Internet is a fantastic place isn’t it? You can find information just about anything you wish. It is simply a live encyclopedia, well, at least to me. So here I am, not trying to bore you again with things that you may have already found and read. I am here to give you my honest opinions about photography and photographic equipment.
First, I would like to give you a short introduction about myself so you know I am not just bluffing about things in my future blogs and reviews. I am a professional photographer who specialises in wedding and portrait. Occasionally, I enjoy my travel and landscape stuff but it is the interaction with people that truly attracts me. I have used a lot of camera equipment throughout my career, both film and digital. Therefore, my future reviews and conclusions will be based on my personal usage preferences and my experience in my line of work. You may agree or disagree but my opinion is pure personal.
To give you a sense of what type of equipment I use mostly, I can tell you that I am not a paparazzi nor a sports or even a wildlife photographer so I don’t use a lot of monster lenses like 300mm f/2.8 or 500 f/4. I am more used to shorter fast primes and nice f/2.8 zooms. I also love street photography so I love short tele and 35mm primes, and yes, I love Leica.
Quite frankly, I had always been a Canon man and I started shooting wedding since the good old film days with my Canon EOS 1v. It was a different business all together. I was a location and reportage wedding photographer so portraits with pre-fixed set up wasn’t really my thing. I responded in real-time and photographed happening stuff, much like what a journalist would. Though it’s a trend now and I thought I was one of the first bunch to do so, at least in the London. All my projects and assignments were shot in 135 format.
Today, it’s easy to say that I take thousands of photos at a wedding these days but just think about it for a second, that’s like a couple of hundreds of rolls of films!!! I wouldn’t do that in the past. At max, I would shoot about 12~13 rolls and that would be more than sufficient. I chose my targets, waited for the moment and then pressed the shutter. That’s photography. Ok, I probably wouldn’t capture ‘everything’ with barely a few hundred shots but my photos were good, sharp and treasured. But digital is by far a better option in capturing wedding moments and only limits are the camera batteries and memory cards. Another downside when shooting with film was the lack of flexibility. I would have to shoot with at least two camera bodies with two different film, at different speed. I once said that modern digital photographers were spoiled with flexible sensitivity settings but now I would take back my words and totally accepted the convenience technologies had gifted us.
In 2005, everything changed. Canon brought out their more affordable full frame digital, the Canon EOS 5D. I was still skeptical about digital photography but I had to embrace it because I knew it would be the future of photography. But at my first few weddings with the digital body, I still carried my 1v and about ten rolls just in case. But the first 5D never disappointed. Photos were sharp and very ‘film’ like. It also opened up opportunities that I would never dare to try with film. Like shooting ISO 800 films were almost a last resort at weddings unless it’s totally dark and I had to use a flash. The 5D, despite its modest ISO1600 maximum speed, it produced very pleasant ‘grains’ (well, noise…. ok). I was able to shoot fairly natural looking photos without too much effort. I still used my flash but the results were far more natural than film. Don’t even mention about using 1600 film, it’s definitely not a professional choice.
Technology moves faster than a bullet and just three years later, the Mark II arrived and changed my work completely. The resolution suddenly doubled and now we are talking about very good quality prints. Not that the original 5D wasn’t bad but the Mark II simply outshined it by far. The downside, I had to upgrade all my computers and bought a few more hard drives to store the growing libraries. ISO also much improved though not as good as the Nikon’s D700 or D3 at the time but I barely went beyond ISO 6400 anyway. With the Mark II, I was able to create very natural photos even at dim locations like a church or registry office. Combining with fast primes, you would never need to use a flash!
Wedding photography has changed. From the day I started my first wedding, I’ve tried many cameras and lenses. Technologies allow me to go beyond what was impossible during film days and now I can shoot more natural photos and give my clients happy moments that they remember on their big days. My Mark II is now three years old and will I upgrade? Well, stay tune as I will be doing a ‘new’ old review of my Mark II as a working pro so you know what you are really getting with your money. I will be telling you that whether I will be upgrading to Mark III.
All I can say now, the Mark II is a steal for your money. Canon has decided to keep the Mark II selling alongside with the Mark III until the end of 2012 says it all. It’s a cracking camera still, even it’s three years old now.