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Canon 5D MkIIMy Canon 5D Mark II is one impressive camera! The ability to record full 1080p HD video through SLR spec lenses really opens up the uses too but it’s automatic aperture controls meant it’s full potential wasn’t being realised.

Thankfully today it was announced that the 5D Mark II will be getting a firmware upgrade from June 2nd 2009. With full manual controls of aperture, shutter speed and ISO in video mode. This means you can now set the depth of field to your choice, not the camera’s, allowing much greater creative use.

There were a few dodgy workarounds before. Twisting the lens so it’s not locked to the camera was one rather dangerous idea that i did try on occasion. Another was using Nikon lenses with an adapter.

Many people have thanked Canon for “Listening to the people” on this one. I think that’s a bit short sighted personally. Canon have no doubt been working on the software for the 5D Mark II for some time. Adding new features to a pro camera is what keeps it fresh and stops the need for expensive development of new products. No doubt Canon were always going to add this feature once the software had been fully tested.

I’m looking forward to seeing a whole lot more video from the 5D Mark II now. I for one will be shooting a lot more that’s for sure!

Find out more on Matt Preston Photography

Photos from this camera are now featured on the Travel Blog Community.

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We photographers like our gadgets. We’re surrounded by them. Whether you’re film or digital one of the great perks of the job is buying lovely new equipment!

Canon 5D MkIINow that I’m “full frame” I needed to upgrade my lenses. To get the most out of my 5D Mark II I wanted to put the best glass on it. if you’re a Canon user the best lenses you can buy are Canon’s L Series. They offer amazing quality, rock solid design and great reliabilty. Everyone agrees that L is the best series of lenses… but not everyone agrees which one you should have in your kit.

They are a serious purchase with a serious price tag so when I needed an L series wide zoom lens it wasn’t an easy choice.

The Contenders

Canon 24-105 F4 LCanon 24-70 F2.8 LThe two main contenders are the 24-70 F2.8 L and the 24-105 F4 L.

Both amazing lenses, the 24-70 offering a wider aperture while the 24-105 has image stabilization.

Hot topic

There’s heated debates on which is best. Which covers the most needs, even which is the best in low light. Flickr is a hot-bed of Canon users with strong opinions. The group discussions are often filled with “which lens should i buy?” topics. I myself have posted a few as they’re a great place to get a good cross section of responses.

There’s great arguments for both. The 24-70 covers a shorter range with less elements and a faster aperture. But it’s weight is dramatically increased to incorporate this. Surprisingly so. The 24-105 weighs less, covers a wider range but has a max aperture of F4. Choices choices!

In the end I chose the 24-105 F4. It came down to a number of factors.

Weight

I will be on the road, possibly for months at a time. While I am willing to carry heavier lenses if the benefits are worth it. For me personally the 24-70 F2.8 doesn’t offer enough of an improvement to warrant the extra weight. I’ll be happier shooting with the 24-105. Happiness and harmony with your equipment should not be overlooked, especially on an expensive purchase!

Range

Another on-the-road factor here as the less I need to change lenses the better. The extra reach the 24-105 gives me is a great advantage. Possibly even helping me achieve more spur of the moment shots I would have otherwise missed while changing to my 70-200 F4 L.

Image Stabliaztion

Before trying this lens I thought IS was a bit of a gimick to help reduce camera shake. I had however overlooked one obvious advantage to this. If camera shake is reduced you can shoot at lower speeds. Lower speeds means more light. The lack of 2.8 aperture on the 24-105 is more than made up for by this feature. I also plan to shoot HD video with my 5D Mark II so the IS really comes in handy for smoothing out those hand held shots.

I’m very happy with my purchase. Frankly I would  have been happy with either lens but the true test comes when you’re out in the field with your camera bag and limited options on what you can take. A happy photographer is a creative photographer!

I’ll post a full review in a month or two.

If you have any questions about these lenses or an opinion the lens you purchase do comment.

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Canon 5D MkIII’ve had my Canon 5D mkII about 3 weeks now. It’s been a pretty manic 3 weeks too, getting to grips with my new best friend! I though I’d give a quick first impressions round-up before a full review in a month or so.

