Sunday, 30 November 2008

EOS 1D - Very quick first impressions

It arrived a few days ago, so I haven't really had time to shoot with it (other that to 'set it up' for my shooting style and fire a couple of quick tests to see that it is all working as it should). Luckily - but hopefully not surprisingly - it is (working as it should).

First impressions are one of solidity - of course this is a very solid 1.4kg+ camera. And it feels it in the hand. But then again, not intimidatingly so. It's heavy, without being oppressive. It's definitely a Canon EOS, and therefore very easy to find your way around if you have come from that stable with any previous EOS camera (like the film 1 series or the 5D etc). What did throw me slightly, however, and something that took me about 5 minutes to get my head around, was the way the menu system works.

With other Canon digitals I have used, you press the menu button, choose a category with the fly wheel, and press 'SET' to enter it into the camera. It's a two step process, but it works well and is fairly intuitive. With the EOS 1D, you press the menu button and use the fly wheel to get to the correct sub menu, then you hold the 'SELECT' button down while using the fly wheel to highlight your choice in green, and then when you let go of the SELECT button your choice is set. This makes it a three step process, but it does mean that nothing can get changed 'accidentally' and this is presumably why the 'professional' cameras are controlled in this way?

I don't like it - or hate it. It's just different. It does mean I have to 'remember' a different way for each camera (the 1D and 5D), but largely they will both be set up to go anyway. As I said, it took me all of 5 minutes to figure it out (no, I didn't read the manual beforehand), and I suppose the more I use it, the more 'used to it' I will become.

This is a shot I took of my daughter - one of the first from the camera. Shot with a 50mm f1.8 (at f2.8) with late evening light coming through our kitchen window. Even though it's 'only' 4 megapixels, I reckon this would make a very sharp 11x16" print - so I'm more than happy with it for wedding work.

A couple of other things to mention with the 1D - first: it's NOT full-frame, so you need to multiply the lens focal length by x1.3 (which makes my 50mm f1.8 prime lens a 65mm f1.8 on the 1D), and second: it only takes CF cards up to 2Gig. With a 2Gig card and the camera set to RAW only, I can get about 400 photos. Not great, but probably OK considering I have heaps of cards for the 5D.

Anyway, that's first impressions. I'll shoot with it some more in the next few weeks, and confirm or deny what I've already written thus far. I'm off to take some photos.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

EOS 1D - I weakened...

So I've got this EOS 1N film camera, right. And it's a back-up for my wedding kit if the 5D and 10D fail, right. Only I didn't take it with me to the last wedding I shot - did I. I used the 5D and 10D instead. Only the 10D annoyed me because it was so slow at reviewing after the shot has been taken. It bugged me. I wished it was my 1N. Except I wished the 1N was digital and not film. See where this is going...?

You know where it's going. Although this time, rather than go looking for one, I had a 1D offered to me by a guy who replied to an unrelated auction (for some CDs) I was running on Trademe (NZs equivalent of Ebay). He 'made me an offer I couldn't refuse' and so, to cut a long story short, my 1D should be arriving early next week.

If you can see a pattern emerging here, then you're right. Since starting this blog I've gone through a 30D, Pentax 645, Canon EOS 1N, 10D and now the EOS 1D. All in about the space of a year. What does this say about me? Well, the cynical might say that I can't make up my mind and go through cameras like some hollywood actresses go through husbands. Mmmm... Maybe.

The more astute amongst you, however, might think that I've embarked upon a great search to get together 'my' ultimate kit and, as the saying goes, you have to break a few eggs if you want to make an omelet.

Am I there yet...? Probably not. I'm there with the 5D, for certain. It has everything I want in my main wedding body, and nothing I don't. The new 5D Mark II doesn't interest me in the slightest. Sensor cleaning would be nice, but other than that I don't want (or need) more megapixels, I certainly don't want HD video, and I certainly don't need Live View on my Digital SLR's.

Will I be there with the 1D then? Maybe. It'll be fast enough, of that I have no doubt. And it will certainly be rugged enough. It's 'only' 4.5 megapixels, but that should be enough for wedding albums and prints up to 11x16 (and probably slightly beyond) considering I do most of my cropping 'in camera'.

One of the camera's most compelling reviews for me was one written by Dennis Reggie, one of the greatest Wedding Photographers on the planet, and the 'father' of the modern photojournalism style we are all shooting in. He was given a pre-release 1D back in 2001 and spoke glowingly of the camera, using it in 4 weddings before having to hand it back to Canon. Not long after he bought three for himself! If it's good enough for Dennis, it's good enough for me.

Now granted, that was 6 years ago (such a long time in digital camera history), and Canon have gone on to 'better' the 1D with a Mark II and Mark III version. Faster processing, bigger buffers, more megapixels, full frame, live view, sensor cleaning... the 'upgrade' list goes on. But as an 'entry' into Canon's professional digital EOS 1 series, I'm willing to bet that the 1D is still a kick-ass camera.

I will give another report once the camera has arrived and I've had a chance to 'play' with it a bit. One things for certain though, it will be a heavy beast - a real shoulder cruncher. I'd better go and find those dumbells and start working up the old arm muscles then.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Leisha & Ross 01/11/08

Shot my first wedding for the season last weekend and surprise, surprise, it didn't rain - it poured! I haven't done a wedding for a couple of seasons, and this was my first out on my own, so my worst fears were realised when I awoke Saturday morning to torrential rain, with no sign of a let-up. Bummer!

The original plan was an outside wedding (yeah right) on a cliff overlooking the beautiful coastline, with bridal party shots on the beach. So with that out of the way, it was on to 'Plan B'.

Unfortunately plan B meant shooting everything inside, mainly with on-camera flash (which I don't 'love' as a rule), in cramped little spaces. And this is with a wedding party of 12!

The image above of Leisha (the gorgeous bride), taken while she was getting ready, was shot with the Canon 10D and 50mm f1.8 (taken at f2.8). It was shot looking down a tiny hallway, with Leisha placed in the middle, looking up into one of those small tungsten recessed lights that are popular in modern households now. The light is warm, contrasty and harsh - and has been softened slightly with a soft-focus blur applied later on in Photoshop. It's an example of an image I would never have taken if it had been an outside wedding on a sunny day, but it's also an example of an image that I pre-visualised and took knowing that I could make something out of it later on.

Despite the mornings torrent of rain, it did actually clear for the afternoon (thank goodness), so we were able to go out and take the bridal party photos outside. The lighting was very flat, and it was cold and windy, but at least it was outside - and not raining! Leisha and Ross were great about it though, and were naturals in front of the camera. This shot of them together was taken on my Canon 5D with the 70-200mm f4 'L' lens on f4.

I'd never shot a wedding party of 12 before, and it was as challenging as it sounds! No sooner would you get one couple placed where you wanted, you would turn around to place another couple only to find that the first couple had then moved! It was an exercise in diplomacy and patience, in very cold, windy and trying conditions - but fortunately I managed to pull it off enough times that I think Leisha and Ross will be happy with the final results. The Bridal party image above was taken using the 5D with 17-40mm f4 'L' lens on f5.6. The sky has been 'burnt in' later in photoshop, with a slight vignette added to draw attention to the group.

The pancake rocks at Punakaiki were a great place to take wedding photos, especially with such a large bridal party. Next time though, I'd like it to be slightly warmer, with no wind, or rain (hey, I don't want much).

All in all it was a very stressful, yet very successful day. I'm happy with what I produced for my clients under the circumstances, and I think they will be too?