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“Patriots” 2015. Canon EOS-1D Mark III and Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 EF lens clone. The Yongnuo deserves a review in its own right! 🙂

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“The Razor’s Edge” 2016. Canon EOS-1D Mark III, EF 85mm f/1.8

Hello my friends, I hope you are enjoying your Fourth Of July weekend! Just quickly a couple of items.

About ten years ago, 2006, Canon released perhaps their most controversial 1D body and that body is the 1D Mark III. Many of you will remember the whole AF “controversy” which involved the camera not focusing correctly, sometimes even on easy shots. This was a no-no for a pro sports/journalism market that had come to rely on Canon’s renowned autofocus.

Anyway, people sent in their cameras for a fix, sometimes multiple trips to Canon repair. It was a mess. Although Canon apparently fixed the issue, many are convinced even today that the camera was never “right.”

Well, you know I’m probably the king of doing the unexpected, so I got one about a year ago as the prices have come down to a price one could afford. I plan to do my own review of this camera shortly after having ample experience with it.

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“Say Cheese” Sony A7R and Vivitar 35-105mm f/3.5 low budget lens.

I’ve also been trying out a lot of oddball lenses such as the Vivitar 35-105mm f/3.5 on my A7R. I got this lens for $5 dollars and was attracted by the constant f/3.5 aperture and of course, the low price 🙂

I have to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it! It may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it is sharp and has a surprisingly useful “macro” or “close range” mode which I used for the portrait above. The lens flares like crazy outdoors however and not necessarily the prettiest flare.

The lens was apparently built by Tokina, which may explain its hefty build. It’s the current “in” lens on my A7R so I hope to post more pics from it soon.

Anyway, please enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend and don’t let it pass too fast! 🙂

 

Photo Of The Day: “Near Miss”

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“Angry Bunnies” 2015. Canon EOS-1Ds Classic, Zuiko 35-80mm f/2.8

Easter weekend to me is about reflecting and celebrating the victory of Jesus. It’s also about spending time with the family.

Number one, Jesus, I need to work on. I need to go to church more often. I believe, I respect, and I love Jesus, but maybe that’s not enough.

Number two, I have no problem with. I’m always spending as much time as I can with my family, specifically my girls, although they may sometimes find Papa annoying, as you can see in this photo 🙂

Anyway, here’s a good example of missing the moment because you’re fiddling with equipment. I was playing around with my 11mp EOS-1Ds Classic (2001) and one of my favorite zoom lenses, the Zuiko 35-80mm f/2.8 OM lens when all of a sudden my eight year old (with a piece of gum dangling out of her mouth) and my (then) six month old went into “angry” mode!

The 1Ds is old school. It doesn’t have focus peaking or any fancy way to help with manual focus, other than your eyes. The shot wasn’t in critical focus, but I got it just enough where I could use it on Facebook or send to family. I would’ve preferred it if it were in critical focus and if I had my trusty EF 50mm f/1.8 on the 1Ds, I probably would have gotten that.

But since I was fiddling around with a manual focus lens, I barely got the moment which as you can imagine with kids, was gone right after I took the shot.

Anyway, I’m just glad I got this funny moment enough where I can have a good memory of it.

Have you ever missed a shot because you were fiddling around with a new (or old) lens? Fiddling around with a new camera or its settings?

Hey, have a blessed Easter weekend good people! 🙂

Leica R Images

As a follow up to last night’s article on the Leica SL (Typ 601) mirrorless full frame system from Leica, tonight I am posting some Leica R images, both film and digital that I have taken over the years.

The Leica R system was Leica’s 35mm SLR system. Though it had its own large and cultish following, it never set the world on fire the way Leica’s M system did.

That said, Leica R lenses were every bit as good as their M system equivalents and at one time commanded much lower prices. But through online forums, the internet, and the popularity of alternative lens adapters, the prices for the R lenses have gone way up.

I had an almost complete collection of the “essential” R lenses, including the 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R, 50mm f/2 Summicron-R, the 80mm f/1.4 Summilux-R, the 90mm f/2 Summicron-R, the 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R and the hard to find 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-R.

