I admit it - I'm a bit of a camera junkie. I've been a photographer for 20 years, and I know enough to know that the camera you use is simply a tool - and that the true skill of photography lies between our ears. However, I just couldn't help myself from getting a bit tight-chested when I saw that Canon had announced their newest camera in their lineup this week - The EOS 5D Mark II.I left the film world behind in 2000, which I gotta tell you, was way too early - I was shooting 640x480 onto floppies way back when, and the pictures looked like crap. But ever since I got the 3 Megapixel Nikon 990, I've been hooked on digital. I have 11x14 prints taken by that camera, and a few are still my favorites, like the one on the right, "Buttes as a Storm Approaches, Monument Valley, AZ". I've upgraded a few times since then, both in point-n-shoots, as well as in workhorse DSLRs - first the EOS 10D, which I used in 2004 to shoot the DNC and RNC political conventions while working with CNN, and then more recently, with the EOS 5D, which I have taken with me all around the world. I love the 5D. It's got nearly everything that I want as a photographer, in a reasonably lightweight, solid package, and it's built to make most tasks easy and intuitive. I bought it primarily because I love taking wide-angle shos, and the 5D as the first reasonably-priced camera with a true 24mmx35mm sensor - meaning that there is no "magnification factor" when you put a lens on it. A 24mm lens looks like a 24mm lens back when I shot film. A 50mm lens is a normal lens, not a portrait lens like it was on my 10D. It had significantly improved low-ligh characteristics, like really smooth shots up to about ISO 800, which meant that I could get a lot of those birthday-shots-lit-by-a-candle when I fixed a nice fast lens like the 50mm f1.4 to the 5D and shot at 800 or 1600 ISO. My family thanked me, because I was able to get no-flash shots of the kids blowing out birthday candles and I loved it because I could walk around places like Paris and get shots I would never have been able to get before. So when i heard that Canon was finally doing an upgrade to the 5D, I was very excited. And then I heard about the features of the camera, and some of the preproduction reactions by photographers. Some of the things that impressed me:
- New, higher ISO settings - including shots that look nearly noise free at ISO 1600 and 3200. This is amazing. And the camera can go up to ISO 25,600 for when you really are in nearly no light, but I uspect I won't go any highr than ISO 6400. But still, this increase in relatively noiseless high ISO images is nothing short of fantastic. Basically, this means that I'm going to be able to get greater depth of field or faster shutter speeds later at night. This is a very good thing.
- 21 Megapixels. Now Megapixels aren't the only judge of quality, but it appears that these 21 megapixels are the real deal - it's truly medium format quality in a 35mm body. Often adding pixels means that the overall sensitivity of the camera drastically drops in low light, but see the item above - Canon has made their sensors dramatically more sensitive, even as they made each individual pixel smaller so that they could cram in 21 Megapixels in. Amazing. Again, a big win.
- 3.9 fps. Now this isn't the super-fast 5fps that sports shooters need, but adding essentially an extra frame per second will definitely feel faster, and let me get more expressions when I'm taking portraits. I'm one of those guys who likes to take lots of shots of people and try to get them relaxed to get lots of different expressions - chances are, you'll end up getting at least one well-exposed, natural smile when you d that. The current 5D is 3fps, but the new one will get me an extra frame per second. That's a good thing.
- Live preview shooting (which means a nearly silent shutter) I'm hoping that I'll be able to get lots more fun candid shots. I haven't had a camera with Live Preview before, but it has been available on Canon's (and some Nikons) for a while, so it must be pretty good. I 'll give it a go, anyway.
- The big kicker: 1080p video along with a microphone jack and HDMI output on the camera. Wow. This is amazing. When I heard about the Nikon D90 coming out that could do video, I was envious. Now when I think about the kids of video productions I can create with my current lens lineup, fast zooms, and fast focus, I get very excited. Add to it the enhanced smoothness and noise reduction at high ISOs and shooting with natural light even in low light sounds like it'll be fun too. Definitely looking forward to filling up lots of hard disks with video to play with. Another plus - it shoots directly to 1080p quicktime movies, so there's no transcoding necessary if you want to edit in iMovie or Final Cut Pro. Sweet.
I could go on and on. I think this camera is going to be a huge seller, and I'm preordering mine - I think that if you don't get in now, this camera is going to be backordered for months. There are downsides oo- like the incompatable set of accessories and batteries, meaning that you're going to have to buy new ones when you get the camera. But for a guy who takes care of his tools, I'm really looking forward to having the 5D Mark II as my new primary camera, and the 5D as it's very worthy backup. And now my Channukah list is complete. This camera comes out sometime in November, just in time for the holiday season. Woo hoo!