Apr 062012
 

With the new Canon 5D Mark III in the hands of early adopters, some indications of this camera’s ability are beginning to emerge. Since Canon announced that it would not be possible to change the focusing screen on the 5D Mark III that brought into question its compatibility with the Zeiss ZE manual lenses.

Quite a few hearts fell when camera enthusiast and former software engineer Lloyd Chambers pronounced that the focusing screen on the 5D Mark III made it impossible to achieve accurate focus, although he did concede that the green dot focus assist worked well for chipped lenses, such as the Zeiss ZE lenses.

Canon 40D and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro. ©Calvin Palmer 2012. All Rights Reserved.

The difficulty I have with people like Chambers is their lack of credentials. He is simply a self-appointed expert answerable to no-one. The sheeple flock to his site and hang on his every utterance as if he were some kind of a technology shaman.

I do not for one minute doubt the technical competence and knowledge of Chambers but he is simply expressing his opinion as a camera enthusiast, a more knowledgeable hobbyist, if you will, than most hobbyists who frequent the Internet.

But it took a hobbyist on the Alternative Gear & Lenses forum at Fredmiranda.com to reveal that the Canon 5D Mark III is perfectly suited to the manual Zeiss ZE lenses.

Philippe, based in France, who posts under the name of Philber wrote:

I do not find that the standard VF screen makes it any harder to focus than my 5DII’s Eg-S. BUT the much improved AF is a game changer for MF! Now I haven’t had the time to micro-adjust my lenses, or to select the best AF configuration for my needs (essentially landscape). I just turned noise reduction off, and started shooting JPEGs to see if I could focus my MF lenses. And the result blew me away, because of the MF assist. The AF will focus even in an almost dark room. It will lead the camera in P mode to go for f:1.4, 1/80s and ISO 12.800 with my ZE 85, and the focus is spot on every time, something that was simply not possible on the 5D II.

Bob Israel went even further and posted some photographs taken with the Zeiss ZE 2/100 Makro shot wide open.

Tongue-in-cheek, Bob wrote:

According to some recent writings, I must have been one lucky SOB to nail the (manual) focus!

With Bob’s photographs, the proof of the pudding is there for all to see. And it seems that the fears many Canon 5D Mark II shooters had about the 5D Mark III have proved to be unfounded.

Canon has at long last rectified the poor AF system associated with the 5D Mark II. The 5D Mark III borrows the AF system of Canon’s flagship model , the soon to be released Canon 1DX, and it appears to deliver the goods.

Canon 40D and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro. ©Calvin Palmer 2012. All Rights Reserved.

In a comparison between the Canon 5D Mk III and Nikon D800, Calgary-based fashion and portrait photographer Nathan Elson said that AF focus on the Canon was faster and more precise than the Nikon. For the record, Nathan shoots with Nikon cameras.

And, as a working photographer, Nathan considers both the Canon 5D Mk III and Nikon D800 to be fine cameras. One can almost hear the cries of “Sacrilege!” emanating from the respective forums of DPReview.

Happy Easter!

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Mar 302012
 

I took delivery of a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens last Thursday, my first autofocus lens. I had planned to shoot with it quite a bit this week but unfortunately I was laid low with a viral infection that can best be described as 48-hour flu. I am over the worst of it but its effects are lingering on in the form of feeling listless and lethargic. I did manage to get out and about at the weekend and was mightily pleased with the results.

Canon 40D and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro. ©Calvin Palmer 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Using an AF lens has involved a learning curve for me, albeit not a steep one. I am using back button focus, a method I read about a while back and considered by many to be preferable to half pressing the shutter to achieve focus. My thumb has quickly learned the position of the AE Lock button and I must say I enjoy this method of shooting. It did involve making a couple of adjustments to the Custom Functions of the Canon 40D and I have also set one of the camera settings C1 to shooting with AF.

When I go back to my trusty manual focus Zeiss Planar T*, I will simply switch back to Av mode.

Canon 40D and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro. ©Calvin Palmer 2012. All Rights Reserved.

A few weeks ago on this blog I was lamenting the way that camera manufacturers do not seem to cater to the wishes of photographers like me by producing the digital equivalent of the Nikon F2, Nikon FM, Canon AE-1, Minolta XD7 or Pentax K1000.

My photographic friend Bob, in England, echoed my thoughts when we were corresponding about the specifications of the new Canon 5D Mark III.

Bob wrote:

It all seems so far removed from my type of photography (and I use the latter word to describe the whole exercise/experience in the field). The phrase “great quality sound” just about sums it up. How have we managed to get to the point where these three words apply to a Single Lens Reflex camera!!! If this were an old-fashioned letter, this would be the point at which my pencil broke on the page.

I wonder if anyone will ever take something like a Pentax Spotmatic F as a model, simply put a sensor where the film plane used to be, bung some elementary digital electronic gubbins and a battery where the film/cannister was and market it as the “Jurassodigimatic”. Race you to the front of the queue.

Bob is a down-to-earth Lancastrian who has been photographing for more than 40 years. He specializes in landscape photography, industrial photography and railway photography, particularly steam locomotives. His work has been published in British steam railway enthusiast magazines. His approach to photography often involves meticulous planning and the use of a tripod and is diametrically opposed to my journalist on-the-fly hand-held approach.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I read an interview with one of my favourite contemporary photographers, David Burnett, on The Online Photographer Web site. I admire Burnett’s reportage work immensely and he also comes across as a genuinely nice guy.

While the kindergarten classes on DPReview are arguing the merits of the Canon 5D Mk III versus the Nikon D800, Burnett is still shooting with a pair of the original Canon 5D cameras. To Burnett, and any self-respecting professional photographer, cameras are simply tools. It is how those tools are used that separates the men from the boys.

Canon 40D and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro. ©Calvin Palmer 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Burnett admitted that he does not own a digital camera capable of shooting at 100,000 ISO but did say that he had recently acquired a Leica M9 and went on to extol the virtues of rangefinder photography.

Burnett said:

I have been quite amazed, actually, that neither Canon nor Nikon has come out with their own re-creation of one of their classic rangefinder cameras. In all the advances in photo technology, it just surprises me that none of the traditional makers other than Leica (the preeminent) has seen fit to create a camera (please, no harping about the Epson) which recreates all those great 1950s cameras.

The interview garnered plenty of comments, many from young photographers admiring Burnett’s work. As befitting the man, he added a comment to the interview, acknowledging those kind comments.

He went on to say:

My issue with the RFDR cameras is take a Nikon D700/Canon5D chip (proven, capable, cheap) put it in a new SPdigi, CanonP/7 digi body, put a screen on the back as good as any $400 point/shoot (there are plenty), and PUT A FRICKEN RANGEFINDER with an M mount on the body. It’s not rocket science though perhaps it’s being seen that way. God bless all the x100/X-Pro1, Sony 5NEX, etc., etc., etc. cameras. Let them all fight for the wannabe crowd but make a $1500 RFDR body, (no need for video, let it just be a PHOTO camera) and you will be a) Camera of the Year; b) unable to keep up with demand; and c) loved by a very loveable group of shooters.

On reading that, I immediately thought of Bob’s e-mail and my own wish for a digital version of the great SLRs of the 1960s and 1970s.

Of course, it begs the question as to why major camera manufacturers will not produce such a camera but continue to produce the behemoths that full-frame DSLR cameras have become and why a generation of photographers, those of us 45 years and plus, is being ignored by the camera giants.

Over to you Canon, Nikon, et al!

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