Canon EOS 1D Mark II N – First Impressions…

Well, it has been far too long since I've posted to my blog. What better occasion than to discuss some new gear.

I've been toying with which "Pro" body to step up to for quite a while. I've jonesed for both of Canon's 1D Mark III variants – one for sports, the S for architectural work and portraits, but just couldn't rationalize the money for a) the amount of shooting – my photog biz is steady, but not my main gig; and 2) [sic] because technology is changing soooo quickly right now, I didn't want to jump on the bandwagon and have buyer's remorse.

I know waiting was the right decision, primarily as the 5D Mark II has whet my appetite for the next gen of sensors from Canon, and because of the (you make the call about the severity of the) focusing "thing" with the 1D Mark III.

What I did need was better AF performance at the velodrome. With racers coming at me at varying angles and ever changing relative speeds (the joys of tracking fast folk flying by from one spot on the track's apron), the 40D was okay, the 50D had been a bit better; but I wasn't getting the raved about 1D Mark II "best of breed" AF performance.

As I mulled over my decision, I'd kept my eyes peeled on prices, and recently a friend sent me a link to a 1D Mk II N that I couldn't resist. After you take out the included 2 day air, the included L-bracket (no – not a RRS – but a nice Kirk none the less) and the extra battery's cost - the body only set me back around $1200 or so – a screamin' deal as I've seen abused bodies sell on eBay for well over $1,600.

As advertised, the body is in great shape cosmetically, has (according to exif data - which isn't infallible – but I trust the seller's rep – so I still think it is accurate) about 46k actuations, and other than a wee bit of dust on the sensor, is in amazing shape.

I've had it since Friday, and started learning it Saturday; so far about 500 shots in the "cards" so to speak…

A few obvious (and some not so) tidbits so far:

  • AF is worlds better than anything I've shot before - can't wait to get to my first race
  • Faster to pick up new menu/controls after initial "this is nothing like my xxD series controls at all – I'll never learn this" impression – LOL
  • Need to use firewire cable, not USB, to control or config this camera. This changed for the Mk III series, but seems the driver isn't windows 64 bit compatible either. So I've had to put a fw card in my old desktop to adjust the personal settings on the camera
  • The heft to this thing just feels substantial and bomb-proof
  • I dig the ability to make my own file prefix (subtle and geeky, I  know… but I do dig it)
  • Looking forward to 5 and 7 shot brackets (xxD limited you to 3)
  • The sound of the shutter is mesmerizing
  • IQ at 1600 is (as I understood from research) pretty amazing and very usable, haven't tried the 3200 push yet.
  • There is a richness to the images that just isn't there in the xxD bodies I've shot. Suffice to say – you get what you pay for!
  • Sharpness of my L glass is more apparent with this body.

That's about it for now. I'll be blogging about my reasons for buying used (I've been a new gear guy, for my bodies at least, in the past), comparisons (as unfair as they may be) to my 40D (while it lasts) and my 50D; bokeh diffs between a 1.6 and 1.3 crop (and I'll have FF to work with as well on loan); and whatever else may come up from the next few weeks of learning this beast. I've also just picked up a nice copy of the EF 17-40 f/4 L – so there will be info about it as well.

Thanks for reading!

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