COBA: 5D Mark II with Jim Rose, Political Photography Part II: Jared Polis, and What Would You Invent?

Today was a real treat, we were visited by Canon Senior Professional Market Specialist for Field Market Support Jim Rose with the much anticipated Canon EOS 5D Mark II.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Let’s answer the big question on everyone’s mind:

This is the best camera Canon has every built. Jim Rose

I got the opportunity to play with the 5D Mark II and photograph with it. Long story short: it is very much worth the wait. It may seem arrogant and perhaps even premature to say, but I do believe the new 5D Mark II will reestablish Canon as the market leader. This couldn’t have come at a better time after the focus issues with the 1D Mark III and 1Ds Mark III has caused a lot of headache and bad blood between Canon and Canon loyalists, but the 5D Mark II brings some light to what has been a very dark tunnel of despair.

On paper, the 5D Mark II sounds very impressive: 21.1 MP, UDMA support, 1080p HD video, ISO up to 25,600, a 3 inch LCD with 922,000 pixel resolution for about the same price as the 5D Mark I when it was first introduced. In my hands, it is very well constructed and feels quite solid, but not quite the same build quality and durability as the 1D/1Ds series bodies as others have mentioned.

Jim Rose was discussing how low noise is at ISO 6400 and when the staff photographers at San Francisco Chronicle (they have two on order BTW) saw the images at ISO 6400, their jaws dropped. Jim was discussing how even George Lepp (of the famous Lepp Institute of Digital Imaging) was very impressed and said that ISO 6400 on the 5D Mark II is very usable. That’s a very nice seal of approval. At ISO 12,800 things start getting a bit noisy, but not terribly bad. By ISO 25,600, things are quite noticeable noisy, but if this is the only way to get a shot, it is still usable. According to Jim (not Canon’s official stance), ISO 3200 on the 5D Mark II is comparable to ISO 800 on the 5D. I was allowed to fire off some shots on my memory card with the 5D Mark II and the images are very nice with very low noise. Unfortunately, despite being a production camera and not a prototype, I am not able to publicly post the pictures at the time (they are posted but password protected but I’ll remove the password after the 5D Mark II starts shipping).

The 1080p HD video feature of the 5D Mark II is very, very nice. You can record up to 12 minutes of video and take stills while recording. How that works is while you are recording, you just press the shutter button as you would if you were taking a picture and it will pause the recording, take the picture (or pictures) and then resume recording. You lose half a second of video for each photo taken during recording. So if you are recording a video and three minutes into recording, you snap a picture, half a second later the recording will resume resulting in a single file, and not split video files with the thirty second skip where the photograph was taken. Very cool! Also Canon recommends that you prefocus before you start recording although you can auto focus while recording (by pressing the AF-On button), it is very slow because it uses the Live View contrast detection auto focus. Another thing to note is that you can only record videos in Aperture priority mode. You select the aperture, the camera will select a shutter speed and auto set the ISO to maintain a constant consistent shutter speed. You can also dial exposure two stops up or down. You also need a UDMA card to take full advantage of the HD video recording.

The back LCD is stunning and breath taking. At 3.0 inches with 922,000 pixel resolution, checking for sharpness has become so much easier. The images displayed on the LCD are very stunning. Also the viewfinder has been redesigned and is definitely brighter than my Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II viewfinder.

Jim has been with Canon for more than eight years, since the start of megapixels (i.e. Canon D30) and this is the first camera that he is really excited about and believes that it is “going to re-energize Canon”. Jim also speculated on the 1D/1Ds line as it was asked about it’s future considering that Nikon has moved in full frame, which I won’t post as it is all speculation. Jim also mentioned the 5D Mark II should sell very, very well considering how many people want the ultimate in megapixels but couldn’t afford or justify the cost of the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III. This is certainly a good thing because I think the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III, while is a spectacular SLR, it is not worth $8,000. It’s worth $5,000 and that is where they are selling used for now (and in some cases even less). Once the new Nikon D3x is released and priced around $5,000, I’m sure Canon will no longer be able to justify pricing the 1Ds at $8,000.

So is it worth it? Yes. Am I getting one? No. I’m waiting for the the new Canon EOS 1Ds Mark IV. I love the ruggedness, durability, and auto focus. Adam Tow is thinking of downgrading from his Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II and Canon EOS 1D Mark II to two Canon EOS 5D Mark II because of the size and the HD video options.

