The $500 full frame solution: longish post

Started Mar 4, 2011 | Discussions thread
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bkpix
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The $500 full frame solution: longish post
Mar 4, 2011

Hi folks,

I'm a long-time Canon shooter who switched (back) to Pentax a couple years ago; I use a K-7 and K20D, along with 12-24, 16-50 and 50-135 zooms and a couple Limited primes to make BW landscape prints for gallery sales and to shoot occasional paid portraits/events.

When I dumped the Canon gear I kept a couple L lenses I liked, the 20-35 and 100-400.

Recently I got an old Epson 7600 24-inch printer, which I've been using to make BW prints on full-sheet watercolor paper (23x30). They're lovely.

Today I bought a $500 Canon 1Ds that I found at Craigsworld. It's a Mark I, nearly 10 years old, 11 meg, 3 fps, 45-point autofocus, and works great. One careful professional owner took decent care of it. The only snag, which he warned me about, is the batteries need replacing. I already ordered a $30 clone from Amazon.

No bells and whistles (live view, auto ISO, dust removal) in those days -- just a real solid, tightly built beast of a camera. I bought it primarily to let my bird-photographer son try out when he gets home from Costa Rica in a couple weeks. He's destroyed three Canon prosumer bodies (20D and 50D) in just the past year -- water killed two, a fall killed one -- and might be ready to get a 1D-series body for his travels. Figure if neither of us wants it, it'll sell easily enough.

Meanwhile, I'm interested in the FF image quality. I had a 5D briefly but hated using it; it felt creaky and badly built and the autofocus was crummy. But when I print those images on the 23x30 paper, they have a bit more something. Hard to put my finger on, but it's like the 5D image is finer grained.

I made a quick trip outside this evening with a tripod, the 1Ds (20-35) and the K-7 (16-50) and did some shooting. First impression, pixel-peeping, is that the 1Ds images have that same slightly finer quality.

Anyway, I know a lot of people here are interested in checking out full frame photography. I hadn't realized the old 1D-series digital bodies were so capable. You could jump into dual system craziness, it turns out, for less than $1k, including a decent lens.

I'll shoot more in the next couple weeks and report back with more detailed impressions if anyone is interested.

Bob Keefer

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