Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hands On: 5D MarkIII, 24-70 2.8 USM L II and Flash 600 EX-RT (Part 1)

Hands On 5D MarkIII & 24-70 f2.8 USM L II
Today I got the opportunity to try out, for a couple of minutes, the new Canon 5D MarkIII with an attached brand new Canon EF 24-70 f/2.8 USM L II and also the new flash series and flagship the Canon 600EX-RT with radio trans-receiver built in. 

Although I do not pretend to make a complete detailed and analytic review of any of these items, I'm pretty sure there will be plenty of people making it as soon as the camera will be available in the market and they will be making them much better than I will, but I just want to show you some quick hands on for this Canon items and give you my personal opinion about it while a regular user of Canon products for sometime.

This would be my evaluation of the camera during the period I had with it as all the items are still in sample mode and maybe it would come out with some late minute refinements.
I will also post some images I took with my powershot G12 of the items as well as some sample images (raw+jpg) so you can download and review them if you want to. (For the moment Adobe Lightroom 4.0 does not support the CR2 raw files from this camera but for the moment you can go to Adobe Labs and download the Camera Raw 6.7 Release Candidate and play with them on Adobe Photoshop CS 5.1 and Bridge after the update)

I will make this article in 2 parts has it will be much easier to read and also comment on the images taken with the camera, the news lens and flash.

Canon lens 24-70 f/2.8 USM L II

I'll start out with the new 24-70 f/2.8 USM L II, this lens is completely new. Feels like the 100mm Macro lens as the coating and touch feelings are very similar to it. The filter thread now gets a bigger version up to 82mm and this would bring another level to the lens as the filter for it would be more expensive and if you use polarizer filter it's time to upgrade them as well to fit the new threat. Canon has already made this when they upgraded the 16-35 f/2.8 L USM to the same filter thread so if you own one of these you may already bought a polarizer to fit. It's a good thing to have most of the lens on the same thread as you do not have to carry a lot of stuff when you go outside taking pictures with filters.

Hands On 24-70 f2.8 USM L II

In the above picture you can see the 2 lenses side-by-side. Indeed the older version of the 24-70 feels more heavy and bulky but when you put then on both hands to weight them they kinda feel the same although I did find the new one a little lighter and when zoomed into 70mm it comes out of the body less than the older version.
The lens wood it's much smaller (very similar to the one the 24-105 f/4 has) and it's attached on the far end of the lens. This is one thing that made me scratch my head for a while... the older version the lens wood would give a little more protection to the inner part of the lens when it is extended and the new version let's the inner part be visible and you need to have more caution when using it on dusty and water environments as it may enter inside the body of the lens now that it's completely exposed when zoomed to 70mm. (This was my only complain on this lens and for the price it would come out in April Canon should have had a little bit more attention to this).

Hands On 24-70 f2.8 USM L II

This lens also do not have Image Stabilization and I think it has more to do with the design of the lens and to the fact that it could created it also more bulky. The lens also have a lock switch for storage and carrying around has this would prevent the lens front extend when you put it in your bag. (This is a normal feature that occurs to the older version when used extensively and for a long period of time as it would become loose after a while). This version, has I mentioned before, is a sample version used by many people already in the event I was in today and I can tell you that the front part had already become a little bit loosen just by using it so count for it in the field and if you're planning to buy it take that also in consideration.

This is an exceptional lens producing a very clean and crispy sharp images from edge to edge and with no chromatic aberrations visible and noticeable so far. Canon did manage to correct all the soft image problems with previous version but I think the price is a little bit to high for this piece of glass considering it is almost 1000,00 euros more than it's previous brother.

The Canon flash 600EX-RT

As you may all be aware that I'm a BIG aficionado of David Hobby techniques at the Strobist when I hear the good of the Radio triggering system coming to this new flash I started to hear bells and whistles all over so I wanted to check this ASAP as it was a long time promise from Canon, and we all know how Canon was getting a little behind on portable flash over the dark side ;)

Unfortunately Canon CPS Portugal only had one 600EX-RT and I could not perform any sample tests with 2 units and the time I had was too short to make the review for the %d MarkIII an also get some sample shots from the camera with the flash. Also the new flash comes with a very... when I say very it's VERY different menu that at least need to read the manual a couple of times before I could even adventure on it for the real deal.

Anyway I manage to grab a couple of shots of the flash and the menu system and played with it a little bit, although was not enough... more people on the queue line waiting to see it than I've ever seen before on a previous Canon stuff release.

Hands On Canon Flash 600EX-RT

Syde-by-syde they are much alike. Here in this picture they are not very align with each other but they are pretty much the same height. First thing noticed is that the old Stofen for the 580EXII will not fit on this one... so count on buying a new one.

Hands On Canon Flash 600EX-RT

This flash is a little bit thicker than it's older brother because it now has 2 color temperature caps that you can put on it. As you can see on the above image it has some kind of edges at the middle of the head that is where the dedicated gels and gel holder will hold onto (The caps were not available at the event, sorry no photos of them).

Hands On Canon Flash 600EX-RT

On it's front side you can also see, on the top head, where the dedicated gels and gel holder would make connection with the flash.