While I had to sell most of them when I hit rock bottom, the one I regret selling the most was the 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-R. I had a persistent overseas buyer who offered me twice what I paid for it. I needed the money. That was five years ago. I have yet to find another one as their prices have skyrocketed to the point where I don’t even consider it.

Still, you may find bargains in the R lens lineup that you won’t with the M lenses. So for your Throwback Thursday, I present you a small set of Leica R images that I hope will show some of the characteristics of these fantastic lenses. Please click on the images for a better view. Thanks for lookin’

Best Regards,
Sam

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“Blue Bayou” 2008. Leicaflex SL, 90mm f/2 Summicron-R, Kodak Portra film.

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“Lots Of Love” 2008. Leica R8, 90mm f/2 Summicron-R, Ilford XP2.

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“Bonnie & Clyde” 2008. Leica R8, 90mm f/2 Summicron-R, Ilford XP2.

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“UFO” 2012. Leica R4, 80mm f/1.4 Summilux-R, Tri-X film.

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“Lonely Still” 2008. Leica R8, 90mm f/2 Summicron-R, Ilford XP2.

 

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“Those Eyes” 2008. Canon EOS 5D, 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R

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“The Entrance” 2008. Leicaflex SL, 90mm f/2 Summicron-R, Fuji Superia X-Tra 800.

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“Ordinary Day” 2013. Canon EOS 1Ds, Leica 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R. The focus was off, but I kinda liked it.




The First Canon Mirrorless: The EOS-M

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The original Canon EOS-M. Trying to look serious, but this camera is fun. Serious Fun! 🙂

With today’s introduction of the EOS-M10 I thought it would be a good time to take a look at Canon’s first mirrorless camera, the EOS-M.

The EOS-M is an 18 megapixel mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera introduced by Canon in 2012.

I got the “M” sometime in 2013 when they were having a closeout on these cameras with a huge price reduction.

IN THE HAND

The EOS-M is physically the size of any average digital point and shoot. It is remarkable that inside lies an 18mp APS-C sized sensor, possibly the same or a variation of the venerable 18mp sensor Canon has used in a number of cameras including the 7D and SL1.

The camera feels light, but the body is surprisingly solid thanks to a magnesium alloy body.

The camera controls are spartan. On the top right by the shutter release you have a mode dial for play, camera, and video. There is no dedicated “P/S/A/M” dial they must be accessed through the menu. The menu thankfully will be a familiar one for EOS users. There is a hotshoe for dedicated flash units, but no built in flash.

The camera does feel a little slippery to the touch and could benefit from a hand grip. I don’t believe Canon makes one for the EOS-M, but you can get a hand grip for the camera from third party manufacturers.

PERFORMANCE

The main complaint people had about the original M is the slow autofocus, which they did not expect from a modern Canon digital.

Canon attempted to rectify this with a firmware update, which was version 2.02 which was to improve AF in one shot mode and also supported the new 11-22mm f/4-5.6 STM.

Yes, the people were right, the camera was slow. And yes, the AF did improve after installing firmware 2.02, but it is still slow by today’s standards. I would put its AF on par with the original Fuji X-100.

I originally thought this camera would work for my street shooting, but it’s a tad too slow for on the fly street work. I now use it as a fine stills and family camera 🙂

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“M Love” 2015. Canon EOS-M, EF-M 22mm f/2 STM. I originally intended to use the EOS-M as a street cam, and it’s fine for stills, but a tad slow for on the fly street shooting. I do love it for family pics if and when the kids are not on the move 🙂

One of the best features of the EOS-M is the touch shutter. This is a feature we’re used to on our phones, but still not quite the norm on “real” cameras.

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“Legend” 2015. Canon EOS-M, EF-M 22mm f/2 STM. Just a test of the EOS-M’s AF system. In auto, the lens would rack back and forth looking for a target due to the white background. But when switched to the touch shutter, it found its mark easily and accurately. Not super fast, but fast enough.

I became a big fan of touch shutter after using it on the Olympus OM-D EM-5. On that camera, it was incredibly fast and effective, especially for street shots. Sad to say, it’s not that fast nor as effective on the M, but hey it works.

