Camera Random Neural Firings: Something old and Canon (1Ds Mk II) and new and Nikon (Z)

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Just some thoughts regarding recent purchases (also returns) and recent news. As background, I consider myself brand agnostic and think there is space for many brands to accommodate many preferences. Debates regarding one brand versus another will send me backing away slowly. Pointless. These are just some observations regarding recent personal and news feed revelations.

Old and Canon:

Background before I get to Canon.

The only empty slot in my camera bag is reserved for a nifty fifty. Now I have plenty of film 50mm lenses to adapt, but I was looking for something either fairly bright (f/1.8 or better) and AF or really bright (f/1.2 or brighter) and manual focus.

  • Why not a native Sony E Mount?
    • Low buck: The one AF 50mm offered at a reasonable price (<$200) currently is the Sony 50mm FE f/1.8 I have owned (twice) and sold (twice). Liked it ok, but never warmed up to it. Just never found it’s way onto my camera. Got to go.
    • Mid-tier: Your Rokinon/Samyang twins and the like are large, do not offer that much of a performance edge over the aforementioned 50mm FE, and just do not speak to me.
    • High end, exclusive: Zeiss, G Master, and Sigma Art, oh my. Once 50mm lenses crawl near or over $1,000 they are dead to me. Over $1,000 and MF? Definite nope. Not saying they are not worth the price. Just more than I am willing to pay for a 50mm. Personal preference.
  • Bright lens you say? Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 all day. Nope. Have owned it (twice) and sold it (twice). This is common in my universe. I am enabled by a kind local shop that provides me a bit of a “Poor sucker cannot stop trading camera gear.” discount. When purchasing used gear Chris now asks, “Now, was this yours?” before giving me a final price. Came close to buying the Mitakon back again recently. What stopped me? Price, size, and weight. As Karen opined that thing is heavy. And she is right. As much as I love the logic-defying light gathering capabilities of this set up I do find this lens to be too heavy for regular use. Just never found it’s way onto my camera. Got to go.
  • Adapted legacy glass. I have a mess of old glass and a bag of adapters to prove it. One is even AF. Great fun, but none meet the either fairly bright (f/1.8 or better) and AF or really bright (f/1.2 or brighter) and manual focus criteria I made up for myself. Plus adapted SLR lenses can be a bit long and awkward due to the deeper flange distance, and rangefinder lenses typically have pretty long minimum focus distances. More on a solution for that I am trying in a future post.

For now, I will let you know what did not work. Tried to zig instead of zag.

Theory: Always wanted an old school DSLR brick. What if I found an old full-frame DSLR and paired it with a dirt cheap nifty fifty?

Execution: With the help of Manu at the local camera shoppe I secured a Canon 1Ds Mark II and a plastic fantastic.

Cost all in with tax? $350. May have cackled in a less than dignified manner briefly.

First I will list the positives of my initial experience and then why I traded it all back in a week and a half later.


  • Fun. Initially, Manu and I stared at the back of the camera for a bit attempting to work out how to accomplish basic tasks like scrolling through previous photos on this 2004 ergonomics festival. Figuring this stuff out is great fun to me.
  • The mother of all melee weapons in the event of a sudden zombie apocalypse. If I dropped this camera I would move my foot out of the way and hope the floor or sidewalk make it out ok.
  • An SD card second slot so no compact flash adapter shopping. Tried downloading with the included cable and no. That takes quite a bit of time.
  • In good light to meh light this thing is quick to focus and take a shot. Very quick as a good DSLR should be.
  • The lens is amazing. No $80 lens should be this good. Just wonderful photo quality.

Canon 1Ds Mark II

  • Colors, colors, the wonderful Canon colors.

Canon 1Ds Mark II

  • Crazy DOF.

Canon 1Ds Mark II

  • Near film shooting experience for me. The 2004 rear screen being small and low res should be a ding. But I liked it. Why? Since reviewing pics is a multi-press affair and you are only able to really check framing I do not bother. This is a plus since I tend to spend no time reviewing images while shooting leaving the review of images to when I download them.

So why did I trade it all back in?

  • Really low light performance shows this sensor’s age. In isolation or compared to older crop bodies this would not be an issue, but I have seen the light and it is hard to go back this far. I can take grain, even embracing it at times, but it was not a pleasing grain in this case. Not the camera’s fault. More of an, oh yeah. This is why this originally $7,999 camera can now be had for $250 like this one. In the end, my recently re-acquired NX300/30mm f/2 could do better.
  • The downside of a still viable lens mount. Pricing of all, but a few Canon lenses is a bit steep for me. Specifically for a second system. With the exception of the aforementioned nifty fifty plastic fantastic and the near as good of a bargain 85mm f/1.8 the lenses I gravitate towards are quite pricey.
  • Gear creep. Have recently been looking to slim down my film camera holdings so it makes no sense for my digital holdings to balloon. Just getting the 50mm and the 1DS mkII is ok. But I was already starting to get the itch for more. Had actually ordered and received the Canon 85mm f/1.8 and was looking to get the Sigma MC-11 adapter after trying out both the 50mm and the camera shop’s rental 85mm f/1.8 so I could… use them on my Sony A7iii? Wait, what? I already have and adore the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8. Where am I going with this?

This initially low-cost solution to my 50mm conundrum started exploding in price. So I decided to cut bait in my moment of clarity (successfully fighting off the immediate urge to repurchase the Mitakon as mentioned earlier) and move on.

This combination is still a great value. (gallery here) Just not for me. Have chosen another direction to go and will update once I know how that works out.

What next?

New and Nikon:

You may have heard that Nikon made an announcement this week. Not like it has received much press.

I do think Nikon has a leg up on Canon in this. Due to there being at least 2 serviceable Canon EF to Sony E AF adapters I personally know of a few people who have already jumped the Canon ship for Sony. The last I heard the one AF Nikon to Sony adapter on the market has been bricking Sony’s in some cases. I personally know of a few Nikon shooters who want to jump to Sony but are not because changing out all of their lenses for Sony would be prohibitively expensive. If Nikon creates their own viable adaptable full frame mirrorless before someone else finds the Nikon to Sony Rosetta Stone they could keep the mirrorless converts in-house. Anyhoo here is my take on this underground story.

  1. I want Nikon (and later Canon) to be successful with their mirrorless endeavors.
  2. Most of the specs are quite impressive. Been covered far and wide and I am glad.
  3. Three things caused Sony to catch a lot of flack for Gen I and Gen II cameras. Poor battery life, one card slot, and slow focusing. All fixed in Gen III Sonys. Counting on Nikon to nail AF, but two things baffle me:
    • Battery life may be so-so. Have heard on the internets that shot count on a battery is 330. I can cope with carrying extra batteries, but for the sake of Nikon I hope this is not true. If it is true I am not sure why Nikon would let this happen after what Sony went through.
    • One card slot. Good gravy have I heard the drumbeat of grumbling DSLR adherents because Sony started with only one card slot. This one is true and I am not sure why Nikon would let this happen after what Sony went through.

Deal breakers? Not for me. I bought into Gen I and Gen II Sony (among other things). If I was a Nikon customer I would be all over this… maybe. The D850 is awesome and I would possibly wait it out to see if there are any Nikon bugs that need to be worked out first before taking the leap. And lastly, I hope Nikon can deliver actual cameras. According to the camera shop the D850 has been out for quite a while and they still are not easy to get a hold of. I am really pulling for them. The more viable alternatives, the better it is for the consumer.

Well, that concludes this ramble-fest.

Happy shooting.



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