28/365: 5D > 5D Mark II

January 28th, 2011 in Daily

Cafe Juri, Kanoya

Cafe Juri, Kanoya (5D)

To be honest, I’ve never been completely happy with the 5D Mark II. Not like it’s predecessor. Me and the 5D were tight. My main gripe with the MKII its the in-camera metering, which is hit-or-miss (at best) compared to the 5D, where I could easily dial in exposure comp. and bang out consistent results. So, today I dusted off the 5D and tossed it in my bag instead. Wow. The confidence that I took for granted when using this camera all came rushing back to me after the first few frames. Compensate with negative EV and the results are just naturally there.

Cafe Juri, Kanoya (5D)

That said, I tend to shoot slightly underexposed. I like the room I have to work with in post. I also prefer a darker, more atmospheric image as opposed to a technically “correct” exposure. So, the other thing I can’t get around is overall image quality from the MKII. They can be beautiful if you really work at it, but more often than not I feel like I’m getting cold, calculated machine outputs. The warmth and unique tenor of the 5D exposure is nowhere to be found. I think part of what I enjoy so much about the 5D is how easy the RAWs are to work with in Lightroom. Something about the RAWs from the MKII feels off to me. They are good technically speaking, but they don’t have heart. Call me crazy, but they are also more challenging to edit. The exposures appear to be less forgiving. I feel like I’m shooting slide film with this camera, bracketing and constantly worrying about exposure. I’ve learned how to cheat the MKII’s meter to get what I want, but even so, this is the first time I’ve had to really fight a camera to get results I like. I thought I might be doing something wrong in post too, but with a calibrated EIZO display and over three years processing with Lightroom, I don’t think I’m missing anything…

Don’t get me wrong, the Mark II is an amazing camera. Live View has to be my favorite feature, as it has allowed me to accurately focus tricky night exposures like this with ease:

Sakurajima, December 2010 (5DMKII)

The metering isn’t terrible, really. I just find it unreliable. When it’s on, it’s really on, but when it’s off you start to second guess everything. Not a great feeling.

Also, the resolution is simply awesome – if you need it. My raid has filled with MKII RAWs so quickly, I’ve even found myself going back and forth between RAW and sRAW1 because I know I won’t need the res later on.

School Festival, Nov. 2010 (5DMKII)

School Festival, Nov. 2009 (5D)

When Canon puts out their next full-sensor body, I won’t feel bad selling off the MKII for the upgrade. I’d never sell the 5D. That’s in the permanent collection. I have had spent enough time with both now to know one thing for certain: The 5DMKII is a great camera which I’ll continue to use, but the 5D is a camera I’ll always love.

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