Posted by: merlyn9 | 2 October, 2008

New Toys from Canon!!!!           or… Standing in line for my EOS 5D MKII

Well, it’s been close to a week now, and while I have calmed down a little, I am still really stoked about this new camera!  

Unless you have been on another planet this past week, at photokina 2008 in Cologne Germany last week Canon announce a heavily anticipated and desired update to it’s affordable Full-Frame body, the New EOS 5D Mark II.    
  5dmark2_250x225

Something I decided I was going to wait for sometime mid-year this year.  Why?  Hum… let me think, Full-Frame, wildlife, sharp details, etc. Oh yeah, and the added news about HD video!

The original EOS 5D was a sweet camera for it’s price.  But it was getting a little dated, and since I could not justify or afford the EOS 1D MK III, this would be a wonderful entry into Full-Frame body for me.  The fact that Canon updated more than I had expected, like say the 21.1 MP sensor, or the HD Video…  were all icing on the cake.  All this and more for an estimated retail price of $2,699.00!

I have been putting little bits of spare monies aside this summer when I can (without taking food off my kids plate, or shoes off my wife’s feet!), as well as successfully selling my EOS 20Da.  All this targeted at covering the expense of this new camera.  So I am probably 95% of the way there.  I have tried to Not finance any of my Camera gear.  If I can’t pay cash for it up front… It’s not going to be mine at the time.  But this Camera Body will be in my hands soon… Very Soon!   OK, so I’m not crazy enough to be 1st in line to get those initial production runs off the line.  I will wait a month or two, but not much more than that.  

I Really want to have this camera with me for our Yellowstone Photo Adventure in February.  Check out that blog entry for details on that trip.  Just think, a full-frame body, 21 megapixels of data, in the Snow, with fantastic scenery and wildlife.  It would be great to check out this body with the 500mm out at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in Indiana for the fall Sandhill Crane Migration during November and early December.  But I’ll wait and order mine for delivery just after the New Year.  I’ll have time to play with it a bit and ensure functionality before the big workshop in February then. 

While on this trip I am planning to test out this camera with my full compliment of lenses.  I will have to prey my Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM zoom from Diane’s hands/camera bag.  She has been using this lately and keeps hoping I will forget about it so she could keep it… Not gonna happen!  I’ll also check it out on those lenses she can’t get away from me:

  • Canon EF 500mm f/4.0 L IS USM
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM
  • Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
  • Tamron SP 11-18mm f/4.5-5.6 Di-II LD Aspherical (IF)

Some of the shots I am hoping to get will be a Winter panoramic shot of the Grand Teton Mountains, similar to the one below which I took during our trip in October 2007.
 I’ve already mentioned the Bison with the frost and ice hanging off them.  We’ll see how well I can capture Old Faithful blowing her top in the Snow.  Let’s pray for blue sky’s on that day.  Other creatures I am hoping to locate would be a fox hunting/tracking in the snow, Elk (gee, like that’s difficult here?), Bald Eagle(s), Wolves are always welcome.  Moose… Moose would be a sweet blessing too! Be interesting to see if we get out anywhere near where the Big Horn Sheep hang out. 

Going back to the 5D MKII for a moment.  One thing that I was initially disappointed with was the Frames-per-second (fps) with this new revamped model.  For such a nice camera, I was hoping for at least 6-fps similar to say my EOS 40D.  Instead, Canon gave us a frame rate of 3.9 fps with the 5D MKII.  But let’s really think about this for a minute or two.  

