Its been exactly 9 months since my last interaction with Canon. (Read about it here) Last night, I was once again invited by 1000Heads on behalf of Canon to give my feedback about their products, discuss the new products released, and try out some very expensive equipment.
I had to leave work early if I wanted to reach London on time but I still managed to get a bit delayed, thanks to the great local buses. Nevertheless, once I got there, I spotted some familiar faces from last time and some new ones as well. David Parry from Canon quickly introduced himself and the plethora of equipment available for us to play with, which ranged from the ultra-portable camera S95 to the behemoth of lens, 70-200 f/2.8 IS Mk II. I managed to find the 85mm f/1.2 which was simply stunning. It weighed a ton but felt surprisingly balanced once I’d mounted it on my 40D and once I started shooting away, every single photo was a masterpiece.
We briefly paused our lens lust session to watch a presentation by Dave about the Canon 60D. He explained the reasoning behind its introduction (to update the 50D as the 550D was surpassing it), and listing out its features. A common feeling across room was that the 60D had been ‘dumbed down’ when compared to the 50D by including more basic features and removing some advanced features. Dave swiftly defended this by proclaiming that they were trying to expand to a wider userbase. While I still do not agree with him, I can see where he is coming from but I still feel that the 60D has, in some ways, moved down rather than up. We tried to prod for more details about upcoming cameras and technologies but he remained tight-lipped about any speculated information.
Following this, everyone grabbed their favourite piece of kit for the photowalk. Up for grabs was a 50mm f/1.2, 14mm f/2.8, 15mm f/2.8 fisheye, 24mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.2, 15-85mm, and of course, the G12 & S95. By the time we had sorted all the gear out, the slight drizzle had developed into a fully fledged pour down of rain. Undeterred with all this weatherproof gear, we marched on through the streets of Central London, pausing in China Town for some fantastic play of colour and composition before getting back to the office after 40 minutes. In the field, the speed of the focusing of the 85mm was evident even in near pitch-black situations. While it did get stuck occasionally, I do not blame the lens as manually focusing at f/1.2 was tougher than I thought. The spectacularly wide aperture allowed me to shoot at fairly low ISOs between 500 and 1000 on my 40D to keep noise at a minimum. The shallow depth of field (DoF) while shooting fully open was something I had never experienced before and it led to some on-the-field learning as I had to change my style of shooting to adapt to the lens. Moving from the 85mm to the 14mm was a dramatic change in focal length and it took a good 10 shots for me to get used to the 24mm. I shot it wide open all the time simply because I wanted a shallow DoF after having playing with the 85mm’s razor thin DoF. Focusing was quick but not as versatile as the 85mm because it had two less stops of light to gather data from. Before returning to the office, I switched back to the 85mm, I just loved that lens so much.
Back at the office, we were given the opportunity to print out the photos from the walk on a couple of gorgeous PIXMA printers at qualities I would’ve never thought would be possible at home. We were also shown samples from the PIXMA MP280 which is proposed to released early next month. The quality was stunning and in equally good news, I learnt that it would retail for a mere £50! Apart from that, we were also shown the PIXMA 9000 which produced mind-blowing A3 sized prints in a matter of 6 minutes. It was £400 which is definitely out of my budget but I can see it be a tempting purchase for several photographer friends.
The evening finally had to end but in good spirits as all of us were given a camera and lens to trial for 2 weeks. I was given a 7D and 16-35mm lens on request which I am going to put to good use over the next fortnight! I’d like to extend a warm thanks once again to Katy, Lisa & Lauren from 1000Heads for this great opportunity and Dave & Richard from Canon for patiently answering our questions and showcasing all of Canon’s latest products.