For years she stood by me through all the ups and all the downs. She accompanied me, brand new and shining as I embarked on my first trip to the sunny shores of Mozambique. She endured beers being spilled on her body by drunken gig attendees. Being bumped and bruised while she worked her best in the pits of nightclubs long forgotten. She shared a space with some rock stars on a week long tour as well as sharing a stage with one of South Africa's biggest Afrikaans punk rock bands. She captured the wildest parties in Buitenkant and Long Street, Cape Town. She's captured the most intimate of moments in the backstages of Cape Town's music venues and gave me an opportunity to shake hands with my idols on numerous occasions. She's beaten and bruised but she never tires.
I'm rather proud to call her mine.
I've been shooting on a Canon 5D Mark II since 2009. This is the 8th year I'm shooting with this remarkable piece of machinery. With her original shutter mechanism still intact after all these years, a cracked LCD display, weathered by dust and scratches on the body from all the festivals and gigs I've shot at over time.
But in the last while she's been used less and less. I found myself stuck in a rut, unable to shoot anything. Her body gathered up dust as she was locked away in a cupboard. The sound of her shutter almost forgotten...
The 5D Mark II was a game changer back in the day. At the time it was released it had decent dynamic range, as well as an ISO range that pushed the limits for its time. But the one thing most people were raving about was the fact that this is a DSLR that could finally do something we, as photographers have been waiting ages for.
The inclusion of Video.
Not just as a gimmick, but something that gives the user full control while capturing detail in High Definition. The film industry shuddered with disgust and then, eventually became interested... Naturally. For once, we had something they didn't. The inclusion of high definition video on a DSLR enabled us to explore video using lenses normally reserved for Photography. A brand new world awaited! And at a price most people could afford.
This meant there was a new aesthetic to films being shot on DSLR's. We were finally able to shoot videos using shallow depth of field and a multitude of Canon lenses were available to us. I'm sure Canon didn't expect the camera to perform this well! And then Hollywood took notice...
I remember the Internet going crazy with the announcement that House's Season FInale would be shot on this camera. From there it had a snowball effect. Darren Aronofsky used it for certain scenes in his movie, Black Swan. It was used in numerous movies and series after that, even as recently as 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road.
Right about now, you're probably asking the question "What about the Canon 5D Mark III? It's been much of an improvement over the Mark II" Yes I agree. But, somehow all that refinement feels like it stripped it of its character. It all just feels a bit too... Digital. The 5D MK II still had that satisfying "CLACK" as you pressed the shutter, reminiscent of an old Hasselblad 503CM. While it's everything I want the 5D II to be and more, it's not the 5D II. Perhaps I'm just a sentimental fart stuck in my old ways...
There was a new player in town. And it had curves that could easily rival that of a 23-year-old Mila Kunis. It had the scent of a new Stephen King novel and the beastly charm of Keith Richards. I could see myself being accompanied by this beautiful mistress as I hike up sand dunes along the Skeleton Coast or brave the fierce conditions around the Cape Of Storms...
Enter the Canon 5D Mark IV.
With ten more Megapixels more than the 5D Mark II crammed into a sensor that can basically see things us humans can't in the dark, wireless technology built into the body so you can copy your massive files to a field drive on the fly and the ability to now shoot and process 4K movies from the camera, Canon surely released a new game changer almost a decade after the Mark II was released.
Could this be the start of something beautiful? Will it grab my soul like the Mark II did, reinvigorate my love for Photography and make me fall in love all over again?
Just like many other gear junkie photographers out there, I reached a level of excitement that exceeded the Earth's Stratosphere. I had to get my hands on this beautiful piece of technology. And in December 2016, I had just that opportunity.
I was asked to shoot a wedding nestled in the outskirts of what resembled a Pierneef painting of the Cape Winelands. So, months before the wedding I met up with the couple and we did some location scouting around Wellington. Immediately I knew this would be a perfect environment to test out Canon's latest addition to the Prosumer DSLR Category.
A few days before the wedding I quickly stopped by the rental house to pick up the Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon's 85mm f1.2 & 70-200 f2.8 and some Profoto B1's. They were kind enough to give me an extra day free of charge due to a public holiday falling on the Friday. This meant I now have more time to familiarize myself with the new capabilities made available on the body of the Mark IV.
I arrived home and immediately took it out the case, strapped on the 85mm 1.2 and took my first picture.
I suddenly felt a rush I last experienced when I picked up my 5D Mark II for the first time.
