First a little bit of the back story: I have always traveled with two cameras on my trips, a primary and backup camera. They tend to get pretty banged up over time as I expect them to be tough workhorses. Over the last 3 years, the 1Dmk4 has stood up to a lot and survived superbly, my 5Dmk2 has not done as well and needed replacing. In addition, I was never really happy with the noise levels with the 5Dmk2 at high ISO’s. My initial plan was to replace it with the 5Dmk3, but while on a recent trip to the Arctic, I got to see the 1Dx in action and after chatting to the photographer about it, I decided that it would be right investment.
When I opened the big black box and pulled the camera out, the first impression was simply that it looked and felt like my 1Dmk4, it even has a similar battery so that meant taking one less charger on trips. There were some small external differences with a few new buttons especially an additional toggle button on the vertical grip for focus point selection. This is a big win for me as I move focus points around a lot whilst shooting and boy there are many new focus points (61 in total).
The camera’s help menu has changed quite a bit and I am still getting to terms with the newest additions to customising the much talked about auto focus (AF) capabilities.
I quickly set up as many of the functions as I could that were the same as the 1Dmk4 as this was the minimum that I would accept. I will have to spend alot more time playing with the new AF configuration tool which has 6 standard AF scenes that you can use and customise.
The perfect late autumn day arrived and I decided to head to my local patch – Bushy Park. I didn’t have any real plans or pre-meditated shots that I wanted to shoot, I simply wanted to run through all the lenses to check that everything functioned properly as I am off to chase some Rhino in South Africa in Dec.
It was just below zero degrees at 7am when I arrived and with the scheduled sunrise expected at 7:23 am, I had some time to look for some deer to start off with. There was a lovely mist lying across the ponds and frosty dead bracken, so I started on the shorter lenses doing with some Landscape photography (at which I am clearly a novice). The sun rose and I managed to get some decent silhouette photos as a few fallow deer decided to have a fight.
With the sun getting higher and the mist gone, I wanted to give the auto focus a burst with the 500mm lens and moved into a position I have found that combines the sun behind me with the flight path across the front of the lens. Ideal for bird flight photography. No sooner had I set up than a few Black-headed Gulls decided to circle and fly past. I locked the focus onto one of the birds instantly and let rip with the new 12 frames per second. I took 20 photos in the sequence as the gull flew by with ever changing background – The lock on was super fast and the camera kept the focus for the duration of the sequence (when I got home and uploaded the photos – all but 2 of the photos were pin sharp)
To say I am amazed is an understatement – I am still smiling as I pen this…
- AF is super fast to lock on and maintains the lock with distracting background (still much to re-learn)
- Low noise at high ISO levels – I only needed to go to 4000 but will push this at another opportunity
- Need to update firmware to use the 2x conv properly
- Continuous shooting is so fast it is a little trickier just to squeeze off two or three frames. Not a bad thing though
- Will miss the crop factor for bird photography