Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Yet Another Score

EOS Rbel XT, EF 40 STM Lens
I'm not sure if the word "score" is appropriate this time or not - it sounds offensive somehow, and yet, in so many ways, it'll probably be the best buy of 2014. I picked up another EOS 5D Classic, with a battery grip this time, for $200, which comes out to roughly $80 for the grip, based on Ebay bidding (not the outrageous "buy it now" prices), leaving $120 for the camera. This was a great deal, considering that these cameras are still bidding over $500. I bought it in Saint John from a real photo enthusiast who I will only identify by her initials - GB, for the sake of anonymity.

There was a bit of a hitch - nothing comes this cheap in real life - well maybe my deal of the year last year would count as well - a Rebel EOS XT with two lenses for free! Nothing can beat that!

However, this 5D had the mirror fall off, which is such a common problem on the original 5D that Canon has issued, and is still honouring, a recall to fix the problem with a more robust mirror arrangement. But I wasn't sure of the camera's total state of functionality, being unable to take a picture in the absence of a mirror. Even in Mirror Lock-up Mode, you can't get focus or correct exposure, because the mirror is actually part of both of these functions. While at GB's house, I was able to get at least something very blurred and over-exposed, and all non-shooting functions seemed to work OK, so I paid a price we both agreed on, and I now own the camera.

I could've sent the camera to a Canon service depot, absolutely free, return freight for the mirror recall, but I am an impatient sort, and besides, I was still uncertain about a few other things, and so I went ahead and re-glued the mirror into place myself. Note- this is NOT what Canon does with the recall - instead they secure the mirror in a more robust frame - basically it's a re-designed mechanism. But my other 5D Classic has not had this recall modification done either. The way for which people are experiencing this failure happens mainly when the camera is left in a hot car in the summer, or for those who live in very hot climates. The heat causes the glue to break down. My fix involved re-gluing the mirror's four rubber pads onto the plastic frame, using a slow curing "Krazy Glue". "Slow" is a relative term here - it's still an instant glue, but it gives you about 30 seconds to align your pieces correctly before the initial set takes place. The brand I used was Lepage Ultra Gel. Besides having a slowed down set interval, it's also much more shock resistant and shear proof than the original Krazy Glue.

Anyway, I'm glad to say it worked fine - I gave it about six hours to cure (24 is recommended but I'm an impatient sort). I tried a few single shots, and some burst shots, and I also tried to pry the mirror away from it's frame - but it's all fine. The camera also exposes and focuses perfectly with the mirror in place.

The next point of attention was the sensor. I took a picture of a blank white monitor screen to test it for dust - well, there was plenty of dust, but even worse, a weird pattern of smudging all over the entire sensor. Now, GB had also sold me an "Arctic butterfly" for $40, so I gave that a try. It got rid of the dust OK, but not the smudging (which almost resembled a part of a finger print, but who would stick their finger deep into the sensor of a camera???) Fortunately, I had a liquid / microfibre swab cleaning kit (also from the Visible Dust company) on hand I had bought a few years ago. The liquid had almost all evaporated, but there was just enough left, along with one clean swab, to do this job. Happy to say, this worked just fine too and the sensor is now pristine, just as it is with my other 5D.

Th only other thing was a missing battery cover. I found one on Ebay for $3.99 from China, so I ordered it immediately. In the meantime, the camera still has the BG-E4 battery grip, so the cover isn't needed immediately.

So what am I doing with two of these prehistoric monsters? GB herself now favours the much smaller and lighter mirror-less system cameras, and this sale will help on her end to buy another lens for her new system. I really like big cameras - I'm a big guy with very big hands, and as I've probably mentioned before, I suffer from Dystonia, which involves quite a bit of Parkinson's -like hand tremor, so I need the extra stability, super-sized control points, and weight of a big camera. I also find the 5D Classic to be particularly nice because of it's lack of extra features - read "extra buttons" that pollute the new 5D Mark II and III versions. The 5D is set up pretty much like an EOS film camera as far as control points are concerned - no movie mode, no live-view, no quick-menu, no redundant function buttons; and it rewards you with the best, ultra low noise 35mm (full frame) pictures imaginable.

There's only one down-side of "big" - that is, a big camera is never ready. You can't keep one in your pocket, and you shouldn't keep one locked in your car on a hot day - the same goes for film cameras by the way. What I am going to do is sell one of these 5D's, after I've used the one I just bought from GB to make sure it's OK in the long term, and use the money to buy a high -end pocket camera - something along the lines of a Canon Powershot S120, or a Fuji XF-1. This will give me a camera with Raw Data output that can literally be the camera I have with me all the time that isn't a cell-phone afterthought. And besides, I usually do not have my cell phone with me all the time, once I discovered that it's built-in 8 MP camera is really not so good.

So, for the next little while, any pictures I include here will be taken with the "new" 5D Classic. The picture above is not; rather it was done with my FREE EOS Rebel XT (thanks again Mike!).

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