Canon BG-E11 Battery Grip for EOS 5D Mark III

Canon BG-E11 Battery Grip for EOS 5D Mark III

I picked up my new Canon BG-E11 Battery Grip for my 5D Mark III yesterday, so I thought I’ve give you a quick run-down on this new piece of gear in photos.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the BG-E11 now loads the two LP-E6 batteries via a magazine. It will take slightly longer to change batteries I imagine, but I like this design. It feels very similar to changing batteries on my 1 Series bodies.

BG-E11 Battery Grip

BG-E11 Battery Grip

The AA Battery Magazine has also been redesigned to load through the end of the battery grip like the LP-E2 magazine. You put four AA batteries in the top, and two in the bottom of the magazine. I loaded six Eneloop rechargeable batteries and although I only shot a few frames, the frame rate seemed comparable to what I get with the LP-E6 batteries. I rarely use this option, but Canon also provides a nice little pouch for the second magazine, so it’s certainly something to consider.

BG-E11 Battery Magazine

BG-E11 Battery Magazine

Instead of a slot to clip the battery compartment cover into, it now clips into the battery grip in the same way that it attaches to the base of the camera, then you swing it around and it clips into place against the battery grip.

BG-E11 Battery Comparment Cover Holder

BG-E11 Battery Comparment Cover Holder

Slide the LP-E6 Battery Magazine into the Battery Grip, and turn the release handle to lock it in place.

BG-E11 Battery Grip

BG-E11 Battery Grip

Attached to the base of the camera, the BG-E11 makes the camera feel much more substantial, especially for people with relatively large hands. Of course, you get double the battery life before you have to switch them out like this too.

BG-E11 Battery Grip

BG-E11 Battery Grip

The BG-E11 Battery Grip has all the controls that you use for horizontal/landscape aspect shooting available for vertical/portrait shooting, including the new M-fn button next to the shutter release button and the Multi-controller on the back of the grip.

BG-E11 Battery Grip

BG-E11 Battery Grip

Here’s a straight on view in horizontal mode.

BG-E11 Battery Grip - Horizontal Position

BG-E11 Battery Grip – Horizontal Position

And to save you cranking your neck around, here’s the vertical mode. The Multi-controller is slightly further away in vertical mode than horizontal mode

BG-E11 Battery Grip - Vertical Position

BG-E11 Battery Grip – Vertical Position

Ergonomically the BG-E11 extends the camera to make vertical shooting much more comfortable than the 5D Mark III without the grip. I usually buy the two together, and my 1 Series EOS bodies have this built in, so I haven’t used a camera without a battery grip for a long time. It was a slightly awkward couple of months waiting for this little welcome addition.

BG-E11 Battery Grip

BG-E11 Battery Grip

The form of the BG-E11 hugs the rounded bottom of the camera perfectly.

BG-E11 Battery Grip on 5D Mark III

BG-E11 Battery Grip on 5D Mark III

If you are planning to pick up a BG-E11 from B&H, please use this affiliate link below to support our efforts here at MBP. The products cost you no more than usual, but we get a small commission payment. Thank you!


5D Mark III:


Podcast 328 : Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital SLR Review

Podcast 328 : Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital SLR Review

Last week I picked up my Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital SLR camera on the day of the launch, and I took some lenses, a fully charged battery and a CF card with me to Shinjuku, so that I could start using the camera right away. A Starbucks lunch with a table gave me enough time and a place to set up the camera and take a quick run through the menus, making sure I was shooting RAW etc, and I was ready to go.

I went to the Shinjuku Gyoen Park, where I knew the Kanzakura, a type of early flowering cherry blossom, were in bloom, and this always attracts some birds which would be a good test of the new Auto-Focus, as well as high ISO capabilities, as it wasn’t a particularly bright day. I’d been hoping for White Eyes, but when I got there I found a flock of Brown-eared Bulbuls at the main Kanzakura tree, so I set in to see how the 5D Mark III handled.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

I posted the first couple of shots that we’ll look at today on my blog last week, so you may have already seen them, but lets take a look at these first, so show you how sharp the sensor is, and at high ISO’s too. Ensure that you have your browser window nice and wide, and click on the the images to view them at the full size that I posted them in, to really see the full detail.

First, here’s one of my favorite shots from the day, of the Bulbul just taking off, with a couple of blossom petals falling. This is straight out of the camera, shot handheld with a 300mm F2.8 lens and the 1.4X Extender III fitted, and using ISO 400 for 1/1000 of a second at f/5.6. Note too that this was the second of the only two shots that I was able to get as I saw the bird start to spread its wings. Had it not been for the faster frame rate of six frames per second, I’d have missed this shot.

