I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

Canon gearhead update

Tiff and I tried out the 5D Mark II and a bunch of lenses tonight at B&H. (They have a 5D Mark II for demoing with the SLR lenses, but they don’t have them in stock for sale yet. I tried.)

Lessons learned:

First impressions are that the 5D Mark II is an absolutely amazing camera and worth every penny. I really can’t wait to get it. The very helpful salesman said that their first shipment had 20 (preorders took them, of course), and they expect general availability in 2-4 weeks.

Compared to the Rebel XTi, the 5D Mark II feels huge, but not unreasonably heavy. The additional weight in the camera made it easier to handle heavy zoom lenses, giving more balance and possibly even letting me take a steadier shot.

The screen is huge and vivid. Previewing photos on this will be a lot more useful than the XTi, whose screen was already large by market standards.

Having never used any camera with its control layout, I was fairly comfortable with it in less time than I expected. My only slight dislike was the closeness of the autofocus points clustered around the middle of the frame.

Now, onto lenses, the real reason we were there. By moving to full-frame, we’ll lose compatibility with our two EF-S lenses: the ultrawide 10-22mm, which we’ll replace directly with the 16-35L or 17-40L, and the 17-55mm IS, which we won’t immediately replace (to encourage creativity with our other lenses and justify a fun new prime or two).

The 16-35mm 2.8 L II has the fastest and quietest autofocus motor I’ve seen yet. The 17-40mm 4 L is also very good for the price, but the aperture difference is noticeable: ultrawide at f/2.8 can have a very nice and very noticeable effect that you just can’t get at f/4. The size and weight difference is noticeable, but not nearly what I expected compared to other f/4-vs.-f/2.8 lens pairs. I’d classify both as medium-weight, with the 17-40 almost identical to the EF-S 10-22.

The 85mm 1.2 L II is completely ridiculous. It’s incredibly heavy and focuses very slowly. The 85mm 1.8 is far more practical in size, weight, focus speed, and especially price ($330 vs. $1800!) if you can spare the aperture difference. For most people’s needs, this is one of those cases where more expensive isn’t better.

I also tried the 135mm 2.0 L, which might be a fun luxury purchase in the future if Tumblr sells for $100 billion. It’s a very nice prime and supposedly the sharpest lens Canon makes. At $920, it’s hard to justify, but it would make a very nice indoor/night telephoto.