5DMKII at a Lytham wedding

I got a chance to give the 5DMKII a workout at the weekend. I had a lovely candle light wedding at Lytham Hall, and then it was back to the Grand Hotel in St Annes for the reception.  As it is a beta camera, I decided to shoot some 'safe' parts of the day alongside my 1DsMK3 which dealt with most of the coverage.

Shooting the camera in a real working situation really is the only way of assessing how good it actually is. I'm not one for pixel peeping, or comparing it with this and that. All I want to know is whether it will allow me to do my job properly, and if the picture quality is of a professional standard.

So here are my thoughts after using it for my day job.

As I've said before, this is a very well built, professional feeling camera which inspires confidence. It isn't a 1 series though, and anyone expecting it to feel like a 1 series in terms of build quality are going to be disappointed. Having the two side by side really hit home how much more 'substantial' the 1 series is. For me, the 1DsMK3 is the better camera in terms of AF and build quality. However it is also twice the price!! 

The 5DII however, is lighter - much lighter - it's  also very compact, and very quiet in terms of shutter noise compared to the 1DSMK3. I was really surprised how unobtrusive the camera is with a prime lens attached, and how comfortable it is to hold for a small camera body. For a photojournalist, there are times when a 1 series camera is too 'in your face' and this is really where the 5DMKII shines.

The image quality is fabulous from the 5DMKII. Looking at my files I would say it's possibly a stop better in terms of noise than the 1DSMK3. 6400 iso is very useable, and pretty clean. In fact I used the 5DMKII for most of the drinks reception, as I was shooting in a dark hall with virtually no light. The typical exposure was 1/60th - 1/100th sec at f1.4 at 6400 iso - that's how dark it was!! I didn't use the H1 and H2 iso modes, as I didn't need to. 6400 with a 1.4 or 1.2 prime is possibly the top of the mountain as far as my photography is concerned. I can't see the need for anything higher, unless I decide to shoot with a 2.8 zoom all day. The problem with that of course, is that as the light levels drop, a slower lens makes it harder to see the subject through the viewfinder.

The AF handled pretty much everything I threw at it in low light, as long as I stayed with the centre focusing point. I still can't get used to the peripheral points on the 5D, and I much prefer those on the 1DSMK3. However, using the centre point and recomposing, the camera was accurate and very quick to focus. Using the peripheral points simply caused the camera to hunt in the very low light of the venue. The dancing shots at the end of the evening were great, and I would have to say it was as good if not slightly better than the 1DSMK3 in this situation.

If you don't intend on shooting video at a wedding, then make sure that the SET button doesn't start the video recording (this is a custom function option). Yes the SET button is the most logical place to put the start/stop REC button, but a couple of times on Saturday I found the button had been pressed accidentally and I was merrily recording a beautiful 1080 HD video of the floor, which in turn was eating my CF cards for breakfast!! 

Overall I was greatly impressed with the 5DMKII. I can see myself using both the 1DSMK3 and the 5DMKII side by side on future weddings. Actually, as I was walking back to my car on Saturday's wedding, I could see me just using two 5DMKII's....

Onto the pictures. I didn't use anything below 1600 iso with the 5DMKII. I alternated between 1600, 3200 and 6400 depending on the light. These have all been processed in Canon's DPP beta software, including the b/w. Normally I would add grain and increase the contrast slightly with the conversion to b/w, but I didn't want to give the pixel peepers and the worried Nikon evangelists something to crow about:-))




This bridesmaid was quite sick on the morning of the wedding. She's just lying down watching the bride get made up. The camera nailed the focus first time, without any hunting even though the girl is small in the frame. 1600 iso.



Another bridesmaid in the mirror. Again 1600 iso, which is lovely.



Onto the ceremony. The quieter camera was a bonus here. This was shot at 3200 iso. I've converted to b/w in DPP.



Dark reception images. This shot was taken at 6400 iso. Compared to the Nkon D3 that I had earlier in the year, the colour fidelity is far superior with the Canon, especially in this awful mixed lighting.


And the 100% enlargement. The sharpness at 6400 is incredible - as are the flesh tones.



Outside at 6400. The camera nailed the focus on the bride. Absolutely nailed it in really tough conditions. Exposure here was 1/30th sec at f1.4.



And the enlargement.



At the reception. 6400 iso with mixed lighting.



All images are copyright Jeff Ascough. Unauthorised useage is prohibited.