Sunday, March 25, 2012

5D Mark III in the pit

Wow, has it really been since January since I've had a new blog entry? Damn its been a busy last few months.

I picked up a new camera body last week. The just released Canon 5D Mark III. This is the camera I wanted when I picked up the Mark II last year. I've been waiting for it. And out of character, I bought it on day 1.

I did some basic tests at home to get used to it, played with some settings and all that. But the real test was using it in a show, which I had the chance to do last night. I was covering the Saul Williams show for . Just a quick note about the artist. Hip hop isn't my thing. Really. But this guy was insane. It was great to see someone with such originality on stage. He is a poet and had some spoken word between his songs, and his songs were very original. Too many artists today, in all genres of music, do pretty much the same thing. Hats off to Saul Williams for his original and great work.

**there was no actual photo pit last night, just made the title of the post seem cooler using the word pit**

Now....onto the camera.

Show time essentials

I used the camera with the 24-70 for the show. I had the 70-200 on the Mark II. The venue was La Tulipe, which is an alright venue but the light can go from decent to crap really fast. And most nights, its in the crap zone. I set both cameras to ISO 3200, f/2.8 and 1/160 to start the show.

The two main things I was looking for in this camera is a much improved AF (Auto focus) system and better high ISO noise handling. The 100% viewfinder, more comfortable ergonomics, better LCD and all that are just icing on the cake. So lets get into the cake.

High ISO

Keep in mind that my intended output is the web, not a 24x36 print, so I dont mind noise in my image. But there is always an acceptable level of noise. I spent most of my night in the ISO 12,800 area. A few at 25,600 to see and a few at 6400 just in case. I was very happy with the ISO 12,800 noise. I was actually impressed with the ISO 25,600 noise. I can extend the ISO to 102,000, but I find the extended ISOs are only a marketing thing for the manufacturers, as the results are usually pretty bad.

I'll let most of the images speak for themselves. As of today, I cannot open the 5D Mark III raws in Adobe Lightroom 4. So I am stuck using CS5, which I am really not used to. There have been some slight tonal adjustments in all these images, but there has been no noise reduction. So keep in mind that with today's noise processing, you can net some awesome images. I'm not going to bother posting up some ISO 1600, 3200 or even 6400 as these are what you would expect.

Saul Williams
ISO 12,800

And a 100% (or just about) crop of the above.

I do like to sometimes throw in a black and white image in a set. So here is a black and white of Saul.
ISO 12,800

And....the 100% crop

Opening the show last night was Spoek Mathambo. Here is the higher ISO shot from his set
ISO 25,600
1/1000 (yes, I know I didn't need to be there, it was a test ;) )

And the really close up crop

I still need to learn to shoot more comfortably with the camera. Shooting high ISO is not just turning the ISO up and then shooting. You have to look for the better light, understand how your camera will react, nail your exposures (or get them how you want for the settings you have and the processing you intent).

Auto focus

This was the second major piece in the new camera that I was excited about. The 5D Mark II was known to have issues with the auto focus. It was slow, it missed often. While Canon did come out with some firmware updates throughout the years that helped, it always seem to be lacking.

Canon recently announced their 1Dx line, which is the cream of the crop, and I was happy to hear that the AF had been totally redone AND that they were porting the new AF in the 1Dx line into the 5D Mark III line.

Not to get too much into the tech, there are 61 auto focus points in the camera. While the 5D Mark II only had 9, of which only the center one was sensitive. So similar to shooting with the 7D, you don't have to always center, half press, recompose. You can move the focus point around and it will react just as quick and efficiently as if you were using the center point.

I had no issues with focusing during the dimly light show. I missed a few due to the artist moving too quickly, but generally, when I wanted to switch focus to something else, the camera reacted quickly and was spot on.

You have the benefit of selecting multiple focus point groupings and all that funky stuff, but really, when you strip it down to the essentials, the new AF works pretty damn well.

A few things I need to get used to

The new button layout. My brain is a simple one. When I learn one way of doing things, takes me a while to unlearn. They moved some buttons around so its not as intuitive for me...yet.

The mode selection lock. They added a button you have to push down to change the mode. While I see where this can work, and I've had situations where putting the camera in my bag turned the wheel, I need to remember the lock and not force the mode change.

Switching from the 5D2 to the 5D3. I use both cameras in a show and by the end of the show last night, I didnt want to use the 5D2 anymore. I know, #firstworldproblems , right?

Cool feature I just found (as in right now, as I was typing this)

Silent shooting. Yep, you can set it to S as a shooting mode (single shot or continuous) and while your camera's fps will slow down, you dont have the always noticable clunk clunk of the mirror going up. You still hear something, but much more silent. Going to make those stealthy ninja pictures that much easier.

There is still so much more to explore in the camera. Being able to do set the number of bracket shots, multiple exposures in one frame (which Nikon has been doing for years), in camera HDR (gadgetty, I know, but still going to try it out).

While the price tag was heavy, the camera is living up to my far.

1 comment:

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