On The Canon 5D Mark II – Whining About 21 Megapixels

I got sucked in…

Normally I have the good sense to steer clear of photography forums. Too often these are the hangouts of folks with firmly held opinions unencumbered by facts.

I am more of a facts type of guy.

The 5D Mark II seems to have brought out all the usual suspects. Among the poorly reasoned arguments and tortured logic presented as facts is the persistent complaint that Canon was wrong to put a 21 MP sensor in the 5D Mark II. Except for landscape shooters and maybe some commercial types, no one needs that many pixels. In an homage to all that Nikon can serve up at the moment, the consensus seemed to be that 12 MP is, and will continue be, to all that most folks need.

I currently shoot with a 21 MP 1Ds Mark III and also shot the original 12 MP 5D for most of two years. Assuming that Canon has retained the image quality of these two cameras (and early samples seem real promising) it is my experience that more pixels are better than fewer.

I dislike hate vertical 3:2 aspect ratio images. It is, more often than not, just too damn tall. I much prefer the a traditional 4:5 vertical crop.

21 MP gives you the luxury of tossing pixels out and doing so without remorse. The standard 5624 x 3736 pixel 1Ds3 capture is reduced to 4887 x 3736 when cropped to 4:5. The crop results in a 50 megabyte tiff file. The math is far less favorable to a 12 MP camera. The original 5D starts at 4372 x 2906 pixels and drops to 3310 x 2650 when cropped to 4:5. The cropped tiff weighs in at 25 MB.

Similar math applies to horizontals. Here 3:2 is tolerable but something more like 2:1 or it’s close HD cousin 16:9 look even better.

For the folks who just can’t seem to afford all the storage that larger RAWs and JPEGs produce. With one terabyte bare drives costing $160 or less, storage is the cheapest thing in my photographic ecosystem.

And if you are still unconvinced. Canon feels your pain. In addition to two reduced size JPEG sizes, the 5D Mark II has two pint sized RAW file sizes. sRAW1 is a 10 MP capture and, in an homage to the omnipresent web banner, sRAW2 weighs in at 5.2 MP.

Photographing Iceland – What Worked: There and Back

This was my third trip to Iceland and I my first solo trip. Traveling alone allowed me to be nothing other than a photographer and traveler. It also meant that all the work of making and breaking camp, cooking meals and making decisions were all mine and mine alone.

So what worked and, inevitably, what did not work (at least to the extent that it is worth complaining about?)

There and Back

jetBlue / IcelandAir – jetBlue handled the direct round trip flight to Boston Logan and was kind enough to wave the (then) newly instated second bag fee. That won’t happen again… The red eye put me and my luggage in Boston 7 hours prior to IcelandAir finishing the trip. My IcelandAir flight was the first of the day so I was stuck with lots of luggage and little sleep until the IcelandAir ticket window opened 5 hours of so after I landed. I was beyond happy to get rid of my luggage.

Especially when compared to jetBlue, IcelandAir seems like a blast from the past. All women cabin crews in tailored uniforms and giant row filling stainless steal carts are the most obvious contrasts to jetBlue. Older 737’s with very little in the way of inflight distractions is another. The fact that they continue to serve meals also makes them a vanishing breed.

And in a final homage to times gone by, both the outbound and inbound Boston to Reykjavik flights were on time.

I will complain a bit about the schedule. IcelandAir hubs in Reykjavik and the flight is timed to land in Europe in the early morning. That is fine if, as most of the people on the plane were, you are headed for Europe. If you jump of in Iceland you wander up to the rental car counter after midnight still facing a 45 minute drive from the Airport into the big city.

Thanks largely to the German cartographer at ourfootprints and my trusty Garmin Nuvi, I drove directly to my favorite place to stay in Reykjavik, GuestHouse Anna. Anna’s is located near the transportation terminal should you take the airport bus into Reykavik. It is also an easy and welcomed walk from Anna’s to the Reykjavik city center. Anna’s is a nice and fairly priced place and she is a gracious and properly eccentric host.