Tuesday, June 12, 2007

90% of the way is great, but...

... sometimes that last 10% can be soooo sweet. What the heck am I talking about? No, not about the plums picture above, but cameras. I am a big fan of the Canon 5D, it is a full-frame camera with fantastic image quality in a reasonable sized body for (what I consider to be) a reasonable price (now that prices have come down a good 15-20% since its introduction). I believe that this camera comes very close in terms of image quality to its big brother the Canon 1Ds Mark 2. In fact it comes so close that when the 5D was introduced, many 1Ds2 owners traded into a 5D (who could blame them, up until the 5D, the only way to get a full-frame sensor was with a 1Ds2). Therefore many people would consider the 5D to do 90% of what the 1Ds2 can do.

For some time however I've been jonesing for that extra 10% only a 1-series camera gives you. About a month ago, I managed to convince myself that I could live with a 1.3x crop camera as long as it had all the things that made the 1-series great (the amazing auto-focus, the viewfinder, the integrated grip, the 55ms blackout time, the 3ev exposure compensation range, the rugged build, and the endless customization options). I pre-ordered a 1D Mark 3 and started the wait. As I waited, I had the occasional pangs of doubt on the 1.3x crop, do I really want my 85L to have a narrower field of view? I also like the fish-eye effect of the 15mm fisheye which would have to be sacrificed. Not entirely discouraged, I continued to wait. Then on Sunday, something changed; I saw an opportunity to get a great deal on a 1Ds2. I jumped on it and here I am, revelling in that extra 10%.

I've only had the chance to fire a few frames and so far, I love the differences. I was a little concerned that the 1Ds2 would weigh even more than the 5D with the grip, but to me in a side-by-side comparison, the difference was negligible. I've talked to several people about the difference in the viewfinder between the 5D and the 1-series. Personally I noticed a big different, but its not something others noticed, so I just chalked it up to the fact I wear glasses. Putting the 1Ds2 up to my eye confirmed it, for me it is much more comfortable than the 5D (or any of the xD series cameras). The 1Ds2 requires a little bit more capture sharpening than the 5D (due to the fact the 5D has a weaker AA filter), but it is also much less prone to moire. Once you do apply proper capture sharpening, the results are great (see the 100% crop of the plums).

I'm looking forward to doing some shooting this weekend, and trying out the 1-series AF for birds.

Technical Specs: Canon 1Ds2, 70-200 f/4 IS @ 97mm, f/11, 1/200s, ISO 100.

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