Moving to the Canon EOS 5D Mark II

I’m cameraless for the first time. All my Canon crop bodies (40D / 50D) and EF-S lenses have been shipped back to Adorama’s used department for trade-in on a new EOS 5D Mark II. It feels kind of strange not to be carrying around a DSLR everyday and not having ANY camera to call my own right now. I suspect it will take a few days before the withdrawal symptoms subside and I begin to feel normal again. I knew going “cold-turkey” was going to be tough!

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Several folks have asked why I decided to go “full-frame” and the answer may surprise you a bit. As I’ve gotten older, my eyesight has become an issue and the incredibly clear and bright viewfinder on Canon’s full frame cameras really makes a difference in my ability to focus the camera during landscape and nature photography. Looking through my 50D’s viewfinder with my glasses on was a real pain at times.

Of, course the resolution (21 MP) and image quality are said to be quite incredible according to folks like Matt Brandon and David duChemin, and that’s a big draw for most photographers, myself included. But this was a big decision for me. I had to trade-in my Canon 40D and 50D bodies as well as two EF-S series lenses before I could afford to look at the 5D Mark II. This will be my only body for quite some time and the thought of having no back-up body does make me a little nervous. But if the results are half as good as I’ve seen, this will be a camera I keep for many years to come.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 5D Mark II, Photography

New Camera, New Images, New Beginnings

I wasn’t going to write this post since it’s a photo-blogging cliche to rave about your new camera, new lens or other new gear. I really do believe David duChemin’s mantra “Gear is Good, Vision is Better” but sometimes you just have to lay it on the line. I know some folks reading this post are going to hate me for writing it, but here goes.

Back in mid-July David wrote a post entitled Sens(or) and Sensibility where he postulated; 1) that sensor size really does matter in so many ways, but especially to depth of field and 2) to forget equivalency or more simply put, to forget the field of view crop factor between a full frame sensor and an APS-C size sensor. The ensuing comment war went on for over sixty comments all very passionately discussing the various theories of magnification, field of view, focal length and perspective.

Having used the 5DII for a few outings now I can assure you in no uncertain terms, the differences between a full frame sensor and an APS-C size sensor are huge and the difference between Canon’s xD line and xxD line are very significant. I’ll leave the technical discussions of FOVCF to the experts however.

The image below was taken late Sunday afternoon when it “looked” like a thunderstorm was finally going to end our drought here in southeast Texas (unfortunately it never rained here in Sugar Land). I looked outside, saw the wonderful clouds forming and grabbed my 5DII for a few quick exposures at the sugar mill, a site I’ve photographed several times in the past. I took several exposures of this scene using a single AF point positioned over the silos in the frame using apertures from f/5.6 to f/22. I wanted to see what the minimum aperture would be required to obtain enough depth of field to ensure the entire image was sharp. Boy was I in for a surprise.

Storm at the Sugar Mill

Storm at the Sugar Mill
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM tripod-mounted with a B&W circular polarizer attached. The exposure was taken at 24mm, f/11 for 1/40th of a second at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Using either of my 40D or 50D bodies I could have easily gotten away with any aperture greater than f/5.6 but with the 5DII even f/8 provided too narrow a depth of field and I ended up using f/11. I half expected this since I’d seen the same result in a previous post showing the water barrel and now started to understand just how different the depth of field of these two sensors really was. To use this camera effectively for landscape shots I would need to pay careful attention to both focus and aperture.

The other differences that hit me right away were the incredible detail provided by the 5DII and more importantly, the almost total lack of noise in my images. Normally I run each image through Nik Software’s Dfine 2.0 noise reduction filter just to see if any areas need a little noise reduction. On my 50D this was a necessity for almost any high contrast or high ISO image. On the 5DII, Dfine could fine almost no noise at all, not even in the darkest shadow areas and blue sky.

So here’s the good news and the bad news for crop body shooters. In my unscientific opinion, the difference between using a full frame sensor and an APS-C sensor is very real in terms of depth of field, although this may or may not be an advantage to a landscape photographer. I also feel the image quality of a full frame sensor is worth every penny of the 2x cost differential. I won’t speak about field of view or crop factors since those discussions are way over my head, but I will say this; my EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM never looked anywhere this wide or this sharp on my 40D or 50D bodies. I took this shot at 24mm, standing at exactly the same spot as I’ve done in the past with my 50D and EF-S 10-22mm lens. And this shot looks much, MUCH wider and much less distorted. That’s the good news.

Now here’s the bad news. Once you see the results of an average shot taken with a full frame sensor you’ll never want to shoot with a crop body again. I know I didn’t after renting a 5D and trying it out a few months ago. Fortunately the price of full frame DSLRs should begin to fall as each manufacturer reports significant declines in their quarterly earnings and becomes desperate for sales revenue. And as each manufacturer comes out with another new FF model, the prices for discontinued full frame models like the original 5D becomes more palatable. I hate to sound like a fanboy convert but the lure of the full frame sensor is very strong and for good reasons. I hate to say it but I really believe the full frame sensor will allow you to dramatically improve your photography and after all, isn’t that what we all aspire to?

