Canon 5D Mark iii Vs Canon 1DX for Wedding Photography.

Yesterday Canon announced the new Canon 5D Mark iii, The 5D Mark ii has been one of the most successful cameras of all time world wide amongst wedding photographers and professional photojournalists alike. The new 5D Mark iii has been eagerly anticipated with many rumours suggesting an incredible pixel count but it looks like Canon have done the right thing in listening to the needs and desires of the professional photographer working every day. I had it on good source that after the floods in Japan not to expect this until at least the end of this year. So it was a real surprise to see it’s going to be available for pre order at the end of March for this seasons work.

With 6 frames per second 22 million pixel count, exceptional low light image quality, faster more accurate autofocus similar to or borrowed from the 1DX, faster processor, dual cards and a layout that any current 5d Mark ii or 7d user will find easy to navigate. Not to mention the use of the same battery as the old 5D Mark ii and 7D its sure to be a big hit.

Looking at the sample images available on line it seems they are usable even in the expanded range right up to ISO 51000 which is just unheard of. The upper limit of ISO 102000 looks a bit beyond usable to my mind. This certainly does offer the ability to shoot hand held in a real wide range of light without flash right into the night.

Low light autofocus is an area the 5D mark ii didn’t score highly enough in. The 61 point autofocus system on the new 5D mark iii either borrowed from or very similar to the 1DX is just amazing, beyond what we could have expected. To think of being able to focus on a moving subject in practically no light has been on my wish list for a long time. It’s just going to mean users can capture so many more emotional moments at a wedding. Reviewers are suggesting that regardless of how slow a lenses autofocus the images are spot on every time.

Dual cards is great, this lessons the chance of lost images due to memory card failure and being the second card is the more common SD it means that if you forget your memory cards you can run in almost any local supermarket. Dual cards was one of the main reasons for me pre ordering the 1DX, the very idea of loosing someones wedding photos to me is worth paying several extra thousand pounds to avoid. I nearly lost a set of images on a failed memory card and whilst I managed to sort it with rescue software, the worry for an hour whilst I was sorting it doesn’t bare thinking about. Now the 5D mark iii is out so soon with it’s dual cards I think I can actually rethink my need for the 1DX altogether. Laptop users will also love this with their built in SD card reader and the need to carry additional card readers will be gone.

It will be interesting to see how the new 5D mark iii processor copes with the auto white balance. The 5D mark ii was great when the light was good but in low light didn’t do well. You’d then have to manually set the white balance to get the colours right using a gray card or adjust it in post production. If like me you forget for a moment you’re back to making adjustments in post production. It would be nice just to leave it to the camera and not to have to worry.

Not that I am into video but the new features strike me as welcome news to those who’re making videos on a professional or semi professional level. Visible audio levels, better image quality and less noise in low light have to be good.

All this has to be great for the wedding photography industry generally, of course equipment isn’t everything but when your limited to what you can do for a client because limitations of the equipment it can be very frustrating.

But how does it compare to Canon’s flagship 1DX for wedding photography? Should we as wedding photographers all rush out and replace our 5D mark ii’s with 5D mark iii’s? Or should we perhaps buy the 1DX instead.

The Canon 1DX is also without a doubt an exceptional camera. With its build quality, its low light ability way beyond that of anything previously dreamed of, (even beyond that of the new 5D Mark iii), 12 frames per second, 18 million pixel count, dual CF cards and a full size body to boot.

Canon in my view have been really clever with both new cameras combining the best from the past models. If your not used to the full body of the 1 series cameras it takes a bit of getting used to but actually is a wonderful very balanced layout. Of course there are those who find its size and weight an issue and they will prefer the 5D mark iii. Personally I like the size and feel of the 1 series its a nicer feel than the 5D with a battery grip.

Sticking with full frame was I think never going to be in question on either of these cameras, after all its the shallow depth of field and image quality which attracts people to them. As many wedding photographers will already own a 5D Mark ii and or the likes of a 7D, the similar layout and same battery of the 5D mark iii will be a big plus.

The desire to have that bit of extra reach from the lens provided by the crop sensor will still be in the minds of many. Rather than carrying the right lens I can see many photographers will be cropping right into the image after. The 22 Million pixels of the 5D mark iii is plenty to crop right into and still provide quality, where as 18 million pixels from the 1DX might be a little lacking.

Real life suggest the most wedding photographers are only ever going to shoot under at worst low candle light normally around 1/30th of a second at f1.4 at ISO 6400 which was about the limit of 5D mark ii and hand holding ability of most photographers. Increase that to 1/125 of a second at f1.4 with the new 5D mark iii native ISO of 25000 means that chances of blur are far reduced. Pushing it further to 1/250 at f1.4 @ the expanded range of ISO 51000 means human motion is pretty much eliminated. But again your working at the limits of the camera.

However with Canon’s new 1DX with its native ISO range of 100- 51000 with expanded range of upto 204000 means gives you at least that extra full stop of play, meaning you’re no longer working at the camera’s limits, all of a sudden you have first dances shoot without the aid of any additional light or monopod at f2.8 on the standard 24-70mm f2.8 zoom. Capturing kids running in candle light at a wedding how incredible will that be.

F1.2 is lovely of course but the reality is with such a shallow depth of field this can often prove unusable so being able to shot wide open on a 24-70mm f2.8 and not have to swap lens would be such a plus point for most of us. It means simply you’re not going to miss images whilst changing lens. That said I can’t see me selling my prime lenses any day soon.

