I’ve been a Canon shooter since 1992. I turned to Canon after I had several bad repair experiences with Pentax, when my then PZ-1 decided that autofocus wasn’t something I really needed, or should use. I had spent three months shuttling the camera back-and-forth between their Colorado repair facility and my local camera shop. The Pentax techs insisted the camera was working properly, yet the store owner and I couldn’t get any lens to autofocus on my PZ-1 body.
After that third journey to the Centennial State, I consigned two bodies, five lenses and two flashes for sale. In turn, I bought two Canon A2 film bodies, three lenses and a flash. When my order arrived, I was pleased as punch. The Canons felt better to my hand, and the “L” series glass blew me away, especially when shooting Fuji Velvia 50.
I merged to digital when the EOS D30 arrived in late 2000. I can remember covering the Los Angeles Auto Show, and the camera got about as much interest as the cars on display. I loved how the camera worked and reacted like a film camera, but with the ability to instantly capture, develop and download images as the new cars were unveiled. In the burgeoning Web, it gave me the ability to quickly update coverage on the fly.
As the years went by, and new Canon bodies were introduced, I upgraded as the technology advanced: 60D, 1D, 1Ds, 5D, 1D MARK III and 5D MARK II. With each upgrade came a significant upgrade in megapixels, write speed and numerous other features. Canon had a knack of anticipating just what the pro market needed, and delivered it in spades.
Currently, my bodies du jour are the 5D MARK II and 1D MARK III. The “Five” is my workhorse, which I use for capturing everything, sans whales or anything that requires rapid image capture. That’s where the 1D MARK III comes into play, with its 10 frames/second capture rate. The camera is also a boon to shooting wildlife with its APS-H imaging sensor, which affords a 1.3X crop factor. In layman’s terms, it gives a lens a range boost of 1.3-times.
Essentially, a 200mm lens becomes a 260mm and a 400 is essentially a 520mm – perfect to shooting whales, wildlife and sports, without the need for big (heavy and very expensive) long lenses and keeping a safe distance. Besides, hand holding a $10,500, seven-pound, 500mm lens, while photographing whales from a 30’ Zodiac is a pain in the you-know-what. Give me a $1,600, 100-400mm zoom that weighs three pounds and a 1.3 crop factor – and get more range – any day.
Both of my cameras are getting “long in the tooth,” and I’ve been anxiously awaiting their replacements. The 1D MARK IV replacement arrived in October, 2011, with the 1Dx. Its specifications will make any sports shooter water: 18 MP, 13 frames/second shooting, new Digic 5 processor and of course, dual card slots among the many upgrades. For my needs, the new camera had a significant drawback: Canon merged the smaller, 1D, APS-H sensor and the 1Ds full-frame sensor camera together to create the 1Dx, hence the full-frame sensor in the “x.” Essentially, pros shooting the full-frame 1Ds saw a decrease in pixels from 21MP to 18MP, and 1D users gained megapixels (16 to 18), but lost the coveted magnification.
The 5D MARK III was released about a week ago, amid several years of rumors that the new “III” would have a robust jump in megapixels (most blogs reported 32 was the magical number), processing speed, better sealing against the elements and the possibility of dual card slots. What Canon release was what was hoped for, except an increase of megapixels. The new camera gets a whopping one-megapixel boost from 21 to 22. The new sensor has a big jump in light capturing ISO, but it’s a miracle if I ever bump sensor sensitivity to ISO 400. It also receives a host of video related upgrades – perfect for Canon’s fight against Red’s “Scarlet” camera, but does nothing for a nature photographer shooting stills. Oh, then there’s the price of the new camera, a $1,300 increase over the current 5D MARK II.
According to Canon, the upgrades made to the 1D and 5D series are “what pros asked for.” Polling my friends in the industry, we’re wondering just who Canon questioned, as the upgrades are not what many nature and sports photographers would want in an upgrade. This leaves a lot of photographers with Canon equipment exclaiming, “What the…”
It’s interesting to note that while Canon appears to have shifted its focus to catering to videographers, Nikon still embraces the needs and desires of the landscape still shooter, as evidenced with the addition of the full-frame, 36MP sensor D800, which carries features similar to the 5D MARK III, although it’s frame-per-second rate is much slower (4 fps for the Nikon vs. 6 fps for the Canon). I have not had the opportunity to “play” with the D800, but in images I’ve seen, the detail is nothing short of incredible. For my particular style of image making (where detail makes or breaks an image), this new camera whets my appetite.
Yes, my friends who shoot Nikon are already teasing me that I’ve “seen the light” of Nikon.
In reality, switching systems is an arduous task. I’ve accumulated 12 lenses, a couple of flash units, a few tele-extenders and extension tubes, plus a bounty of accessories. None of which is compatible with the Nikon system, and replacing it all would cost somewhere in the range of a nice, new Porsche.
So on behalf of many photographers (myself included), I humbly ask Canon to go back to the drawing board. I don’t want to pay a grand more for a one megapixel increase in sensor performance. Please give is a 5D MARK III s, with a 34-36 MP sensor and all the trinkets in the new version of the “5,” but without all the video stuff. We don’t use it anyway. We capture the beauty of the world, one image at a time.