Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm loving this thing.

I have to admit that I am just loving my new 5D Mark II. The pictures in this post were just shot yesterday in an adhoc fashion using my 580EX II as filler. The post processing was minimal on these. All I did was do a minor tweak on exposure due to my error. But there was nothing done to colors or sharpness. What this camera produces is just amazing.

I also have to give a plug for the shutter sound of the 5DII. As I mentioned in my 5D Mark II First Impressions article these are quiet and smooth. When I would shoot my dogs with my 40D (while its a great camera) due to the louder shutter the dogs would get distracted and stop being my wife calls it. With the 5DII the quiet shutter made it possible to take shots without distracting them. In essence they did not realize I was taking shots and kept doing what they were doing. I can see how this would be a tremendous benefit to wedding and event shooters.

Well, I'm sure I will have a lot more to say about the 5DII but wanted to share this experience with everyone. I'll continue to keep you posted as to how things turn out.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Lighting Lesson

Well, I learned a lesson about effective lighting recently. I was taking some pictures of my son doing some Christmas Caroling with his Cub Scout Den at a local nursing home and assumed I would need a flash. There were two errors in my thinking...which I will get to later.

Having used crop bodies for years now, with a ceiling ISO of 1600 or so, I slapped on my 580EX II flash and configured my settings appropriately. I was convinced that given the dark situation there was no way to get shots without the flash. With my 40D this is a true statement, at least without unacceptable image noise.

Okay, so you see one of my errors in thinking, that I had to have the flash. I was forgetting that I was now shooting with my 5D Mark II, a camera I have discussed here previously and one that has much superior low light abilities to the crop bodies I have been using. In retrospect, with the 5D Mark II I should have 86'ed the flash and cranked up the ISO.

In shooting with the flash, one I am comfortable using, I realized after the fact that I was shooting down which caused the flash not cast evenly out across the halls and large rooms we were in. So the nearest part of the shot was over exposed and the back underexposed due to the angle of the flash.

So what did I learn???
  1. Keep in mind what camera you are using and shoot for that camera. If I had remembered the 5D Mark II's capabilities I would have not used the flash and gotten much more natural exposures.
  2. Thought about how my light was reflecting. Even if I had used the flash no matter what I would have adjusted the angle to best cover the space I was shooting.
In the end my lesson is to pay attention to what equipment I am using and what conditions I am shooting in. I was able to adequately fix all the pics in post processing but getting it right the first time is always best.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

5D Mark II First Impressions

Well, I have had the 5DII for about a week now and gotten to go on a couple shoots with it. Below is a quick list of thoughts after using it for a bit. This is not a review, there are plenty of those by people far more qualified than myself.
  1. Size & Weight: It is larger and heaver than my 40D. However, as I like a larger body size this works for me. I still added a battery grip and find the 5DII to fit my hand the best of any Canon I have used in years. My xxD bodies fit will but this one is just outstanding.

  2. Feel: It has a nice feel to the touch than my 40D. The covering feels softer and higher grade for lack of a better expression.

  3. Menu System: I know it is different than the 40D but not enough to make using it difficult. Now that the 5DII has a my menu I have what I need at my fingertips just like in my 40D so the learning curve was very small.

  4. Back Buttons: Ok, this is one of the biggest learning curves for me. Having the buttons below the screen on the 40D for the past 18 months I have gotten used to having them there. It is taking some getting used to having them on the side. I know when I pull out my 40D I will be going to the side instead of the bottom. My wife just laughs at me as I make a "Doh" sound every time I go to the wrong spot.

  5. Back Screen: Absolutely fantastic. I never thought the 40D screen (or any previous Canon DSLR screen) was bad until I got my hands on this one. It presents a crisp and clear image that when magifying allows for precise knoweldge of focus accuracy. This is turning out to be a pleasure and having used it with Live View while doing some night photography it has finally converted me to the value of Live View. On the 40D I didn't use Live View as the back screen made the image look drab.

