A photographer never goes anywhere interesting without his camera, so when I recently traveled to New York City, you can bet I brought along my best hardware. In this case, it was Canon’s new 5D Mark III, a 22.3-megapixel beast that shoots at 6fps and captures images with a 35mm full-frame sensor. The latter was a major improvement over my crop-sensored 7D and 50D, especially for a backdrop like NYC, where the sheer scale demands a camera that can drink in all the detail.
How’d it fare? Read on to find out.
Editing & shooting mode
It should be noted that all of images you see here have gone through some form of post processing in Adobe Lightroom 4.0. I’m fond of Lightroom because it works quickly and has on tap all the effects I could ever want. I also shot all my images in RAW format. While that leads to fairly large image sizes (roughly 30MB per image), the uncompressed pictures give me free reign to edit. Now that that’s out of the way, on to the pictures!
One of the first pictures I took in NYC was of a man riding his bike. What stuck out to me wasn’t that completely unremarkable activity, but the blue grip tape he’d chosen for his handlebars. It added life to an otherwise boring scene, and the crosswalk pattern beneath the rider provided the perfect contrast. With the 5D’s new 61-point focusing system, I was able to quickly lock on to my subject while getting a nice bokeh effect to boot. Lens: 50mm f1.2
While out for a stroll, I happened to pass Dick Tracy on his way to solve a murder mystery. The 5D’s 6fps shutter allowed me to quickly snap away and capture the crimestopper while he moved about the city. Then, as luck would have it, his partner, who was no doubt watching his back, brought up the rear. Lens: 50mm f1.2
There’s obviously no shortage of tall buildings in NYC, but from street level, it’s hard to appreciate their scale. So in these two pictures of the same building, I offer two perspectives — I snapped one picture from the sidewalk, and the other from one of the building’s top levels. Without the 5D’s 35mm sensor and a 24mm wide-angle lens, I wouldn’t have been able to get the top-down perspective. And look at that smog! Lens: 24mm f1.4
In a city as crowded as New York, even taking the subway can be a real pain in the ass. That’s why many people (when the weather permits) rely on alternate transportation, like skateboards and bicycles. Here, the 5D was especially helpful in allowing me to not only get the subjects, but also capture the environment behind them. Taking this picture on a crop-sensored camera would have been more difficult. Speaking of the weather, it was so nice during my visit that at times I forgot I wasn’t at home in SoCal. Lens: 50mm f1.2
Chinatown is one hell of a place. I’ve now been to the country’s most popular examples, in both San Francisco and NYC, and the similarities are striking. But I guess that’s the point. In this picture, the beautiful fresh fish caught my eye (and nose) and demanded I take a shot. Again, the 5D came through with a really nice focus while blurring out the background where I desired. Lens: 50mm f1.2
Here I opted for black and white to capture the age of these bikes. In fact, now that I think about it, much of NYC lends itself to black and white photography, and if I lived there, I’m sure I’d go old school more often. Lens: 50mm f1.2
I don’t think you can go anywhere in NYC without seeing graffiti, but this especially colorful piece grabbed my attention. Rounding out the scene was an overdressed man (it was 80 degrees at the time) who stopped to wipe the perspiration from his face. Lens: 50mm f1.2
NYC is known for its diversity, and walking around, you really get a sense of it. Within a block, I encountered a few guys hastily shooting a movie and a businessman absorbed in his laptop, determined to get his taxes in on time. The new 5D now incorporates a silent-shooting mode that allowed me to get close to my subjects without disturbing them. Lens: 50mm f1.2
What’s NYC without pizza? This amazing-looking pie is from a place called Artichokes, and it was quite possibly the best pizza I’ve ever had. Because of the 5D’s improved noise reduction, I was able to get a well-lit shot in a dimly lit pizza shop. Lens: 50mm f1.2
Shooting with a full-frame camera is truly a different experience, and while I haven’t had a lot of time with the 5D Mark III, I can easily appreciate its 35mm advantages in day-to-day use. Not only does it take wider shots than crop-sensored rigs, it brings to the table unrivaled sharpness and noise reduction, too. It’s like my 7D on steroids, and it truly captures 100 percent of what I see in the viewfinder.
As for NYC, what can I say without sounding trite? Seriously, I’ve got nothing.