I Feel Like I’m In A Tool Video :: Julia with the 5d Mk II


The image above states the exact feeling one has when shooting at this old prison in East Atlanta.

Here are some more images I shot this week of Julia. She needed one or two new pieces for her portfolio and I needed to run the CaNikon 5z Marc Too (as I call it) through the paces. Overall I’m really happy with this camera. For this shoot I used the 24-70/2.8L and the 90 2.8 Tilt Shift. I have to be very, very, very careful with the T/S lens because if I am not very, very, very careful I will use it WAY too much. The reason I don’t own a fisheye lens is because I would use it all the time. I fear I may do that with the T/S. It’s like instant creativity! :) My initial thoughts on the 5d after the images.

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julia_09.jpg half_spacer.jpg In addition to the stills, I shot video as well. I don’t have the time right now to get the editing done on that but I hope to cut a short clip together soon.

Things I love about the 5d vs. the D3 I normally Shoot :: • Color and Contrast straight out of the camera. • A remarkable skin tone quality when shooting natural light. • HD video

Things I don’t like about the 5d vs. the D3 :: • The AF system sucks in low light situations. Every Nikon I have ever owned from the D100 to the D3 can lock focus faster and more accurately than the 5d does in low light levels. • Nikon still pwns Canon at ISO 3200 and up. • It’s slow as Christmas compared to the shooting speed and buffer of the D3. • The ergonomics. The 5d feels like a brick in my hands even with the grip. The D3 feels like a glove.

And yes, I’m aware that I’m comparing a mid level Canon to the top of the food chain Nikon.

The number one reason I have this 5d is for the video as I’ve stated before, but I also love that there is a specific quality to the images this camera produces that I find other cameras do not have. Back in the days of film you would choose one film over another based on the characteristics of that film and the type of color, contrast, and quality that you desired for the shoot you were doing. Since we can’t simply change sensors in our camera bodies like we could change film, this particular time in digital photography requires us to change the entire body. In the studio the cameras are nearly identical.

It is in the available light photography that I find the 5d to perform remarkably different. Skin tones have a smoother quality to them akin to something with warm butter all over it. The Nikon can be a little too cool and too sharp for my liking. You can spend time in post trying to replicate one look or the other but when you study enough images online and you KNOW an image was shot with a 5d without looking at META data then you know the camera has something special about it.

The same could be said for my D70. I could do things with that camera in post production that I have yet to fully replicate with any other digital camera I have owned. The camera body is now the film base and you choose the one you want for the look you desire. That’s why the 5d is going to have a permanent spot in my bag in addition to the video capabilities.

Cheers, Zack


  • Mask Photo said on March 21, 2009

    welcome to the light (no, i don’t want to start a brand war; i just wanted to get in a lil dig. 😉

    also… if you had the Mk2 with you, why didn’t you *shoot* a tool video? Methinks you need to return to that prison one more time.

  • Gonçalo Cavaleiro said on March 21, 2009

    Hi Zack.

    Can you tell us more about what it is that only the D70 can do?

  • pindy said on March 21, 2009

    Great photos. I have the 5D2 and the D700 and they are very different beasties, neither of which I feel I can do without. I want the Nikon to “win” but the 5D2, for all it’s annoyances, manages to endear itself.

  • joseph tutlo said on March 21, 2009

    love the “used film” tucked in the graffiti.

    you sly devil you…

  • Keith said on March 21, 2009

    hey zack, have you done any side (canon-nikon) by side shot comparisons?


  • cbp said on March 21, 2009

    great photos, really like the backlight ones. I hear you on the fisheye and T/S! It’s easy to over do or abuse, I like when people set themselfs ‘rules’ for it, not just getting effects out of it.

  • jason said on March 21, 2009

    man those two last photos are trippy! I am assuming that those are T/S’ed

  • zack said on March 21, 2009

    @Keith – I’m not really one to do side by side shots. I leave that to the folks on the dpReview forums to do! :)


  • Jaleel said on March 21, 2009


    I’m following you on Twitter for a min. I thought you were testing out Red’s rig. Nice to see you’re using both Canon and Nikon.

    I would agree with you about Gawd Awful slow focusing in low light too. I do have 1 question in relation to focusing do you think the Nikon or Canon focus about the same speed? I have a Canon 40D but sometimes it feel slow when it comes to focusing, seeing that Canon has seen fit to stick with 9 focus points over the years.



  • Robert Hamma.r said on March 21, 2009

    Zack, thanks for the post. As you know it’s the dust behind the camera which makes the photographs…not the camera itself. But I can see that you became a better photographer with a Canon in you hand 😉

    ….just kidding. You produce very nice pictures.

    I found your use of the tilt and shift lens cool, it looks as you were shooting with a LensBaby….far to cool….that wakes up some have to feeling.

