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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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As you may or may not be aware. I’m currently planning a rather adventures travel through South East Asia in September. Not only have I been busy putting together an itinerary, I’ve also been upgrading my camera equipment.

Tamrac Adventure 9 camera bagWith travel in mind (and lots of it) my choice of camera bag was very important to me. This isn’t just a bag to keep my camera safe, it needed to be something I could happily carry for hours every day in 30C heat. Something that could accommodate everything I’d want to take with me whilst being comfortable.

After a fair bit of review reading and scouting around I decided upon the Tamrac Adventure 9 camera bag.

Ruck Sack Style

I chose a ruck sack rather than a shoulder bag because i want to evenly distribute the weight across my shoulders. Having the weight of a camera plus lenses, etc on one shoulder for hours a day is not a good idea. It can seriously effect your general posture, cause back and shoulder pains. It would also mean a smaller bag so I would be limited to what I could fit in.

Compartment Size

One very important thing for me was being able to fit all my gear in. There’s a wide range of ruck sack style camera bags out there and the size of each compartment varies massively. The Tamrac Adventure 9 has ample space for my 5d Mark II, my 70-200mm F4 and my 24-105 F4. It also has a slot against the back for a 15″ laptop and another compartment for cables, snacks, whatever else you need for the day.

It also has a large number of pouches, zip up areas, and slots to put all manner of accessories in. Memory cards, filters, spare batteries, etc. All of which can fit in the main camera compartment which flips open easily to allow access to everything quickly.

Tamrac Adventure 9 camera bagWeather Proof

While I’ve not tested it in Monsoon like conditions, I’m pretty confident it’ll keep all my gear dry even in big downpours. All the zips are waterproofed including the more exposed laptop slot zip. Other zips have fold over flaps and the camera compartment has 3 extra straps for tightly fastening down the flap to stop wind lifting it or rain getting in. To be on the safe side I plan to purchase some resealable plastic bags to put my gear in. I’ll no doubt report more on it’s performance once I’m in Vietnam!

Attaching Extra Gear

The Tamrac Adventure 9 has a whole bunch of straps and fasteners on the outside so if you want to quickly attach something to it for easy access, you can. It also has two net style pouches on either side, perfect for a drinks bottle or a flash if you need easy access. I’ve even put a monopod in there and it’s held it in place no problem.

The bag also has 2 slots underneath it. I purchased some attachment straps and now strap my lightweight tripod to the bottom of my bag easily. Having it horizontally underneath helps spread the weight evenly which is best when carrying.

Very Happy

All in all I’m very happy with my bag. It wasn’t cheap but it’s very comprehensive in it’s features and abilities. It’s always comfortable to wear. It Does a great job of evenly distributing weight. Has easy access compartments and the extra straps give it more flexibility. I feel confident it will serve me well as i trek through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia.

Worth reading

Check out this great blog on how to pack your camera bag! very important!

Your experience

As ever your thoughts and comments are welcome. What bag do you own and why?

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!

To become a good photographer you should BE a photographer as much as possible. It’s a pretty simple premise. The more photos you compose, process and analyse the greater you will understand photography and improve upon your skills.

So.. it’s simple.. TAKE YOUR CAMERA EVERYWHERE! You never know when a good photo opportunity might appear or a good excuse to just experience photographing a new subject matter.

So, living up to my own good advice I took my camera with me to a recent night out with friends, playing Pool (or Billiards depending on where you are in the world).

Pot luck
Pot Luck – Matt Preston

This kind of environment is a great challenge. Not only for you but for your camera! The relatively low light conditions means you’ll be shooting at high ISO ranges, with the aperture wide open to get in as much light as possible. This of course has the side effect of drastically reducing the depth of field.

Good Advice?
Good Advice? – Matt Preston

Personally i love the low light conditions and narrow depth of field. It really adds to the nostalgic, smokey (until they banned smoking) night time feel.

Wide open

Most of the photos were shot at around 5000 ISO with the aperture between f1.8 and f3.5. You’ll often find a lot of your images are focussing on the wrong area. Mainly due to it being dark when you’re looking through the view-finder. Autofocus either doesn’t work at all or will focus on the wrong area of your composition, drawing your eye away from the area you wanted your shot to be about! If the focus is in the wrong place you lose that emphasis and the photo (usually) doesn’t work. So keep it on manual focus, you can always take a few shots at different focus settings to ensure one of them works out ok.

Deep in concentration
Deep in Concentration – Matt Preston

Motion Blur

Pool is a great game for capturing some action with motion blur. You’re not likely to have a tripod with you (and you might upset the landlord!) so expect to also capture some of your own motion in the process! Sometimes that doesn’t seem to matter. I personally love this shot as the motion of the players hand and cue along with the movement of the pool balls and myself seem to make the photo work quite well.

On the move
On the Move – Matt Preston

Helpful friends

One of the great things about taking your camera with you on a night out is that your friends know you. They feel relaxed around you and are more likely to smile when you point a camera at them rather than feel awkward and shy away. This really helps, without my friends it may have been a lot tougher to get such natural looking shots and some of them worked out really well like this one.

The best medicine
The Best Medicine – Matt Preston

Your photos don’t always have to be in colour either. Sometimes they work so much better in black and white, or in this case black and white with a slight purple tint. If you’re shooting in low light conditions with high ISOs you’re likely to end up with noise in your image, something that may annoy you in a colour photo but can really add to a black and white shot. Give it a try. You may just fall in love with a shot you would have otherwise deleted.

More is more!

Shoot lots and shoot often. Take your camera everywhere, try and capture “photos” rather than “snapshots”. Oh and be sure to give a copy to your friends! After all they just gave you another reason to shoot!

There are more photos from my pool night here.

As ever your thoughts and comments are welcome. Share your experiences, your advice, or let me know if you think there are ways to improve upon some of the shots I’ve taken.

I look forward to seeing some of your photos.

When I’m not blogging about photography on here you’ll most likely find me micro-blogging about it on Twitter.com!

Feel free to follow me and be sure to say Hi. I love meeting like minded people and discussing all aspects of photography. It’s also an easy way for you to find out when I’ve blogged!

My twitter is www.twitter.com/mycameraandi

I’ll be blogging about photographers and photography related twitterers in the near future so if you know of any that are worth following be sure to leave a comment.