Long day's journey: Carried off by Katrina's surge, this enormous drydock left New Orleans' Industrial Canal and entered the Mississippi River for an unguided tour under the I-10 bridges. It was two miles to the beach on New Orleans' West Bank at Gretna; a 104-foot, 199-ton, steel tugboat sat bolt-upright the whole time. Removing the undamaged vessel with a giant crane required preparations well into the night. The 5D's daylight picture at ISO 200 shows excellent detail in both the highlights and shadows.
The 7:30 p.m. shot shows the tug just lifted from the blocks, hanging midair. Sparse lighting required ISO 800; the pic is respectably clean nonetheless. Actual focal length was 70mm, the shutter was only 1/13-sec., and yes, it was handheld—quite tightly! If the anti-shake gained 2 EVs, it would have been the equivalent of handholding at over 1/50-sec, not a difficult feat for anyone who tries.
Oct. 3, 6:45 p.m., Bourbon St., New Orleans. There was still a curfew, and passes were required here and there, but you could buy a Hurricane in the French Quarter. The ride back to I-10 was in pitch blackness and utter abandonment. ISO 800, 1/200-sec., 17mm focal length.
The only area we felt cramped using the 5D, compared with the 7D, was in the number of pictures it could shoot in one burst. Nine top-quality JPEGs for the 7D, five for the 5D—then it's time-out to write the files.
The ISO control button is in plain view on the 5D, just as on the 7D, making changes easy to accomplish on the fly. We were able to get sharp, publication-quality pictures from the 5D at ISO 800 and even 1600.
We took both Maxxums on an assignment in southern Louisiana, along with a compact DiMAGE A1. We arrived a couple weeks after Katrina, rode out Rita, spent 22 days amid floods, mud, dust, debris, and hard knocks aboard boats, cranes, and helicopters. The cameras proved completely dependable, and in very tricky light, the AS (present on all three) frequently saved the day. With the two Maxxum bodies sharing lenses, all three using the same proprietary Minolta battery, baggage was at a minimum throughout long, outdoorsy treks. We answered our own question: This is how you make your product the most useful. ptn