Brown-Eared Bulbul Takes Flight

Shot with the new Canon EOS 5D Mark III – There’s about a 3% crop on the top and right side of this, for artistic reasons, but that’s all I’ve done to this image.

Here though, is a 100% crop (if viewed with the browser window wide enough) showing just the birds head and some of the blossom. You can see that the focus is spot on, right over the head, beak and extending down to the eyes, which is exactly what I wanted. And the sharpness is amazing. Of course, that was always a given but it’s nice to see such great image quality.

Browned-Eared Bulbul Takes Flight 100% Crop

Browned-Eared Bulbul Takes Flight 100% Crop

Just to be sure you know what I mean by straight out of camera here, for these first few images I had downloaded the Release Candidate of Adobe Camera RAW 6.7 which has support for the 5D Mark III and 1D X already. So basically these photos do have the default settings for the latest Adobe Camera RAW applied, but I have not applied any noise reduction at all. Also note that I cropped the full version of this image by about 3% along the top and right side, to clean up the right edge a bit, but that’s all I did.

5D Mark III Support in Lightroom

I did try to use Digital Photo Professional and ImageBrowser EX, that come with the camera, but that just confirmed my belief that Canon should stick to making great cameras. After confirming that Adobe’s Bridge and Photoshop combination is only slightly less painful, I found that if I convert my RAW files to DNG using the ACR 6.7 DNG Converter (also still Release Candidate as of March 27, 2012) I can then import and edit my images in Lightroom 4, which was such a relief.

Camera Controlled Exposure

Anyway, let’s get back to my first day’s photos. Although you probably know I shoot pretty much exclusively in Manual exposure mode, I was moving from shooting the birds on the outside of the tree, to going under the tree and shooting up at the birds, and there was much less light under the tree than on the top. This did of course mean that I had more backlight when under the tree, but I found it easier to deal with that with Exposure Compensation than a Manual Exposure adjustment. I know this is very different to my shooting techniques so far, but I was also trying to get a feel for the new brain in this camera, and it worked out pretty well.

For the last shot, I’d already started to try Aperture Priority, but I found myself constantly checking to ensure that I was getting a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the birds motion. Although I like a bit of wing movement in my bird shots, these Bulbuls move so fast that to keep their heads sharp too I needed to keep my shutter speed at 1/1000 of a second. Because of that though, I decided to also try Shutter Priority, setting the shutter speed to 1/1000 of a second, but I also took another leap of faith at this point, which was Auto ISO.

Although some of my recent cameras have had Auto ISO, I’ve didn’t feel comfortable using it because I otherwise shot in Manual, and allowing the camera to make decisions about the exposure would have taken control out of my hands. Now though, using Aperture and Shutter Priority, I figured I might as well take another leap of faith, and give the camera maximum flexibility in exposure, beyond changing the aperture or shutter speed, so I flicked the camera into Auto ISO mode too.

This resulted in the next image being shot at ISO 2000 with a shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second at f/4.5, and I have to tell you, I was very impressed. Although I couldn’t reproduce the high grain on my 1Ds Mark III in my tests over the last few days, at least from my experience in the field, this images seems about as clean as ISO 400 on my 1Ds Mark III, and probably comparable to ISO 640-ish, on my old 5D Mark II.

Brown-eared Bulbul at ISO 2000

Brown-eared Bulbul at ISO 2000

And here’s a 100% crop of the bird’s face. You can see that I nailed the focus on the bird’s eye again, and that was hand-held, at 420mm, with an aperture of f/4.5, so incredibly shallow depth of field.

Brown-eared Bulbul at ISO 2000 - 100% Crop

Brown-eared Bulbul at ISO 2000 – 100% Crop

I used a mix of AI Servo and One Shot auto-focus, but because I was shooting under a tree with lots of branches everywhere, it was mostly One Shot on this day, but I’ve got to tell you, I really believe that the new auto-focus system on the 5D is worth the cost of the upgrade all by itself. Almost all of the 500+ frames I shot of these birds on my first day were tack sharp, right where I wanted the focus to be. The hit ratio over the 5D Mark II is greatly improved, and it’s even better so far compared to the 1D Mark IV, which was a huge improvement over previous cameras at the time too.

Before we move on though, just to reiterate, this image (above) was shot at ISO 2000, and just look how clean it is.

How High Can You Go?

So, over the last few days, I’ve been testing the 5D Mark III in my studio, to see just how high you can safely go with the ISO before you have to start to worry about the grain. I’ll show you some example photos right after this, but to cut to the chase, I’m thinking that I can use as high as ISO 12800 without thinking about the noise at all. ISO 1600 is the new ISO 400, and ISO 6400 is the new ISO 800, of course this depends on what camera you’ve been shooting with so far, but this is how I’ve mentally remapped the new ISO to Image Quality.