Six frames per second from the 5D mark iii is more than enough for the majority of wedding photographers and photojournalists but 12 frames per second from the 1DX takes you into the world of jaw dropping split second action found in the world of sports photography. Stand at the sidelines of a mountain biking track or local amateur football match one weekend with a 1DX and all of a sudden you have images that sell on a laptop there and then, rather than those that sit at home on your computer. Add to that the fact you’re not worrying about your shutter count which you would be with the 5d mark iii.

Shutter count is a big disappointment on the 5D mark iii to my mind. I’ve had a few cameras fail and it’s both expensive and a hassle. 150000 actions on the 5D mark iii is just not enough. Compare this to the 1DX’s 400000, I would have thought 250000 actions was more in keeping with demand. It’s a bit like mileage on a car, with the average wedding photographer aiming at 50-70 weddings a year and 1000+ images per wedding thats 150 weddings or 3 years. However it’s not like that add in all the engagement photos, other photo shoots, projects and personal work and you’re looking at closer to a two year life span. With most photographers needing two bodies at £3000 a time thats £3000 a year spent on camera bodies alone. Where as with the 1DX your looking at more like a 5 year life span even at £5300 a time and needing 2 bodies thats a little over £2000 for camera bodies per year, thats a substantial saving in equipment costs. Not to mention its higher residual value at the end of the time.

In answer to the question which camera is best for wedding photography canon 5d mark iii or 1DX

If all you have is a few low paying gigs one or two weddings and a few portraits then your going to find it hard to justify the need for the new 5D mark iii over the mark ii which is still a very good camera. Your unlikely to come across low enough light often enough to justify spending £3000 specially as Canon are going to continue to sell the 5D mark ii for some time all but at a lower price.

Canons 1DX is a professional camera designed to be used every day by demanding professional photographers out in the field, one day being able to capture a sports event the next working in the cold and wet, whilst being used as a wedding camera at the weekend. At £5300 it’s not cheap but it’s ideal for studio’s and newspapers where a team of photographers use a pool of cameras combining the best of the older 1D and 1DS’s whilst still being able to utilising the older batteries.

The 5D mark iii is I think ideal for the wedding photographer taking 30 weddings a year where the camera isn’t used daily but who has to deal with low light on a fairly regular basis. Of course landscape and photojournalists are going to love the 5D mark iii but how many will swap from the 5D mark ii will have to be seen.

You have to make your mind up yourself as to which is best for you.

Personally I was really well sold on the 1DX, I saw as a pre production model a few months back was blown away. My decision really was based on it having full frame amazing low light image quality, dual cards, build quality and being available this year. Sold enough to put a pre order on it, but I’m off to have a look at the new 5d mark iii this Thursday at focus, read a few more reviews and go from there. Now it has dual cards and seems its going to be available soon it’s certainly more of an option for me personally and at an initial saving of £2300 it’s not to be sniffed at.


Posted in 6. Photography talk

Professional photography for Websites, Bristol

When ever you go on a website before you read a word the very first thing that gives you an impression of the company is the quality of photographs. But with so many doing it themselves is there a real demand for creative professional photography for websites in and around Bristol? The answer is definitely Yes.

 The world of professional photography specially commercial photography is very different game to wedding and portrait photography. I don’t advertise my commercial work mainly as I have a little boy whom I like being house dad to. But  I thought I would share just what it can be like to being a creative professional photographer as I’ve been doing a some commercial photography for websites in and around Bristol over the last month whilst it’s quiet on the wedding scene not that it ever really gets quiet nowadays.

I think it seems such a glamours job being a photographer.  One day you might be up at 3 am to lean out the window of a helicopter capturing the sunrise off a industrial factory. The next you can be working with a half a dozen models for a small clothing catalogue. More often it’s a case of freelancing some current event in the hope of selling your images, taking images of a building site  or some warehouse or other, or shooting products in the studio until midnight and editing photos into the early hours for some deadline. Or if there’s nothing else about adding to your images for stock library.

With every corner shop wanting a web presences the demand for photography has never been greater, however with the digital cameras so many people attempt it themselves. I was recently speaking to a couple of  website design companies and they were saying how hard it is to get people to pay for a professional photographer and how much they dread having to work with poor images produced by amateurs. Even amongst so called professional photographers creativity seems to have given way to the demand to get things done in as quick a time as possible which I think is really short sighted.

It’s there for been a delight to be asked to create distinctive and  creative images for some local businesses for their websites and promotional brochures. I’ve been working with a few designers with images for Gloucester Rugby Clubs Private members clubs amongst others, I’ve been I’ve even made my  first commercial video.

The demand for these short promotional videos for websites has grown massively in the last few years and top of the range stills cameras now have all the functionality to do these. I come from proper film days where everything had to be spliced together and audio was almost impossible to sink so editing with professional software like final cut seems a breeze. Before you ask no I won’t be making any wedding videos and day soon. Short professional looking video’s are easy to knock up nowadays when you know what your doing but the level of additional equipment and professionalism it takes to produce the sort of serious blurry background documentary style cinematic productions I would want to provide clients with all the pressure of the day is to much to consider.

Anyway I won’t go on and bore you with loads of product photograph just a couple to illustrate the sort of thing I’ve been doing. These few are from Brunel Tyres, Steve the owner loved my black and white reportage style and wants his website to stand out with more arty images than you’d expect. I have to say if your looking for good service he is one man I’d recommend.

Posted in 6. Photography talk, Photo shoots