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12-14-2007, 07:02 AM   #1
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Notes from a 5D experience

This isn't a Pentax or K10D bashing thread - quite the contrary. I've always been amazed at what an incredible value the K10D represents, and perhaps that is why it's so frequently compared with cameras that are three to four times more expensive.

Nevertheless, for some time I've had three major complaints that have significantly limited my satisfaction with this camera: slow AF speed in low light, limited high ISO capability, and a 1/180 sync speed. I'm well aware that these may not be issues for many others, but since I shoot a lot of portraits both indoors (in low light) and outdoors (in bright light, where 1/250 would be very welcome) they are very significant for me.

So, after a lot of wondering I decided to rent a 5D to get a sense of what the competition has to offer. As has been pointed out many times, it's not fair to compare the K10D with a 5D that is four times more expensive - but that's what I'm going to do. Why? Simply because that IS exactly what I'm doing in my decision making process... trying to decide whether a 5D is worth the extra expense to get the features I want.

Enough with the background. Here are my brief (unscientific) observations.
* camera feels very solid and well-built
* AF is MUCH faster; frankly, I'm blown away at how much faster it focuses in low light than the K10D (note that I have mostly FA Limiteds, which are known to be slower than other lenses; I do have a Sigma 18-50 which is somewhat closer to what the 5D offers, but still significantly slower
* high ISO performance is unparalleled (except for the D3 & 1D); low noise without sacrificing detail
* a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera has a significantly different FOV than a 50mm equivalent (i.e. 35mm) on a 1.5x APS-C; it's been a long time since I used a film camera, so I had forgotten this; I prefer the full-frame FOV

What it comes down to is that if it weren't for my FA Limiteds I'd sell the Pentax gear and pick up a 5D in a heartbeat. They can be found for about $1900 new and $1700 barely used right now, so it's not completely out of my range. But the Limited primes are the reason I chose Pentax in the first place, and I don't know if I'm ready to give them up. I think I'll wait until late January to see what Pentax has up its sleeve before I make a decision. Also, there's a chance that a 5DmkII (or 7D, some say) might be released at PMA, and some on the Canon forums believe they could sell for as low as $2200 (low for a FF DSLR, that is).

Here's one at ISO 3200 (shot at 1600 and pushed a stop)



12-14-2007, 07:30 AM   #2
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FOV difference

QuoteOriginally posted by switters Quote
* a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera has a significantly different FOV than a 50mm equivalent (i.e. 35mm) on a 1.5x APS-C; it's been a long time since I used a film camera, so I had forgotten this; I prefer the full-frame FOV
Can you elaborate on this a bit more, please ? I don't understand how a 35mm on an APC-C DLSR (53.5mm equivalent) can be all that different from a 50mm on a no-crop DSLR.
12-14-2007, 07:38 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by RBellavance Quote
Can you elaborate on this a bit more, please ? I don't understand how a 35mm on an APC-C DLSR (53.5mm equivalent) can be all that different from a 50mm on a no-crop DSLR.
The FOV of a 35mm lens may have the reach of a 53.5mm lens, but it still behaves like a 35mm lens in that it's not a flat field of view like a 50mm lens. There is a big difference not to mention the depth of field is thinner on a FF sensor than on an APS-C sensor.

Oh, and I'm not too sure about the blazing fast AF because the 5D has the same AF as the 20D, which is quick, but in all the tests we've done in the store show that in bright light they are about the same speed. A lot of the times it seems faster because it's quieter. In low light the 5D would win, but not against an SDM lens, which in all tests we've done show it'll lock focus way before any Canon camera, cept a 1DsMKII cause I'm never going to get the chance to test that LOL.
12-14-2007, 08:05 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by codiac2600 Quote
The FOV of a 35mm lens may have the reach of a 53.5mm lens, but it still behaves like a 35mm lens in that it's not a flat field of view like a 50mm lens. There is a big difference not to mention the depth of field is thinner on a FF sensor than on an APS-C sensor.

Oh, and I'm not too sure about the blazing fast AF because the 5D has the same AF as the 20D, which is quick, but in all the tests we've done in the store show that in bright light they are about the same speed. A lot of the times it seems faster because it's quieter. In low light the 5D would win, but not against an SDM lens, which in all tests we've done show it'll lock focus way before any Canon camera, cept a 1DsMKII cause I'm never going to get the chance to test that LOL.
I certainly wouldn't claim that my tests are scientific or comprehensive in nature, but I can tell you that the 5D focuses MUCH faster in low light, and locks onto focus much more reliably (even in areas with no contrast) than the K10D & FA Limiteds.