    All my best!

    Robert Hammar from a warming up Finland.

  • Don Cudney said on March 21, 2009

    My two cents! The 5DMarkII is a great still camera for the price, despite it’s low-light focusing problems. I prefer to manual focus anyway. As a video camera, the 5DMarkII is lacking too many important features. Visit 5dfix.com for more information. Canon reps readily admit, “this is not a video camera.”My advice…buy a sturdy pair of sticks, a glide cam system and a HDMI external monitor. And remember, you’ve suddenly, become a “focus puller” as well as a photographer! Have fun!

  • Victor Huang said on March 21, 2009

    wow, your moving in between canon nikon, interesting. Love my 5d. Still haven’t used it enough to get use to it. It does feel really bulky in my hand, but I like that feeling. Feels, more…expensive!

  • zack said on March 21, 2009

    @Don – Re: Focus pulling. I know! In a way it sucks but in another way I feel more like a DP who has to deal with that stuff day in and day out. I have good sticks, a fluid head, and a Steady Tracker. That’s a left over from my video days way back when.

    I’ve looked at the Red rig thing fir DSLRs. I may invest in one of those along with a monitor.

    I thought about buying a dedicated video camera but I have loved the 5d fir a few years and decided it was a great bridge between the two mediums.


  • Ziv said on March 21, 2009

    Last summer I bought a T/S… Loved it. As a matter of fact I loved it sooo much I sold it a couple of weeks later. That lens was like crack. Just say No.

  • Gary Chartier said on March 21, 2009

    The two bottom images looks like miniature models for like toy train track..

  • gabe said on March 21, 2009

    thanks for the review Zack.

  • Adam Smith said on March 21, 2009

    Great shots and article. I too am curious about what you were able to do with the D70 that you haven’t been able to replicate with other digital cameras.

    Cheers, and great site!

  • Marc Climie said on March 21, 2009

    TOOL videos are the best videos.

  • Kristi said on March 21, 2009

    I loved all of the insight, but loved the images even more. you make this art look so effortless. Was there a spot grid on the shot inside the prison with her arm draped over her head? What about off camera lighting for the others inside the prison. If there was none, I am doubly impressed with the exceptionally beautiful skin tones you achieved. Really striking model as well.

  • Evan said on March 21, 2009

    The first pic with the red chair is hands down one of the coolest portrait shots i’ve seen. Oh how I lust after a TS lens.

  • Chaz said on March 21, 2009

    the tilt shift portraits are pretty cool. i think you should get a fisheye, i’d like to see what you would do with it.

  • Stephen said on March 21, 2009

    Amazing images Zack. I never would have thought to use the 90 2.8 TS as a portrait lens but the results are incredibly beautiful. Keep us the wonderful work, I can’t wait till my 5D MK2 arrives in 6 weeks or so!!!

  • Jeff Dietz said on March 21, 2009

    Zack. I love the shots! I am a Mark 2 user as well.
    I love these shots you got though! I would LOVE to know the lighting setup for them, or are they all just natural light?
    I am particular interested in what you did with: 3, 5, and the two shot series in 7. Amazing.
    Although I have the same lenses, same camera, I am amazed at how sharp your images look compared to what I am getting. Is that something done in post? or is my hand just too shaky?
    Thanks a ton!

  • Matthew Saville said on March 21, 2009

    WORD UP, I loved my D70! That 6 MP sensor, in so many different incarnations, has become a classic, just like a classic film. The D70 was, for example, my Agfa Ultra. Not necessarily Velvia 50 quality, but still a *look* all it’s own, one that I miss…

    Take care,

  • Don Cudney said on March 21, 2009

    Thought this was inspiring!

    “A camera should allow me to see, to feel, and should never make me think beyond the basic mechanical functions of exposure and focus so that I can be present with the people.

    And this is perhaps the most unnerving aspect of the 5D Mark II, because picking it up as a competent still photographer, thinking it is a still camera, everything is okay. When it is switched to video mode, we have a high-end 1080p30 tapeless video camera and perhaps we are still less than amateur videographers.

    The wind just got knocked out of you; you are just starting out again in a new medium. But it is worse because it is a risk to produce a video as a professional in an environment where you have consistently produced a professional product as a photographer and not know for sure that you are making a great video the way you know for sure that you made a great photo. What will your editors think?

    Risk it all. Make the bad videos and know that you are going to improve with each video because you know how to tell visual stories, you understand composition and light and flow of the story. You care about your subjects and about your reputation. Do not sacrifice your style or your compositions when making video; instead, use all this knowledge you have and add motion and sound to it.

    Again, to make great video, you must practice shooting video. And editing video. It is not the limitations of this machine that are at fault, rather it is gross user error that seems to drive the majority of the complaints on other websites about this camera. Yes, it is that simple: shoot video more to make great video. This camera gives you another excuse to shoot video.

