Gear & Equipment

It's a Lot Like Having a Girl Friend on the Side: Photography with The Canon 5D Digital SLR

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An answer to the question, "What kind of camera do you use?"

I Love You, Will You Be My Camera?

I used to have a little 35mm Canon Rebel - that's right, remember film?  I bought it in 2003 right before I got married.  All my buddies told me to do so.  "Hey man," they'd smack me with a beer bottle in one hand, burp, and finish their brilliant thought, "better stock up on cool stuff while you're single."

But I just didn't have the heart to pony up for a digital SLR. So I shot film.  Truckloads of it. I had even settled into using Fuji Provia 100 for nearly everything, and it worked beautifully for outdoor shooting. Get this: I'd actually collected a paycheck from time to time from a photograph license or a magazine article here and there. My skills developed (arguably) and a few bucks rolled in, so I considered moving to a digital camera. And then I was really going to join the modern age and get a telephone . . .

The Canon 5D

When the Canon 5D emerged with that famous full-frame sensor, I eyed her like a stalker, behind my wife's back. How could I possibly break the news that I wanted to spend a few thousand bucks on a camera?  "No, really, we can sell the washing machine.  Why can't you just use a washboard and bucket?"

Oh, she smirked at that one.  And she too hit me. (What's up with all this hitting, anyway?)
"Mark, just go buy it."

Done. In January of 2008, I put the film gear away and walked across the threshold, laughing with joy, carrying a new Canon 5D camera in my arms.

And if I've got your attention, here are some other cool things that go with it:


  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM - the workhorse lens I nearly always use.  It does such a beautiful job, that it's hardly worth the effort to swap to one of my others.
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 - For $60 you can't go wrong.  That f/1.8 maximum aperture is fun to use, although when your focal plane gets tighter, you've got to be even more precise with your focusing.
  • Tokina 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5 - this goes virtually unused, partly because the 24mm length on the above lens is close enough when I want to work wide. Nevertheless, I'll force myself to use it from time to time.  Wish it was a 19mm prime instead of a zoom. I never move it off of 19mm. Thanks to this lens, I don't think I'll even bother with getting a full arsenal of lenses that overlap in focal lengths.  What I mean is that since it's not much wider than the 24-105, it's just not worth the energy to swap to 19mm. I mean, sheesh, lenses set you back a small fortune, you may as well make them worth it. So, I think the best replacement for this one is a fisheye lens.  That'll be huge fun.


I'm really bad with filters.  I keep breaking them, which sucks because they cost money.  I had the beginings of a Cokin set up with the adapters, rings, and just one neutral density grad.  This department is a whole separate psychotic level of investment. When it came to buying more filters or putting food on the table for a little girl who could eat 10 pounds of fruit in a single sitting, I went with the food. Lest my in-laws cease to believe that I hung the moon. As a photographer, I'm shunned for failing to have an assortment of grads. As a breadwinner, I'm probably better for it.


This thing's cool!  Check out that grippy thing for adjusting the ball head.  That's neat until I need to make fine adjustments.  Like if the horizon is crooked. Keep that in mind if you go hitting the web to find one like it. I don't know the brand or anything.  Bought it on ebay.  She's a heavy thing, which the-photo-pundits-that-be claim is good, at 8 lbs.

Camera Bag

Original Domke F2 camera bag - a classic tan canvas bag that has this adventurous safari look to it.  And looks is what it's all about. Duh.


Apple Aperture - yikes, another girlfriend-on-the-side is my MacBook.  Truth told: I'm up late typing this while my wife is asleep.


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