1DX review, comments and setup

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5 years 4 months ago #77394 by Doug
Doug created the topic: 1DX review, comments and setup
HI all.

I have had a chance to get to play with, customize and learn to use my new Canon 1DX. Having, for many years, successfully used a 1D MKIIN, the technology jump from a MKII to a 1DX was always going to be big.

For this reason, I struggled at first and was most certainly a little frustrated. Because of this, and the fact that many users say that the first week or two behind this impressive beast is a huge learning curve, I decided to share what I have experienced, my opinion of this new machine and how I have set it up with birds in mind.

First off I have to say that with the 1D MKIIN having been heralded by many as one of Canon's best cameras EVER, any replacement of that successful standard was always going to have a lot to live up to. The moment you pick it up you get the feeling of something both smoother and softer in the hands. This is quite impressive for a camera weighing over 100g more than the 1D MKIIN. Despite feeling so beautifully pleasurable to use, it has a feeling of build quality that is impressive. I joke to many who ask me about this camera... If I ever went camping and forgot a hammer, I could probably just used my 1DX to hammer in the tent pegs!!! There are more buttons on the back but the familiar buttons are in similar places so I did not find the extra buttons distracting in any way. Their functionality adds value rather than noise to this camera.

Colour and image quality
Not having the exact same physical lens to compare body for body it is difficult to say what is due to the camera only and what is due to the lens BUT... Compared to my 1D MKIIN... This combination of 1DX and 100-400 F4.5-5.6 is significantly sharper than my previous setup. I was also using a 100-400 on my MKIIN so it is difficult to say wether the sharpness is all down to the body or wether this is a sharper copy of the 100-400 but overall the results are impressive even with a mid range lens.
Rufous-naped Lark - Canon EOS 1DX and 100-400 F4.5-5.6 @ ISO 1250, 1/1250 and F7.1

Colour rendition is beautifully sweet and sharp. I read on some blogs and review sites that it was Canon's intention to get a film quality to the images from the 1DX? Wether this is true or not, the result are just sweet and colours really pleasing on the eye.

Highlight and lowlight recovery - Dynamic range
What is particularly impressive with this camera is the ability to recover both lowlights and highlights. This is of particular relevance to birders. How many of us have photographed a bird on an overcast day against a glaring grey sky. You normally get a blackish silhouette unless you use some fill flash... And when you try and recover the image with curves and such, the result are not that great at all.
Compared to the 1D MKIIN, this camera is a radical advancement. This transitional Red-collared Widowbird was photographed on just such a day. When I fiddled with curves and highlight / lowlight recovery the results were amazing. To see that much detail retained despite the awful lighting conditions is amazing.
Red-collared Widowbird - Canon EOS 1DX and 100-400 F4.5-5.6 @ ISO 1250, 1/2000 and F7.1

Chromatic aberration
So why would I mention this with regards a camera body? This is after all a function of lens optics and each lens is different....
Well the 1DX has automatic Chromatic aberration correction for a range of lenses built into the camera. If switched on and if the lens is recognized by the camera as having CA data stored in the camera.. it will correct automatically for you.
Chromatic aberration is best evident in high contrast situations when photographing up into the trees.
This African Olive Pigeon shows just how amazing the CA reduction on this camera is.
African Olive Pigeon - Canon EOS 1DX and 100-400 F4.5-5.6 @ ISO 1000, 1/250 and F6.3

So here is the million dollar question... What is the autofocus like....
Well I had the 1D MKIIN which has often been said to be Canon's best Autofocus system ever!!! So it had a lot to live up to...
Well... It is blisteringly fast, very accurate and impressively sharp BUT....
You have to set this camera up AND you have to take a week or so to get used to how the AF feels and works.
Make no bones about it, particularly if you have made a jump of several generations, you will struggle for a few days. Bear with it because it is jaw dropping once you get the feel for it. Also the AF on a 5.6 and in particular a zoom, is not as fast as on the really top lenses but it is so fast anyway that this is not a problem AT ALL.
Capped Wheatear - Canon EOS 1DX and 100-400 F4.5-5.6 @ ISO 1250, 1/1250 and F7.1

High ISO performance
The high ISO performance is spectacular. The ability, if correctly exposed, to shoot at ISO 4800 or even 6400 without too much concern for noise takes this camera where no camera has been before!!!
The fact that you can shoot this at ISO 25600 handheld with no flash!!! SAY NO MORE!!!
Canon EOS 1DX and 100-400 F4.5-5.6 @ ISO 25600, 1/8 and F4.5

So the million dollar question is... how do you set this thing up for birds???
There are many good resources that explain in detail how the AF system works and they are well worth a read, not least of all Canon's own AF system guide.

As to how I setup my camera, I will go through the settings I have changed and why.

The very first thing to do is set the camera to Adobe RGB colour space. As this is a publishing standard and has more colour depth, it is best to have all your photos in Adobe RGB.

While you are about it, the camera, out of the box, is set to JPG. Change this to RAW.

For me, I may well want to shoot video footage quickly without having to fiddle with menus. The default live view setting is for stills, not video. Change this to video so that you can quickly launch video with two buttons without having to fiddle in menus.

Now there is the small matter of the various AF "Cases". I find Case 6 the best for birds in general although Case 2 is good for birds in bushes etc where branches and leaves may get in the way.

Next is the EOS iTR AF. This is Canon's smart AF software that does things like face recognition and looks for significant areas of colour to focus on. Whilst this is a VERY impressive system for people and other types of photography, I find it sometimes interferes when photographing birds. I find this is best left off in such cases.

Next I prefer to link the exposure metering point to the current Active AF point. For me this is a setting I prefer but you may feel otherwise.

Now for customizing the buttons...

I prefer to remove AF from the shutter button, typical called back button focusing.

Also I set the quick dial (the big dial on the back of the camera) to ISO so that I can quickly change ISO on the fly as needed.

And finally I set the joystick on the back of the camera to AF selection. This way, with the camera set to Zone (middle six points) I can switch zones using the joystick on the back of the camera without taking my eye of the view finder.

And the final part of my setup is to add some menu functions to "My menu" so things like individual AF settings are quickly accessible via one place although it is important to read the AF guide to understand changing these individual settings rather than using one of the AF "cases".

Finally I default to AV (Aperture priority) mode and default to ISO 1600 and F7.1

Happy shooting and hope you enjoy as much as I am starting to.

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5 years 4 months ago #77435 by mossie
mossie replied the topic: Re: 1DX review, comments and setup
I like the ....

default to ISO 1600

<!-- s:shock: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_eek.gif" alt=":shock:" title="Shocked" /><!-- s:shock: --> <!-- s:spin: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/spin.gif" alt=":spin:" title="Spinning" /><!-- s:spin: -->

Perhaps I should trade in my 7D for 1DX. <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: -->

Seriously, thanks for doing the pioneering work work for the rest of us.

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5 years 4 months ago #77438 by Doug
Doug replied the topic: 1DX review, comments and setup
Mossie. The reason I default to ISO 1600 is even iSO 4800 and ISO 6400 is still fine as long as you expose properly. Heck ISO 10200 is just fine :)

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5 years 4 months ago #77735 by mossie
mossie replied the topic: Re: 1DX review, comments and setup
I believe ISO 1000 is the new ISO 100.

That must make a huge difference to be able to take stills and still have enough shuttter speed to catch the movement without changing a setting.

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