A few weeks back I found myself at the Universities Krannert Center for the Performing Arts photographing a friends band.  Arriving late I took the only available table and found myself locked into the one position.Lately I’ve rekindled my love affair with my Canon 1ds Mark II which at eight years old could rightfully be considered a vintage DSLR when you take into account how fast digital technology becomes obsolete.  I had it serviced at a Canon Service Center and hunting around I found and paid dearly for an original Canon NP-E3 NIMH battery.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 135mm F2L USM F2.8 1/250th ISO 3200

 

A few weeks back I found myself  at the Universities Krannert Center for the Performing Arts  photographing a friends band.  Arriving late I took the only available table and found myself locked into the one position.

Lately I’ve rekindled my love affair with my Canon 1ds Mark II which at eight years old could rightfully be considered a vintage DSLR when you take into account how fast digital technology becomes obsolete.  I had it serviced at a Canon Service Center and hunting around I found and paid dearly for an original Canon NP-E3 NIMH battery.

After years of using my new Canon 5d Mark II in the same locations, same weather, and same time of year as images from the 1ds Mark II, I’d concluded the 1ds Mark II made marginally better images at ISO 800 and lower.  From ISO 1000-6400 the 5d Mark II had the edge due to it’s lower noise levels.  Yet, below ISO 800 the 1ds Mark II makes some really sweet files that appeal to me more than those from my 5d Mark II.  So, I’ve been using the 1ds Mark II more and more these days.

Like tonight, I’d often use them together.  Tonight I even added the Fuji x100 with its stellar 35mm (equiv) F2 lens set at ISO 3200, the 5d Mark II mounted with the superb 85mm F1.2L USM set at ISO 3200, and my trusty but not rusty 1ds Mark II mounted with the excellent 135mm F2L USM lens.  I was lazy, with 35mm, 85mm, and 135mm I wouldn’t even need to change a lens.  Because it was a dark room with only stage lighting the speed of this trio of fine glass was important, but so was their ability to produce noise free images.

As I sat enjoying the music and hemmed in unable to move, I methodically went from camera to camera photographing members of the band separately and together.  If you’ve ever photographed bands where the stage lighting includes rotating light wheels you quickly learn to wait for the blue light to take your picture vs. the red or green.  Blue allows you enough latitude with the white balance to be able to correct the skin tones later.

As we look at these two images you could be forgiven for not seeing any difference in image quality between the two.  Both are obviously critically focused, but just as obviously you see the lack of detail brought on because of the higher ISO’s and noise reduction software.  Both look very good considering the circumstances, but when you look at the 5d Mark II image, especially around the beard, you’ll notice a bit more detail.

In practice the eight year vintage DSLR Canon 1ds Mark II produces images every bit as good as the new Canon 5d Mark II.  I have thousands of images shot with both of these cameras in the same locations, same weather, and same time of year which supports this statement.  But, because the 1ds Mark II is a 1 series body with a much faster more capable autofocus and metering system, you’ll get more keepers overall.

 

I know this goes against the popular opinion you’ll read on forums, and this is only my opinion.  But I’ve used both of these cameras extensively over a long period of time and produced tens of thousands of like images to compare, and it’s my opinion the vintage Canon 1ds Mark II makes better images at ISO 800 and below, while the Canon 5d Mark II makes better images above ISO 800.

Canon 5d Mark II 85mm F1.2L USM @F2 1/500th ISO 3200

 

I know this goes against the popular opinion you’ll read on forums, and this is only my opinion.  But I’ve used both of these cameras extensively over a long period of time and produced tens of thousands of like images to compare, and it’s my opinion the vintage Canon 1ds Mark II makes better images at ISO 800 and below, while the Canon 5d Mark II makes better images above ISO 800.

Here’s the good part.  Have you ever wanted the superior autofocus and metering of a 1d series body?  The top build quality, dual flash memory cards, and much higher quality shutter, shutter release and other buttons and controls?  But you didn’t want to spend the $8000?  Well, the 1ds Mark II regularly sells on Ebay for as little as $600 and usually not much more than $900.. so if you want a high quality 1d body that makes comparable images to the much newer 5d Mark II for a fraction of the cost of the 5d Mark II then you know where to get one..  Vintage DSLR’s rock!