Thoughts on Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 5D Mark II courtesy Canon

Canon 5D Mark II courtesy Canon

A few weeks ago I gave Brian Auer, of Epic Edits,a little twitter grief about the new Sony A900 announcements.  Last week, he ping me back once the Canon 5D Mark II was announced, this is the camera that I told him I was waiting for as my next potential upgrade.  Unfortunately, I was busy with a trade show in Las Vegas and didn’t have time to comment on the new release.  And I wanted to wait till I could see some low light sample images from the camera

Yesterday my wish came true.  Yesterday Vincent Laforet posted Reverie, a short video he shot in full HD on the 5D Mark II (Don MacAskill had a full HD version posted thanks to Laforet until Canon asked that it be taken down; it was amazing in full HD.  I was surprised to see Canon follow Nikon’s example and give the camera pre-release to a professional photographer to run it thru it’s paces…to bad Canon was so short sighted to realized the viral marketing they were getting for free).

Wow!  Watching this short video, I was amazed at the low light abilities of this camera.  Even more amazed when you realize that it was a DSLR – I love the behind the scenes movie and the expression on the faces of the crowd as they  watch the film crew rig up a DSLR on the hood of a car…to shoot a video.  Beyond the movie example from Laforet, DPReview’s 5D Mark II preview has a set of sample images.  Even at the higher ISO settings, there seems to be very little noticeable noise and impressive low light abilities.

So, I have to admit that I have been waiting for this camera.  The 20D is a little long in the tooth and I really need the full frame sensor at times to get the true 24mm and 17mm from my lenses.  But honestly, I was expecting Canon to release this camera with about 16-18 MP, not 21 MP. I figured there would be the sensor dust reduction feature, new DIGIC processor (or two), faster bus to the memory card, maybe a few more AF points (but not near the 1D Mark III).  And some other minor improvements.  That was it.  I didn’t put much faith in the rumors of three replacement cameras for the 5D as that would fracture the market segmentation way too much.  I expected Canon to play it safe and improve on a work horse but fall just short of the Nikon D90.

I’m glad that Canon didn’t sit back.  However, there are times when I wish the marketing wars would just stop.  First it was megapixels, now it seems to be video from your DSLR. Most of the time I need higher quality pixels, not more of them.  And I’m still not sure I need a video camera inside my DSLR.  It does make me wonder if the comments of the possible anonymous Canon engineer were true, that Canon marketing is holding the engineers back.

Getting my angst over the marketing out of my system, more megapixels does mean more options (not to mention more storage).  21 MP does give me more options when it comes to cropping an image and still having enough information in the image to be usable.  And even though there are three video cameras in my house and, to date,  I haven’t every used one of them, putting that capability into my DSLR and I’m likely to actually play around with it (funny how in the past there was talk of trying to get high quality stills from a video camera and now you can get full HD video from your still camera…).  And I would have to agree that the mixture of HD video and DSLR still photography in the same body will lead to some very interesting developments over the next few years.

All in all, the 5D Mark II is the likeliest canidate for my next camera.  I have used the 5D in the past for a few projects and found it to be an amazing camera (some have complained about shutter lag, but I didn’t notice it).  The only real disappointment that I have iwth the Mark II would be the FPS, I would have like this to be a notch more.  I am aso highly disappointed that we didn’t see some revolutionary features like auto exposure compensation in an HDR mode; let me flip a switch and get 3-5 exposures bracketed in rapid fire succession with one push of the shutter!  Makes me wonder if that is one of the features being held back by Canon marketing?

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