A new camera means a new incentive, a new enthusiasm to shoot more and most likely, an immediate and substantial upgrade to whatever you might have own before but what it doesn’t mean is being gifted with any additional artistic talent to produce something you may not have been able to create with your previous equipment.
I recently updated from what I normally shot with and when I tweeted that I don’t feel any different or superior by owning it, I meant it. Perched on the tripod that stands in my home office is now a Canon 5D Mark II with a 50mm f/1.4 attached. I didn’t bother contemplating buying the kit lens package because these type lenses are notoriously slow, image quality is average so there was no sense in paying extra for gear that I would barely use or end up selling anyway.
Truth be told, I didn’t need a new camera. Up until this point, any excuse or limitation for not producing a more sizable or meaningful amount of work with the Nikon D90 I owned wasn’t a consequence of not having a “better” camera but like anything else, you kinda have to extract the best from what you have through the time you put into working with it, in learning its intricacies and seeing what comes out of that day-in and day-out usage.
I’m not a professional photographer. I don’t making a living out of taking photos. Everything I’ve accomplished thus far has been on own spare time regardless of the weather, the time of day, the distance to my place of interest or how I might have felt and that alone I believe signifies the commitment I have to continue pursuing photography in spite of whether this costly hobby evolves into anything else or not.
As far as equipment, I don’t think you have to be a professional carpenter to own a top of the line drill but if you do, I assume it’s because you’ve relinquished yourself to using the heck out of it so as to justify the purchase. Whether that was a fitting analogy or not, consider the newly purchased Canon 5D Mark II my drill. My wife might have had her reservations for me spending $2,389 on a camera body alone especially since I don’t have a established business for saying that I needed it but I got away with it by saying that the camera paid itself when I sold all my Nikon gear for $2,000 on Craigslist.
Like anyone else, I had to endure the inevitable lowball offers one get when you choose to sell anything on this site but in the span of 2 weeks and by selling everything individually so as to maximize profits, I walked into Best Buy one evening with cash in hand, paid the difference and walked out with this camera that’s worthy of every praise it’s received.
I’ve owned it for nearly a month now and if I really wanted to minimize the amount of typing and spare you any further reading, I can make the absolute comment that everything each proud owner has said about this camera is true and I would even add that I have no plans of upgrading to anything else anytime soon and that the price tag was well worth the investment despite any trepidation I might have shared with my wife.
I’m well aware that very good camera equipment could potentially last a life time, so on instances where I think it’s important, I’ll pay the premium to own something which I can use for years and years.
I think the reason it’s taken me a bit long to jot down any observations about the camera is because I don’t get a thrill from writing about camera specs or sharing comparisons shots to demonstrate how image quality or ISO range is superior on one piece of gear and not the other. There’s definitely no lack of reviews on the 5DMII you haven’t Googled already, so I find it pointless to break my head trying to sound revolutionary and add another review to the leaning heap.
For the sake of simplicity and my own sanity, I”ll address quickly some random bullet points about the camera, my experience so far and miscellaneous stuff:
On the topic of upgrading to a full-frame camera, I wish I had this long philosophical explanation about why I chose the Canon 5DMII rather the the Nikon D700 but the truth is that I don’t. It really all came down to expense. At the time, the D700 body alone was averaging around $2,550 (before tax) which I was expecting for it to have lowered in lieu of the D800 being announced but the price had not dropped.
On the other hand, the 5DMII dropped $200 5 days later after the 5DMIII was introduced, so I jumped on that deal. Plus, even thought I don’t necessarily shoot a lot of video with my dSLR, I at least wanted to be able to if I needed to which is a feature the D700 doesn’t have. Some people asked why I didn’t consider the Nikon D800. The simple answer is that I don’t need that much megapixels and plus $3,500 for a camera body was way to much for me.
I’m not a camera strap person and that even goes for the popular alternatives such as the Black Rapid or Luma Lab’s Cinch, so I went ahead and bought a Pentax DSLR Leather Hand Strap for the 5DMII. For the type of street work I do, I find it a lot easier to maneuver the camera around as it’s safely secure in my hands and not dangling on my shoulder or across my chest. It’s a strain on your wrist when you’re sporting heavy glass like a 24-70mm but I typically shoot with light primes so the toll on my wrist is minimal.
When I bought the extended battery pack for the D90, I never took it off. The added bulk was never an issue but now the 5DMII is the equivalence in size to the the D90 that I don’t think I’ll be investing in the Canon extended battery pack for the this camera unless I ever feel I need it. In the mean time, I just carry 2 extra battery packs in my bag.
The unfamiliar hollow, low pitched “clonk” or “thud” sound that the 5DMII makes when you press the shutter button is something I had to get adjusted to because if you’ve been a Nikon shooter for most of your time like I was, you would go crazy thinking there’s something wrong with the 5DMII copy you purchased. Truth is that the mirror is bigger, hence the mechanical vibration and audible sound of the shutter. I’m use to it already.
L lenses are ridiculously expensive. I don’t own any yet and not sure if I will but I’ll certainly rent them first before committing to spending that much money on glass that I’m well aware is still well worth the price but the question is it necessary.
Image quality on the 5DMII is all around amazing. Granted I’m shooting with a prime lens which typically render better image quality than zoom lenses because there’s less going on inside mechanically. I shoot entirely in RAW of which you have 3 options to choose from: RAW (21MP), RAW 1 (9.9MP) and RAW 2 (5.2MP). I switch back and forth between the first two.
I haven’t had the chance to test the ISO capability of the camera yet but from what I’ve read and seen, it’s spectacular.
Little nuances like no longer having the on/off switch underneath the shutter button like on the Nikon was something I had to eventually come to terms with. The control layout on the 5DMII was completely unfamiliar to me at first.
The 5DMII has this beautiful large 3.0 LCD display which is obviously great for reviewing your photographs but before I had taken the time to peruse the manuel, the display was constantly leading me to think I was overexposing my shots because it’s brightness or darkness depends too much on ambient light when you have it set to Automatic adjusting. What you see if your eyes are acclimated to sunlight is different than what you see in a dim room, so I would often check the histogram from time to time to examine my judgement and shots. For me, the setting of “3” seems to work best.
That’s all the information I have for now. Needless to say I’m absolutely thrilled with the decision I made in purchasing this camera. Once again, did I need it? Perhaps no because the challenge of capturing meaningful content is still there. I wouldn’t have bought it if I didn’t think I was passionate about photography or serious about what I can do with it but I absolutely am on both accounts.