5D Mark III Review

Way back when I first started getting really into my photography I decided that one day I would like to own a full frame, pro level camera. Being very good at justifying all my purchases, I held off buying one, thinking that I would eventually buy one once my photography was at a level that warranted the expense of a full frame camera. I even held off buying one in the great camera dropping debacle of 2010, a time when my photography probably was good enough to justify a full frame camera and I had the cash. Having held off until the release of the 5D Mark III, in many respects I’m glad that I waited. From all of the reviews (and my own experience of the camera) it is far superior to its predecessor, especially in terms of the focussing system. I’ve now owned my 5D Mark III for just over six weeks and I’m in love. This camera is my baby and there will be no going back to cropped sensors. Yes, it is an expensive camera, but compared with the 7D, my previous camera (and now backup), the image quality and performance of the camera is mind-blowing. The two massive improvements (again, compared with the 7D) are the focus and the low light performance. The Mark III is quite quick to focus, even when using lenses that take their time to focus, such as the 85mm f/1.2L. Once focussed, it remains tack-sharp, which means that when I’m shooting wide open (or close to it), my subject remains beautifully focussed.

Easily the biggest improvement on the 7D is the high ISO capabilities of the Mark III. One of the things that I’ve struggled with lately with the 7D, particularly when photographing events and weddings in dark locations, is the amount of noise (grain) that begins to appear in my images past ISO 400. ISO 800 is ok but anything beyond that looks terrible (in my opinion) and suitable only as a black and white image. When I started doing quite a lot of high ISO photography while on Phillip Island a few weeks ago, I was blown away by the lack of noise, even when shooting at ISO 1600 and 3200. The main reason for our trip to Phillip Island was to volunteer at and photograph the Connect 12 conference, run by the Christian Venues Association. The auditorium was quite dark, however with my Mark III, I was able to get away with using fairly high ISOs. Here are a few images to give you an idea of the performance of the camera…

f/2.8 at 1/640 sec ISO 1600

f/2.8 at 1/80 sec ISO 1600

f/2.8 at 1/640 sec ISO 3200

f/2.8 at 1/800 sec ISO 1600

As you can see, there isn’t a hint of noise in those images. This makes me a very happy photographer, especially when it comes to photographing weddings and events as I know that I can rely on my camera to perform well despite difficult lighting conditions.

It’s a big call, but it could be the best photography-related purchase that I’ve made. Although it’s a tough choice between it and my other babies, my 50mm f/1.2L and 85mm f/1.2L. Either way, I’m so glad that I did make the purchase as it is going to enable me to shoot in a way that reflects me and will meet my very high expectations of quality!

Hopefully all the camera-speak in this post hasn’t confused you if you are relatively new to photography. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions 🙂

Tamara Lackey Seminar

On Friday I had the privilege of attending Tamara Lackey’s one day seminar. Tamara is a well known children’s and family portrait photographer from the US. As I mentioned in my last post, I was very excited about attending the workshop and it certainly did not disappoint.

While making my way to the venue, I felt quite nervous. For whatever reason, I felt that I was a bit of an impostor (not being a full-time photographer) and didn’t really deserve to be there. However, these fears rapidly melted away shortly after arriving as I struck up a conversation with someone who was in a very similar situation to me – working full-time outside of the photography industry yet wanting to follow our passion (of photography). The seminar kicked off soon after this and in no time, everyone got into the spirit of learning and sharing.

Tamara talked about how she started out as a portrait photographer and how she transformed her business into the success that it is today. The technical aspects behind contemporary portrait photography were discussed, as well as how to connect with your subject, posing and composition, studio workflow and finally pricing.

During the breaks I was able to talk with several fellow photographers who are all in varying stages of their business – some were in positions similar to me, others had just taken the leap into full-time photography careers while several of the attendees were ‘veterans’ of the business. It was fantastic being able to connect in these ways I hope that I can maintain these connections with some of the Sydney photographic community.

All in all, it was a fantastic day! By the time I headed home, I was feeling rather brain dead from all that I had taken in. Tamara’s enthusiasm was infectious and she shared a lot of very helpful advice that I have no doubt will improve the way that I photograph and operate my business.

To wrap up, here is a sneak peek from Linda and Stuart’s wedding which was recently held in Orange. I’ll be blogging some of my recent portrait shoots soon, as well as more from Linda and Stuart’s wedding.


Monitor Calibration – Before and After

For many years I had heard that Apple monitors are perfect for photographers and graphic designers because their colour calibration is apparently quite accurate. I have been happy with the colours that my MacBook Pro screen produces, however I have always wondered how accurate it really is. Having toyed with the idea of buying a monitor calibration device, Bret Edge’s post on monitor calibration sealed it, and I recently purchased an X-Rite iDisplay 2.

While it probably isn’t the most accurate test for comparing screen calibration profiles, I thought I’d take two screenshots – one prior to calibration and one post-calibration, just to see what the difference is. The photograph used in the screenshots is identical, with no editing having been applied between the capture of the screenshots.

Before monitor calibration

After monitor calibration

The difference between the pre- and post-calibration screenshots is most noticeable in the sky and histogram. To my eye, the screen had a distinctive blue tinge to it prior to calibration. After being accustomed to the colours that my screen produces, it has taken me a little while to get used to the properly calibrated display, especially immediately after performing the calibration. However, having a properly calibrated monitor is reassuring in that I know that what I see is what I’ll get when outputting images. It has been an interesting exercise and something I’d encourage all photographers to do.