Simply posting this for the sake of personal nostalgia. I was digging through old Aperture libraries and I came across this photo, the first image taken with the 5D I still shoot with today. The camera I had used previous to this was the Canon 20D. It was August 30th of 2006 when I shot this. It’s hard to believe I have been shooting with the same digital camera for so long, especially in a tech world constantly on the move. I have often thought about an upgrade but have not had enough of a reason to go through with it yet. Goes to show you don’t always have to keep up with the bleeding edge of whats new. I feel as though the only reason I would upgrade to a newer DSLR would be to have the video capabilities. It’s something I have long enjoyed playing with and hope to explore more in the future.

At any rate, the 5D has treated me all too well over the years and I know it like the back of my hand. The body is scratched, it has a chunk of metal broken off next to the battery compartment, and the bottom back edge of the camera is taped down because of a couple of missing screws yet it still makes photographs just as beautifully as the day I bought it. The only thing I have needed is a bit of a dusting of the sensor, a trick I don’t suggest you try at home as I made mine much worse once after an attempt. It’s a skill I would like to learn though.

When it comes to the 5D there has always been this wonderful warmth to the images that I have not been able to achieve when trying other DSLR bodies. I have fiddled with Nikons of all varieties but they always felt kind of cold and strangely sharp and mechanical feeling. Even my experiences with the 5D Mark II have not felt the same. Bigger, bolder images but lacking the mysterious something that I have loved for so many years with my 5D. In my humble opinion Canon just seems to have made a modern classic in the 5D and I will most likely continue to shoot with it even with a future upgrade.

I actually look at my Hasselblad as being my upgrade as the negatives can be scanned at wonderfully high resolutions when needed and the beauty of film still to this day trumps the limitations of digital shooting. You just can’t beat the way film handles subtle gradation between light and dark and you never have any issues with color banding, ugh, thats the worst! Of course proper exposure when shooting reduces these things greatly but still. Hmm, all this aside I simply wanted to write a little something about my trusty 5D.

For those curious about lenses, I started off with a Canon 35mm f/1.4L and I absolutely loved it it was an absolutely flawless copy of the lens that I felt could do anything. At one point I felt that I wanted to change things up and so I sold the 35mm to my brother at a insane price of $800 and bought a Canon 50mm f/1.2L as well as a Canon 24mm f/1.4L in an attempt to give myself a wider range of possibility when shooting. While I really loved those lenses I eventually realized how much I missed the simplicity of shooting with one lens and in that time I narrowed it down to just the 50mm and then, more recently, back to a 35mm. My brother still uses my old copy which I still prefer over my new one which does have a few issues with Chromatic Abrasion but I still love the simple pleasure of shooting with one lens. I think eventually I will end up with a couple more lenses for the sake of expanding my capabilities professionally but even within having more I will always reach for the 35 first.

The 5D and the 35mm is a combination I know backward and forward and it’s that kind of close relationship with my gear that lets me focus more on taking photos rather than worrying about which lens to pull out of my bag. It’s something I suggest any photographer wanting to work on his or her abilities practice. Simplify. It’s a beautiful thing.



  1. Denis - February 4, 2011 at 4:05 am

    What’s the cute blocknote widget on your Dashboard?

  2. john - February 4, 2011 at 4:13 am

    Wish I could remember! This was a good 4 years ago, I’m not sure which one that was, I had all but forgotten about it till I saw this image :)

  3. Tim Sondrup - February 4, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Great post, John! I love my 5D (and strap). My first dSLR was a Canon Rebel XSi w/kit lens back in 2008. I eventually got the Canon 50mm f1/8 and loved the combination! I’ve had my 5D for about a year and a half and I’m still very happy with it! I bought it barely used for $1,200, which was a great price at the time. The only lens I shoot with now is the Canon 50mm f/1.4. Great all-around lens. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the 35mm, too.

  4. Bill - February 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    John – excellent post.

    I’m still shooting with my 20D. Going on six years with it and I’m still happy with it. No need to “upgrade”. I’ll do that when it dies. Then I’ll likely go FF, but then again, that requires a newer computer (about six years old too).

    It all works fine, so why mess with it?

  5. john - February 6, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Ah still using the 20D, great! I have seen so much great stuff come from that camera. I agree with you, why fix it if its not broken, exactly.

  6. Neil - February 6, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    I like the fact that you’re using the 5D and not the 5D MkII, you read so many opinions about this gear and that gear on the web and it’s rare to find something where someone has said objectively just use what you have and simplify what you’re doing. People running around fretting about if they should be shooting full frame, if they should get faster glass etc are missing the point, they just need to be out there taking pictures period. I must say I’m as guilty as the next man I love reading techie gear reviews and stuff, but I caught myself recently in a camera shop waxing lyrical to a total stranger about the differences between the 5D MKII and the D700, having never shot with either camera! I was just repeating opinion I’d read online. I really hate myself for doing that and it’s made me re-assess my approach completely, i.e unless you have some experience with it keep it zipped.

  7. Jason - February 7, 2011 at 3:37 am

    What a great post! I’m surprised that your 5D hasn’t broken or crashed yet! This gives me new thoughts as an aspiring photographer. Which actually really helps! And the 5D must still be good because it’s still worth +$1000 in stores.

  8. Michael Doan - February 8, 2011 at 7:17 am

    I still shoot with a Canon 10D(came out in 2003!)with a 24-70mm 2.8L. I’m perfectly happy with it with one exception: I wish it were full-frame. I also own a Panasonic Lumix GF1; I find myself switching between the two.

  9. Gabriella Denizot - February 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    I’ve been shooting with my same slow and basic Olympus E-500 since 2005. I’ve been thinking about getting a new camera for a while, but financing one is a bit difficult. With constant new technology it’s hard not to want the latest model of everything. I remind myself that it’s the photographer that’s taking the photo, not the camera and you work with what you’ve got. :)

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