Tag Archives: experience

1DX Mk II First Impressions

After a little bit of time shooting with the 1DX MkII, I have started to build my impressions of how it is working for me.  This is definitely only a first impressions review since there will be a lot of time before I have got totally used to it and have worked out the details of its functionality.  For reference, I have previously been shooting with the 1D MkIV so things have moved on a lot from that.

Focus is a good place to start.  I didn’t have a particular problem with the MkIV but this one does seem to be a bit snappier when it comes to focus.  I was recently shooting some subjects which had a lot of scope for the focus to get confused.  However, it seemed to be reliably on target – certainly far more than I used to experience.  There are a multitude of focus points and combinations.  I haven’t even started to get into them yet.  I tend to have simple requirements of the focus points, generally based around the center point but I will be trying more in due course.

Exposure has thrown up a couple of things of note so far.  First is the amount of light you get with a full frame sensor.  I have read a few things about the way camera manufacturers reference ISO and aperture combinations with crop bodies but I hadn’t had a chance to explore this.  Using the same ISO and aperture as I used to, I am getting shutter speeds noticeably higher than before.  I will now revisit what my settings are since I don’t need speeds that high.  The other change is in the handling of backlight.  I had got a good grip on what exposure compensation I needed for various sky conditions with the previous body.  Starting with those resulted in overexposure.  I find the body is better able to get it right itself so I have been tweaking the exposure comp down.

Video capabilities have been significantly expanded but I have yet to get too far into them.  I started out with the default HD settings but I have changed to a larger file size format to get more latitude for editing.  Having not done any detailed editing yet, I have not found out how much of a difference this makes.  I have not played with 4K at all yet.  The big thing in video is the dual pixel autofocus.  Previously I had to fix focus before the shot started and any zooming would tend to move things out of focus.  Now I can select by touch what I want to track and the camera seems to do a nice job of keeping that sharp during motion, panning or zooming.  This is a nice addition to have when dealing with motion relatively close in.

The setup of the control buttons is an evolution of what I know.  There are some additional buttons to work with and they are configurable.  I haven’t tried reassigning anything yet since I want to find out what I need most often before I do so.  They have made a switch in the stills to video control with that now having its own control.  I am still getting used to it compared to the way I did it on the MkIV but I firmly believe the new configuration will be a big improvement.  I just need to retrain myself to use it without thinking.

Preset configurations are a great addition.  I moaned about this to a Canon rep many years ago.  The 40D had preset configurations you could program and switch between quickly.  When shooting props and jets, this is a nice thing to be able to do very quickly.  Everything about the setup is programmed so it is a powerful addition.  Finally I have it on a better body.  There are three presets.  I have one for jets, one for props and the third I have configured so I can give the camera to someone else to shoot without having to explain back button focus and center points.  It is in a more user friendly configuration to hand off.  I shall see whether that gets much use or not.

The card configuration is now CFast in one slot and Compact Flash in the other.  The camera came with a 64Gb CFast card and I have put existing 64Gb CF in the other slot.  So far I have not had to use the CF so I haven’t noticed the write speed.  Buffer is huge so I doubt this will be an issue.  The CFast is working fine.  It does seem to download very quickly via the USB3 card reader that was also included.  The card does also get noticeably warm when working a lot.  No specific upside or downside so far.  The CFast is required for 4K at 60fps but otherwise CF will work fine.

Now for one of the big surprises.  Canon has upped the frame rate to 14fps.  It was 12fps on the 1DX and 10fps on my old MkIV.  I did not think that this would be a big deal.  A small increase?  I was wrong.  This thing flies along.  A quick squeeze of the shutter and suddenly I have three shots.  It buzzes rather than has the sound of individual actuations.  This means a slight variation of shooting technique for me.  I used to shoot short bursts for each view.  I could then pick my favorite of the burst during post processing.  I can still do this but now it is a shorter hold of the button to get the same effect.

A small addition I like is the built in GPS.  I have been using an app on my phone to create a gpx file tracklog during photo shoots.  I can then import this in Lightroom and it matches with the shot times to tag the images.  With a built in GPS, the shots are automatically tagged.  This will help when flying which often meant I couldn’t get the tracklog to work in the old process.  As a aside, the GPS allows the camera time to automatically update so no need to plug them in periodically to get the time synced up.

I can’t overlook the fact that the 1DX MkII is a full frame camera.  I was a little concerned about losing the crop factor I had on the MkIV.  Shooting aircraft sometimes makes the extra reach of the crop factor helpful.  The pixel density is a little below what it was before so I don’t have the virtual crop to play with.  However, so far I am finding that I am just shooting like normal based on what I see in the viewfinder.  We shall see if I notice the difference as I get to do a variety of shoots.

File size is a step up as a result of the higher pixel count.  This is resulting in a bit more effort for the computer when it is rendering the shots.  I can see a noticeable difference in the speed with which the 1:1 renderings get completed.  This is not yet causing a problem but I shall see whether a bottleneck develops.  I will also see how this impacts my backups.  I previously used to back up files in blocks of 1,000 per Blu-ray disc.  If there were no video or large edit files, the disc would have spare capacity.  Currently, it looks like I might still be able to do the same thing but with less margin.  Another thing to watch as experience is gained.