I’m not knocking down the M, the AF is very accurate, but it takes its time and I’ve gotten used to that.

High ISO images are good to about ISO 3200 which is a bit grainy depending on the light, but still usable. Higher than ISO 3200 I would say is good for “artistic” purposes 🙂

Another feature I loved on the M are the built in creative filters. I’m not a big fan of novelty filters, but the filters on the M are quite effective and fun to use. The effects include Toy Camera, Fish-Eye, Miniature, Art Bold, Water Paint, Soft Focus and Grainy Black and White.

I got the M as a fun to use camera, and these filters are a big part of what makes the camera fun. It helps to negate the slow AF and other issues I might have with it. However, these filters are for photos I like to look at myself and not necessarily post because the novelty of these filters wear out quickly.

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“Hey You Mini Me” 2013. Canon EOS-M, EF 22mm f/2 STM. A shot using the “Miniature” effect, one of seven Creative Filters found on the EOS-M.

IMAGE QUALITY

The saving grace for the Canon EOS-M is this…

When paired with the EF 22mm f/2 STM, the image quality is excellent to superb, especially at lower ISO settings and favorable conditions. The lens which is equivalent to 35mm on full-frame is quite an amazing performer on the time tested Canon 18mp sensor.

At low ISO’s you can count on clean, colorful, and detailed images with this combo. The image quality is several notches better than the Nikon V1 (with its much smaller sensor) which I also reviewed some time ago. However, the V1 makes up for its sensor disadvantage by having much faster autofocus, which could make the difference between getting the shot or not.

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“AutM Leaves” 2015. Canon EOS-M, 22mm f/2 STM @ around f/5.

I have not tried any other lens with EOS-M. Actually, I believe I did try some manual lenses with it using adapters, but as the M lacks focus peaking it was neither fun nor productive which brings us to another complaint about the M, the lack of native lenses for it. As of this writing, the lenses available are the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM, the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, the 11-24mm f/4-5.6 IS STM, and the 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM.

To their credit, Canon makes an EOS to EOS-M adapter for using your EOS lenses. I have not used it so I cannot comment. I should have mentioned it earlier, but to be clear you CANNOT use standard EOS lenses on the EOS-M without this adapter.

BOTTOM LINE

The original EOS-M was discontinued and replaced by the EOS-M2 which was basically the same 18mp camera with faster AF and then the EOS-M3 which was much beefier and featured Canon’s new 24mp sensor.

Both these cameras and the new M10, I imagine would offer better AF performance than the original M. However, I like cheap, and the original M is probably your best chance to get a Canon mirrorless cheap 🙂

Used prices for the original M or M2 are trending at $200-300 and they are usually bundled with the 18-55mm zoom or 22mm f/2 STM. If you’re lucky, you might find the body alone for around $150-175.

Although the M and M2 are older models, you can still find them abundantly either used, refurbished, or if you’re lucky, new old stock.

Canon (and Nikon as well) have not shown, until recently, a great dedication to expand or promote their mirrorless division which is why you don’t really think of Canon or Nikon when you think of mirrorless.

The original Canon EOS-M is an enigma from Canon, one of the Camera Legends of photography. On one hand it offers slow and sometimes frustrating AF and ergonomics. On the other hand it offers superb imaging possibilities.

Mirrorless was a relatively new market to Canon and the original M shows that even a giant like Canon will make some mistakes when entering a market pioneered and dominated by Olympus, Panasonic, and Sony.

However, based on the image quality I have seen with the EOS-M, I believe they have just scratched the surface of what they could achieve in this market with a little more love and dedication. If Canon got into this market full throttle, I believe they could have a best selling mirrorless Camera Legend on hand and that would be a great addition for all of us camera lovers.

WHERE TO BUY

You can pre-order the new EOS-M10 with the 15-45mm IS STM lens in BLACK or SILVER. Or go all out with the EOS-M10 plus 15-45mm IS STM and the 55-200mm IS STM from our friends at ADORAMA. Actually, if you’re looking for the original EOS-M, profiled in this post, you might want to check out their “USED” section. There’s a good likelihood that the camera would show up there.