    There is a decision you need to make. Are you photographing a moment or recording a moment in motion with video. You still must make this decision, no one else can. In January at the World Press Photo event held at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, Scott Anger, deputy video editor for the Los Angeles Times, mentioned during his talk that he is still searching for videos to hang on his wall. That there are photos he hangs on his wall, but he is still searching for a video to hang and that his goal at the Times is for his staff to create videos to hang on walls.”

    – Paul Myers, Brooks Institute on the Canon 5D Mark II.

  • gabe said on March 22, 2009

    en fuego

  • Edd said on March 22, 2009

    Love the discrete branding on the wall in your 7th shot here.

  • David Burke said on March 22, 2009

    LOVE the yellow boots jump shot. excellent work!

  • James said on March 22, 2009

    Did I miss a post, or maybe skip a detail somewhere? What exactly is the CaNikon?

  • Chad Pennington said on March 22, 2009

    Zack I am glad you are using a Canon now in your line up

    he he he – and you just bought it or video (lol) Iam glad that you did an honest preview on your like and dislikes.

    Aside from photography I am still praying for you guy about the lost you just had, again it’s been 4 years my mom has not been here and If I had my way she would – BUT I AM NOT GOD and I don’t want to be. So all in all great post and I’m still praying for you and the family

  • Darryl said on March 22, 2009

    Interesting how Zack evaluated which camera to use by the final output he wants.

    That’s a good way to think outside the box…just imagine all the threads out there where people debate on which brand is the best.

    I use a 1 ds Mark II at work and the files are amazing…but at home all I can afford is my D70…

    Now I feel like there is even more I can learn to do with my D70…I was thinking I needed to upgrade….but the D 50 seems like a deal for what you get.

    Thanks for thinking outside of the box Zack…

  • zack said on March 22, 2009

    @Jeff – Everything was shot available light. The only thing I did was use an old silver reflector on a few. I mention “old” because half of the silver shiny stuff has worn off so it isn’t quite a flat white reflector nor a shiny silver reflector. It is somewhere in between.

    Shot 3 – Julia Jumping – Just late afternoon sun here. I made sure to position her so that her face would be facing the sun. Otherwise her face would be in shadow. Had I exposed for the shadows to get detail in her face then the highlights would have been blown out.

    Shot 5 – Julia spreading out fabric and looking up. This was available light. There is light wrapping around her from the back, from the windows to the right, from the wall to the left, from the floor beneath her, her arms are kicking a little light back in to her cheeks, and finally, my white t-shirt that I was wearing was kicking just a bit of light back in from the front. This is a situation where the 5d really performs well.

    Shot 6 – Julia with T/S lens and arm over head. You didn’t ask about his one but Kristi did. She is lit with that old silver reflector. My studio manager, Erik, stood in the shaft of light coming from that fan in the wall (See shot number 4). He reflected the light from there on to Julia.

    Shot 7 – Julia standing on the desk – This was the available light in the room with just a tad of fill from the silver reflector placed at camera left. Light is bouncing around the room and the wall in front of her.

    As to the sharpness I’m not sure what to tell you other than… yes, you need to have a steady hand, AND when you resize images for the web they need to be sharpened before posting. I always resize for the blog then sharpen at 80 – 90% at .2 or .3 pixels. 0 threshold. I think those are my settings.


  • zack said on March 22, 2009

    @Don – Wow! That is a great! Thank you for posting that!


  • zack said on March 22, 2009

    @ Chad – Thanks man. We very much appreciate your prayers for us. Thank you.


  • Kristi said on March 22, 2009

    Zack….thank you so much! Very helpful! I just happen to have one of those ‘old’ silver reflectors myself…..somehow when you are out using them and they roll down hills into creeks, ponds, streams, or you give them to the five year old to amuse at the shoot while the older kids get their shots done….the silver seems to magically disappear :)

  • Debbi said on March 22, 2009

    I hope you talk more about using the tilt/shift lens. Is it difficult to use?

  • KKL said on March 22, 2009

    Just wonder.. what is “CaNikon 5z Marc Too”….

    and i agree.. the skin tone seems to be more natural and creamy on 5DM2.
    but sometimes i found is a bit harder to achieve the nikon “hi-key” cool white look .. just my 2 cents…

  • Chad Pennington said on March 22, 2009

    Zack no matter what is said about the video for the 5D MARK II this is what can be done.


  • Brett Stanley said on March 22, 2009

    Ha, digging the Usedfilm stencil on the wall there Zack 😉

  • wes said on March 23, 2009

    haha. usedfilm logo in the graffiti.