Battery life is officially down on the previous camera.  The increased processing power requires more juice from the batteries.  I have been on a couple of big shoots on consecutive days with many thousands of shots over the days without having gone through one battery.  If there is a reduction, it is certainly not causing me any operational concerns.

That summarizes everything I have identified so far.  I have a long way to go in learning to make good use of the camera but I have to say I am very happy with it so far.  It is a great piece of kit.  I have much to still try.  I have not even got in to the high ISO capabilities at this point.  This is something I want to play with before too long.  Longer days will make that a bit trickier but the opportunity will present itself.  When I do, anticipate a post on that too!  Overall, I love it.  Anyone want to buy a MkIV?

Yet More on the 100-400

Here is the latest update on the 100-400 saga.  As reported here, I got the 100-400 back from Canon and they had indeed found something wrong with it.  This was, as I noted then, a relief as I wasn’t imagining things or just not being able to use it properly (although that is still a real issue with my photography as a whole!).  However, until I had been able to get out and about and given the lens some significant use, I didn’t know whether I would really see the difference.

Now the jury is in.  I went out over the weekend and shot a lot of stuff in some nice conditions.  Over the last couple of days I have been going through the images from the shoot.  Let’s just say I have a very big grin on my face.  The problem I was seeing before is gone and now I am seeing some really nice image quality all across the frame when shooting wide open.  This is great news.  After having the lens for a year and feeling less than happy, it is like I have got something new to use.  I am a happy camper!  Expect some of the shots from this shoot to make their way on to here over the coming weeks.

Lightroom 4 Impressions

It is a little while now since I upgraded to Lightroom 4 from the previous version (I will let you fill in the name here!). There were a few aspects of the new version that made me want to upgrade and I had played with the public beta version when it first came out. Of course, having ongoing support and updates is always helpful so staying with the old version was never going to be likely and when they halved the price, no further thought was required.

Now I have been using it for a while, what do I think? Well, on the whole I am reasonably pleased with the changes. The new sliders in the Develop module seem to be an improvement on the previous develop version. I was pretty happy with the way it worked before so the changes had to sell themselves to me. They have modified the way I think about the development settings since I used to be able to use Exposure alone to bring back a sky and maintain the shadows. Now I have to consider the White and Highlight sliders a lot more. I am not convinced that Highlight does a lot. White seems to be far more effective in my new approach.  Similarly the shadows slider is now more important to me than the blacks which is a change.

Another issue is with converting previous develop settings. Since the change of sliders is significant, going to the new develop version tends to result in all sliders being reset to zero. This can turn a reasonable image into something far worse initially. Lightroom does not have a conversion algorithm to get you somewhere close. It is back to the beginning. Maybe this makes a lot more sense.

The Map capability is a big improvement for me. Canon cameras are not well designed for adding a geotagging capability so I have ignored it on the whole or experimented with Jeffrey Friedl’s plugin. This is a very user friendly method and I shall make use of it a lot more I think. I like the book creation capability but would welcome some other outlets getting in the game. I have used Blurb before and they are fine but I have liked Adoramapix and have contacted them to see if they will be making templates soon. Let’s hope so.

So, is there anything wrong? Oh yes! It is slow!! The Develop module is awful at the moment. I have a pretty capable system but the sliders we very slow to react. The real time view of what you are changing is not there yet. You pick a slider, hope that the mouse click has actually selected it and then move to where you think works and then wait to see what happens. Is this acceptable? Not at all. Am I annoyed? Yes I am. Is it the end of the world? Probably not. I seem to recall that Lightroom 3 had similar issues when it first came out and was slow. Adobe released some updates pretty quickly and it ended up being a great tool. I am not going to revert back and will manage the sluggishness until they come up with a fix. If they don’t, I may have to consider but I am not the only one having an issue so I suspect it will be dealt with in the coming weeks.  Turning off the second screen makes a substantial difference but is not very useful so hopefully that will be tweaked.  A release candidate for version 4.1 is out now so, while I won’t try it out, hopefully that means the formal release is pretty close.

One other thing I will tag on her and that is the arrival of the beta version of Photoshop CS6. When the beta was released, I was not sure I would bother to try it out just yet. Photoshop is still part of my workflow but, as Lightroom has become more capable, Photoshop has been used less often and for more specialized tasks. I could probably wait, or so I thought. However, I watched some of the demonstrations of new features online and liked some of what I saw, especially the video editing. Since I shoot mo video these days, having an alternative video editor rather than upgrading the package I have might be good. It does seem to have some good basic capabilities and that is all I do most of the time. What isn’t there at the moment is good bio integration with Lightroom. Version 4 has some video clip editing for end points. It would be good if you could send the video to Photoshop in the same way you can an image. Since it would then come back to the catalog when you had finished, it would help in managing everything. Now I finish an edit and I have to import it – if I remember. If they could allow you to take multiple clips and open them as layers (again like you can with images), that would be even better since that lines up with the way video editing is set up in Photoshop. I commented on this on the Lightroom blog but we shall see if they are already working on this.

In conclusion, I am pretty happy with the new Lightroom. With the price halved I am even happier not least because the Photoshop upgrade is obviously not far away. Now to see whether they can tweak it enough to fix the minor problems.