Ask any photographer why he or she wants/needs another camera and he or she will come up with a laundry list of reasons: bigger, faster, better, more features, easier to use, and other excuses. If all else fails, the reason is “just because.” In my case, it was all part of a larger plan to step up my game. As new camera models are released, older models come down in price. The timing was right for me to move up from my entry level Canon XTi to a professional model full-framed 5D Mark II. I wanted better resolution, especially in low-light situations. The gauges are larger and easier to read, both to see the settings and for playback mode. The video capability was enticing. I wanted more features, more power, more, more, more.
And then the fun began. I was used to the buttons and dials on my old camera, now how do I make the new camera do the same things? Read manual, try pushing buttons and spin dials, read book, push different buttons and spin different dials; repeat as needed. The learning curve was a little steeper than I had anticipated. No buying this camera and dashing off for an important photo shoot the next day.
My first glitch was when I took the camera outside in the sun for some test shots. Full manual settings, in-camera metering, and the images were coming out overexposed. To compensate, I was shooting underexposed by a full stop, letting in half the amount of light the camera indicated that I needed. Although that worked, it wasn’t the ‘right’ solution, and it was getting to be more annoying. Oh, did I neglect to mention that I bought the camera second-hand? It turns out that the previous owner had some unique settings and custom configurations. Once I set everything to the factory defaults, the exposure settings worked much better.
The second glitch is not so easily fixed: the lens situation. When I was buying lenses for my XTi, I was aware that there were different series of lenses, not all of which could be mounted on a full-frame camera. When I selected my wide-angle zoom (10-24mm) and my ‘go-to’ 18-200 zoom, I went with Tamron lenses. Good quality, lower prices. Unlike the ‘EFS’ lenses (think S for small), these are EF series lenses that are made to work on cameras with full-frame sensors. Great - I would be able to use these lenses on both my crop-sensor XTi and my full-frame sensor camera of the future.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. When I mounted these lenses on the new camera, there was significant vignetting that occurred at one end of the focal length range. The series of photos accompanying this blog were taken with the Tamron 10-24 mm wide-angle zoom lens, at focal lengths of 10mm, 14mm, and 24mm. The image itself shows what was left after a storm blew through yesterday and took a major branch off one of my oak trees. The vignetting appears at the most zoomed-out settings, between 10 mm and 15 mm on the wide-angle. So, my solutions are: a) shoot at whatever setting I need to get the image I want, then crop in post-production, b) don’t shoot at the ranges that produce vignetting, or c) replace them with Canon brand lenses. None of the solutions are optimum, but a) and b) will have to do for now.
Could I have foreseen these issues? On the surface, everything looked good. A little more digging might have revealed what I now know. Sometimes it just boils down to not knowing what questions to ask, or the need to pay attention to terminology. For example, “will mount on...” is not the same as “fully functional with...” When I bought the lenses a couple of years ago, I knew there would be a full-frame camera in my future. I just didn’t know which one. Looking back, it would have been a good idea to ‘test drive’ the lens on any full-frame model that was available in-store; and yes, I bought in-store, not over the internet.
New camera gear - a part of the learning equation that is the life of photography. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.