Some thoughts on my camera journey & my latest stop: the Canon EOS 5ds R

August 06, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

My history with cameras starts a LONG time ago.  (Yes, we used to use acetate film...)  In 1968, my dad let me use his Rolleiflex TLR.  

Wikipedia Rolleiflex_f2-8-FWikipedia Rolleiflex_f2-8-F

This was a great camera that took amazingly high resolution pictures on 6cm x 6cm film.  Generally rolls of film were good for 12 exposures, and every shutter press cost you more than $1.  For a 12 year kid, a roll of film was a scarce commodity.

Life since then has made a trade for worse image quality in exchange for convenience, size/weight, number of shots, and cost.  35mm greatly reduced the cost of each image, and the cameras and lenses were a lot more portable.  And then Kodak invented digital photography.  (I'll leave it to others to discuss how badly the business side handled the transition; the technical folks were spot on.)  It took a while for digital images to get out of the "junk novelty" phase.  For me, this happened in 2009 when I switched from a Canon F-1n film SLR to a Nikon Coolpix 950.  Instead of images that could be blown up to wall size, the results of these early cameras were barely acceptable on 1024x768 pixel computer screens.  Yuck!  BUT, you could take as many pictures as you wanted, and even see the results immediately.  The term "chimping" was invented to describe the process of "take a picture, see if it's any good, fiddle to make it better, repeat until bored."  Ahem, even a chimpanzee could do it (which I suspect is the etymology of the term)!  If you want proof...

We never looked back.  The convenience and cost savings were mind blowing.  The image quality got better and better at a pretty rapid rate.  I went from Nikon Coolpixes to the Nikon D100.  And then, ..., and then, Canon blew everyone's minds with the EOS 20D.  Image quality was almost as good as 35mm film (not even close to 6x6).  But it was close enough for all practical purposes.  Huzzah!

Since then, I've been exclusively on Team Canon.  Even during "drought periods" when Nikon's bodies were better, I stuck it out.  I almost changed tribes when Nikon produced the D800 and D810 cameras (man, they were good), but the cost of change is extreme – selling and rebuying lenses is EXPENSIVE!  And then there's the strobes, and other goodies.  Oy!

Back in 2009, I upgraded from the 20D to the 1ds iii.  That was a HUGE investment, but that camera was a remarkably wonderful tool that I truly loved.  Until the EOS 6D came out in 2012.  The 6D took essentially identically good images, was smaller (a little less rugged, but hey I'm a fair-weather photographer!), and had geotagging and wifi.  I'll post something on geotagging at some point, it's an addictive habit.

Anyway, my Team Canon loyalty paid off as of last month. (July 2015)  Canon introduced the EOS 5ds R, a 50 megapixel digital camera.  It generates better quality images than 6x6 cameras (some might quibble, but talk to the hand!), and is especially suited for my style of photography (contemplative architectural, landscapes and nature scenes, occasional people pictures, wildlife).  I am not a sports photographer, and I don't need to take pictures when it's pitch black out.

And my reward?  Insanely excellent high resolution pictures.  I've lately been stitching together panoramic images that are north of 300 megapixels!

A few samples from the camera...

_69A0794_69A0794One of the first images with the 5ds R. Near sunset at La Jolla Cove.

_69A1175-Edit_69A1175-Edit

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And for those in the mood for extreme resolution.  This is eight 50 Megapixel images blended together in Lightroom LR6.  The result is ~150 megapixels (almost 3X overlap).  Zenfolio made me lower the quality to fit into 36 MB.  Sorry!  (But if you click on the image, you'll open another browser window with the full image.  I hope you have a big screen, and a great internet connection!)

_69A0169-Pano-2_69A0169-Pano-2

Is this the end?  Nah.  There's a new Sony that's just coming on the market that's better in low light, takes insane quality 4K videos, and (gulp) can even mount my Canon lenses!  I may succumb...  At some point we may reach a logical end to the camera technology race.  Unless 3D becomes a "thing," this may well happen in the next decade.  But between now and then, I'm expecting to have my mind (and wallet) blown by a wave of great new camera bodies.


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