Hands On Canon Flash 600EX-RT

On the side of the flash you have the connectors for the CP-E4 Battery Pack, PC Terminal and the SR-N3 remote terminal connector, there is another 1/3 connector at the top but for the moment Canon representatives could not give me a straight answer what was it for as the flash is still very new and a sample unit without any instructions manual.

Hands On Canon Flash 600EX-RT

On the back part you have four buttons that now play a different role on the menu.They are now the one's in charge of selection things on the menu. Also there is a dedicated radio trigger button on the left side with it's own symbol that would help to get into the radio functions in a snap.

The LCD is much better to read out things and it feels a lot more easier to use. The hot-shoe is still the same difficult thing they gave us last time with the 580EXII so do not expect much on this one.

The LCD comes with 3 colors the green one for normal operations, a amber/orange style for when you put the flash in remote mode (this way you will always know which one is what) and a red one that would only be visible when the flash has reach the hot temperature, during my tests never appear ;)

The New On/Off switch is much better this way as you can lock the features directly or in a custom function leave it to sleep as on previous versions.

Also new is a Link blinking led that will blink when you have the flash connected wirelessly to others in a group.

For the few images I took with it I felt it more consistent in exposure and also in WB in a mixed ambient. On top of the 5D MarkIII is a sweet I can tell you, never missed a frame while on burst mode and all seem pretty consistent with each other... needed more time to test this baby out... (Some sample images at the bottom of the page)

Basically that's it for the first impressions... not much but the time I had to test the Sample unit was not much and also with no instructions manual at hand it come difficult to know what this powerful flash can really do or what menus it hides inside.

But If you also want a great and excellent in depth First Impression take a look at Syl Arena page.

Another great feature expected, for quite sometime, was the confirmation Beep when the flashes would be ready to fire again well Canon finally gave us the confirmation Beep Beep ;)

More on this at the Syl Arena page, go check it out, meanwhile here is a quote from his page about the Beep.

-- Quoted from Syl Arena page --

4. Beep, beep, we want a beep. BETTER—Canonistas have long lusted after Nikon’s humble beep as an indicator that a Speedlite has recycled. Canon has designed far better functionality. Thanks to the 2-way radio in the new Canon gear, each slave actually reports to the master when it has recycled. Then, when all the slaves in a group have recycled, the master displays a ready-icon for that group. Then, when all the slaves have checked in as recycled, the master sound the long-awaited beep! So, even when there’s a wall or window between you and your slaved Speedlites, you’ll know when they are ready to go. And yes, the beep can be turned off for quiet places like churches.

-- End of quote --

These are the official specifications for the flash:

Speedlite 600EX-RT specifications


Product Specification
POWER
Guide No. (ISO100).meters 60 (200mm)
ZOOM
Zoom head Yes
Focal length coverage 20-200mm
Coverage with wide panel 14mm
Auto zoom for sensor size Yes
FLASH MODES
Auto exposure control E-TTLII/E-TTL/TTL
High speed sync (FP) Yes
Manual / output settings Yes - 1/1-1/128
Manual steps 1/3 step
Strobe / output settings Yes - 1/4-1/128
Frequency 1-500Hz (199Hz using optical slave function)
FLASH-RELATED FUNCTION
FE lock Yes
Flash exposure compensation Yes
Flash exposure bracketing Yes
Second-curtain flash sync Yes
Modelling flash Yes
Colour temperature info communication Yes
WIRELESS FLASH
Transmitter Yes
Transmission type Infra-red / Radio
Transmitter Max range approx. Indoors: 12-15m / 30m
Outdoors: 8-10m / 30m
Slave Yes
No. of groups 3 / 5¹
No. of channels 4 / 15
Remote Shutter Release Yes
FLASH HEAD MOVEMENT
Up 45, 60, 75 and 90 °
Down 7 °
Left 60, 75, 90, 120, 150 and 180 °
Right 60, 75, 90, 120, 150 and 180 °
AF ASSIST
AF-assist beam Yes
Number of AF points supported 1 - 61
AF-assist beam type Infra-red
POWER SOURCE
Battery 4 x AA batteries
Minimum recycling time* Approx. 3.3 sec
External power supply Yes - CP-E4
CONSTRUCTION
Dust and water resistance Yes
Mounting foot material Metal
MISC.
Custom function 18 (7 personal functions)
Flash settings from camera menus** Yes
External flash exposure sensor Yes
PC terminal Yes
Compatible accessories Off-camera shoe cord OC-E3
Compact battery Pack CP-E4
Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT
EX Series Speedlite with Slave function
SR-N3 cable
Color filter holder SCH-E1
Color filter SCF-E1
Dedicated flash bracket SB-E2
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
Size (W x H x D), mm 79.7x 142.9x 125.4¹
Weight (Excluding batteries), grams 425g


This flash will also be available without the RT (Radio Transmitter) and it's simply called Canon 600EX and will be available on those countries that do not use the 2.4 GHz band unlicensed wireless devices. 

Here are some direct sample JPG images taken with the 5D MarkIII, the 24-70 f/2.8 USM L II and the 600EX-RT on a heavy mixed temperature atmosphere so you get a feeling out of it.





 Hope you have enjoyed the first part of the Hands On... stay tuned for the second part all about the new Canon 5D MarkIII with some sample images.

Hands On: 5D MarkIII, 24-70 2.8 USM L II and Flash 600 EX-RT (Part 2)
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