Canon states that Raw images are about 25.8MB, and JPEG images in Large/Fine mode are about 6.1MB.  Let’s do a little math.  If I am shooting Raw in continuous mode, that has me writing about 100.62MB per/sec to the compact flash card (25.8 x 3.9). With a burst buffer of 13 frames that means I could have queued up (in theory) as much as 335.4MB (25.8 x 13) of Raw date waiting to be written to the CF card.  (note to self, buy a few of the New UDMA capable Compact Flash Cards!)  I’ll have to get used to that little red light constantly blinking at me while I’m out shooting birds in flight!  Canon also states that the buffer for JPEG images is 78 frames (and 310 with those new UDMA cards). I have to think this one out a bit longer, or not after working hard all day…  If one could manage to fill the buffer shooting JPEG to 78 frames, that comes out to 475.8MB (6.1 x 78) or 1,891MB (6.1 x 310) w/ UDMA.  78 frames, that’s 20-seconds of continuous shooting.  I could not find any spec for the max speed the camera will write to a CF card, so lets look at one of my favorite cards in my bag, the SanDisk Extreme III 8GB cards.  These are rated at 30MB/sec (min.) write speeds.  Well if I’m shooting 100.62MB/sec in Raw… I’m going to fill up that buffer if I’m shooting action in continuous mode.  Now that’s only 3.3-seconds, but it could happen right?  Even SanDisk’s UDMA cards are rated only 45MB/sec write speed.  But they also seem to cost Twice as much right now… new tech on the block.  I’ll wait until next year to get a few of those.  Of course there’s always those New 64MB and 100MB capacity Compact Flash cards announced at photokina by Pretec.  Alas both these are still rated at just 35MB/sec write speeds.  However, they also announced new 32GB and 50GB cards rated at up to  50MB/sec Read/Write speeds.  A little too pricy for me as well.  I’ll stick with my 8MB and 12MB CF cards for now, although I can’t find/buy any of the 12GB cards any longer.    Shooting Raw at 25.8MB each, I’m now only going to get ~317 images on an 8GB card and ~476 images to a 12GB card.  I don’t know that I’ll go much large than the 12GB cards I have now, that’s just too many eggs in one basket!  I’ll just keep more baskets in my camera bag.  At this point, 8GB cards are my friend.  I like this size, it’s manageable from a shoot perspective, and I can upload these fairly quickly on my Macbook Pro.  Besides, right now SanDisk has  Rebates on these cards of $40.00 making them under $20 at say Adorama Camera.

All this and I have not even touched on shooting, saving and all the potential possibilities the New HD Video capabilities brings to the table.  I’ll just toss this out there… Imagine HD video shot with a Prime 500mm lens, tripod mounted of a Bugling Elk during Rut season!  At 12-minute increments – 4GB files sizes, One could surely add neat additions to trip memories, albums, etc.  Youtube should start specing out more datacenter storage now for the influx of user video in the future!

All this new technology will have me buying even more secondary attached storage for my computers as well. They better start making larger affordable portable storage drives too!  Using our 2007 Yellowstone adventure as an example.  Over the course of 8-days I shot 4,349 images using 31.81GB of disk space.  Now granted, this was split between using my EOS 20Da and EOS 1D MKIIn cameras.  Were I to Only use the 5D MKII, shooting 4,349 Raw images, thats going to be over 112GB of image files on disk.  Now from experience, image sizes are going to fluctuate, but they do seem to ‘average’ around Canons specs.  So when I travel now I am going to need to ensure I leave home with my 320GB portable USB hard drive almost empty.  In reality now, I will probably have a mix of images between the 5D MKII, and my 40D, and 1D MKIIn cameras.  So this storage will most likely be less than the above number, but this is still a significant amount of space.  Just another reason why as I’ve mentioned before, that I can’t wait for the price of both Blu-Ray writable drives and media become more common place and hence more affordable to the masses.  Try backing up 112GB of data to DVD’s!  that would be ~24 single-layer DVD’s or ~13 dual-layer disks.  That’s a lot of media to back up just a single Adventure.  And that’s only accounting for the raw images.  No telling how many JPEG or PDF files that will be created from these, and we know how large those PDF files can be.  I’ve easily had 100-200MB PDF files in the past, and again these were from my 10 and 12 megapixel cameras.  If I could store this same 112GB worth of images to Blu-ray media, single-layer would be 4-5 disks and dual layer media would be 3 disks at most.  Even with the higher cost per media, this would still be a much more affordable in my opinion.  My guess is that prices will come down some before the Christmas season this year, and surely more after the New Year.  My expectation is I’ll also be buying a few more 1TB (or larger) drives during the course of 2009 to accommodate these new image capacities as well.

For a good review on the new EOS 5D MKII, take a look at what Phil wrote at dpreview.com.  Pretty thorough I thought. 

If you have any thoughts, opinions or views on these thoughts, please share them here, I’m always interested in others thoughts on these growing technology issues.

All this good stuff, and I thought I was going to buy a new carbon fiber tripod this year!  Oh well, I could always put this on my Christmas and B-day wish lists!!!

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