What Camera?

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Well this is the big decision I’ve had to make recently and to be honest I’m still quite shocked & amazed the Canon EOS 5D Mark II above is where it all ended?! I’m an amateur film maker and very amateur photographer, what the hell am I doing with a huge DSLR? Some of you probably already know the reason, I didn’t at the time, but below is a summary of how I found out.

Where this all started was me wanting to take my hiking photography up a notch, basically buy a little compact that takes a better picture than my phone! Being a style slag I fell in love with the Leica X1. Easy decision I thought, big sensor, little body, doesn’t weigh much, looks a bit like a M9, i.e. drop dead gorgeous. Job done, I put my deposit down and pre-ordered it months ago.

Then while I was waiting for the Leica production line to get round to making my camera I came across something called a 35mm adapter. This is the review by Tom Guilmette that I first came across and does a good job of explaining what it is:

$400 and I can make my Sony HDR SR12 do stuff like that, I want one! Shallow depth of field is something I’ve always jealously admired in other peoples work, but up until recently I didn’t even know enough about it to know what you needed to achieve it.. Ok I had my mission, find the best 35mm adapter to take to New Zealand, this is going to be awesome! After much research I couldn’t really find anything that beat the JAG35 Pro on weight, price and size.


I started to freak out that carrying 2 cameras (video & still), a fairy large adapter, plus another lens on the end, not to mention all the chargers, plugs and cables for them all was getting out of hand.. There’s got to be a better way eh?

Back on google I came across this film by Sebastian Lopez, shot on a Canon 7D:

Whoa, that blew my pants right off! Ok now I’m getting somewhere, this wasn’t what I was looking for, but I don’t care. In fact how can I use a camcorder anymore after seeing footage taken with this new breed on DSLR? Ah yes, probably got something to do with the price, size and the weight.. Ah what the hell!

Anyhow it’s getting late, to cut a long story short – I cancelled my X1 order, then chose the 5D over the 7D because of bigger sensor blahdy blah, general consensus by reviewers yadda yah and the third party Magic Lantern Firmware, that’s not yet available on the 7D (didn’t want to risk it not being available before NZ).

The lens

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

This decision pained me. There’s a lot of different opinions flying around and it’s hard to find consensus. Please don’t tell me I bought the wrong one, my brain hurts from thinking about it.. I only wanted to carry one lens so I thought I’d get a wide angle with a bit of zoom, I picked the Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM. All I can say is that it’s the best lens I’ve ever used (although that’s not saying much), and it definitely looks bigger in real life than on the internets! I love looking down that massive piece of glass at the front though, feels like I’m talking to Hal 9000 ;)

What’s next? Well I think I can live without the remote controlled D5 helicopter, but when I see stuff like this by Luke Humphrey, I start thinking maybe I need a Merlin Steadicam..

I’m really looking forward to using this camera (I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited), hopefully this blog will soon be full of all the beautiful images I’ve been able to capture with it :)

16 thoughts on “What Camera?

  1. The 5D MkII & 24-70L were all I carried with me during my honeymoon in New Zealand last year. The combination will work well for you. You may want to consider a variable ND filter for use while shooting video, as it will give you more control of depth of field in the bright sunshine.

    Have a great time!

  2. Trevor. The image quality may be identical BUT the user interface, controls, ergonomics and quality of the body just suck in comparison to the 7D.

    It’s the equivalent of a Wacom Cintiq compared to a Bamboo. They both allow you to do the same thing but one feels waaaay better, handles better, looks better.

    Find the cash if I were you ! You won’t be sorry.

  3. Hi Oz – I’ve had a few people suggest the 7D to me, but I’m not sure if the extra $500 and 330g are worth it – especially when by all accounts the image quality is near identical. Argh, too many options! :)

  4. p.s. Trevor. If you can stretch to the 7D over the 550D it is far far superior and worth the stretch. I used a friends 550D a few weekends ago and it doesn’t even come close to the quality and user friendliness of the 7D.

  5. I own the 7D and I’m probably a lot like yourself in terms of photography skills. I would have bought a 5D if I had the dough. I’m incredibly happy with the 7D though. The jump up from the 30D I had before is immense ! Enjoy.

  6. It sure is a great camera and I think you just get used to the weight of carrying something like that around. I lug a Canon 50D about quite a lot and it gets easier. But if you really want something lightweight then I can’t recommend the Lumix GF1 enough. This guy writes a great review. http://craigmod.com/journal/gf1-fieldtest/ I have the camera and the pancake lens and a nikon big lens for it. All which I carry around everyday. Always happy to show/lend you if you’re still in the market of deciding.

  7. Great little post and choice of camera – I’m already looking forward to seeing the final edit, though there’s a fair way to go before we get that blog post!

    Excited to read about the other kit you end up buying too as I’m a sucker for this stuff. Then, when one day I decide to go for an extremely long walk somewhere you’ll have done all the hard work for me! :)

  8. I went for the 5D (old version about 2 years ago after shooting real film since I can remember. Never looked back…I’ve produced so many stunning images with this camera, and it’s really brought back my creativity when it comes to photography. I recently upgraded to Mark II and I think you made absolutely the right choice. I’m personally not a fan of the zoom lenses, and only used fixed (i have have a 35 mm, 85mm and a 135 mm). For that really beautiful bokeh and super shallow dof you need to go fixed tele lens with a low low f stop. But for your purposes you probably have the best setup possible. Looking forward to seeing your pics!

  9. I’m pondering the same things at the moment so it’s good to read someone else’s take on it all (esp being a graphic designer). I’m thinking Canon 550D to keep the costs down, the same EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM lens, and my trusty 50mm 1.4 for low light. Not sure about a tripod. But I’ll only be hiking 4 days at a time, so my needs are not as extreme.

    As for the website – it was Made-in-England that helped me get off my ass and finally make my own site, so thanks!

  10. Hi Trevor (sweet website btw!),

    I am a bit worried yes.. Camera, lens and Lowepro bag altogether weigh 2kg! That’s quite a lot of weight to hang around my hip belt all day, I still haven’t tested it on trail to see what that’s like.

    I got a top loader bag (Zoom 50 AW) as that’s what I’m used to. Fits the camera & lens like a glove, but it hangs heavy and bangs against my legs if front mounted. Side mounted on the hip is fine, but wouldn’t be able to use trekking poles due to the bulk where my arms would move. Not an ideal situation..

    Going to visit camera shops this weekend and try a couple of things out – Chest harness, but not sure if I’m going to like wearing it. See what a belt bag is like with the camera horizontal, maybe something like a LowePro Orion.

    I must admit, once I started researching this camera I completely lost sight of any kind of ultralight rational and got carrying away the uncompromised quality.. Maybe that’s going to come back and bite me, I don’t know. At the very least maybe a shorter / lighter lens might have been a smarter decision!

  11. welcome back cookie :)

    I fell in-love with the Panazonic lumix tz7 .. not as flash as a real DSLR .. but makes for beautiful snappy shots .. a handy little back-up if I can suggest one..

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