Canon 5D Mark III thoughts

I have had a number of photographers contact me recently asking my thoughts on my recent upgrade to the Canon 5D Mark III.

So it prompted me to stop and think what I thought about the camera.

I had previously said a number of times that I could not see any need to upgrade to the 5D Mark III, for my type of photography (Working with models in the studio and on location) the MkII did its job well enough and produced good images.

However my main issue with the MkII was the focusing. It performed well most of the time but in low light it did struggle especially if you had the modelling light turned off; on the studio lights it was almost impossible to get a focus. You always had to move to move your focus point back to the central focus point to get any form of focus in those conditions. But I knew about it and worked on the central focus point when working in those lighting situations.

However this year I had started to be a little unhappy about the number images that were not as sharp as I would have liked and as I mentioned in a previous blog post  I took the decision to change a couple of my lens from zooms to prime lens. I also had the opportunity to handle to MkIII in anger a couple of time and was impressed with the new 61-point focusing system that it now had.  So the decision was made to change when Canon had the offer of a battery grip included with the camera.

The first impression when you look at the camera is not much has changed, however the body shape has changes slightly and for me the camera fits slight better into my hand (I have big hands so a plus for me) Most of the key specification have been upgraded over the MkII (details can be seen here) The menu system has also changed quite a bit, but if you are used to the MkII menu system then finding your way around is more or less the same. A number of function screen have been added for the Auto focus system, and a few useful custom setting have come forward in the menu hierarchy.  The rest of the Mk III shooting controls are in the use place here on the top or on the back plate to the side of the display screen. MkII owners would be familiar with most of what these buttons do. However there are three new buttons on the back; one labelled Rate, which you might use to rate your images on the back of the camera, one with a Magnify glass on it, which you use to zoom in and out of the image when pressed using one of the scroll wheels, the final one is used when shooting stills to allow you to access the Picture Style, Multiple Exposures, and in-camera HDR – In image review mode allow you to compare images side by side.

The button functions changes only really become an issue when you are shooting and you look at an image on the back of the camera. The old 5D MkII way of doing this is so in grained that you automatically go to the button which use to do it and then wonder why you are not zooming in. To zoom in on the 5D Mark III takes a different button selection and the use of the small scroll wheel on the front to the camera. You now need to bring up the picture as the MkII and then hit the magnifying button and then using the scroll wheel on the front to zoom in and out. This for me has been the main change when actually using the camera. The other is the focusing which is vastly improved over the MKII and is a really winner for me. You can select any of the focus points and they will focus on your aiming point in the low light condition that the MkII would not even pick up an edge.

So having now used it on two studio shoots, and outside for some landscape work what do I think of it, was upgrade worth it?

Portrait Photography - Portrait Photographer - carla in red hat
Richard Spurdens Photography – Carla in red hat
Fashion Photography - Fashion Photographer - Stripes dress
Richard Spurdens Photography – Stripes Dress
Landscape Photograher - Landscape Photography - rolling downs
Richard Spurdens Photography – Rolling downs
Landscape Photographer - Landscape Photography - overden moor windfarm
Richard Spurdens Photography – Overden moor wind farm 1

For me the answer is a firm yes: the new way of zooming into and out of images will eventually become second nature, but of me the 61 point focusing really does make it better than the MkII.

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The Sigma 35mm F1.4

A recent addition to my lens collection is the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM wide –angle lens.

Now I have to point out that I am not a lens snob, when I first purchased a Canon digital camera body my first lens purchase was a Sigma and it was pin sharp and worked well.

Over the years I have moved on to the more expensive and supposedly better canon L lens. However recently when working in low natural light I have been disappointed with the performance from some of my lenses.  Now I suppose the main reason that I have kept with the Canon brand, is that the top names tend to have the top lenses. Read any magazine review and the branded lens always seem to come out on top. Performance wise and of course cost wise too.

So with the magazines doing the testing and providing the comparisons, it is almost the simple choice to just get the lens which has the brand name. Of course, there is always the possibility of a disappointment which can be expensive too –  let us not forget that Canon et al advertise in these magazines. But generally, staying with the big camera brands is a decision that can be made with confidence.

However as I said above with the type of imagery I shoot I felt that certain lenses were not giving me what I was expecting in terms of sharpness and when I’m paying for a model and using a one off location, I didn’t really want to have as poor a keep rate as I was getting from my current lens setup. I also wanted to move more to prime lenses as they tend to be less heavy than a zoom.

So I felt it was time to do some research and see what was out there that might be worth investing in – and I started to look at the Sigma 35mm. A search of the web provided some good reviews and visiting various people’s blogs gave some good and useful information too.

A good place to start is DPREVIEW which always seem to give good factual reviews. They gave the lens a rating of 89% and the following headline conclusion:

‘The Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM is a truly excellent lens that performs as well in the field as its superb lab test results suggest. With fast silent focusing and solid build, its lower price makes it a compelling alternative to the camera manufacturers’ equivalents if you don’t need weather-sealing.’

So armed with that information I took the plunge and purchased this lens. The lens certainly has a very different look to the Sigma Lens I had in the past, and actually looks quite sleek and modern. It looks good and feels solid and is easy to put on and off the camera thanks to its new design. The lens hood is also easy to put on and take off too.

sigma 35mm

So now the proof of the pudding will be in how it performs in use. I have shot a couple of landscapes with it but will have to wait a short while to try it out in the studio. I will post some images as soon as I have used it.

Here are a two images shot using the above lens from a recent shoot with Carla Monaco, shot using natural light.

colour image of model carla M seated on a settee wearing a white dress
Canon EOS 5D Mk III Sigma 35mm F1.4
artistic nude photography - artistic nude photographer -
Canon EOS 5D Mk III Sigma 35mm F1.4

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A New Start

A new start is need:

Follow a bit of a disaster when upgrading to WordPress 3.6 I lost my site, and posts and just ended up with a white screen.

The learning from that is don’t assume upgrades work all the time read the support forums first before pressing update now.

So I decided to take on a new challenge of working up a new site.

So hopefully a website will appear in the next few days – weeks !!

Stay with me if you can and see it develop.


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