by Ray Taggart
After much anticipation, I finally received Canon’s newest high end DSLR, the 1DX, just in time for the US Women’s Soccer match, their final match before the Olympics. This was going to be a great test for this new twice delayed bad boy. Literally just minutes before I had to leave for the game, Fed-Ex arrived with camera in hand. I had a battery charged in case it showed up in time, so I rushed to open the box, threw on a lens, took 4 or 5 shots to make sure it worked, and off I went. Once I arrived at the stadium I got all my regular gear set up. That gave me just a couple of minutes to set up the “X”. Because I was familiar with Canon’s new 5D Mark III, a lot of the menu setup was the same. Once in the menu system, I made the following changes:
Shoot 2 menu:
JPEG Quality – 10
Shoot 3 menu:
Image review – off
Release shutter without card – off
Auto Focus – Case 5 (for erratic movement) and I moved the tracking sensitivity down 1
Selectable AF points – only cross type
Orientation linked AF point – separate AF points
My camera settings were:
-Auto white balance (kick off was high noon, and not a cloud in the sky)
-ISO – 320 (allowed me to shoot at f/5.6 rather than the normal f/2.8 and keep my shutter speed to around 1200th)
-AF – AI Servo
-Metering – pattern
-Frame rate – high speed
-Lens choice – Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II (sweet)
… no more fiddling around, it’s time to shoot. And shoot I did. I had 3 cameras at the game, and I let my good friend, and great photographer, George Frey try the camera for about 20 minutes during the first half. I took about 1200 pictures at the game and just over 400 with the 1DX. Out of 1200 pictures I used 49. Of the 49 total keepers, 21 were from the 1DX.
The first thing I noticed was how fast the 1DX seemed to focus. Since I was switching between 2 cameras, the other one (not a 1DX) had a 400mm, there are a lot of times you really have to aim, focus and fire in a hurry. In the past with older cameras, sometimes the first shot or two in a rapid sequence of shots wasn’t sharp. But as I scanned through the shots I was pleasantly surprised with what I was getting. There were a lot of sequences where every shot was sharp … really impressive. As the game went on I got more comfortable and concentrated on getting good shots. At one point after some great action in front of the goal, I thought to myself “this camera is fast…. if focuses fast, and shoots fast. I can’t wait to see what I get”
The camera was comfortable, and switching between vertical and horizontal shooting was easy. But it will take a little adjustment to get used to the three buttons under my thumb (AF, AE lock,AF point selection) because they are in slightly different locations from vertical to horizontal. The multi-controller was the same in both positions and feels firm and is easy to control.
The other thing I noticed was I wasn’t getting big swings in my exposure. Sometime shooting at mid day where there are strong highlights and dark shadows in the stadium, I see more bad exposures than I like, but with the 1DX I saw very little of that.
The image quality is great. I did notice that the colors right out of the camera seemed very accurate. Almost to a fault. I tend to like my colors just a little more punchy, so for the next game I’m going to try taking the saturation up just 1 notch. (shoot 1 menu, picture style)
The other thing I noticed was now I’m shooting a full frame sensor not my trusted Mark IV with a 1.3x sensor. So my Field of View is slightly different from what I’m used to. I’m sure it won’t take long to get used to that. I can’t wait to get my 400mm f/2.8L IS lens back and give it a go. The 400mm is my favorite soccer lens, and on the “X” I think it will ROCK! I let a friend take mine to Longyearbyen to photograph polar bears.
My conclusions after shooting for one game. This camera is a keeper! It’s fast. The menu system is greatly improved. The metering is great. Image quality is great. I like shooting a pro sized body. It’s a little heavy but it feels good in my hand. Other than the price ($6799) What’s not to like.
Here’s a link to a great Canon PDF document that explains in detail all about setting the AF
I’ll be using the camera at the Real Salt Lake game on the 4th of July, and Lisa from the store also did some things with it. We’ll update this with some more images in a few days.