You can also preorder from everyone’s super-store AMAZON with their wide selection.

Anyway you do it, I believe any variation of the EOS-M will bring lots of FUN to your life and a good reason to leave that bulky DSLR home 🙂

Note: I will be updating this post later with more pics from the EOS-M. Just so much to do and so little time tonight. Thanks for stopping by!

The Canon 5D Mark II: A Retrospective

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“The Mad Duck” 2015. Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 40mm f/2.8 STM.

With Canon recently announcing its latest 50.6 megapixel 5DS and 5DSR, I thought this would be a good time to look back on the 5D Mark II. Already the most versatile bargain in the digital camera world, the arrival of Canon’s newest is bound to drive prices down, making the 5DII an even more attractive offering in the used camera market.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II is a 21.1 megapixel full-frame camera introduced by Canon in 2008. It was the follow-up to the ground breaking 12.8mp 5D of 2005.

The 5D Mark II was a significant upgrade. In addition to the new 21.1 megapixel CMOS sensor, the Mark II offered a high resolution 3 inch LCD, built in sensor dust reduction system, live view and 1080P video, and a native ISO range from 100-6400 (you can also get ISO 50, 12800, and 25600, but the latter two are very noisy). It retains the original 5D’s 9 point AF system, but offers micro adjustment for up to 20 lenses.

BUILD QUALITY

The 5D Mark II looks like the original 5D, but feels very slightly better to my hands. It’s still the same lightweight, magnesium alloy bodied camera you have grown to love in the 5D Classic.

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“Z Cam” 2011. The 5D Mark II remains, as was the 5D Classic, a lightweight, but durable camera. Canon 5D Mark II, EF 50mm f/1.8, ISO 4000.

AUTOFOCUS

Although it shares the same 9 point AF system of the original 5D, the Mark II felt very slightly faster or at least more ‘sure’ to me.

I have read a lot of complaints about the 5D/5DII’s AF system over the years on various photo forums, especially in AI Servo mode. However, I cannot comment on that as I’ve almost always used the camera with the center point only, recomposing as needed, and have always found it fast and effective, even in tough lighting conditions.

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“The Blues Man” 2011. British Blues guitarist Matt Schofield, shot for Premier Guitar Magazine. Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 85mm f/1.2L, ISO 3200.

The one time I recall using it in AI Servo mode was at a wedding shoot and it was fine for a moderately paced bride and groom. I never needed to use the micro adjustment feature, but it’s good to know it’s there.

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“The Mule Guy” 2011. It seems the “Mule Guy” has been photobombed! 🙂 Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 85mm f/1.2L, ISO 100. Batangas, Philippines.

LIVE VIEW AND 1080P HD VIDEO

These are the features that made the 5D Mark II a Camera Legend. The live view, which was a relatively new feature for cameras in 2008 and thought of as ‘gimmicky’ by some detractors, has been incredibly helpful when using the camera with manual focus lenses. The ability to magnify the live view image helps a lot when using my manual focus Nikkors, Olympus OM, Contax, or Leica R lenses.

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“The Artist” 2011. Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Contax 50mm f/1.4 Planar MM lens.

The Mark II did not have the cool focus peaking feature we have all come to know and love (or loathe) on the cameras of today. However, I believe there was a firmware hack from Magic Lantern that could do this. In fact, I think I installed it once, but it messed up my camera in other functions so I returned the camera to its original state. Many others have installed the Magic Lantern hack with no issues, so your milage may vary. Install with caution.

Although not the first DSLR to offer HD video (the Nikon D90 has that distinction, but offered only 720P video), the 5D Mark II was the first DSLR to offer 1080P Full HD video and this is what the Mark II will always be remembered for! The 5D Mark II offered video makers a budget solution for filming broadcast quality video with the ability to use a wide variety of lenses.

Especially popular was its ability to use fast lenses to create that highly desirable (but maybe overused) shallow depth of field look in video. One early complaint was that the 5DII could only do video at 30 frames-per-second, however Canon later updated the firmware to offer the much requested 24 fps for that “cinematic” look.