  • catalina said on March 24, 2009

    i absolutely love the shot of Julia spreading the fabric and looking up. thanks for explaining how you did that shot. simply MAHVELOUS!

  • Robb Davidson said on March 25, 2009

    I guess you’re having yourself an internal romeo and juliet story.

    You are one heckuva talented man good sir.

  • RC said on March 28, 2009

    Hey Zack:

    FINALLY! Some time ago, someone asked me to do a port review.. I was looking at the images, and after 3, I said “Oh, I see you’re shooting a Canon.” They asked how I knew, and I just said ” I just know..”

    Got me into a conversation w/ people where I was telling them that -most of the time- I can just tell by looking at an image that it was shot with a Nikon versus a Canon. The ppl I was talking to thought I was just loony and we started going back and forth on the details and such..

    To me, it was just a ‘feel’ and to this day, I just couldnt put my finger on it.. on why i just “knew”. I started a forum post on the Photoshop User website around the topic.. but it left off with a “If I get a chance, i’l do a side by side with a D700 and a 5DMKII at some point just to show”

    At least reading this, I know that I wasnt crazy and that there’s someone out there that sees the same thing I do.

    Thanks… awesome blog man!


  • surly said on April 1, 2009

    I must see this old prison. Can you share details?

  • george pahountis said on April 5, 2009

    With all the respect to nikon,I happen to agree with your nikon vs canon findings.Im glad that you have noticed the difference in color.However nikons are great cameras.Great blog Zack! Me and you live in different countries but have a somehow a similar story.Lots of luck to you, and the best to your loved ones.George.

  • irina said on April 8, 2009

    Zack, you are a fantastic photographer. Congrats on the new Canon cam, did you use any of your Nikon glass with it? I am looking forward to seeing the video you shot… how did you deal with the lack of manual controls in movie mode? Love your blog!


  • Brian Muntz said on April 10, 2009

    In regards to qualities of color and contrast.

    I’m assuming that you normally shoot raw files… and if that’s the case and you’re NOT using Nikon’s Capture NX2 to convert to tiffs or jpegs then you’re loosing out on a lot of what the file has to offer. The way Adobe Labs interprets the file is not so hot. Bottom line Adobe and third part RAW converters ignore your original cameras instruction set, which kills me. Having access to the original instruction set and being able to make adjustments off of the original Luminance data is what a RAW file is all about… wow I’m ranting again lol lol lol I’ll stop now.

    so yes the fact that Canon as allowed Adobe more access to their file has been a very positive thing for an all Adobe workflow, especially a Lightroom workflow…

    But I’m positive you could get results to match what you’re getting with the 5D with some wicked adjustments in the D3s menus (BUT you’ll only see this adjustments with NX. If you open the RAW in anything Adobe…it will ignore the instruction set and want you to reprocess…yay)


  • Noel Dasmarinas said on April 13, 2009

    awesome work! =D

  • A Photojournalist Who Blogs said on April 13, 2009

    I am new to your blog, but am loving it so far! I also just got the 5D and I am impressed with how sharp the images are . It probably has something to do with the 24-70mm as well – but I find myself doing not very much post-processing at all… Video is tricky – I need to get steady-cam setup and a nice external mic to really do something with it.

  • shane said on April 21, 2009

    love how you put the logo on the wall in these. :)

  • Kurt said on April 27, 2009

    thinking of getting the 5DMk II for my next body after the 40D. It would be nice to shoot some vid on the fly when doing some street shooting to get some set up shots etc and post to you tube like other pro’s do. How long can a person shoot vid for? guess it depends on the card you have. I wonder if you can shoot in lower quality to make it last. And finally an external wireless mic would help with making the vid a bit more “pro” but I dont know if there is a jack. I know its not a vid camera but having in your hands already would be handy. Otherwise I think I am just going to suck it up and buy an HD vid camera and keep it with my stuff.

    Your thoughts???

    Nice pics

  • zack said on April 27, 2009

    @Kurt – You can record 12 minutes at a time on the 5dII. That’s basically 4 gigs at a time. It does have a mini phone jack for an external mic. I’m using a Rode mic that works really well. It was suggested to me by the good folks up at B&H.

    I tell ya, it is really nice to be shooting stills and then hit a button and shoot video and then go right back to shooting stills again. I think it beats having two cameras for the type of application you are talking about.


  • Mike said on February 19, 2010

    Ugh, 5d Mk II vs. D700. I want to go full-frame one of these days but the decisions is hard…

    Would be easier if I didn’t have such a small investment in Canon gear. (1 body, two lenses)

  • john jackson said on March 20, 2010

    I love my d3s I almost bought the 5dmk2 but I am glad I didnt go to the dark side lol

  • Gurkan Erdemli said on January 22, 2011

    Zack, YOU ROCK. That’s about all I have to say :)

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