Arizona Colorfest – The G11’s Last Gasp

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I’ve been painfully aware lately that I’ve outgrown my G11. I would still recommend it to any amateur who wants top image quality in a small, weapons-grade package. Truly, they are as tough as nails. I’ve often (possibly too often) said that it’s the only camera I know of which you could wield to bludgeon an assailant unconscious and then take his picture. My G10 was once stolen from me on the street in Madang. When a cop accidentally caught the mugger the felon threw my camera on the pavement hard enough to dent the metal casing. I was amazed that the tough little beast still worked perfectly. Anyway, I’ve gotten a good run from the G series. I’ve had a G9, a G10 and a G11.

However, events in my life are going to require me to present a more professional image, if you will excuse the pun. It’s sad to say that photographers are sometimes judged by their gear. It’s one case in which size does matter. I’ve often been gently scorned when I show up for a shoot with my dinky G11. No matter that the images are great. Most shots do not require anything more sophisicated. My theory was that if I could take 90% of the images I want with a $500 camera, then a $5000 camera to get the last 10% made no sense at all. Well, I’m not about to spend $5000 for a camera, but I certainly need to take a step up.

Today I ordered a Canon 5d Mk II with appropriate lenses and accessories. It’s a lot of camera for the money. I’ve drooled over several of them in camera stores until the clerks take them away for a wipe-down. It’s suitably massive and professional looking and sports a humongous twenty-one megapixel sensor. It has astounding low light level capabilities. The only thing I did not like about it is that it has no inbuilt flash. I suppose that the pros turn their noses down at such niceties. Photographers can be horrible snobs.

So, since my G11 will shortly be retired to the hermitage of the glove box so that I always have a camera in the car, I had a last fling with it at the Grand Canyon a few days ago. My good friends Ian and Liz Dosser happened to be in the USA for extensive holiday travel. I persuaded them to come for a visit to Sedona. I wanted them to meet Grace, but Grace departed two days early for the impending birth of another grandchild, so I’ll be playing Lonely Guy for three weeks until I join her in St. Louis. Ian and Liz and I visited the Grand Canyon on Friday and the Painted Dessert and Petrified forest on Saturday.

Herre’s a shot of the Grand Hole in the Ground:

I was fiddling with the color of the far rim to try to get some of the blue out. I went too far. It looks like a coal strip mine.

This is more the way it actually looks. Here Ian and Liz are standing out on the edge of a rock which hangs right out over the canyon. I reckon it is several hundred feet to the nearest rocks below. When you walk out on this rock you can not help getting a strong feeling of vertigo. When I approached the edge all I could say was, “Whoa!”:

I can sit in the door of a helicopter all day with my feet hanging out in space and enjoy myself immensely. I don’t understand what the difference is. When I get out there close to the edge I freeze up.

There are plenty of safer places to enjoy the view. There were several ravens riding the updrafts near the rim. They seldom needed to flap their wings:

I wish I could do that. I sometimes dream about it.

This is known as the most dangerous beast of the canyon. It’s a Grand Canyon Squirrel (Rock Squirrel) – Spermophilus variegatus:

They bite for the fun of it and carry several nasty diseases. I watched this one run right over a man who was sitting on the ledge. The critter did not even slow down. I can imagine someone being so startled that they might fall off the edge. I wonder if that has ever happened?

Back at home Ian and I drove down to Red Rock Crossing to catch the afternoon wine light reflecting off of Cathedral Rock. It’s a famous photographic location. There were three or four guys there with probably twenty thousand dollars worth of camera gear each. I almost asked Ian if he’d like to help to rob them, but he’s an ex copper. I did not think the idea would go down well with him. Anyway, these guys had Nikons and Pentax gear. I’m a Canon man. These two shots are High Dynamic Range compositions consisting of five frames with exposure running from way dark to way light. It’s the only way you can capture the range of brightnesses in these scenes:

This is going to be a favorite place for shooting. It is only down the street from the house.

Here was the scene down at the crossing itself, where the old road went through Oak Creek:

When I get my new 5D I’m going to try for a “silky water” shot here.

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10 Responses to “Arizona Colorfest – The G11’s Last Gasp”

  1. Georgi Says:

    5D Mark II – Now that`s quite a step up in the DSLR universe 🙂 You have probably hit the limit of the G-series. Happy shooting with the new toy and I hope you have ordered a 50/1.8 prime lens or something similar. Judging by your photos in the site it would be something that you might use quite a lot.

    Wishing you the best,

    Georgi

  2. Autumn Says:

    Love the second picture of cathedral rock, with the reflection in the water. Hope you enjoy the new camera. My grandfather has played with photography over the years and has done some neat stuff. I love to watch him grab a little point and shoot camera and take better pictures than I can get on my much more expensive SLR! It’s definitely the photographer more than the camera.

  3. Peter John Lyne Says:

    Fabulous shots as usual Jan. The last one I saved in ‘my pictures’ to go with your stunning aerial shots of Madang. Wow, that’s alot of megapixels for the 5D. I’m only new to ‘digital’ and having a ball with my eos 20D…at 8.2mp. Yep, it’s what one can afford for the level of photography that dictates that ‘great’ shot. I have learnt quite alot from your photographic sessions on your MPBM site.
    Thanks Jan.

  4. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Peter. I’ve had a wonderful run with the Canon G series. It’s an amazing little camera which can shoot 90% of what one needs for magazine articles. Unfortunately, in impresses nobody. I Still like it, because all of the essential controls are manually controlled by actual knobs which you can fiddle with your fingers. It’s very old-school and that suits me. I started out at age eleven with an old Busch Pressman 2.25 x 3.25. 21MP does seem like a lot, but in reality, it adds little to definition. That many MP would be useless if it were not for the full frame sensor (which is part of what makes the camera so expensive). You know. 8.2MP is plenty for personal use. If you know how to use the camera, you could shoot images for publication. Average image sizes in magazines require only modest resolution. The printing process simply can’t show that much detail. I like to use a camera until I think I can’t squeeze any more from it. Then I step up a notch. It is a huge jump in price from the G12 to a 5D for no great advantage for the average talented amateur. The 20D is a very respectable camera.

  5. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Autumn. Your grandfather demonstrates that it’s not so much the camera as it is the person using it. There are no tricks for capturing beautiful images. It’s like learning to drive. Take a basic creative photography course at at local college. It’s a very rewarding hobby.

  6. MadDog Says:

    Georgi, what I’ve been impressed with, after shooting for a couple of days is not how much better the 5D and a good lens is, but how good the G11 is. For most shots, you have to blow things up pretty far to see any difference. I got it mainly because it will also shoot broadcast quality 1080p HD video.. I got two lenses. a wide zoom (the “L” series Canon) and a 70-300 Canon zoom. Curiously, I now have a hole from 40m to 70mm. I’ll have to be creative to fill it. Really, though, 50mm is pretty boring. Thanks for your good wishes, Georgi.

  7. pvaldes Says:

    … and another great post 🙂

  8. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Georgi.

  9. Matt James Says:

    Jan if you continue to ‘play with the colours’ of America’s national landmarks in this way the USA will achieve energy independence any day now 🙂

  10. MadDog Says:

    Matt, ya’ think so? Is that why my hair is standing on end?