I’m not really a video guy so I can’t say much other than the home videos I took with the 5DII looked great to me.

The 5D Mark II was a very influential camera in terms of DSLR video and has been used to film television shows including a much publicized episode of Fox’s “House” in 2010, the new Hawaii 5-0 series, and a host of other professional productions. Hey, if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you and I 🙂

IMAGE QUALITY

The 5D Mark II is capable of superb quality images. When I first got the camera in 2010, I was a little disappointed. As I told a friend, the first test images I took indoors looked like a 10mp file, but upsized.

But knowing that a true assessment cannot be done with one week of shooting, I had faith that the Mark II’s true strengths would shine through and it did, and continues to do so after five years of ownership.

The thing is, you will get the best out of the 5D Mark II if you use your best glass in their sweet spot. Also, while the camera does offer very good quality up to ISO 3200 or even ISO 5000, you will see the 21.1mp difference at low ISO settings, which is probably true of most cameras.

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“Hide & Seek” 2011. Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 135mm f/2L, ISO 200. For a larger and better view, please click on the photo.

I found the colors from the 5D Mark II files at factory settings neutral and pleasing, not overly contrasty as in my Nikons from that era or even my 5D classic, which had a contrasty look to the files that I actually liked. Anyway, all this can be tweaked to your liking either in-camera or in post-processing.

The 5D Mark II was released in 2008 and thus might be considered “old” in the digital camera world, but the camera and its performance remains a beauty!

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“Old Beauty” 2011. I met this charming lady in Batangas, Philippines. Just like her, the 5D Mark II from 2008 is an “old beauty” in the digital camera world. Canon 5D Mark II, EF 85mm f/1.2L, ISO 100.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The 5D Mark II is the ultimate “jack of all trades” camera, but everything it does, it does very well.

This camera has been the “bread and butter” camera for thousands of photographers since it came into market in late 2008 and despite the introduction of the 5D Mark III and 6D in 2012, the 5D Mark II remains a viable lower cost alternative that still delivers competitive stills and video. It is incredibly popular with professional portrait and wedding photographers.

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“The Kiss” 2011. Canon 5D Mark II, EF 85mm f/1.2L, ISO 500. Manila, Philippines.

If shopping for a 5D Mark II, prices are trending at $1000 to $1759 (refurbished from Canon). Sometimes, you may find them for under $1000.

The 21.1mp full-frame sensor, the live view and broadcast quality HD video, the ability to use some very fine and unique “L” lenses…what’s not to love? 🙂

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“Z3” 2011. Trying high-key lighting, although I much prefer natural light. Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 50mm f/1.8

While the 5D Mark III may offer better AF, dynamic range, etc, the 5D Mark II can probably do all you need at a much lower price.

The 5D Mark II is the camera that took the legend of the 5D series to the next level, and a very high level at that. And at current used prices, it is a sure-fire bet, a proven, time-tested workhorse for a pro quality DSLR that still delivers state of the art stills and videos. The 5D Mark II can just about do it all, and that makes it a Camera Legend.

CANON EOS 5D Mark II

PROS: Superb image quality possible; resolution; good high ISO performance; dust reduction system built-in; sRAW modes; live view; 1080P Full HD Video that’s good enough for Hollywood!

CONS: Same AF system as 2005 5D Classic (not necessarily a bad thing); AI Servo not up to 1D standards; jpegs a bit soft; WB a little off in certain lighting; ISO 6400 and up not great

FINAL WORD: A superb camera for stills and a pioneering camera that changed video for DSLRs.

Amazon has a good selection of the 5D Mark II cameras for sale. Prices can change at any time so be on the lookout for price drops!

 

The 4mp Canon EOS-1D

Introduced in 2001, the 4.15 megapixel EOS-1D is a digital camera legend.

While they had collaborations with Kodak before with the EOS-D2000/Kodak DCS 520, the 1D was the first “all” Canon pro “1” series body that continues today with the current 18mp 1DX of 2011. Today, the 4mp 1D is also known on the web as the “1D Classic.”

