Having just received the camera, I took it out of the box and used one of my 7D batteries to get it setup before taking any pictures. To do so, I accepted the date / time settings, checked the firmware, then attached it to my computer for accurate date & time settings that would be in sync with my other cameras, then methodically went through all of the available settings through EOS Utility software. Once that was completed, I did the same thing with the camera’s menu system. Determining your optimal setup will go a lot faster if you take the time to read the manual (you will also understand the limitations and possibilities of the camera much better!) There are so many variables that you can adjust, and most are straightforward, but some of the naming conventions need more explanation than can fit on a 3” LCD screen. Others are complex, like the AF Cases, and need detailed explanation and experimentation to figure out what they do. That being said, Canon has produced an excellent PDF guide to all of the AF menu settings for the EOS 1DX, which is identical in this regard to the 5D.
In an ideal world, I would like to be able to use EOS Utility to set ALL of the camera functions and menus via my computer, not just the few currently allowed. This would give the distinct advantage of being able to spell out the advantages and differences that each setting makes -- and how they affect other settings -- while you are making them. As the menus grow more and more complex, this really should be on the table for a camera at this price point.
Viola! The camera is ready to use. Well, actually it is pretty much ready to use out of the box. But now, it is set up the way that I think I want it. An hour later, I’m off to a basketball game to test things out. I’ll be shooting with my trusty old 7D and my brand spankin new 5Diii. Original plan was to use the 17-40 on the 5 and the 70-200 on the 7D. That plan quickly changed when I realized just how wide that would render my frame! So I switched things up and put the 70-200 on my full frame 5D and the 17-40 on my 7D, essentially rendering it a 24-70. Having used that for a game, I can see why it was so popular with sports shooters on full frame or 1.3 bodies … it really does hit a sweet spot under the basket, and I may just keep using this setup for a while!
The 70-200 felt comfortable and responsive on the 5D, but it was difficult giving up that little extra reach I have enjoyed with this lens on my 7D. Due to the layout of the gym that I am shooting in, I am extremely close to the base-line, and doubt that I practically gained much on the wide end, but time will tell.
Shooting tonight was not my typical night out. I was testing a new camera and trying a new technique (back button focus) while using a new lighting setup. Lots of variables, and lots of potential for things to go wrong. My first impressions:
As I start looking through my images in Lightroom, I am absolutely stunned. Shell-shocked. Flabbergasted. The list of adjectives could go on. There is simply no comparison of these images to those that came out of any digital camera I have previously owned. I knew to expect better subject/background separation because of the full frame body, but I was not expecting the superior file quality in absolutely every respect to be this dramatic. A love affair is beginning! Let me count the ways:
There is great truth in the saying that you should invest in quality glass rather than chasing camera bodies. The Lens will make or break your image no matter the black box it is attached to. Quality lenses will be a requirement when using a camera of this quality. It will show the weaknesses of inferior lenses, and I am glad I have the “L” glass for this camera simply to keep up with its resolving power. That being said, there does come a point when the camera body itself makes a difference. Going from a crop body to a full frame body makes a huge difference in your lens performance, especially in the out of focus areas that make a picture pop in just the same way as stepping up from a Kodak Instamatic to a 35mm to a 4x5 camera did in the film days. It makes a great deal of difference in pixel density and pitch and all kinds of technical ways that I am not qualified to talk about but influence the quality of the output file. You’ll notice smoother gradations in color changes, better detail bright whites, less noise in the shadows, and faithful color representation throughout. In short, you finally will capture what you saw through the lens. What I can say without reservation is that stepping up this far makes a difference in the pictures that you are able to capture.
Be forewarned that processing the RAW files from this camera will require a fast computer and lots of hard drive space. The provided software will yield optimal results in processing, but Lightroom 4 (ACR 7.3) does a pretty good job at rendering them as well. This camera is for the serious photographer who is willing to invest not just the money to buy it, but also the time to learn to use it properly, and appreciate the results it helps produce even if others cannot see the difference.