Shooting with a Dinosaur

admin All Authors, Chad 12 Comments

When I’m out and about people always ask me, “Why are you using such an OLD camera?” or “I remember that body, I used it years ago!” and then there’s the “I used that camera to cover the Berlin Olympics…” (that last one might be a bit of a stretch).


I can never give them a straightforward answer to justify my decision.

I’m currently using a Canon 1D Mk II and a 1Ds Mk II. Both are almost 10 years old, have tiny LCD screens, huge heavy batteries, no video capabilities, a maximum ISO of 1600 (3200 with ISO expansion), slow outdated processors and a low megapixel count – by today’s standards (8mp & 16mp FF respectively).

I bought both of them second hand from a reputable store and haven’t looked back since.

The reason I originally chose to upgrade from a 50D to a 1D Mk II was because I could get a fully professional camera body that was weather sealed, had a built-in battery grip, had an immaculate 1.3x crop sensor, shot at 8fps and could still work after being exposed to a nuclear winter – and all of this was available for under R5000!

Yes, I sacrificed some of today’s technology, but I feel I have become a better all-rounded photographer by only using the bare minimum (which might sound quite ridiculous to the pros who used to shoot on film!).

Even though it only has 8 megapixels, this can be easily adjusted using one of the many decent re-sizing software packages available (I use Genuine Fractals).


Canon 1Ds mk 2 + Sigma 100-300mm f4 EX


Canon 1Ds mk 2 + 17-40mm f4L

After shooting with the 1D Mk II for 2 years, I decided to go the full frame route and looked at both the 5D Mk II and 6D as they just fitted into my budget. However, the more I got to know the cameras, the more I wasn’t willing to compromise on the 1D’s build quality, character and general feeling when in my hand.

Don’t get me wrong, both of those bodies are great, they have all the bells and whistles and then some, but they just didn’t  feel right to me.

I then came across a second-hand 1Ds Mk II in great condition, from the same store as before, for under R 10 000.

The choice was obvious.

All in all I’m happy with using old DSLR dinosaurs.

They give me just what I need for a fraction of the price of today’s equivalents!

I see more and more people that are selling their trusty, well-looked-after cameras of yesteryear, and most of the time it’s because they feel that the more modern bodies are much, much better (which they are in some respects, but are also much, much more expensive).

So the next time you are looking for an upgrade for your DSLR, consider buying one of the forgotten greats – consider buying a dinosaur.


Canon 1D mk 2 + Canon 300mm f2.8L + 1.4x II

Chad Wright


Chad’s Links:

Comments 12

  1. Mike

    I shoot a lot with my 5D MK I. It is a rocking camera, about the same vintage as the 1d2. Nothing wrong with the camera at all. The only problem is that this post is making me want to look for a 1d2 or 3.

    1. Chad Wright

      I’ve heard the 5D MK I is a great camera Mike, I think the 1D body might have the edge though and the mk II and mk III bodies are selling really cheap these days. The sensor on my full frame 1Ds mk II is unreal, and I’d highly recommend it! There are a few places selling second hand ones for around R12k at the moment.

      Also Timothy’s suggestion of the 1D mk III is very valid, I’ve seen his images and the quality that thing puts out is fantastic.


  2. Timothy Griesel

    I am going to be in the market for new vintage, at them moment I am walking around with nothing.

    @Mike, maybe you can find my old 1D MK III, that was removed from my possession, for a steal, if you know where these guys get rid of camera equipment

  3. Barry

    Great post Chad! I have a canon 40D and it’s great but I do struggle a bit with it’s focus system for fast moving subjects. I would love to get a canon 5D mk3 or 1Dx but they are both way out of my price range! What would you recommend in the secondhand full frame line for wildlife and landscapes?

    1. Chad Wright

      Thanks a lot Barry! If you could find a secondhand 1Ds Mk II or Mk III in good condition and at a reasonable price, I guarantee you would not be disappointed. I use my 1Ds Mk II and 1D Mk II when I’m out and about, and the combination is perfect for wildlife as well as landscape photography. If I had to choose between them both for an all round DSLR, the full frame 1Ds takes the cake.

      The 51 focusing points of the 1D bodies are a lot more responsive than that of the 40D’s 9 points. The burst rate of Canon’s older full frame bodies might not be as high as the 40D, but what you lose in speed you gain in overall performance, handling and image quality. You might want to also have a look at a secondhand 5D Mk II, a firm favourite among landscape photographers.

      1. Timothy Griesel

        I would look at something full frame for Landscape. Frame rate doesn’t matter until you really need it (cheetah chases an impala straight towards you, etc) so I don’t feel that is a big must have, although on my Canon 1D MK III, I had 10fps so it wasn’t slow.

        Whats is your budget, cause I may even consider looking at the 70D, 20megapixels, 7fps, crop sensor, nice little body, not sure about focus points but if I remember correctly, it uses the same focus system as the 7D.

  4. Barry

    What are your thoughts on the 1D mk4? It’s still out of my price range at the moment but keeping an eye out for them as they go down, not too many mk2’s around it seems.

    1. Chad Wright

      I haven’t used it, but from what I have heard it’s spectacular. A lot of big name wildlife photographers use it and for good reason! Fast frame rate, decent megapixel count, etc, all with the 1D build quality. There aren’t that many 5D mk II’s around because as soon as they are put up for sale the are bought just as quick, so check the forums every day.

      1. Barry

        How concerned should I be about the shutter count? Is there an upper limit at which i’m likely to be seeing expensive repairs in the near future?

        1. Chad Wright

          Sjoe, I’m sure both my Mk II’s are near or have passed their ‘maximum’ count and they still work just fine. I personally don’t worry about the shutter count, but I know there are a lot of people out there who wouldn’t chance it. I think the biggest factor when looking at future repairs is the condition of the camera that you’re looking at buying. If it’s been looked after then there is less to worry about. If possible, find out if the previous owner had it serviced and if he/she was the original owner.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *