Canon as the market leader. This couldn’t have come at a better time after the focus issues with the 1D Mark III and 1Ds Mark III has caused a lot of headache and bad blood between Canon and Canon loyalists, but the 5D Mark II brings some light to what has been a very dark tunnel of despair.
On paper, the 5D Mark II sounds very impressive: 21.1 MP, UDMA support, 1080p HD video, ISO up to 25,600, a 3 inch LCD with 922,000 pixel resolution for about the same price as the 5D Mark I when it was first introduced. In my hands, it is very well constructed and feels quite solid, but not quite the same build quality and durability as the 1D/1Ds series bodies as others have mentioned.
Jim Rose was discussing how low noise is at ISO 6400 and when the staff photographers at San Francisco Chronicle (they have two on order BTW) saw the images at ISO 6400, their jaws dropped. Jim was discussing how even George Lepp (of the famous Lepp Institute of Digital Imaging) was very impressed and said that ISO 6400 on the 5D Mark II is very usable. That’s a very nice seal of approval. At ISO 12,800 things start getting a bit noisy, but not terribly bad. By ISO 25,600, things are quite noticeable noisy, but if this is the only way to get a shot, it is still usable. According to Jim (not Canon’s official stance), ISO 3200 on the 5D Mark II is comparable to ISO 800 on the 5D. I was allowed to fire off some shots on my memory card with the 5D Mark II and the images are very nice with very low noise. Unfortunately, despite being a production camera and not a prototype, I am not able to publicly post the pictures at the time (they are posted but password protected but I’ll remove the password after the 5D Mark II starts shipping).
The 1080p HD video feature of the 5D Mark II is very, very nice. You can record up to 12 minutes of video and take stills while recording. How that works is while you are recording, you just press the shutter button as you would if you were taking a picture and it will pause the recording, take the picture (or pictures) and then resume recording. You lose half a second of video for each photo taken during recording. So if you are recording a video and three minutes into recording, you snap a picture, half a second later the recording will resume resulting in a single file, and not split video files with the thirty second skip where the photograph was taken. Very cool! Also Canon recommends that you prefocus before you start recording although you can auto focus while recording (by pressing the AF-On button), it is very slow because it uses the Live View contrast detection auto focus. Another thing to note is that you can only record videos in Aperture priority mode. You select the aperture, the camera will select a shutter speed and auto set the ISO to maintain a constant consistent shutter speed. You can also dial exposure two stops up or down. You also need a UDMA card to take full advantage of the HD video recording.
The back LCD is stunning and breath taking. At 3.0 inches with 922,000 pixel resolution, checking for sharpness has become so much easier. The images displayed on the LCD are very stunning. Also the viewfinder has been redesigned and is definitely brighter than my Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II viewfinder.
Jim has been with Canon for more than eight years, since the start of megapixels (i.e. Canon D30) and this is the first camera that he is really excited about and believes that it is “going to re-energize Canon”. Jim also speculated on the 1D/1Ds line as it was asked about it’s future considering that Nikon has moved in full frame, which I won’t post as it is all speculation. Jim also mentioned the 5D Mark II should sell very, very well considering how many people want the ultimate in megapixels but couldn’t afford or justify the cost of the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III. This is certainly a good thing because I think the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III, while is a spectacular SLR, it is not worth $8,000. It’s worth $5,000 and that is where they are selling used for now (and in some cases even less). Once the new Nikon D3x is released and priced around $5,000, I’m sure Canon will no longer be able to justify pricing the 1Ds at $8,000.
So is it worth it? Yes. Am I getting one? No. I’m waiting for the the new Canon EOS 1Ds Mark IV. I love the ruggedness, durability, and auto focus. Adam Tow is thinking of downgrading from his Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II and Canon EOS 1D Mark II to two Canon EOS 5D Mark II because of the size and the HD video options.
I also forgot to mention:
Adobe CS3 DOES NOT support Canon EOS 5D Mark II RAW files. It also appears that there will NOT be an update for CS3 to fix this and you have to either buy CS4 or convert the Canon RAW to DNG.
The shutter on the 5D Mark II is very, very quiet. I was quite shocked, it sounded almost 25% quieter than my 1Ds Mark II.
Political Photography Part II: Jared Polis
Adam and his wife, Rae, went to Colorado to photograph the last week of his high school friend’s campaign for Congressional seat in Colorado District 2 before the elections. Jared Polis is an internet entrepreneur having started Blue Mountain, ProFlowers, and Fuser which he sold all off during the height of the dot com boom making millions. Jared is also founder of the New America Charter Schools. Jared has been campaigning for a year and half for this two year term. Adam spent a week following Jared around as he campaigned at Park-N-Rides, Honk and Waves, Meetings, Halloween and Farmer’s Market, Canvassing, and finally Election Day.
Adam packed his Canon EOS 1D Mark II and Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II with the following other items: Canon EF 28-70mm f/2.8L USM, Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L USM, Canon 1.4x Extender, Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, Canon Speedlite 550EX, and a Gary Fong Lightsphere. He found he was primarily using the 28-70mm on his 1Ds Mark II and 135mm on his 1D Mark II.
Adam’s daily workflow:
- Shoot in the morning
- Select, rate, process in Apple Aperture 2 and upload photos to SmugMug
- Recharge batteries
- Shoot in the evening
- Repeat steps 2 and 3
Reason Adam does the post processing in the afternoon rather than the evening is he figured he wouldn’t do it in the evening.
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