This Christmas I decided to treat myself to a present - a new Canon 5D Mk II with 24-105mm f4 L IS lens! Ordered from Amazon via free 2-day shipping and received as advertised.
The very next day I took a trip to Yosemite National Park to test it out. Something about Yosemite, first... I've lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 13 years, yet I've only visited Yosemite once - it was 8-9 years ago and I don't remember much. That is a shame because the place is magical! Especially in the winter, when you have snow-capped trees and mountain peaks, frozen boulders in the Merced river, remnant fall leaf colors, and everchanging clouds and fog.
I did not get a chance to hike to any remote places (most of them were closed anyway) and I had to miss the sunset on both days. Yet, just driving along the main road loop and pulling over whenever something caught the eye provided more than enough beautiful photo material.
I am pretty happy with the results I got form the new camera and lens. They were very responsive and, coming from the 40D, I had no issues figuring out how to use any of the functions.
As far as the camera is concerned, I expected a couple of improvements over the 40D: much better ISO performance, video capabilities, and high-quality 21MP. The ISO performance is indeed impressive, although I found some images taken at lower ISO's (200-400) to have much more noise than expected. Nothing that can't be cleaned up, but I was hoping to be able to avoid doing that work. This wasn't consistent with all images, so I have to figure out the pattern. It's not because of bad exposure, because I'm talking about noise in the unaltered image, before any contrast or saturation manipulations. The 21MP is very nice to have, especially since the minimal noise can easily be hidden by downsizing the image to a still large 10-12MP. The downside of that is file size - RAW is about 25MB, TIF is 100+MB. Yuck. I only took one or two videos - they look pretty good, but I haven't played with editing them. That's another can of worms that I'm not sure I want to open right now... :) The annoying "features" of this camera are the 3.5fps, which is very slow, and the lack of a popup flash, but what can you do.
The 24-105mm was my first L lens and I was expecting a lot. It does a good job, given that it's used on a full frame 21MP camera. Still, I'm not sure yet whether it gives better results than my 17-55 f2.8 IS on the 40D. The corners are a bit softer than the center, but that's expected. The surprising thing was that there was significant chromatic aberration, or at least it looked significant on a 21MP image. The good news is, usually it can be cleaned quite easily. Overall, the range is great, the focus is fast, and the images look great!
I finally got the first batch of images reviewed and approved! The collection is here, for your viewing pleasure
. I strongly recommend a visit to Yosemite to everyone living in or visiting California. I'll definitely make an effort this year to go there once in each of the seasons!