My recommendation is simple. If you’re in the market for a new DSLR of any brand, rent one with a full frame sensor for a week. Shoot almost any subject with your current DSLR and the full frame DSLR you’ve rented. Look at the RAW files from both cameras at 100% crop and I promise you, you’ll be astonished by the difference.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 5D Mark II, Photography, Texas Towns

Landscape Photography – Mission Cross

Here’s one of the first shots taken last weekend in Goliad, Texas at the Mission Espiritu Santo de Zu iga, a beautifully reconstructed Franciscan mission from the 1700 s. A stone outside reads:

“Site of the Mission Nuestra Se ora del Espiritu Santo de Zu iga. First established at the site of La Salle’s fort on Garcitas Creek, Victoria County, Among the Coco, Cujanes, Karankawa and other indian tribes in 1722. Moved to Mission Valley, Victoria County, on the Guadalupe River among the Jaranames and Tamiques in 1826. Located on the present site in 1749 for the same indian neophytes. Secularized in 1794. Here Franciscan friars attempted to civilize and Christianize even the cannibalistic indians of the region. Erected by the State of Texas 1936.”

Mission Cross

Mission Cross
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM tripod-mounted with a Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer attached. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/8 for 1/250th of a second at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 5D Mark II, Goliad State Park, Photography, Texas State Parks, Texas Towns

Landscape Photography – Mission Bell

Here’s another shot taken last weekend in Goliad, Texas at the Mission Espiritu Santo de Zu iga, a beautifully reconstructed Franciscan mission from the 1700 s. For every mission there must be a bell to call folks to worship and this is no exception.

Mission Bell

Mission Bell
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM tripod-mounted with a Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer attached. The exposure was taken at 70mm, f/11 for 1/80th of a second at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4 (details below). Click on the image above for a larger version.

I decided to try a little different approach in post processing on this image. I had taken this image using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer, so not much really needed to be done in post.

Mission Bell Converted from RAW

I originally envisioned this shot as a black & white or duotone image and began the RAW conversion in Lightroom 2 as I normally would by correcting the exposure, adding some contrast and tweaking the luminance of the sky slightly.

The image really started to look nice with the warm details of the Mission set against the deep blue sky and white clouds as you can see here.

Using Layers for a Desaturated Look

I almost stopped right here and gave up on the idea of a B&W or duotone image but then I remembered a simple little Photoshop trick that I’d learned from one of Matt Kosklowski’s videos on Kelby Training.

I cloned the background layer and converted it to grayscale using Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro plug-in filter with the “Soft Sepia” option. Then I simply set the new layer’s opacity to around 28% to give the finished imaged a warm, high contrast but desaturated look. I also lightened the bell just enough to bring out the highlights on it. This is a really simple way to add a little contrast and color to a black & white or duotone image and took about 5 minutes in Photoshop CS4.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 5D Mark II, Goliad State Park, Photography, Texas State Parks, Texas Towns

Landscape Photography – The Old West

Here’s another shot I took last weekend in Goliad, Texas of the Presidio La Bahia. Walking around this old mission and fort was like stepping on the set of a John Wayne movie. The old west at it’s best!

Have a great weekend folks!

Presidio La Bah  a

Presidio La Bahia – Goliad, Texas
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM tripod-mounted with a Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer attached. The exposure was taken at 24mm, f/13 for 1/40th of a second at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 5D Mark II, Goliad State Park, Landscape Photography, Photography, Texas State Parks

Landscape Photography – Grand Old Cypress

There is nothing better than a cool breeze on a warm summer morning in the Texas Hill Country. And one of the best places in the world to enjoy this simple pleasure is at the Guadalupe River State Park, near New Braunfels, Texas. The park boasts some of he tallest and oldest Cypress trees in the region and these majestic old trees make wonderful subjects. I do believe they have more wrinkles than I do!

Grand Old Cypress

Grand Old Cypress – Guadalupe River, Texas
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 32mm, f/16 for 1/5th of a second using a Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 5D Mark II, Guadalupe River State Park, Landscape Photography, Photography

The Things Photographers Do – Part 2

If you’ve read last week’s post entitled The Things Photographers Do you might be curious just how far up we hiked after I took that shot of Garner State Park from above. Well, here’s the view from the top and what a magnificent view it is. That hill just to our right is where I wanted to shoot from but I new that another 100 foot rock climb was beyond my capabilities, even though my 69 year old friend thought we might make it.

So here’s a challenge for you younger landscape photographers. Climb those hills early in your career and enjoy the view. Life is way too short to settle for anything less!

Garner Hillside

Garner State Park Hillside, Texas
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 24mm, f/13 for 1/15th of a second using a Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer and a 4-stop, graduated neutral density filter at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4 using Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro plug-in filters. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 5D Mark II, Garner State Park, Landscape Photography