Now, I've been told that the FA Limiteds are known to be rather slow when it comes to AF, because they were built for precise manual focusing. I may be off with the explanation here, but I do know that my Sigma 18-50/2.8 focuses much faster than the 43 & 77, and is closer to the 5D in performance.

Who knows, perhaps something is wrong with the AF on my K10D. Because I'm telling you the difference I see with the 5D is VERY noticeable.

12-14-2007, 08:13 AM   #5
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What I do not like in Canons is their colors... They tend to make people look more brown then they are, and Canon's sky is paler then it's really is. Canonites call it a "natural" color representation, but it does not looks like "natural" to me at all. Every Canon, from smallest PnS camera to 5D has the same thing, which renders them unacceptable for me personally, and kills all their benefits...
12-14-2007, 08:20 AM   #6
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I love the 5D except for one thing - actually using it. I hate how/where the buttons are laid out, I hate the menus, the camera just doesn't feel right to me.

But it sure takes pretty pictures, and the EOS mount is so incredibly adaptable that I really envy those Canon shooters the variety of lenses easily used on their system. I really wish I liked using the camera more. Heck, I would even go out and get the Pentax K-to-EOS adapter and keep all my lenses. Oh, well.
12-14-2007, 08:21 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Snowcat Quote
What I do not like in Canons is their colors... They tend to make people look more brown then they are, and Canon's sky is paler then it's really is. Canonites call it a "natural" color representation, but it does not looks like "natural" to me at all. Every Canon, from smallest PnS camera to 5D has the same thing, which renders them unacceptable for me personally, and kills all their benefits...
Unless you shoot JPEG only, this can be mitigated somewhat by shooting RAW and creating a custom ACR calibration profile using a Gretag MacBeth color chart. Then, anytime RAW images are imported those calibration settings are applied and it's no extra work at all. Profiles can be created for tungsten and daylight.

I did this with my K10D, actually, because I wasn't at all satisfied with the colors on the default ACR RAW conversion. The custom calibration is really, really helpful IMO.

Now, there's something to be said for a camera like the S5 that does white balance and colors (for skin tones, especially) better than any other. That's particularly true if you're a wedding photographer who shoots JPEG and doesn't have time to mess around with RAW. I'm not.
12-14-2007, 08:24 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by RBellavance Quote
Can you elaborate on this a bit more, please ? I don't understand how a 35mm on an APC-C DLSR (53.5mm equivalent) can be all that different from a 50mm on a no-crop DSLR.
the bokeh/dof and hyperfocal distance are very different. the full frame will have a slightly larger dof but a tighter bokeh making the subject pop more.

the hyperfocal distance is just, handy. it's nearly double with the cropped setup.

12-14-2007, 08:25 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by carpents Quote
I love the 5D except for one thing - actually using it. I hate how/where the buttons are laid out, I hate the menus, the camera just doesn't feel right to me.

But it sure takes pretty pictures, and the EOS mount is so incredibly adaptable that I really envy those Canon shooters the variety of lenses easily used on their system. I really wish I liked using the camera more. Heck, I would even go out and get the Pentax K-to-EOS adapter and keep all my lenses. Oh, well.
That's funny, I actually don't mind the ergonomics of the 5D. I still think the K10D is way better in that regard, but the 5D is just fine. Perhaps that's because I shot with a 20D for a long time and feel very familiar/comfortable with the placement of the controls.

I've heard that using FA lenses with a K-mount adapter on the 5D requires irreversible modifications to the lenses. Not to mention all metering, focusing and aperture selection is manual. As much as I love the Limiteds, I don't think they're THAT much better than the Canon L glass to justify such a hassle.
12-14-2007, 08:29 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by switters Quote
I've heard that using FA lenses with a K-mount adapter on the 5D requires irreversible modifications to the lenses. Not to mention all metering, focusing and aperture selection is manual. As much as I love the Limiteds, I don't think they're THAT much better than the Canon L glass to justify such a hassle.
Yup, you'd have to cut off the protruding part in the back of the lens. (I would consider other options, though - I've seen people trim up the mirror and I wonder if that would remove the need to do this.)

