Friday, April 27, 2007

Full Frame Digital With the EOS 5D

I've gone back to full frame 35mm-style capture, but this time instead of a Nikon F-series body, I'm using a Canon EOS 5D digital SLR. After thinking about it for quite some time,and after reviewing a lot of my photos, I decided I'd had it with the small capture format of APS-C or DX-sensored cameras for my "people pictures" and social photography.

I elected to go with the 5D and 24-105mm f/4 Image Stabiliser L-series zoom lens, the 50mm f/1.4 EF USM normal lens, the 85mm f/1.8 EF USM short telephoto, my current 100mm f/2.8 EF Macro, and the 135mm f/2 L-series telephoto lens. I also have a Nikon to EOS lens mount adapter ring,which allows use of F-mount lenses on EOS bodies,and it works well.

Yesterday I shot a few images with my 180mm f/2.8 ED AiS Nikkor on the 5D,as well as a few with the 135mm f/2 L lens. The Canon has prettier bokeh,and significantly higher contrast and color saturation than the 21-year-old 180mm ED I've had since 1986. The 180 AiS's substantial weight and massiveness counterbalance the 5D body very well in horizontal and vertical modes without the grip on the body,and the old lens's slow-ratio manual focusing throw in the 30-foot to 6-foot focusing range makes it a very easy lens to focus manually, without concern for hair-trigger mis-focusing mistakes,which often are made when using AF lenses with their ultra-quick focus throws in manual focusing mode. The 180 AiS focuses very well on the 5D--smooth helicoid,long focal length,wide aperture and high magnification all together add up to easy focusing.

I shot some stuff around evening time,indoors, at f/2 and 1/40 to 1/50 second under dimmer tungsten+filtered window light,using the 135 f/2 L Canon lens and my battered 1990's 135 f/2 AF Defocus Control Nikkor lens (first version). Eh...the Canon's a slightly better lens,with less corner fall-off, but otherwise the 135 L's not all "that much better" than the 135 DC Nikkor, which I must admit is kind of disappointing. It's early,and the light has been flat here,and I've not made that many exposures, but the 135/2 L doesn't impress me "that" much,and I thought it really would blow my doors off.With the manual Nikon lens on the 5D, the 5D's focus screen and the 135 DC's focusing throw and slightly stiff action (on my old beat up copy the focus throw is a bit stiff) makes for somewhat slow,disappointing manual focusing at closer ranges under 20 feet...using the autofocus system of the Canon 135mm lens is preferrable to the 135 Nikkor in MF mode.

The camera has one stuck-on red pixel group near the far,far right lower corner of the frame,visible mostly in low (EV 4 or lower) scenes,and the sensor was _IMMACULATELY_ free of dust. The viewfinder view screen/prism was 100% free of dust yesterday. But now 24 hours later, I've gotten two dust bunnies on the viewfinder screen big deal. It was nice to buy a new camera with an immaculately clean sensor.

The LCD is a weak area of this camera. It's just an average-quality screen image,and it's hard to see outdoors. The viewfinder is mostly visible to me with my eyeglasses on,and the image is quite usable for manual focusing,at least in decent light. The camera's shutter lag time and mirror return times are reasonably fast, but nowhere NEAR as responsive as the D1 or D2 series Nikons. Shutter noise is kind of dull but clattery,with nothing high-pitched or shrill in the shutter or mirror noise. Loud-ish, yet not too objectionable is how I'd describe the 5D's firing sounds. The camera and 24-105-L combo feels solid and weighty. The body has a large,chunky grip which suits my lengthy fingers well,and the body has a heft to it.

I'll know more about the 5D as I get to explore it over the next few weeks, but sufice it to say--I am VERY happy to see the background control and angles of view I can get at the telephoto end of the 24-105 zoom,as well as the wide angle looks I can get at 24 to 28mm. I'm very anxious to shoot the 85/1.4 AF-D and 105mm DC Nikkors on this camera,and to compare their performance with that of the 135mm-L Canon lens. I also look forward to seeing just how my new 85mm 1.8 EF Canon handles and performs.