On Saturday, Juli, Jesse, and I went to see our friends perform in a musical/dance/multimedia/burlesque extravaganza called “How to Disappear Completely”. I figured it was a good time to put the 5d Mk II through the ringer a little, so I did.

Here is the set with a few random photos at the end.

You can view them in high res here: How To Disappear Completely @ Flickr

Some thoughts on the low-light capabilities of the new 5d Mk II—awesome. About half of the play was shot at ISO 1600 and the other half at ISO 3200. Those two settings are effectively unusable on my old 20D so it was with some trepidation I threw the camera in 1600 to shoot. It was just too dark and my focal length was too long and there was too much movement not to use a very high ISO. It was a grand experiment and, based on the sample shots I’ve seen from the 1d Mk III and 1ds Mk III, I was reasonably confident that it would work out in my favor.

Well, it worked out and then some. Besides some fairly minor chroma noise at 3200, I have absolutely no objections to the amount of noise coming through. What’s more is that the lighting conditions were FAR from ideal—severe pools of light and dark, wildly shifting lighting, colors like you wouldn’t believe—yet I was able to capture images at a decent enough shutter (1/30ish) at a good focal length (200mm IS) wide open (f/2.8) and still get sharp as tack photos. Are you serious? That is so fucking awesome it hurts. It absolutely does away with any complaints I had with my 20D not allowing me to take the photos I saw in my head. I don’t feel limited by my camera which is really nice.

There is one strange thing I noticed though. Early in the shoot I had the camera set to Highlight Expansion mode and I noticed on the RAWs some very strange effects, almost like the air boiling around very bright areas that were next to very dark areas. It’s pretty obvious around Brian’s arms (on the left) in this photo. You might have to look at it in full size to really see it. I will post a real full size crop when I get home to demonstrate the effect fully since I resized the images for Flickr.

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It’s not really that bad, and would be easily removed in PS if I were so inclined, but it is strange nonetheless. When I turned off Highlight Expansion, I didn’t see it again. Now, it might be some weirdness because Lightroom does not yet have a proper profile or even real support for 5d Mk II raws, but it might also be an issue with the camera. When I get home tonight, I will check the original CR2 in Canon’s raw converter and let you know what I see. Only minorly annoying, and since I can’t really be sure of the cause, we’ll have to wait and see what happens when full support is available. At least it’s not like that horrid banding noise on the 20D at ISO 1600.

More to come!