Top positive review
77 people found this helpful
How something expensive can give exceptional value
on 1 September 2010
I hesitated a long time before spending almost £2,500 on this camera and lens - I am very glad I took the plunge. I have been an amateur photographer all my life, but as a journalist have worked alongside professionals and respect their knowledge, skills and experience too much to think I am one. However, in my work I increasingly have to take photographs, often in meetings with appalling light. For the past 2 years I have used a Canon 450, more recently alongside a pocketable Panasonic Lumix 6.5. With either camera, where the use of flash is intrusive, it is very difficult to get shots good enough for publication. In June, just before travelling to a job, I bought the Canon 5D Mark II with the EF24-105 L range lens.
From the first, with little time to get used to the camera, I have been delighted with the results. With patience and care it is possible to get very usable results in extremely low light. The Canon handled the low light well at ISO 4,000. (You can push the ISO much higher but I did not chance it.) In better light, the Mark II handles high contrast shots remarkably. I was in Ghana and in most pictures there is a combination of black and white faces. In bright light there is a tendency for the detail in black faces to disappear (it seems to me that cameras are universally set up for white faces) but I found it easy to get the detail with this camera. The standard of my pictures has improved enormously. In Ghana and more recently in France I have been able to take pictures in beautiful surroundings in good light and find the full frame quality quite breathtaking.
The lens is excellent. I have also been using my two best lenses from the old set up - a Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro and a Canon 50mm 1.2. I have become more adventurous and self-critical about my photography; the camera challenges me to play to its strengths. It is heavy, true - I still slip the Panasonic into my pocket when I am out casually - but I have not found it a burden and it feels comfortable in the hands. I have disciplined myself to shoot virtually all the time on manual, seeing this as the only way to learn the best balance between speed and exposure. I have mislaid the damned manual somewhere (excellent by the way) and I need to find it again as there is a lot still to learn. I feel like I am at the start of a long relationship with this camera. It is worth the outlay if you can afford it and need to shoot in poor light. I would still hire a professional photographer when the very best pictures are needed, but when the budget will not stretch to that I can produce adequate professional quality results with this camera.