Tuesday, January 25, 2011



This is a post I've kinda been wanting to do for a while now. Before I go any further I just want to put out my little disclaimer that this is just my opinion, but the following pictures really do tell the story. The reason for this post is I hear people say that the camera and equipment doesn't matter, just the person behind the lens. To me they both matter. Skill, vision, technical know-how (the person behind the lens) is extremely important if you want professional results and there is a reason that professional photographers use the "expensive" equipment. Now, I'm not saying that you're not a "professional" if you use a Rebel or equivalent, because if you have a business license and people are paying you for your photography, then you are a professional. I simply wanted to show some advantages that "professional" equipment can give you that consumer grade equipment never will.

A friend of mine happens to have a Canon Rebel xti which I was able to get my hands on. I had about ten minutes to take some side by side shots with it and a 5D mark II and various lenses. The 5D mark II was shot using neutral settings (no sharpening, color saturation, etc.) and the Rebel had "pumped up" settings for color and sharpening in the camera. I applied the same amount of sharpening and color saturation in photoshop. I think this is why the colors are so similar.

These first two photos show how a full frame sensor (5D mark II) shows a much more diffusely blurred background than a 1.6x cropped sensor (Rebel xti) even shooting at the same aperture-in this case f3.5. Just look at the house and Land Rover in the background. 

Shot w/ 5D mark II & 35mm f1.4l lens @ f3.5

Shot with Rebel xti & kit lens @ f3.5

In the next two photos you can see how you're not getting your money's worth by using expensive glass on a crop factor camera. Let me explain. I put the Canon 85mm f1.2l II lens on the Canon 5d mark II and I am using all that wonderful glass to make the image. When I put the Canon 50mm f1.2l lens on the Rebel xti I get basically the same field of view as I do with the 85mm/5D combo. What this means is roughly half of the glass in the 50mm lens is not being used to make the image because of the 1.6x crop factor. Basically you'd be using only half of a lens you payed $1500 for. Ouch!

Shot w/ Canon 5D mark II & 85mm f1.2l II @f1.2

Shot w/ Rebel xti & Canon 50mm f1.2l @ f1.2

These last two photos show how much sharper a Canon "L" prime lens is than a kit zoom lens. The "L" primes have so much better contrast, color, and sharpness than the "L" zooms too (that's kinda why we sold all our "L" zooms except one and bought "L" primes instead). Man, we can't wait to shoot a wedding with all that wonderful "L" prime glass! After looking at our wedding portfolio, we can't help but think how much nicer, more vibrant, and less noisy those images would have turned out if we had our "L" primes back then.

Oh yeah, all these crops are from the center of the frame where all lenses are their sharpest. There is absolutely no comparing the "L" lens and the kit zoom.  

Shot w/ Canon 5D mark II & 35mm f1.4l @ f3.5

Shot w/ Rebel & kit lens @ f3.5

I know some people might be saying that the 5d mark II has the advantage over the Rebel xti because of the extra resolving power of having 21mp, but even if you had a 7D (top of the line 18mp crop camera) the results would still be the same for real world use. Besides, megapixels don't always mean "better" pictures, just larger pictures. In fact, the 5D mark II has so much resolution that it will actually show the flaws in the lenses where a lower res camera won't (kind of why you need to use expensive glass with it to get the most out of it).

Also, an old Canon 40d crop camera (and the Rebel xti used in this post) will give better overall image quality than a new 7D crop camera because the pixel density is at a better ratio to the size of the APS-C sensor. The original 5D will also give better image quality than any crop camera hands down. But, if you want the ultimate in image quality from Canon, go with the 5D mark II. It is an awesome camera with image quality that no other Canon camera can match.

Something else about the more pro-grade cameras is that you don't have to search through menu after menu to change your camera settings. I must have tried for like five minutes to adjust both the aperture and shutter speed in manual mode on that Rebel. Definitely not a camera I would want at a wedding.

One last thing, I wasn't able to use the Rebel's lenses on the 5d since they are made specifically for the crop cameras. I am going to get my hands on a top of the line Tamron zoom lens to compare it to a Canon "L" prime and I will also compare a Canon "L" zoom to a Canon "L" prime just to show how awesome the primes really are. That way I can shoot everything with the 5d at neutral settings instead of "pumped up" settings with the Rebel to give a more accurate representation of how the lenses render color.

I know this post is probably my longest yet, but I hope some of you found it beneficial. Once again, I'm not knocking you if you use Rebels and kit lenses, I'm just showing that there is a difference between expensive equipment and affordable equipment. I'm curious to hear what you all thought about this post.


Grants Pass & Medford Oregon Wedding Photographer

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