Well, if it makes your decision easier, the limiteds aren't as good as the best Canon L glass. In fact, there are few lenses anywhere for any mount that are as good as the Canon 85/1.2 L - if you have the money for one.
12-14-2007, 08:32 AM   #11
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I love the look of 5D images, the thing I love about that camera is the sensor and the viewfinder, the rest I dont really care about. Not saying things like the AF is bad, but I MF so it doesnt matter. That huge VF would be nice for MF though... Id love to see that sensor in a K mount body..... A lot of pentaxians think FF sensor is just a marketing thing though, I guess similar to how the Nikonians were acting before they got the D3, now its the best thing since sliced bread
12-14-2007, 08:46 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by switters Quote
Unless you shoot JPEG only, this can be mitigated somewhat by shooting RAW and creating a custom ACR calibration profile using a Gretag MacBeth color chart. Then, anytime RAW images are imported those calibration settings are applied and it's no extra work at all. Profiles can be created for tungsten and daylight.

I did this with my K10D, actually, because I wasn't at all satisfied with the colors on the default ACR RAW conversion. The custom calibration is really, really helpful IMO.

Now, there's something to be said for a camera like the S5 that does white balance and colors (for skin tones, especially) better than any other. That's particularly true if you're a wedding photographer who shoots JPEG and doesn't have time to mess around with RAW. I'm not.
Yep I prefer to shoot JPEGs. Not all the time, but more often, then RAWs. But it's my problem, not Canon's and I accept that. But still it is really hard to mess with the sky colors from Canon's RAWs (no talking about JPEGs). Sky is what mostly bothers me. I can get Pentax's sky (Nikon's, Sony's) and make Canon's paler sky easily. But making Canon's skies brighter, deeper and more enjoyale cannot be done automatically. Because it is individual for every shot. That's why I see Canon as a reporter's camera mainly. Very fast, very good high ISO, skin tone correction makes people better most of the times - reporter's dream.
For me (nature shooter) it's more desirable to get the colors unchanged, maybe slightly emphasized sometimes, but mainly unchanged. The less changes - the less work in PP - the better. Definetely not Canon.
I am not saying that 5D is bad. It's very good, but not for me. So if I had to choose - FREE 5D or FREE K10D, I'd still choose K10D (well, meybe 5D, then sell it and get K10D and extra money ).
12-14-2007, 08:51 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by carpents Quote
Yup, you'd have to cut off the protruding part in the back of the lens. (I would consider other options, though - I've seen people trim up the mirror and I wonder if that would remove the need to do this.)

Well, if it makes your decision easier, the limiteds aren't as good as the best Canon L glass. In fact, there are few lenses anywhere for any mount that are as good as the Canon 85/1.2 L - if you have the money for one.
Nope, I won't be buying the 85/1.2 anytime soon. But the 85/1.8 and 100/2 (which I have on hand now) are both highly regarded, and the 135/2 is one of the better lenses I've used on any camera. It's not outrageously priced, either - about $800 new, but easy to find lightly used for $700.

Of course, these lenses are all much bigger than their Pentax counterparts. But that's actually less of an issue for me now, since I don't travel with the camera much anymore.

Anyways, I've taken some wonderful pictures with the K10D and I've been very happy with it in most respects. The 5D is just a step up in certain areas, and I have to say I really, really like the FF sensor. If a 5DmkII does make it to the market, I will be SORELY tempted. I already am with the mkI.
12-14-2007, 09:04 AM   #14
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Here's a question for all of you: I just did a side-by-side comparison of focusing in low light between the 5D with 50/1.4 and the K10D and 43/1.9. I was appalled at how much slower the K10D & 43 are... after just 24 hours of shooting with the 5D, I guess I had gotten used to it.

Perhaps I should try the 35/2 instead? Does it focus any faster than the 43? It's a shame because I really do love that lens.
12-14-2007, 09:21 AM   #15
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I've not found the auto focus in lower light to be as appallingly slow as you. But then, that could be that I don't demand instantaneous focus. In fact, like others we have the option of manual focus with confirmation. I'm not sure why a portraiture photographer would demand such blazingly fast auto focus but then I'm not a portraiture photog.

All the best.
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