The Canon 5D MkII has been getting a lot of press lately. It’s definitely a pro camera of choice and a massive step up from my 300D rebel that kept me going for a good few years. From the lower end of the amateur market to the top end of the pro market you really do notice the difference!

It’s one solid brick of a camera. Nothing bends, creaks or feels like it could ever fall off. The grippy rubber finish on it feels industrial but I know it’ll last a lot longer than the thin metallic plastic finish on a lot of DSLR cameras.

Canon EOS 5D MkIIThe ISO quality really is as good as they say. You can happily shoot away at 1600 or even 3200 and while there is some noise as you’d expect there is much MUCH less noise than most cameras. It makes shooting at those ISOs an option rather than a compromise.

Being a full frame camera you make full use of your EOS lenses. No crop factor and a larger sensor really adds to your image. I was surprised how much more natural it feels shooting at full frame and I would highly recommend it to anybody. While the crop factor helps some cheaper DSLRs get the best from cheap kit lenses you really do see the difference with full frame. Although of course you feel the hole burning through your wallet too!

Canon EOS 5D MkII backThe biggest first impression for me is the quality of images especially viewing them on the 3 inch screen. Live view on a DSLR is a very handy feature and allows you to get pinpoint accuracy on your focusing too by pressing the magnifying glass button.

I’ll review the camera in full with all it’s features in a couple of months time but for now I’m very happy with my Canon 5D MkII. Most definitely impressed!

Canon 50mm f1.8 and 5D cameraWhen you start to get serious about photography you start looking at lenses to extend your photographic abilities. The internet is a great place to view lenses of all different types and qualities. You’ll soon find they range from the cheap and down right dodgy to the  amazingly fantastic and shockingly expensive.

But there’s one lens that breaks the mould. Where image quality is sublime yet the cost makes you think they must have it priced it incorrectly.

The trusty little 50mm lens is affectionately known as the “Nifty Fifty“. A prime lens (meaning a fixed focal length rather than zoom) that offers an image scale comparable to the human eye.

The Mighty Robin!
The Mighty Robin – Matt Preston

Less is more

Prime lenses always offer superior image quality to that of their zoomable cousins. Less elements within the lens means less distortion as light passes through each one. It also means the lens is much smaller. Both of these factors mean lower manufacturing costs and much less development so the price to the consumer is much lower.

Depth of Field

One great thing about a prime lens is it’s aperture. It’s much easier to produce “fast” prime lenses where the aperture can be as high as F1.4. Canon do a couple of great 50mm prime lenses at f1.8 and f1.4. This creates fantastic depth of field that you really notice. This coupled with the high quality of the image really is noticable. Here’s a great example of a very narrow depth of field in a wide shot.

My beach
My Beach – Matt Preston

Sounds great but…?

So it’s small, high aperture range, light and has amazing image quality? Surely it can’t be THAT cheap? Well think again. In the UK the Canon 50mm 1.8 is a bargain at just £80 from some retailers. I bought my 50m f1.8 from Amazon here. The latest version (Mark II) is slightly better build quality and has autofocus. Just remember you’re not paying much so expect a plastic feel that won’t stand up to too much abuse compared to £1000 lenses. Still it’s so cheap you can always buy a new one!

Hanging in there
Hanging in there – Matt Preston

If you’re a Nikon user it’s a little bit more expensive but still a decent price at around £105. Amazon link.

Best uses for a 50mm

The nifty fifty really lends itself to Portrait photography. Narrow depth of fields close up coupled with a nice Bokeh effect (the circular blurs in the background). It also works well for landscape shots as the perspective distance between objects closely resembles the human eye.

My nifty experience

I’ve really enjoyed using this lens. You instantly realise that you don’t have to zoom to get the right composition. You can actually move yourself! The quality of my photographs with this lens have blown me away at times. Having such a narrow depth of field at f1.8 creates a whole new effect that my other lenses can’t come close to. The build quality isn’t particularly great, it’s not waterproof and i don’t expect it to last a lifetime but I think everyone should have a 50mm in their camera bag.

If you’ve got a 50mm why not post your photos here and any comments you can add for people thinking of purchasing.

And if you’ve got any questions about the 50mm feel free to ask.