  6. Top Screen: Seems a little larger than my 40D's and some of text is different sizes. But on the whole it is similar and consistent with what I am used to. The only thing that gets me is the backlight button is now on the right when I am used to it on the left. I think I can live with that. :-)

  7. Shutter Sound: Notably much quieter than the 40D. I see that as having huge benefit for event shooting when you don't want to draw attention to youself.

  8. Shutter Button: Very smooth, almost a buttery feel to it. Very easy to press and helps promote a smooth motion which helps promote better technique and more a squeeze versus press (which can lead to increased camera shake) method.

  9. Battery Life: As expected it is great. I like having the meeter which tells me the level for both batteries in the grip. As a bit of a worrier about power this gives me more confidence when I'm out. But that could just be me and my paranoya.

  10. ISO Performance: The ISO performance is fantastic on this camera, it is worth upgrading for this alone. Below are links to some posts I've done for a few quicks tests to show the high ISO performance. Take a look, I think you'll agree that the 5DII is usable up to 6400 at a reasonable print size.
Person High ISO Test
Flag High ISO Test
Ladder Joint High ISO Test

These are just my impressions and as I said not scientific in any way. They are just hte opinions of some guys that likes to take pictures. Let me know your thoughts as well, I would love to see what others think of the 5DII.

Have a great one.

5D Mark II ISO Test - Part 3: Ladder Bolt

Ok, here is the final set. This is a 100% crop of the stair joint on a ladder laying in the horribly lit hall I mentioned in the first installment. This time I got smart and expanded the range to start at 1600 to give you even a better feel for the capabilities of the 5DII. Enjoy and as always, let me know what you think.

ISO 1600:

ISO 3200:

ISO 6400:

ISO 12800:

ISO 25600:

Previous Installment: 5D Mark II ISO Test - Part 1: Person
Previous Installment: 5D Mark II ISO Test - Part 2: Flag

For my first impressions of the 5DII take a look at the 5D Mark II First Impressions Post.

5D Mark II ISO Test - Part 2: Flag

Ok, here is the second set I took last evening. This was an American Flag with all conditions mentioned previously being consistent and the images being 100% crops.

ISO 6400:

ISO 12800:

ISO 25600:

Any thoughts?

Previous Installment: 5D Mark II ISO Test - Part 1: Person
Next Installment: 5D Mark II ISO Test - Part 3: Ladder Bolt

For my first impressions of the 5DII take a look at the 5D Mark II First Impressions Post.

5D Mark II ISO Test - Part 1: Person

Well last night I was in a large hall taking some candid shots of my son's Cub Scout meeting. This hall is one of the worst shooting situations I shoot in as the lighting is horrible, its dark and the walls have the most God aweful color on them. I always shoot with a flash in this enviornment as a means to compensate for the innate challenges, however, I thought that this time I would give it a shot at high ISO with my 5DII. Below is the first set of what I found.

All these shots were done with my 5DII with 24-105 f/4 L with no post processing, just a conversion of the RAW file to JPG. The EXIF is in tact if you want to review as well. The only changing variable was ISO which as you will see impacted shutter speed. Note: all pics are 100% crops.

(Please Note: the shutter speeds would get a bit lower than the IS on the 24-105 L could compensate for so please be forgiving of any lack of sharpness. Normally my 24-105 L is a very sharp lens.)

ISO 6400:

ISO 12800:

ISO 25600:

So what do you think?

Next Installment: 5D Mark II ISO Test - Part 2: Flag

For my first impressions of the 5DII take a look at the 5D Mark II First Impressions Post.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Radio Poppers

Well the new Radio Poppers have been announced. Anyone interested in wanting ETTL without the concerns of line of site will be interested in these. Check out the video below for a review or go to the Radio Poppers Blog for details.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm just giddy...

This will be a short post, but I just had to tell everyone that my new Canon 5D Mark II arrived today with the BG-E6 grip and an extra battery. Thanks to Paul at Calumet Photo in Chicago for getting it so soon after release and thanks for shipping it to me in Florida while I'm on business. This way I get to play with my new toy without waiting until the weekend.

Below is a quick pick of the boxes. I'll post some body and sample pics once my batteries finish charging.