Hands On with the 5D MkII, G10 & 24mm f1.4L MkII

A day after the announcements I was fortunate enough to be one of the few invited by Canon to check out the new additions. Before I continue, its important to point out that all of the equipment was pre-production and as experience has shown in the past, final production products are much more polished in both performance and quality terms.

I headed straight for the 5D MkII. This camera has huge shoes to fill as the 5D has without a doubt been responsible for being revolutionary in the digital SLR market. I’m happy to announce that it most definitely doesn’t disappoint.

The camera has a familiar feel to it; anyone who has a 5D will feel right at home. It does feel better in the hand though. It has a tougher feel to it and the fact that its weather sealed  will add to the usability of this camera.

The focusing system, although the same as the 5D, has a new processor, the Digic 4 and a new algorithm; although I didn’t put it to a proper side by side test, it certainly felt faster than the 5D.

On paper, the camera has a 0.9 fps faster motor drive (in fact, compared to the way fps used to be calculated, its 4fps, but as this system has now changed, Canon have had to call it 3.9fps!). Although I definitely would’ve preferred 5 or 6fps, its still quick enough for the kind of work its aimed at.

Alas the control dial still doesn’t have a lock on it. Although the dial’s quite stiff and clicks round with a reassuring resistance, I’m sure like the 5D, in a situation where you’re running around or stuck in a rush in the middle of a riot, the dial will again move. Whilst addressing disappointments, its a shame that there is a dedicated button on the back of the camera for “Picture Styles”! How many people use this?! Mine are always set to neutral and remain this way. This button should have been programmed as a lock to protect / tag chosen images. Hopefully this can be changed with a future firmware upgrade.

The two big headline features for me are the high ASA range and the video recording abilities of the camera. I shot a load of images with the pre-production camera and it really is very impressive. As non of the RAW converters can yet convert the to be released camera’s files, I was shooting jpegs. The quality of the images (both in terms of colour accuracy, detail and image noise) was stunning at 3200 ASA. Even at 6400 ASA the images are crisp and beautiful. I wouldn’t hesitate in using this camera at this high sensitivity settings. The camera doesn’t disappoint as you get higher either; it produces results that weren’t even imaginable until Nikon brought out the D3. Talking of which, side by side tests shown by Canon at 25,600 ASA showed the 5D MkII producing a more detailed, crisper and less noisy image. Astonishing!

The video recording aspect is equally mind blowing. Canon had several movies shot on the camera playing at full 1080P HD on 42” flat screen TVs; the quality is absolutely out of this world. Just think of the possibilities; you can use your full range of SLR lenses and shoot with minimum depth of field – even in wide angle. It just opens up so many creative possibilities. Also, you no longer need to invest in and carry more equipment; its all there in your bag. Just add an external microphone (for better sound recordings). Also do remember not to hold the camera in an upright position!

The camera has a newer battery which I guess was changed to be able to handle the extra power needed for video. There’s also a new grip and most interestingly another grip with built in WiFi.

Around half the shots I took with the 5D MkII were with the new 24mm f1.4L MkII. I had the original version of this lens and must admit that I was never a big fan. On my 1DS MkII or 5D it just didn’t produce great results. However, this version is mind blowingly good; absolutely pin sharp, great colour and resolving ability. Also, somehow, at f1.4 there seems to be less depth of field than I remember getting with my lens – brilliant!

Now onto the G10 – the new compact camera that I envisage will be draped off every photographers’ shoulder! 

The body design is superb; its as tough as the G9, but is chunkier with a better grip and a bigger optical viewfinder (I wear spectacles and could look through it with ease). They have introduced an exposure compensation dial to the left and the ISO and mode dials are on top of each other and on the right – very neat!

Also the long needed 28mm wide end is finally here! I took a load of shots with this camera too (again, on jpeg) and I’m very impressed. The images are crisp, detailed and have great and accurate colour, even on auto white balance. The camera produced better results than the G9 up to 400 ASA and much better results at 800 and 1600 ASA. It has a new high ASA noise filtration system which actually works really well and doesn’t soften the image in any way. This is the first time in my career where I’ve actually enthused about this kind of system, as they never work.

Canon have also improved on the exposure metering; the G9 always had the tendency to over expose (mine’s permanently got -0.3 dialed in). The G10’s exposure was spot on.

I absolutely rate this little camera – definitely get one folks!

All said and done, the day did end with disappointment; I now need to somehow find a way to pay for a couple of 5D MkII bodies, a G10 and quite possibly the 24mm f1.4L MkII too!!

Addendum 1:  I now have a full production model which I’m reviewing for a magazine – check HERE for more on the camera.

Addendum 2: For my short film shot with a 5D MkII, please check THIS post.

Addendum 3: FULL REVIEW of Canon 5D MkII: Part 01 and Part 02

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