Other little tidbits: there are seventy eight Explorers of Light and Printmasters, of which Vincent LaForet, Joe Buissink and George Lepp are members. Jim Rose does in fact read

I also forgot to mention:

Adobe CS3 DOES NOT support Canon EOS 5D Mark II RAW files. It also appears that there will NOT be an update for CS3 to fix this and you have to either buy CS4 or convert the Canon RAW to DNG.

The shutter on the 5D Mark II is very, very quiet. I was quite shocked, it sounded almost 25% quieter than my 1Ds Mark II.

Political Photography Part II: Jared Polis

Adam and his wife, Rae, went to Colorado to photograph the last week of his high school friend’s campaign for Congressional seat in Colorado District 2 before the elections. Jared Polis is an internet entrepreneur having started Blue Mountain, ProFlowers, and Fuser which he sold all off during the height of the dot com boom making millions. Jared is also founder of the New America Charter Schools. Jared has been campaigning for a year and half for this two year term. Adam spent a week following Jared around as he campaigned at Park-N-Rides, Honk and Waves, Meetings, Halloween and Farmer’s Market, Canvassing, and finally Election Day.

Adam packed his Canon EOS 1D Mark II and Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II with the following other items: Canon EF 28-70mm f/2.8L USM, Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L USM, Canon 1.4x Extender, Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, Canon Speedlite 550EX, and a Gary Fong Lightsphere. He found he was primarily using the 28-70mm on his 1Ds Mark II and 135mm on his 1D Mark II.

Adam’s daily workflow:

  1. Shoot in the morning
  2. Select, rate, process in Apple Aperture 2 and upload photos to SmugMug
  3. Recharge batteries
  4. Shoot in the evening
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3

Reason Adam does the post processing in the afternoon rather than the evening is he figured he wouldn’t do it in the evening.

Jared Polis won the Congressional District 2 seat with 60% of the vote. To see Adam’s pictures, you can visit his SmugMug here.


[smugmug url=”″ imagecount=”100″ start=”1″ num=”100″ thumbsize=”Ti” link=”lightbox” captions=”true” sort=”true” window=”false” smugmug=”true” size=”M”]

Canon L Series Lenses

This was a free two hour class offered by Canon and Keeble & Shuchat with Jennifer Wu about Canon’s L lenses by Jim Rose and nature photography tips from Jennifer. I originally heard about this from Jim when he came to COBA to discuss about CPS membership. As an added treat, Canon brought twenty four L lenses, including the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM and the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM, and five bodies (three 1D Mark IIIs, one 1Ds Mark III, one Canon XSi, and a Canon EOS 5D) for everyone to try. Also Jim brought a pre-production Canon EOS 50D with the new Canon EF 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens. Continue reading Canon L Series Lenses

COBA Meeting: AutoMate and Camera Insurance

Yesterday was my second Camera Owners of the Bay Area (COBA) monthly meeting. For those who don’t know, COBA is a monthly camera club in the Bay Area typically held on the 2nd Wednesday of every month at Cordura Hall 100 at Stanford University. COBA was founded by Adam Tow, who also presides over the meetings. COBA is intended for photographers (hobbyist, professionals, amateurs, and everyone in between) to have a forum to meet and discuss all things related to photography.

For yesterday’s meeting, our agenda was about a product called AutoMate and Camera Insurance. Continue reading COBA Meeting: AutoMate and Camera Insurance

Photo Equipment Wish List


This is a wish list and hopefully a long term road map of where I would like to build my photographic equipment to. The Want Factor Rating is merely my ranking of importance to me in terms of what I would want first versus another.

Canon EOS 1D Mark IIn

eos-1d mark ii n ef 50mm angleWant Factor [rating:5]

This has always been my dream digital SLR (dSLR) to own. With lightning fast 8.5 frames per second (FPS), you couldn’t possible miss a shot. Also with the weather sealed body and the body being made entirely of magnesium alloy, this is truly a professional grade dSLR that can handle the rough elements. The 1.3x crop factor allows for more elements to be the frame versus the 1.6x crop factor of the Canon EOS XTi/400D/10/20D/30D. With its amazing 45 point auto focus sensor, it almost guarantees a precise lock on any object anywhere in the frame. This dSLR is a favorite amongst sports photographer and photo journalist. Now with the release of the new Canon EOS 1D Mark III, the prices should fall on these models making them a more attractive deal.

APRIL 28, 2008 UPDATE: After having acquired a Canon EOS 1D Mark II, I no longer need the Mark IIn version. For my second body, I would rather acquire a Canon EOS 1D Mark III or Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II.

