Photography and Art

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Canon 5D Mark II Woes

Canon doesn't seem to be getting a lot of respect these days. First, we had the 1d Mark III fiasco where Rob Galbraith took Canon to task for releasing a very expensive camera with a broken autofocus. Next up, we had the tempest in a teapot over the very funny blog site FakeChuckWestfall. Chuck is the top Canon guy in North America and this site, written by a very knowledgeable Canon "fan", takes Canon to task for all its foibles. Canon tried to get the site shut down (showing a little frustration maybe?), but the author made some minor concessions and the site lives on. It's well worth the read for its take on a major camera vendor that is clearly struggling with a resurgent Nikon nipping at its heals.

The woe that currently assails Canon involves the 5d mark II. This is a camera that ought to be receiving rave reviews and, to be fair, it has had its share of praise. However, the camera seems to be prone to issues. First it was little white dots next to dark shadows and banding at high ISO's. Canon issued a firmware fix. Now it seems to be allergic to moisture. In a recent photo workshop to Antarctica attended by many photo luminaries including Jeff Schewe and Michael Reichmann, there were lots of 5d mark II's on the trip and a quarter of them failed in the damp conditions. We're not talking about torrential rain here, just drizzle. it looks like the mist leaks into the camera and plays havoc with the electrics. Perhaps Canon is channeling Lord Lucas, Prince of Darkness, who designed the electrical systems of many English cars and spoiled many holidays.

To cap it all off, Chris Sanderson, the videographer who works with Michael Reichmann, has penned a first impression of the much-touted video capabilities of the camera and has damned it with faint praise. To quote "For video it's a bit of a stretch."

Personally, I never saw the point of adding all that video capability to a still camera. If I wanted a swiss army knife, I'd buy one. Adding these functions to a very good still camera just adds cost and functionality that can break later. If Canon offered a mark II without video for $500 less, I'd be all over it.

Can Canon fix the 5d mark II recover from its damaged reputation? I must admit that there's a certain fascination in watching the titan struggle and if the price of the mark II dropped as a result of these early teething problems, that wouldn't hurt either.

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