Category Archives: Tips For Photographers

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV: Up to the Task… and Then Some!

For those photographers who need to work in venues with less-than-ideal lighting AND who already have a substantial investment in Canon glass, listen up… ’cause Canon got it right with it’s latest pro-level DSLR, the EOS 1D Mark IV.

Since 2004, many of the images posted in our online proofing galleries and more recently here on our blog — especially our sports images — have been captured with Canon’s EOS 1D Mark II cameras coupled with the company’s EF 300mm and 400mm F2.8L IS lenses. That winning combination of camera body and super-telephoto lenses has resulted in fantastic images for our clients during this time. But truth be told, we’ve always felt that photographing evening events in the typical high school sports venue was just about pushing the limits of 1D Mark II-series technology. In fact, we’ve been relatively fortunate that one of the local sports venues, War Memorial Field in Doylestown, has relatively “decent” lighting (for nighttime photography) as compared to the lighting levels found in most high school stadiums today. Certainly not on par with pro-level sports stadiums around the country, but definitely a notch above most high school fields. We would always strive to obtain exposures with an action-stopping 1/500 sec shutter speed at f/2.8 — although sometimes that required images be underexposed — even at ISO 1600 — by as much as one full stop (which we later “fixed” during post-processing). So yes… photographing evening sports events under less-than-optimum, existing-light conditions with the 1D Mark II was often a challenge from time to time.

Fast-forward to Spring 2010… and the availability of Canon’s EOS 1D Mark IV. We’ve been capturing images at select events with this camera for just over 1 month now — some daytime, but mostly nighttime. And to date, we’ve been extremely pleased with the image quality coming out of this camera. Files contain roughly twice the resolution of those images from our 1D Mark II cameras — which has the added bonus of being able to crop in tighter on some images with plenty of resolution left for presenting stunning enlargements to clients. But the real game-changer has been the camera’s dramatically improved image quality at higher ISO settings — resulting in much cleaner (i.e., “less noisy”) images straight-out-of-camera.

Yes… we still occasionally employ a quick pass of Noise Ninja in post-processing, since we’re often capturing images in RAW mode. But we find we don’t necessarily need that step as often as we did when using the 1D Mark II. Noise-reduction in post was a required step with most 1D Mark II images captured at or above ISO 800… and we seldom even “wanted” to capture images at the camera’s highest ISO setting of 3200, since even a pass of Noise Ninja wasn’t always able to clean up an often-murky, low-light 1D Mark II image captured at ISO 3200. With the Mark IV however, it’s a different story (thankfully). And we’re finding that we don’t even think about noise-reduction of our RAW images in post unless we’re processing images captured at ISO 2500+, and even images captured at ISO 6400 through ISO 12800 (the camera’s top native ISO setting) clean up quite nicely with Noise Ninja when necessary.

Here are some sample images captured with our 1D Mark IV recently. The RAW files were processed using Apple’s Aperture V3 along with a quick pass of Noise Ninja. The images have been resized to 900 x 600 pixels for our blog:

[caption id="attachment_2133" align="aligncenter" width="900" caption="Canon EOS 1D Mark IV: 1/500 sec @ f/2.8; ISO 3200; Canon EF 400mm F2.8L IS lens"]CB East LAX vs Council Rock North[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2136" align="aligncenter" width="900" caption="Canon EOS 1D Mark IV: 1/500 sec @ f/2.8; ISO 3200; Canon EF 400mm F2.8L IS lens"]CB East LAX vs Council Rock North -- April 7, 2010[/caption]

And here’s where we break into completely new territory with higher ISO settings that not only allow higher shutter speeds at a given lens aperture, but also open the possibility of using the 1.4X telephoto extender at night with the 400mm F2.8L lens — something we couldn’t even think of doing with the 1D Mark II in low-light environments.

[caption id="attachment_2137" align="aligncenter" width="900" caption="Canon EOS 1D Mark IV: 1/500 sec @ f/4; ISO 8000; Canon EF 400mm F2.8L IS lens with 1.4X extender (560mm)"]CB East LAX vs Council Rock North[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2138" align="aligncenter" width="900" caption="Canon EOS 1D Mark IV: 1/500 sec @ f/4; ISO 8000; Canon EF 400mm F2.8L IS lens with 1.4X extender (560mm)"]CB East LAX vs Council Rock North -- April 7, 2010[/caption]

Do we still use our 1D Mark II cameras?  Absolutely!  They’ve served us well for nearly 6 years now — only needing the usual maintenance checks along with new shutters in their 4th year; and they still produce a dynamite image (see the softball image below) that wow’s our clients when we produce wall-sized posters and canvas products.

[caption id="attachment_2145" align="aligncenter" width="900" caption="Canon EOS 1D Mark II: 1/1600 sec @ f/2.8; +1/3ev; ISO 200; Canon EF 300mm F2.8L IS lens"]CB East Softball vs Nazareth Academy -- April 14, 2010[/caption]

Although we much prefer the operational esthetics of the Mark IV to its older Mark II predecessor, our Mark IV almost seems “too new” to bring out into the dusty softball and baseball field environments that typically host daytime events anyway, where the 1D Mark II does just fine.  So for now, we have different tools for different needs.  And there’s nothing wrong with that strategy — as long as you remember which camera you’re using at the moment (which takes a little practice).

For the record, we did evaluate the 1D Mark III twice last year through the Canon Professional Services loaner program, and found the camera to be quite suitable for our needs.  But considering the Mark III’s initial history with auto-focus issues PLUS the fact that the newer Mark IV was due to be announced shortly with HD video capability, we decided to hold out for the Mark IV.  Needless to say, we’re glad we waited… and our sports, portrait and wedding clients will be the beneficiary of more great images — both the still-image variety immediately, as well as some select motion-images down the road.  Stay tuned!!!

View full post »

O n l i n e   P r o o f i n g
R e c e n t   T r a f f i c