The Set-up

Last weekend we snuck out of Worcestershire and headed down to Cornwall to see some family and breathe some sea air. One of the first world problems that I come across from time to time is which lovely camera should I take with me when I do something nice. Taking one of the workhorses would feel a bit heavy and deliberate while my film cameras are tied to a possibility of failure and cost. (They are no lighter either). What I wanted to explore were new and different headaches.

It was with this in mind that I borrowed a Canon 5D with a 50mm f/1.8 STM lens. Introduced 13 years ago the Canon 5D was the first standard body DSLR to feature a full-frame sensor. Offering 12 megapixel resolution and an expanded ISO range of 50-3200, its spec list has not aged well, but combined with that 50mm it could be yours at the same price as a Nikon D3400, arguably the best entry level DSLR on the market.

The Backstory

I’ve never owned a Canon 5D. By the time I could seriously start to fetishise full-frame Canon cameras the 5D Mark II had already been released, and when the time came to make the jump to a full-frame body it was to a Canon 5d Mark III. I’ve since added a Mark IV to the menagerie, and for a brief period a few years ago I had a Mark II as a second body. This then is the missing piece of the puzzle, the unseen first movie in the quadrilogy.

Middle Ground

So much has changed since this camera cost over $3000, it predates live-view, video, WIFI, GPS and SD cards. In fact the 5D offers a weird middle ground between shooting film and shooting digitally. The ISO is flexible but not insane, and not the hinderance I expected. (I’m so used to using 400-800 that I did have to remind myself to drop it a few times). The low-resolution sensor still resolves more than a medium-resolution negative-scan. (I did try to shoot for the frame and planned to crop as little as possible, I’ll be fine until I decide to print the images really big).

The camera is smaller and lighter than I expected, and because it’s neither tied to my income, nor massively expensive, I felt freer, shooting differently. I did miss live-view much more than I thought I would – (I got cramp in my neck trying to get down the viewfinder in a restaurant, and ended up shooting from the hip).

Subject Subjective

I’m very much aware that as a ‘test’ this is all a bit silly, but I like the 5D enough to seriously consider buying it. I’ve bored a friend of mine so many times in the middle of the night wait for long-exposure noise reduction to do its thing, All this time wondering aloud “what kind of compact photographic solution would suit me best?”. Now I find that I might need an old camera, rather than a small camera.

I tell myself that having something separate, dedicated to being thrown in a bag and taken everywhere is a good idea, when deep down I know that that is what I should be doing with my Mark IV and 50mm f/1.2, a heavier but dead spiffy combination…

I’ll leave you with a selection of images from the trip, all shot on the Canon 5D with 50mm f/1.8 combo, The camera performs as well as one would expect for something nearly top of the range, even if that was 10 years ago, I’m still tempted to make it a long weekend.