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“Camera Nut” 2009. Canon EOS-1D, Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-R

I got my first copy in 2004 and really loved the body and files from the 1D. I remember spending my time with the 1D trying to eek out as much quality as I could from those 4 megapixels! I shot, I printed large, I tried Genuine Fractals (anyone remember that program?).

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“Portrait Of Midi” 2007. Canon EOS-1D, EF 50mm f/1.8

As many 1D owners can attest, the camera is capable of producing very sharp files with really nice color, a combination of a great Panasonic sensor, and what I like to call “PHAT” pixels from the lower resolution.

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“My Adidas” 2004. Canon EOS-1D.

The 1D was a hit with sports photographers and photojournalists, as well as enthusiasts like myself and many others. The camera could do 8 frames-per-second, though I never used it at that rate. Couldn’t stand to blow the shutter that fast, even if the camera could take it 🙂

The 1D Classic is plentiful on the used market and they can be had in good condition for around $200 and up. Lower priced samples are usually in rough shape. Remember, a lot of these cameras were in professional hands and probably have high mileage although the 1D shutters have been documented to have gone well into the hundreds of thousands.

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“Tribute” 2004. Canon EOS-1D, EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5.

Other negatives include poor battery life, which can be remedied if you buy one of the newer aftermarket batteries. The color can also be off at times, most notably images will sometime take on a greenish cast, especially in jpegs. All this can be fixed with some work in post-processing. The camera is also a heavy, bulky beast!

The positives are fast and accurate AF, great sharpness, and 4mp files that are a joy to work with, especially if you’re now used to 18-36mp files (Sony A7R, D800, etc, etc). And just the “feel” of the 1D series body will make you want to shoot it more, even if you don’t necessarily want to carry it around all day long.

In the 2014 world of 40+ megapixel cameras, it’s hard to imagine enjoying a 4 megapixel camera! However, I can tell you that the files from the 1D, when they’re good, they’re awesome. There is a reason why this camera has a cult like following.

The Canon EOS-1D Classic is indeed a digital classic and today, a great bargain entry into the wonderful world of the giant “1 Series” pro bodies from Canon. For the prices that they go for these days, the Canon EOS-1D Classic is a smokin’ deal for a Camera Legend!

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“Smokin” 2004. From my “Portrait Of An Addict” series. Canon EOS-1D, Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/1.8

PROS: Superb build quality; Fast AF; Sharp files with the right lenses; Bargain prices in today’s world for a 1 Series Canon

CONS: Battery life; low resolution in today’s world; Greenish color cast, at times

Prices: As of today, trending at $75-300 depending on condition, accessories, and where you buy from.

Note: I’m sorry that I do not have full sized or larger images from the 1D to share. I lost most of my original files from this camera some years back.

Canon EOS D2000

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From 1998, a true digital pioneer, the Canon EOS D2000 aka Kodak DCS520.

The Canon D2000 (and its Kodak DCS520 sibling), was one of the first digital slrs with the looks and design that resembled digital slrs of today. The camera featured a 2 megapixel, aps-c sensor, pretty “amazing” in those days.

Gone were the huge, cumbersome battery packs and wires of the early digital slrs, and in was a new “compact” design and a nice slim battery.

However, by today’s standards, pretty damned BULKY!

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“Portrait Of An Addict” 2004. Canon EOS D2000, EF 50mm f/1.8

So about ten years back in 2004, when I found a sample for under $300, I jumped on it. Unfortunately, after the initial ‘fun’ the limitations of this pioneering camera became apparent.

“Nam Prik” 2010. Canon EOS D2000, EF 50mm f/1.8, ISO 200.

The lcd was sub-par, and menu system seemed more antiquated than using a Commodore 64. Battery life was horrid, and I needed to do manual white balance every time I went from indoors to outdoors. However, the images could be quite sharp thanks to the removable AA filter.

Today, the camera is not worth much, and only desirable for collectable value more than anything else. Any modern dslr will beat it in image quality, if not in “fun” 🙂

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“Portrait” 2004. Canon EOS D2000, EF 50mm f/1.8

Find this camera and more on my new and ever growing Instagram page: http://www.instagram.com/camera_legend