What camera do I use has to be the one question I get more then any other, so it makes for a perfect Ask Ron subject.
First, I thought I would add, I think it is a great question. Unfortunately, for some reason I often see this question ridiculed on on-line photography forums with responses to the effect of ” no one ask Michelangelo what kind of brushes he used?” As you might notice, photographers can have big egos, although in most cases I don’t think that they are really intending to compare themselves indirectly with Michelangelo. But it really isn’t a good analogy as I have a feeling that today’s digital cameras make up a far greater percentage of most people’s discretionary income – far more so then a paint brush. For such a large purchase, I think you should be asking what others use, what they like / dislike about the camera, etc. – I know I do. And, it certainly is possible that people did ask Michelangelo what kind of brush he used – I bet he had tried a lot of brushes in his day and probably knew as well as anyone as to which worked and which ones didn’t. But I digress.
So for me, for the last few years I have been using the Canon 1Ds Mark III. Great camera. When it was released it had just about all the latest features and the large full size sensor produced a wonderful, low noise, high quality image. The thing was incredibly weather proof and built like a brick – unfortunately it weighed about as much as one too.
But, now that a couple of years have past, the features on the Canon 1Ds III were not nearly up to date – I really missed not having HD video. The slow frame per second rate coupled with the slow auto focus made it less then ideal for wildlife, and about worthless for things like birds in flight. I found the weight to be a pain at times as well. So this September, before leaving on our last photo trip I decided to sell the 1Ds III and replace it before a new version was released and the value took a further hit. I replaced it with two cameras, the Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon EOS 7D . Actually the amount I received for the 1Ds III covered a good percentage of the cost of both the two newer bodies, so that made it an easy decision.
The Canon 5D II gave me an everyday camera with the same sized sensor as my 1Ds III, but in a much lighter body and with cool new features like HD video. I used to own the original 5D, so the new version felt very familiar. The 7D gave me a very good wildlife camera with its super fast auto-focus and frame rate, with pretty much all the latest bells and whistles including some cool features like the electronic level – no more hot shoe mounted bubble level! It also has the identical control layout as the 5D Mark II – an important consideration when working with two bodies.
So how do I like the change? So far I’m very happy with both cameras. For one, I like having two bodies – most of my career, even back in the slide film days I have had two bodies, unfortunately that wasn’t possible with the 1Ds III because the thing was so expensive. Two bodies not only give me a back up camera, but it allows me to keep a “wildlife setup” handy at all times even if I’m working on landscapes – a real plus in places like Denali.
As far as the individual cameras go, I think I will follow up with more specific thoughts on each one on a couple of future blog posts.