Thursday, April 26, 2012

Canon 5D: Old School?

Recently, I was shooting some glamour sets for a client. One of  the models had brought along a friend. The friend stood nearby, quietly watching us shoot. After a bit, the model needed to take a quick break for some reason or another. As she walked off, the model's friend approached me and asked what kind of camera I was shooting with.

"A Canon 5D," I told him.

"Mark two or Mark three?" the friend asked, indicating some level of knowledge regarding Canon cameras.

"Neither," I said, holding up the camera and pointing the lens towards him so he could see the front of it. "It's an original 5D."

"Whoa! Old school," the model's friend observed before heading off to look for his friend, the model.

Old school? A Canon 5D is old school? Wow!

Once again, I was reminded how equipment-centric so many new-ish photographers are these days. For the record, my Canon 5D gets the job done and gets it done more than adequately. Even more so since quite a bit of the work I produce is intended mostly for web use. You know, where it will viewed at a much lower resolution than print work. And that's not to say my Canon 5D doesn't capture images with enough resolution and detail for print work. It does. Without a doubt it does. And since it does, why should I spend thousands of dollars on a new camera body that I don't need to adequately do my job? A job, I should add, where the output is also used in a lot of print work.

There's plenty of other stuff to spend my hard-earned income on. Heck. Just this past week I bought a new tripod and head, a fairly good one, and I also purchased another Pocket Wizard to add to my collection of Pocket Wizards. Two weeks or so before that, I purchased another monolight, a Photogenic StudioMax 160,  to add to my lighting gear. All of that stuff will make my job more productive and efficient, giving me many more options on shoots than a new camera body will.

And here's something else that occurred to me when the model's friend asked about my camera: Why is it other photographers are so often interested in little more than the camera another photographer is using? On that particular shoot, I had 4 monolights going, plus a reflector, I was adjusting lights using a light meter and the only thing the model's friend was interested in -- a guy I later learned is pursuing photography himself --  was the camera I was using; not the lens, not the lighting, not much of anything else. To top that off, he thought using a Canon 5D, a digital SLR that isn't all that ancient and still represents some fairly high-end camera technology, is old school.  I can only imagine what he might have thought if I had pulled out one of my film cameras and snapped a roll.

The model with the pink and white polka-dot dress at the top is Faye. (Click to enlarge.) It's one from a set I snapped with my old school Canon 5D, at night, just a few feet outside the door of her "garden complex" apartment's front door. I was using two lights for this set: A main light in front, modified with a fairly large shoot-thru umbrella, and a bare bulb monolight, outfitted with a 30° honeycomb grid, coming from behind.


Anonymous said...

Funny! Someone told me they didn't want to get a 5DIII because they weren't a pro and couldn't justify the expense, but that they were going to wait for the 5DII to drop down even more. I told them to look for a good, used 5D and a real nice lens and they'd be golden. I was laughed at! And then I realized 1) I've become a cranky old man at 27 who doesn't get caught up in gear wars anymore, and 2) I've become comfortable with the fact it's my talent that dictates my photos, not my gear.

Jay said...

LOL! Gotta love the gear heads who have more money than skill!

I ALWAYS recommend the original 5d over the other crappy 5d's. Now don't get me wrong, they serve their purpose but I'm a photographer, not videographer. I don't want video on my camera. Also, the 5D has better image quality as far as skintones is concerned. The new Canon cameras have MUCH of the blue hue that Nikon uses on their cameras. Great for landscapes and nature, not so much for people. I had a 5d and sold it, now I'm back looking for a new one! I'm going to sell one of my photogenic plr2500dr's to get a 5D!

Drake said...

Sounds like he read a few magazines and now he feels he can talk shop.Yet he failed to truly do his research. I know a few photographers who act in this manner. They will upgrade their cameras before they upgrade their skills. Don't let the photos they take be unsatisfactory because it will be the camera's fault.

We need these type of people in my opinion. Where else will we be able to find used equipment in mint condition. I purchased my mint condition used Canon 40D with battery grip for $450 dollars because it's owner had to have the newly released Canon 7D back in 2009. We met at a local Starbucks. The minute we made the exchange, he went to the other side of Starbucks to purchase his 7D. Seems like they will learn the hard way, if they learn at all.

jimmyd said...

@Drake: You're right! I hadn't thought about that way. The people who immediately have to buy all the latest-n-greatest, or so they think that's what it is, make if more economical for some of us to pick up their cast offs at great prices! Coolio!!

Steve said...

As a professional photographer for the last 5 years, I can say that I've had to come up with a number of non-snarky responses to questions/comments you're talking about. The best response that I've come up with is to say "wow..." and leave it at that. They can take it however they want to.

The inter webs are so loaded with info, data, user reviews, pro reviews, and a bunch of other shit, that a person could get stuck in the gear-head swamp for ages before making any decision. While they're obsessing over (mostly) granular and borderline useless comparative numbers, I'm out making art, and getting assignments, and experience.

I continue to talk to colleagues who are shooting great work who say things like "yeah, we shot that $100k photo shoot with the D7000", or "I still use my D80 for my work..."

Many aspiring "new" photographers have become so gear-centric (might I risk saying materialistic) without the key ingredient to temper their decision-making process... hands-on practical experience. There seems to be a need to compress the process of gaining experience by simply dropping huge dollars on gear, and nothing on classes or simply shooting time. This relates directly to the fact that there are so many 36megapixel images lacking any style, composition, or artistic value.

I have mentored a number of aspiring photographers, and spend more time telling them to be prepared to spend countless hours shooting and editing, and stop researching technical jargon and useless specs that will leave them that much further behind. Simply stated, it's talent, skill, and experience that will take any artist where they need to go.

Pretty Girl Shooter is one of my regular reads; always bringing totally straightforward thought to the table. KEEP IT UP!

Unknown said...

I'm still shooting jobs (print and web) with my Canon Digital Rebel XT.

'nuff sed.

jimmyd said...

"I'm still shooting jobs (print and web) with my Canon Digital Rebel XT... 'nuff sed."


I used my daughter's Rebel for a job one time and the client had no clue, nor did they care, nor did they notice anything different than what they expected from me. I did put some pretty decent glass on it tho.