Monthly Archives: February 2013

Review of Canon 1DX

I recently had the opportunity to check out a Canon 1DX for a week.  I shot a couple of college basketball games with it and photographed some waterfowl at wildlife areas.  In short, it’s a very good camera.  Here are my basic conclusions.

1. Handling and operations: This camera feels great in your hand , albeit somewhat heavy.   The camera controls are laid out intuitively and anyone used to a 1D series will be be right at home.  Most necessary controls are selectable via buttons, with a couple of notable exceptions.  The older 1D cameras could change the picture quality setting via a button below the LCD.  That function has been removed in the 1DX.  Like all other Canon cameras, mirror lockup has to be accessed via a menu as well.  The other small flaw in the handling is that when using the vertical grip, it’s a little too easy to move the shutter speed setting while in manual mode, particularly annoying if you’re using a strobe.  Otherwise, this a tank that handles like a BMW.

2. Speed and performance: The 1DX is a blazing fast camera.  It can shoot at 12 FPS which is more than enough for sports and wildlife.  Aside from the full frame sensor, the autofocus system is the major update in the 1DX, and it is fantastic.  Once the camera locks on, it rarely loses focus.  It is amazing to see how many shots in a row the camera can take sharply in focus.  The camera gives the user 6 presets to choose from, varying the acquisition speed and other variables.  The one thing that isn’t perfect about the 1DX’s new focusing system is that it does not always lock on to focus instantaneously.  This is particularly true with small items such as ducks flying.  The camera failed to lock on even during a few sequences during a basketball game.  Overall, however, the performance of the autofocus system, even with a 400 f4 and 1.4 x converter, is truly amazing when compared to the previous models.

3. Image quality: Image quality is typical of Canon sensors.  The 1DX takes really sharp and contrasty files.   Its one big drawback is dynamic range.  Here in snowy Colorado this is something of an issue.  Expose for the sky, and the snow is whited out.  Expose for the snow, and sky is too dark.  This is mostly fixable in RAW processing but can present some issues.  I would also say that the 1DX underexposes slightly.  Color balance is great.

4. Battery life: At over 2000 shots per charge, battery life is excellent.

5. High ISO: Wow!  There is no issue with noise up through ISO 6400.   It is great for sports and low light portraits.

6. Comparison to 5DMKIII: The 5D is very comparable is many respects to the 1DX.  The focusing system on the 5D seems to acquire focus a little quicker but also loses focus more often.  That extra Digic processor is definitely doing something on the 1DX.  The 5D has a quieter shutter but isn’t in the same league speed wise.   The 1DX gives you more confidence that the shot won’t be missed. I read a post on another site that the 1DX doesn’t offer wildlife shooters any advantages.  I would disagree.  The ability to shoot 12 FPS and keep focus consistently locked on is a a definite advantage.  Image quality is very similar between the two cameras.  The 5D is good to about 4000 ISO as opposed to 6400 on the 1DX.  The 5D’s jpegs look better to my eye but there is virtually no difference when looking at RAW files.  The built-in vertical grip on the 1DX is nice but the extra bulk can be a disadvantage as well.  All in all, Canon has developed two really good cameras.

Posted in Camera and Equipment Reviews

Rigging a basketball remote

I rigged a remote today for the basketball game between Colorado State and New Mexico at Moby Arena. The remote was set up behind the basket attached to the old style basket support.  It gives a really unusual perspective for shots right around the rim.  I used a Magic Arm to mount the camera and used a 24-70 f 2.8 lens set to 35mm for the shots.  I set the f-stop to 4.  I focused on the bottom of the net which meant focus was just a little off for the off to the side of the rim.  It’s not quite the dramatic angle of looking down into the basket from remotes rigged on the backboard but still provided an interesting perspective.  Unfortunately, CSU lost the game.

Posted in Sports

Colorado Utah Basketball Photography

Colorado won at home again on Thursday.   The Buffs played a tough, physical game and came out on top against a less talented Utah team.  The game lacked the display of athleticism most of the other PAC-12 games have offered.  Let’s hope the Buffs can make the NCAA tournament.    The game was still interesting to photograph.  There were some great shots of defense.  I also rigged a remote camera in the catwalk.  Unfortunately, I used too close a frame and didn’t get much for usable photos.  I’ll use a 200 or 300mm lens next time instead of the 400mm.

Posted in Sports

Engagement Photos

Several years ago, it was common for people to order engagement photos and place a copy in the local newspaper.  As newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur, people ask me why why I still shoot engagement photos.  The answer is simple: it is the best opportunity to get to know your photographer and for he or she to get to know you prior to the wedding.  Think about it.  After a one hour portrait session, the bride and groom will know how the photographer approaches his or her craft.  The session will also give the photographer a chance to figure out what makes the couple relax, laugh, and most importantly, how to make them look good in a photo.   This is a great time to develop a relationship between the photographer and the bride and groom which in turn will make the wedding day go that much more smoothly.

Engagement photos can be used for several purposes.  First, while newspaper announcements are not common any longer, couples can post the photos to a Facebook page announcing their engagement or use it to send out formal “save the date” announcements.  The engagement photos also provide some great exposure for the couple and the photographer at the wedding.  Couples will often request a photo to be framed and signed at the reception table or for photos to be placed in the signature book.  Many couple even like their engagement photos so much that they order enlargements to be placed on the wall next to their wedding photos.

A couple's engagement photo session from Denver's City Park

I like shooting engagement photos outdoors.  The point is to relax the couple and have fun.  I think this works better outdoors rather than in a more formal indoor studio session.  Parks are a great choice for this purpose.

What happens if the couple is out of state?  See if they are coming in before the wedding to do any planning and arrange to shoot the photos then.  If not, check to see if by chance you are traveling to their home city in the near future.  Because I think engagement photos are so important, I include them free with the purchase of any wedding package.  So remember, don’t ignore the engagement photo session.

Posted in Weddings

Ducks

Photographed a wide variety of ducks at Hunter’s Glen Lake in Thornton.  I really like how many species there were to be found.  A lot of mergansers and ring-necked ducks you don’t ordinarily see around Denver.

Posted in Uncategorized