I started out in photography using a Canon Powershot A50. I had bought the camera in 2000 because that is when my first son was born. I did not want to miss anything as he grew up and I had never owned a camera before. I had heard of digital cameras but had not really ever used one. This Canon Powershot A50 was a 1 mega pixel camera that had some neat features for the cameras at this time. No video or anything like that but I learned to use some of the features of the camera fairly easily. It was quite expensive for my wife and I to buy this camera as it was around $250 and when you have just been married a few years and have a new baby that is a lot of money.
This camera lasted until my son was about 5 years old. I had began taking him fishing and hiking places with me and we took pictures along the way when we would go hiking. So we decided one fall in 2005 to go hiking and exploring in the mountains of West Virginia, when I say mountains I mean the Monongahela forest. There were so many areas to see and I was not sure really where to begin so we started at the falls of hills creek and immediately I knew that I was in love with nature photography and particularly waterfall nature photography. We eventually made our way up to the Seneca rock area of the northern Monongahela forest and took a tour of Seneca caverns, which was a great place to visit and a got a few pictures inside the caverns of bats and various rock formations. However, when we left I set my camera on top of the car and was getting our things arranged in the car preparing for our drive and inadvertently left the camera on top of the care. We started down the road and after about half of a mile I heard something go tumbling down the back of the car window. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw my $250 camera bouncing up and down on the road and pieces fly all over. This was very disheartening as we had planned to continue to spruce knob West Virginia which is the highest point in the state.
I managed to gather the pieces of my Canon Powershot A50 from off the road and made up my mind that we were not going to get any more pictures on our trip. This was pretty disappointing but I convinced myself that the trip was not about pictures but rather about my boy and his daddy spending time together. So we continued on to Spruce Knob and while up there I decided to look at the camera and see if it could be used even though it was in a bunch of pieces. I began getting the pieces together and believe it or not managed to get the camera to turn on by rigging the switch for the flash card door. Even though the LCD was cracked in many places it actually came on and I actually was able to take pictures with this camera that was stuck together literally with a couple small sticks and some tape. From this point forward not only did I realize that I loved nature photography but that Canon was the best camera I could have.
Once I began too look at other waterfall nature photos on the internet, I began to hunger for a new camera. I thought that I must be able to figure out how they made the waterfalls look so smooth and silky. This gave me the unction to save up and buy a new Canon Rebel 350D in early 2006. This camera was in my opinion the best camera I could have, although many others were much more expensive and had many more features, this was the first SLR I had ever held in my hand. I learned the different settings and was amazed at what aperture and exposure time could do to the look of a waterfall or stream. This is when my nature photography website was inspired one day walking home from work singing the gospel song “How Great Thou Art”.
After I had obtained a better camera I realized that the look and sharpness of a digital image did not depend solely on the body of a camera but largely depended on the quality of the lens. This is when I became determined to get a better fixed focal length lens and realized the difference in a quality lens and a cheaper zoom lens. I wondered can photography get any better and if so what would it take to make the very best images. Although I lacked the funding to obtain a high quality professional full frame digital camera I had the passion to still explore and take more and more pictures refining my skills and beginning to document each expedition in greater detail. I knew that I needed to begin capturing our hiking adventures on video but did not want to lug around a camcorder.
In 2007 we obtained a new Canon G9 which combined a high quality point and shoot lens with the latest technology video and audio capture built right into a very small camera. This camera had the best of both worlds and allowed us to hike and take great wildlife shots and even great macro floral photography. This is when I learned that RAW image format was the best way to shoot so that I could manipulate the exposure and color in post processing. Wow! I had thought jpeg was great until I experienced the benefits of salvaging typically unusable images by processing them with Canon photo professional. The Canon G9 really is a great little camera but it lacked the super sharp detail and range that my Digital Rebel 350D could attain. For the next two years I imagined how convenient it would be to be able to hike and take great quality SLR images as well as take nature adventure video at the same time with the same camera.
One day in late 2008 I read about new model Canon that was going to be released and that this camera would combine super quality 21 mega pixel full frame Canon technology with not only high resolution video, but HD 1080p quality video. I said to myself no doubt this camera would be far beyond my reach and must certainly cost $5,000 or more. However, I learned that this new camera could be purchased for a little under $3,500 with a high quality low aperture f4 zoom lens that also sports moisture resistant weather seals. This was without a doubt the answer to all of my needs and wants as a novice adventure nature photographer. After several months of saving a planning I was blessed with a new Canon 5D Mark II and accompanying 24-104mm F4 zoom lens.
I have now been the proud owner of this wonderful camera for almost a year now and am convinced that this camera is all that I will ever need. Even though there may be newer technologies that come out such as 3 dimensional holographic photography (think I am kidding, watch and see). The Canon 5D Mark II will always be my favorite camera. This camera marked the camera that brought me into the full frame professional market. This camera takes amazing low light photography at higher ISO settings, I often take low light photography in the forest and even take some night landscape shots from lofty mountain heights, it is imperative that the noise of these images is kept to a minimum.
Recently I have learned that I can connect my Canon 5D Mark II to my laptop and store images directly from the camera to my 500 GB hard drive. This gives me hours and hours of high quality video recording and thousands of 21 MP images. No doubt I have a lot to share with this new camera and I have only began to experience the wonderful quality this camera provides. So far I have posted at least 100 new 21 MP images on my nature photography website and I have to say that they are some of the best images I have ever taken and they only keep getting better as I learn more about the 5D. The automatic bracketing features are really great and are helping me to experience the wide range resolution possible with HDR.
The live view function is truly amazing as it allows me to set up my 5D on a tripod close to the ground for a macro shot of a mushroom for instance. It would otherwise be impossible to focus on a small mushroom very close to the ground while looking through a view finder. Then I can press a button and focus and see the real results directly on the 3 inch screen. This is not only great for live real-time viewing but it is great for post image viewing, as I can literally zoom in on a particular area of a high resolution image and verify that it is in perfect focus before I even transfer and process the image on my local laptop. also, the automatic sensor cleaning system is great for a nature photographer who frequently changes lenses in the field where dust and contaminants are inevitable.
Consider some of the features and specifications of the Canon 5d Mark II but do not compare only the specifications to other cameras keep in mind that Canon makes a great product and that their cameras are rugged, long lasting and even if other specifications on other Cameras that start with an N are slightly higher I will always be a die hard Canon fan from the real world experiences I have lived through over the past 6 years as an adventure nature photographer.