What followed was a newly established love affair of not only an incredible example of human engineering but a rekindling of Photography itself. During the wedding, the camera outperformed all of my expectations. The camera fulfilled every need I had during every minute of that wedding. I had my old faithful Mark II by side all along, yet I felt I needed to utilize the Mark IV more often due to the increased dynamic range and incredibly sensitive sensor inside the camera. I was able to pick up details at low light I've never been able to achieve with my Mark II. The auto focus was quick to respond and 99% accurate, causing me to catch crucial moments with minimum effort. With the addition of a touchscreen LCD I was now able to do smooth focus pulling by dragging my finger across the rear screen of the camera while shooting video. No need for an expensive focus pulling system or jittery hands fumbling across the lens.
While the couple expressed their love to each other through the vows they've written down before, I was in the background silently shooting, praising this magnificent piece of technology. That day, the wedding couple vowed their everlasting love to each other while I renewed my vows for the love of Photography. And while the Mark II will always hold a special place in my heart, the Mark IV has shown me how much photography has progressed over the years along with new tricks I have yet to perfect.
Something happened during this time I spent with the Mark IV. I started thinking of new ideas and concepts I could pursue. I became excited at the thought of shooting again. I wanted to revisit old locations and shoot until the shutter clicks its final click. With this re-established passion, I felt I could do anything again. Perhaps it's time for a new adventure. With new memories to capture. New features to discover. New bonds to be tied.
The Mark IV; the sweet mistress of the night that stole my heart that one night in Wellington.
And while I was completely enthralled with the Mark IV, I found myself forgetting about the Mark II, and she stayed locked away in the cupboard. The dusty old camera was now just a remnant of a time I once cherished her and she's soon to be forgotten. Or is it?
While the 5D Mark IV stole my heart, it's not without its flaws. It would seem as though the inclusion of 4K video has angered a group of photographers and film makers due to the x1.74 crop factor. There's also no colour science behind the video and no high frame rate except when switching to 720p, and who still uses 720p anyway? But the more I read reviews about how bad the 4K video is on, the more it feels as though people have forgotten that this camera takes photos as well. And it does a bloody good job for something that was never intended to be a full-on video camera. Canon has a separate department for that, after all.
With all these technological advancements in the Mark IV, I couldn't help but feel there was still something missing...
The Mark II felt the same as a film camera. A rugged and sturdy camera that felt well fitted to your hand. Each picture captured with a satisfying, mechanical "clack" of the shutter. It was a camera with the basic essentials needed to take a photo. Stripped of gimmicks and flashy features, it allowed the user to focus on the more important things (No pun intended). And over the years with technology growing at an exponential rate we've become so attached to new features being hand fed to us by the manufacturers, that we've forgotten to just go outside and take a photo.
It's almost like taking a 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 and replacing all the basics such as steering, gear shift and pedals with a single biodegradable, voice activated LED screen. Does it really make driving it a lot more fun?
And then you look at the price tag.
The original 5D Mark II entered the market at $2,699, making it easy for even the semi-professional photographer to afford. But now, almost a decade later the Mark IV has appeared on shelves with a tag of $3,499. Sure, that's justifiable if you live in the States. Not if you're like me, and live in South Africa where the price is nearly double that thanks to our exchange rate. This wasn't the case back when the Mark II was released in 2008 when our exchange rate was still relatively decent...
While Canon's 5D Mark IV has rocked the prosumer DSLR Market and raised that bar a bit higher. While others still debate whether or not this camera is a decent video camera or not. One thing it's definitely done was to show me I didn't need fancy bells and whistles in order to take good photos. With the finesse of the Mark II and Mark III combined, while retaining those curves that could rival Mila Kunis, it showed me I could fall in love again.
And as I left Wellington, I had some time to reflect back on my experience with Canon's 5D Mark IV and thought about how it had affected me over the last 24 Hours. I soon realised that it not only made me love photography again, but it made me look at my own 5D Mark II in a new light.
And with this renewed perspective, I felt the urge to shoot again. If anything, the camera's best feature wasn't the fact that it had 30 Megapixels, Dual Pixel Raw or 115, 000 ISO. The Canon 5D Mark IV had the ability to make me fall in love with it's predecessor again...
The Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 85mm f1.8, Canon 70-200mm f2.8 and Profoto B2's were rented from Sunshine Co, based in Roodehek Rd, Cape Town. http://www.sunshineco.co.za/
This post is not sponsored or endorsed by Canon South Africa, Sunshine Co. or any of their affiliates. It's merely my first hand account with the camera and I felt I wanted to share it for those interested in Photography, the Canon 5D Mark IV or those who, like me, are stuck with a creative block.