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II

Want Factor [rating:5]

Canon has released their next generation 1Ds model, the Mark III, coming in at a whopping 21MP. Fortunately this has brought the prices of the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II down to somewhat more *affordable*. Originally I was contempt with just the 1D line, I’ve increasingly found many reasons to why I would want a full frame sensor, the main one being is full advantage of wide angle lenses. Also 16.7MP is still a very respectable MP size allowing for very large quality images.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III

eos1dmarkiii picWant Factor [rating:4.5]

It was only a matter of time before Canon would release a followup to their highly successful Canon EOS 1D Mark IIn. They up the standards, once again, with the first dSLR capable of 10 FPS! Also with a bigger LCD, 3 inches versus 2.5 inches, viewing images are now much easier. Also with Canon’s new technology, Live Preview, allows for use of the LCD to take pictures without the need for use of the eye viewer making it easier to take product images and image duplications. Also improved is a new 10 mega pixel sensor (versus 8.2 mega pixel on the Mark IIn), quality is further upped. With the addition of the Dust Sensor Cleaner, it will definitely cut down on dust spots in pictures. Very pricey, ~$4,000, I would love to have this dSLR (if money was no object), but I think the Mark IIn is more than adequate, especially for what it’ll be selling for when the Mark III begins shipping.

Canon EF 300mm f/4L USM IS

canon400mmf4Want Factor: [rating:4.5]

Despite being a f/4 lens, this is still a very usable lens for landscape, bird photography, and some sports shooting. Having Image Stabilization is also a big plus especially at this focal length.

Being a prime lens makes its auto focus fast and accurate. I’ve seen quite a number of excellent pictures produced by this lens.

There have been times that I have found my Canon EF 70-200mm needs just a little more reach. The price is still relatively affordable, not that more expensive than the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, compared to its bigger f/2.8 brother’s $4,000 cost.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L USM IS

ef 24-105 angleWant Factor [rating:4]

If my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM had image stabilization (IS), it would have been a perfect lens, but unfortunately it doesn’t. This guy has IS though and also better reach (the additional 35mm can make quite a difference). The major drawback I don’t like about this lens is the slow aperture of f/4. While IS will make a difference for that in low light hand held shots, it unfortunately can not stop action like a f/2.8 lens can. But this lens would still have various uses such as portrait photography, a general walk around lens, and so on. It is lighter and smaller than my 24-70mm f/2.8L, making it easier to use and carry, especially on a small dSLR such as the XTi.

It’s sharpness is right on par with the 24-70mm f/2.8, so there isn’t much sacrifice other than for the faster aperture. And also because it is a stop slower, getting bokeh shots will be slightly more difficult. I definitely would like to add this to my current gear list for many reasons.

Canon EF 17-55mm f/2.8 USM IS

efs 17-55mm slant with capWant Factor [rating:0]

Having a bit more wide angle would be really nice. My most widest lens is my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM, while is wide, there are times where it just isn’t quite wide enough to get everything I want. The major things that is nice about this lens are: 1) Image Stabilization (IS), much needed for those slower shots, 2) nice wide angle, 17mm makes a big difference, 3) f/2.8 and 4) pro level lens means it is very sharp. The draw backs on this lens for me is: 1) No “L” designation meaning no magnesium alloy body, just high impact polycarbonate (i.e. plastic), 2) expensive for not being an “L” lens, but it does contain all elements of being an “L” except for the polycarbonate body and 3) It’s an EF-S mount lens, meaning it won’t work on full frame SLRs (i.e. Canon 1D/1Ds lines and the Canon 5D).

Never the less, this lens will still be invaluable for indoor shooting with no flash. It’s about the same size as the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L USM IS.

APRIL 28, 2008 UPDATE: Because I’m slowly moving out of the 1.6x crop factor SLRs, this EF-S lens would be useless to me.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L USM IS

1bWant Factor [rating:3.5]

This has a great focal length that allows for that extra reach without breaking the bank. While the 100-200 focal length is already covered by my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM, I have no lens that goes beyond the 200mm, that is where this “little” lens steps in. But because of its slow aperture, it unfortunately isn’t an ideal sports lens. It can do great bird shots and even some action shots where adequate lighting is available. Also as an “L” lens, it has the sharpness and build quality. One other great feature also is the IS that is built in on this lens making it easier to get sharp pictures.

Overall size is not that much bigger than the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM. The pictures are plenty sharp, not as sharp as the prime lenses and also not as sharp as the 70-200, but for having a 100-400mm focal length readily available, it is plenty sharp. This is a lens I would pack with me to air shows, zoos, and such.