Can Canon Do Anything Right?

Posted by on September 24, 2008 at 12:02 AM under Photography

Canon announced the 5D Mark II last week and it was immediately blasted by everyone in message forums. I think people expected a modest pixel increase and double the frame rate rather than doubling the pixels and a modest frame rate. In reality, the camera holds very true to its legacy as a landscape and wedding photographer’s dream machine. It is going to be a very capabable camera and I can’t wait to see what its noise performance will be at the higher ISOs, which is probably the biggest reason why I want to upgrade.

The sample photos put online at dpreview.com really didn’t do the camera justice. Overall, they were boring, shoot at the wrong shutter speed, and with the wrong aperture. Hence, they came across as soft and ugly. But if you look at the macros of the watch where they had to use a tripod, there’s some amazing details.

The increase of megapixels is also troubling in the increased cost for storage (both compact flash and hard disk) as well as the performance impact in post-posting. With this camera, I could see myself using the sRAW format quite often, except when I knew I needed the extra details or was shooting something special. If nothing else, hopefully it will cause people to think more about light, composition, and other factors before pressing that shutter button.

I’m kinda mixed about the video mode. The Nikon D90 did steal a bit of the thunder for the camera, but from the samples I’ve seen, Canon’s implementation blows Nikon’s away so far. In the span of 3 days, Vincent Lafort managed to beg the Canon guys in New York to borrow the camera for three days and put together an awesome video showing off its low light capabilities. Visit his blog to watch Reverie as well as the Behind the Scenes Video. If I purchase the camera, I can see using it for short video clips of my family. I won’t even pretend to have Vincent’s talent.

I’m a little taken back at all of the negative commentary that it shoots 30 fps rather than 24 fps as well as the nitpicking of the video itself. I won’t even pretend to understand all of the logic as to why a slower frame rate is more important – people just want to complain. These same people are probably still listening to vinyl records rather than CDs. The fact the camera can keep with full 1080 HD video at 30 fps, producing 47 MB/sec is amazing. It will probably be a much easier case for Canon to go down in the frame rate, rather than increasing it. Don’t forget that Vicent didn’t even have an owner’s manual.

Another point that was interesting was how quickly Don MacAskill, the CEO of Smugmug, jumped on the chance to host the content as well as provide seed money $25,000 to $50,000 for the next video. This is a great business move. They’ve gotten their name out in front of more than 500,000 serious photographers for what amounts to a relatively inexpensive advertising campaign and their bandwidth costs are probably already sunk. I personally host my photos with Zenfolio, but I had first tried Smugmug and was extremely impressed with their offering. The only reason that I didn’t utilize them was that my company’s internet proxy servers block their content. Unless I had signed up for their pro plan, I wouldn’t have been able to utilize a custom domain name to work around this. I do believe they now have a mid-tier offering that does allow this. Smugmug has definitely earned kudos from me and the photographic communitiy for this move.

This is situation is also a great example of viral marketing and no-one could have planned this better if they tried. It’s too bad the advertising executives at Canon didn’t realize what was happening here.


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