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Inspirations >> Photographer's Showcase Part0

The Canon EOS 5D Series: Past to Present

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, EF35mm f/1.4L II USM lens, 35mm, ISO 500, 1/125sec, f/1.4
A man pours tea in an old Chengdu teahouse

The Canon EOS 5D series offers a myriad of features and functions that have evolved dramatically over the years. We sit down with the one man who’s owned them all and find out what makes this series so covet worthy. 

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens, 21mm, ISO 1600, 20sec, f/4
Starry skies in Sichuan

When was the first time you purchased a EOS 5D camera?

I bought my EOS 5D in 2010, and it was the first time I decided to try a full frame camera. The reason? Well, when your peers in same photo trip are able to take better quality pictures, with all the same settings and the only thing different is the camera, you quickly realize you might need to upgrade your hardware! The EOS 5D had better picture quality over the crop factor body, back in the day.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, 200mm, ISO 100, 1/10sec, f/22
Autumn season in Kanas, Xinjiang. A fairytale autumnal landscape that attracts thousands of photographers around the world to this border region shared with Mongolia and Russia. 

Why do you keep using the EOS 5D series?

The EOS 5D series is suitable for my genre of photography as I travel very often and I need a workhorse that can perform in all weather conditions and doesn’t weigh a ton. Compared to the EOS-1D series, it is significantly lighter and I don’t really need the kind of speed of the EOS-1D series offers. What I really need is higher pixel count camera that allows me to crop my photos to my desired size. 

Canon EOS 5DS R, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, 160mm, ISO 200, 1/400sec, f/16
Lake Colorada in Bolivia with flamingos resting and feeding in the lake. 

Did you always buy the cameras the minute they were released? 

Yes, I always buy the latest model when they are released. Buying them at the earliest stage will allow you to understand the latest functions, which may be extremely useful for your needs. For example, the Interval Timer Function in the EOS 5DS R allows you to shoot time lapse images without the use of an external cable release. The HDR function in the EOS 5D Mark III and newer models are also extremely useful for my work.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, 130 mm, ISO 320, 1/320sec, f /11
One of my iconic photographs in China. A fisherman rowing his boat among the nets in Xiapu

What do you think are the significant differences between the cameras? 

The EOS 5D is a great full frame camera, but the EOS 5D Mark II has a better LCD screen compared to the previous model and has more pixels in the sensor. The EOS 5D Mark III has a built-in HDR function, mirror lockup and multiple exposure. The EOS 5DS R has all the functions in previous models and additionally has a built-in interval timer and 50-megapixel sensor. With the EOS 5D Mark III, I started to use the HDR function in handheld, especially at tourist sites where tripods are not allowed, and I needed to capture the dynamic range of sunset or sunrise. 

Canon EOS 5D, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, 200mm, ISO 100, 1/60sec, f/11
The Temple located in Mount Bromo. Worshippers pray to the volcano and offerings are poured into the crater of the volcano. Every year, there is a festival for devotees to pray and make offerings to Mount Bromo volcano. 

What are some of your favourite changes between the cameras? 

The EOS 5D Mark IV has the touch screen and WiFi features that I think are relevant to the current camera market. There is always a difference in the ISO capabilities and the megapixel on the sensor. The ISO sensitivity will always get a higher upgrade and the sensor size is always bigger with the later models. 

Canon EOS 5D, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, 24mm, ISO 100, 46sec, f/11
From my first ever photography trip in 2009, shot in Bulb mode for 46 seconds. 

The EOS 5D doesn’t come with the video function, and this was only introduced from the EOS 5D Mark II onwards, with the EOS 5D Mark III having a significant impact on shooting video on a DSLR. The 4K video function in the EOS 5D Mark IV is also quite the game changer!

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens, 16 mm, ISO 100, 0.3sec, f/18
Romanian haystack in the early morning sunrise. 

Do you have a personal favourite from the series?

I like EOS 5DS R, as it offers 50-megapixels. I am able to crop the image and make large prints. Although this camera may not be part of the EOS 5D to EOS 5D Mark IV series, it gives me a medium format feel at a low price. Plus, it has all the functionalities that a landscape photographer needs. 

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens, 28 mm, ISO 100, 1/1600sec, f/5
Taken inside Petra, where Indiana Jones was filmed. 

We understand you recently purchased the EOS 5D Mark IV too – and had that shipped all the way to Mongolia. That’s some dedication. Why did you think it so essential? 

I really wanted to test the performance of the camera as many of my customers rely on my information to make the decision whether to upgrade or not. I lead Canon Imaging Academy photo tours and I know many of my clients want to have a go at the new camera and understand its features. It’s important to equip myself with the newest technology so as to be able to impart this knowledge and skill to clients.

As for having it shipped to Mongolia, I wanted to put the camera to a test in a harsher environment of sand, wind and rain, with a fluctuation of 20 degrees in temperature during the day and night. It performed spectacularly, by the way. 

Canon EOS 5DS R, EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens, 30 mm, ISO 6400, 1/100sec, f/4.5
The traditional way of making “Gong”. The temperature in the factory was about 45 degrees and it was extremely dusty. 

Tell us a something memorable associated with each camera. 

On the EOS 5D – I purchased this because at the time, I was still using a EOS 30D and a full frame camera sounded like really professional stuff to me. I was on my first photo trip and even though my friends and I were shooting the exact same thing with the same settings, theirs turned out way better than mine. It occurred to me that it was either an issue of skill, or hardware. After that trip, I upgraded to the EOS 5D Mark I and realized that it was my skills that were lacking, so I went to the Canon Imaging Academy to fix that.

On the EOS 5D Mark II – Soon after I got the EOS 5D, the EOS 5D Mark II was released and I absolutely had to get it for the Live View function.

On the EOS 5D Mark III – I got this one after selling off my EOS 5D and EOS 5D Mark II, although I wouldn’t technically call this mine as I bought it for my wife as a present and she loans it to me – occasionally. 

Canon EOS 5DS R, EF24-70mm f-2.8L II USM lens, 28 mm, ISO 1600, 30sec, f/11
Mountain ranges in Kashmir

If you could pull out features from each of the EOS 5D models to create the ultimate camera – what would they be? 

EOS 5D -  The battery LP-E6, whose legacy still lives on as we are still using this battery today.

EOS 5D Mark II - Live view function

EOS 5D Mark III - Video functions

EOS 5DS R – 50 megapixels and Interval Timer

EOS 5D Mark IV - Touch screen, WiFi and 4K Video features

Canon EOS 5DS R, EF24-70mm f-2.8L II USM lens, 24mm, ISO 1250, 1/320sec, f/8
Sunset moment at Dal Lake in Kashmir, India. It is a land of conflict and sometimes minor war happens.

Read more about the EOS 5D Mark IV here: In Focus: EOS 5D Mark IV


EOS 5D Mark IV (Body)

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Joseph Mak

Joseph Mak

Photography is not just about having the best equipment or the latest gadget. It’s about seeing things around us. Everyone has a different perspective of things, and each views the same subject matter differently. It is always very interesting to see the different perspectives recorded in photographs, and I will always try to understand what story each photographer is trying to tell from their photographs. My style of photography is to keep it simple and clean. The key element in the photo is to be able to tell a story of the scene. Photography is an art of visual storytelling, rather than snapping a photo by itself.

Every photographer ought to be respected for the work they produce, because each photograph taken by them reflects his own unique personality.