Monday, 29 September 2008
Saturday, 27 September 2008
Thursday, 25 September 2008
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Monday, 22 September 2008
Sunday, 21 September 2008
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.
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
Visa Pour L'Image in Perpignan was at one time the place where you would see the largest number of Leica rangefinders in one place; it was the camera most photojournalists had hanging off their shoulders or around their necks. This year however, the one camera everyone had was the Canon G9.
Canon today announced the new 5D MkII. Two things which caught me by surprise are the 21.1 Megapixel sensor (I thought it would be in the 16 Megapixel range) and a very welcome 1080 full HD video recording mode (with an input for an external microphone).
The EOS 5D set the benchmark for image quality, low noise at high ISO and was the first affordable full frame sensor camera. The EOS 5D Mark II sets new presidents for image quality, high ISO performance and operation for the most demanding user and added enhanced functionality.
This is the 1st DSLR camera with a Full 1080 High Definition movie recording.
- 21.1 Megapixel Full Frame Sensor
- Expanded ISO Range of 50 - 25600 with new 4 level high ISO noise reduction
- 14 Bit image processing with DIGIC 4
- 3.9 Frames per second, up to approx. 78 large/fine JPEGS & approx. 13 RAW
- 3.0" LCD screen with 930,000 pixels and dual anti-reflective coating with 170 degree viewing angle
- Lens peripheral illumination correction, 26 lenses are preloaded on the camera with a total of 40 lenses available to be stored via EOS Utility
- Auto light optimizer with the aid of Face Detection Technology automatically lightens and corrects dark areas of the image
- Copyright information can now be added to the camera with EOS Utility
- Full HD (1920x1080) and SD (640x480) video recording at 30fps (up to 29 minutes 59 seconds per clip)
- HDMI Output
- Enhanced "Live View" with Quick Mode phase detection, Contrast AF and Face Detect
- Improved menu screens
- External light sensor to automatically adjust LCD brightness
- AF microadjustment, up to 20 lenses can be registered
- Improved environmental protective seals
- Highlight tone priority
- Compatible with UDMA Mode 6 CF cards
- Self cleaning sensor unit with dust delete data acquisition and florine coating on low pass filter for easier cleaning with blower
Monday, 15 September 2008
Thursday, 11 September 2008
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
For those that have never heard of Visa Pour L’Image, its a festival of photojournalism. It takes place annually in a lovely town in the South of France called Perpignan. The festival is split into various components. Firstly, and open to all, is a series of exhibitions in the most imaginative and brilliant of venues (ranging from convents to prisons - naturally now disused).
The second component is a series of talks and presentations which take place in an auditorium at the Palais des Congres. There are usually two sessions, which are open to all. However, to get further into the Palais, you’ll need to be accredited and have the needed passes. This allows entry into the huge Canon area where you can get equipment serviced and look at camera, video and printing gear. They also had a great exhibition of images and a studio demo area. On the opposite side to Canon is the Apple area where talks and presentations are made. This year, Martin Gisborne from Apple, who is an absolute genius when it comes to Aperture (and other things) gave a range of talks, from basic to advanced techniques. Brian Storm from Media Storm also gave a fantastic talk on all things multi media. There were also a bank of iMacs connected to the internet for all to use.
On the second floor were all the main players in the game; Polaris, Getty Images, AP, SIPA and so on. Appointments were made and work shown and some new friendships made by photographers looking for new agents or syndication for specific stories. One floor down were a large number of smaller co-operative style agencies. Lastly, on the top floor there was a cafe and open area to chill out in.
Another fabulous part of the week are the evening screenings which take place in an open air amphitheater called Campo Santo with seating for hundreds. This year there was an overflow area in Place de Republic which was a much more relaxed area to view the shows from, whilst sat at a table with table service!
The shows in my opinion weren’t as good as years gone by. There were just too many presentations and too many similar stories shown. Sitting through a two hour show with hundreds of images (some best not shown) just gets too much and there is visual over load. Still, there was some excellent work too and well worth attending.
For me, the highlights as far as the exhibitions were concerned (in no particular order) were: AFP - 20 Years Covering The World 1989-2008, Alexandra Boulat / VII - “Come On, Come On!”, Paula Bronstein / Getty Images - “Afghanistan - A Fragile Peace”, Horst Faas / AP - “50 Years of Photojournalism”, Yuri Kozyrev / NOOR - “Inside Iraq”, Paolo Pellegrin / Magnum Photos - “The Iraqi Diaspora”, Axelle De Russe - “China - The Return of the Concubine”, Kadir Van Lohuizen / NOOR - “The Katrina Aftermath - those who fell through the cracks”, Brent Stirton / Reportage for Getty Images - “Virunga National Park”, Alfred Yaghobzadeh / SIPA Press - “Religious Minorities in Iran” and the World Press Photo exhibition.
The entire mood of the festival is magnificent. To be surrounded by photographers who in some cases are the top of their game makes for very interesting conversation. After the talks, exhibitions and evening screenings comes the evening entertainment - wine at Le Grand Cafe de la Poste (commonly referred to as La Poste) which is just by the Castillet. This is were most people hang out ‘till around 4 am! Lots of wine, conversation (both deep and interesting and absolutely pointless and still interesting) and new friendships. If you’re going to Visa next year, be sure to print up a load of business cards!
As the morning sessions start at 10am, it gives you an idea of how little sleep one gets. Somehow this never seems a problem as the festival has an infectious energy that just keeps you going. Along with the normal evening get togethers, I was also invited to the private parties by AP, Canon and Getty - many thanks folks.
The superb weather enjoyed by all had to come to an end and alas on the last night of the professional week, it rained...rather heavily. The result was the cancellation of the legendary party at the Couvent des Minimes. I was thankful to discover the beach party the day after though and this brought a magnificent and chilled way to end a very fabulous week.
I've come across a couple of really interesting articles which paint a great picture of Visa: