My past two posts have been about my Canon EOS 5D "Original" version that I picked up for a very good price, and given the fact that I can only spend hundreds, and not thousands of $$ on photo equipment, thanks to the long-of-tooth age of the original 5D, I am now in the exciting world of 35mm Digital photography, which is otherwise known as "Full Frame". Previous to this, I was content to be into "full frame" via 35mm film, with a EOS Digital Rebel on hand for occasional use.
So, is this wonderful old camera going to scratch me where I itch when it comes to my preference for film? Well, here's a SPOILER ALERT regarding my next post - I have been working on a mini-project, shooting exactly the same pictures, at nearly the same time, using exactly the same lens, and the same camera settings. I am not simply going t offer the digital camera's JPEG output (I was previously criticized for that - go figure!), but rather, I am going to work up BOTH the Digital RAW output, and the 16-bit TIFF images from my film scanner so that both are optimized to the best of my ablity, even though I still maintain it makes more sense to use simple "SOOC" JPEG output from both the camera and scanner for comparison, as I have done in the past. However, for the sake of science, I will do as advised by those who favour the image quality of digital over film, and see what we get. Later today, I'll be getting the film processed. The above truck stop picture is one of the comparison shots that's in the running here - now there's a teaser! I must also add, this will be the last film vs digital comparison that I will be doing here.
Needless to say, as far as image quality goes, this is by far the best DSLR camera I have ever owned. I cannot say the same in terms of features, of course, because so much has been added to Canon DSLR's in the 8 years since the original 5D was made. However, in my previous post, I was showing how the relative lack of features can be a real advantage, because it's only got what you need , with almost all of the control points in the right places, no more, no less. This camera can be used without taking your eye away from the viewfinder - as it should be.
A lot of people are saying lately that a camera's sensor size no longer matters as far as image quality goes - that is to say that a Canon APS-C sized sensor will give the same image quality results as a Canon full-frame sensor camera. Yes, that is now true - the 18 MegaPixel EOS SL1 has close to the same image quality as the new 24 Megapixel EOS 5D Mark III. Ken Rockwell himself just showed us recently how true this is. Yes, this is true now, but it's not true when you compare the original 5D to even the very newest PS-C Crop Camera. In this comparison, the original 5D will come off a lot better. The reason is, of course - the 5D original only has 12 megapixels spread across the same size 35mm sensor, compared to the 24 of the newest version, or the 18 of the newest smaller sensor cameras - this translates to half the pixel density, or more simply put, pixels that are twice as big. Being twice as big, the pixels on the 5D original can catch more light and introduce a lot less noise than any new Canon DSLR. Mr. Rockwell also verified this when talking about early full-frame digital cameras. It is important to note that Ken isn't contradicting himself here - he's right on both occasions. Eight years ago, the pixels were much bigger, but today's EOS 5D has been degraded by way of having the same pixel density than all of their cheaper cameras, and I suppose that Canon is hoping that people won't notice too much, as we get more and more accustomed to the look of digital images.
For myself, the difference I see is when I post-process a RAW file. The double-sized pixels in the 5D Classic provide far more latitude for enhancing both the shadows and highlights than I have experienced with any other camera. With smaller (APS-C) cameras, I was finding that noise would start creeping in as I was making image adjustments to recover shadows an highlights, increase the gamma, or to add local contrast. This does not happen with the 5D Classic - there is simply a lot more room to manoeuvre, so to speak. Other people's experiences with other cameras and diferent software will of course differ.
So then, I just arrived back home with my roll of comparison film, so I'm very eager to start scanning it! Stay tuned.