Entekaphobia is fear of the number 11. I’m a resolution fanatic. I test every new lens for resolution. For personal use, I’ll choose the lens with higher resolution over the one with creamy bokeh every time. When choosing a camera, I have a (yes, I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true) strong tendency to want the most megapixels. I’m a resoholic.
Being a resoholic, I’ve always been somewhat fanatical about apertures. Whenever possible I shoot with the lens stopped down at least one stop to wring the maximum sharpness out of my lens. But I’m always careful not to stop down too far because I was taught, soon after I picked up a camera, that if you stopped down too far the dreaded diffraction softening would kick in.
Despite its girth, weight, and price, Canon’s original 24-70mm f/2.8L is a highly-regarded general-purposes lens. When the followup Mark II version was announced back in February, the higher-price tag, similar specs, and lack of IS had many photographers scratching their heads. Then the reviews started coming out.
I am not a reviewer. I don’t even play one on TV. There are already some in-depth reviews out on the new Canon EOS-M, and more coming daily. But I handle a lot of equipment and test a lot of equipment. When something new comes in I spend a day handling it and testing it. Hopefully this will give you a quick overview of the camera, and perhaps fill in some things that actual reviewers don’t get to tell you about. We recently got a bunch of EOS M cameras, a bunch of the 22mm lenses, a couple of 18-55 kit lenses, and a single EOS M EF adapter.
For those who don’t want to read this but do want to tell everyone what I said later, here’s the summary: it is the best of mirrorless, it is the worst of mirrorless, it is the camera of wise choices, it is the camera of foolishness, it is the epoch of accurate autofocus, and it is the epoch of slow autofocus. In other words, I’ve got mixed emotions.
We tend not to get too excited about sensor dust problems at LensRentals; we clean sensors on every camera after every rental, so it’s just routine. When we started carrying the Nikon D600, they all arrived with a fair amount of dust, but that’s pretty routine, too. Manufacturing and shipping can be a dusty experience.
Depending on your subject matter, it can be a very good idea to take out a damage waiver when renting camera equipment. Wildlife photographer Andrew Kane learned this recently after renting gear from LensRentals for a shoot in Yellowstone. Here’s his account of how the borrowed equipment ended up broken:
I recently rented a D4, Wimberly head, and 600VR from you, and the day before yesterday, I had a little bit of an accident. I was photographing a coyote here in Yellowstone and I followed it into the woods about 300yds away from the road. As I am taking pictures of the coyote, I heard twigs breaking behind me, and as I turned around I saw it was a grizzly bear. I picked up the tripod with the D4 and 600 on it and slowly started to back away. The bear got closer and closer as I tried to back up. When the bear got to within 20 yds. of me, I bumped into a brush pile that I could not lift the tripod over, so I had no choice but to leave the gear and continue away from the bear.
Last week camera testing service DxOMark announced that the Nikon D800 had earned the highest sensor quality score ever awarded. Roger Cicala of LensRentals wanted to see for himself how much of an advantage the D800′s 36.3MP sensor had over its competition, so he did some sensor resolution tests on the camera, comparing it to the Canon 5D Mark III, 5D Mark II, and Nikon D700. His conclusion?
[...] there’s no question the D800 can actually get those pixels to show up in the final product (assuming your final product is a big print – they’re going to be wasted posting on your Facebook page). But you’d better have some really good glass in front of it. I don’t think the 28-300 superzooms are going to cut it with this camera.
In the real world, highest possible resolution is nice to know about and talk about, but usually not of critical importance compared to other factors. You’ll be able to make superb images with any decent lens for an 8 X 10 or even 11 X 16 print. But if you’re getting the camera because of the resolution, it makes sense to know which lenses will allow all of that resolution to be utilized. Just in case you get that job that needs billboard sized prints.
As you might know, different copies of the same lens can vary in quality, and some people go as far as to purchase multiple copies to pick the sharpest one before returning the others. Roger Cicala over at LensRentals wanted to quantify exactly how much variation actually exists between copies of the same lens, so he subjected some to Imatest quality tests:
[...] while the Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS L lens is a bit sharper than the other two on average, not every copy is. If someone was doing a careful comparative review there’s a fair chance they could get a copy that wasn’t any sharper than the other two lenses. I think this explains why two careful reviewers may have slightly different opinions on a given lens.
That’s interesting to think about. Two highly objective reviews of the same lens could come to different conclusions about relative sharpness compared to other lenses, simply because there are differences among copies of that lens. Too bad reviews are usually based on a single copy of a lens, rather than the average performance of multiple copies.
Notes on Lens and Camera Variation [LensRentals]
You know you’re ballin’ as a photographer when you can use your lens collection to play a giant game of chess.
The complete 32 piece set includes 70-200 f/2.8 pawns, 600mm f/4 Kings and 500mm f4 Queens, 400mm f/2.8 Bishops, 300mm f/2.8 Knights, and 200mm f/2.0 Rooks in black (Nikon) and white (Canon). [#]
If you don’t have a complete set of lenses to make your own set, you can rent a set for a week from LensRentals for $9,221 (not including shipping, which will cost you between $1,100 and $2,400).
One of the benefits of running a gear rental business is that you have a ton of equipment you can use for random experiments. That’s exactly what Roger Cicala, the owner of LensRentals, did with the UV filters he had on hand. One-upping the 19 filter stack we shared a while back, he mounted 50 different UV filters to a Canon 5D Mark II and 300 f/4 lens to see what the resulting images would look like.