With the 5D Mark II and 1D Mark IV, in low light, I would go down to ISO 1600 without worrying too much, although I’d go further if necessary. My mental limit though was 1600, but now with the 5D Mark III that point where you think for a moment, will probably be when I go past ISO 12800. When I really need to push it, I’ll still go to 25600, which is where Canon set the defaults for this camera, and depending on how I intend to use the image, I’d even 51200 if necessary.

Expanded ISO

If you want to, you can set the camera to allow you to select two Expanded ISOs, H1 and H2, which are equivalent to ISOs 51200 and 102400. I think the point that Canon set the defaults is spot on, because the image degrades quite a lot at these ISOs, but still, if you are really in need of an extra stop, H1, ISO 51200 is just about usable, especially if you are shooting for the Web or printing relatively small.  ISO 102400 is probably to be avoided, but again, if a UFO lands on your lawn, and they don’t light everything up for you, then use it, and try to clean the image up later in Lightroom.

ISO Examples

OK, so let’s take a look at some photos shot through the entire ISO range. First, here are twelve shots in one stop increments from ISO 50 to ISO 102400. These have been reduced to a height of 853px for the Web, but this shows that for Web use, you can really tell no difference in the quality of the image until you reach into the Expanded ISO Range, with the two images at 51200 and 102400 at the end. Click on the first thumbnail to view the image larger, and then click the right of the image or use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move through the images.

ISO 50

ISO 50

ISO 100

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 6400

ISO 12800

ISO 12800

ISO 25600

ISO 25600

ISO 51200

ISO 51200

ISO 102400

ISO 102400

Pretty impressive huh!? Let’s take a look a 100% crop from the above images to see how the grain really looks.

ISO 50 - 100% Crop

ISO 50 – 100%

ISO 100 - 100% Crop

ISO 100 – 100%

ISO 200 - 100% Crop

ISO 200 – 100%

ISO 400 - 100% Crop

ISO 400 – 100%

ISO 800 - 100% Crop

ISO 800 – 100%

ISO 1600 - 100% Crop

ISO 1600 – 100%

ISO 3200 - 100% Crop

ISO 3200 – 100%

ISO 6400 - 100% Crop

ISO 6400 – 100%

ISO 12800 - 100% Crop

ISO 12800 – 100%

ISO 25600 - 100% Crop

ISO 25600 – 100%

ISO 51200 - 100% Crop

ISO 51200 – 100%

ISO 102400 - 100% Crop

ISO 102400 – 100%

Following on from the Web sized images, these do show more grain than you might have hoped in the higher ISOs, but realistically, I still think this is pretty impressive, especially when you consider just high these ISOs are. I think you’ll agree that 12800 is almost a no-brainer, with 25600 still really quite usable and even 51200 still in the running at a push.

More on Auto ISO

So, as I said, although I know people have been using this for a while, I believe this now makes Auto ISO something that I myself will be using more moving forward, so I just wanted to note a few things with regards to the Auto ISO settings.

You might be wondering how the camera makes a decision to increase the ISO over reducing shutter speed, but you’ll be pleased to know that this is quite intelligent, and you have some control over the decision too. Firstly, you’re able to set the minimum shutter speed that you’ll go to before the camera starts to crank the ISO.

If you are in Manual mode, where you set the aperture and shutter speed, Auto ISO will adjust itself to put exposure at where the camera thinks it should be with the exposure compensation caret at zero. In Aperture Priority, or Shutter Priority, you can use Exposure Compensation as well, to increase or decrease the Exposure.

If you’ve set the Minimum Shutter Speed to Auto, the camera cleverly uses the focal length of the lens fitted, including zoom lenses, as the minimum shutter speed. This is of course automating use of the popular rule of thumb regarding shutter speeds, which makes this really quite a useful setting. For example when I have my 50mm lens fitted, shooting in low light, the camera will drop down to 1/50 and sometimes 1/40 of a second, and increase the ISO rather than going slower, until I hit the maximum ISO that I specified in the Auto ISO Range. Once I hit the maximum ISO, the shutter speed will start to drop below 1/40 of a second, as a last resort. When I use my 70-200mm lens though, the automatic minimum shutter speed increases to match the focal length I am shooting at.

If you select something other than Auto for your Minimum Shutter Speed, the camera will start to crank the ISO higher when you reach that shutter speed, but again once the ISO reaches the maximum set in the Auto ISO Range, it will start to increase the shutter past the minimum you selected. In Manual mode using Auto ISO means that you do of course lose control of the exposure, but if maintaining an absolute slowest shutter speed is more important than under-exposing your images, then it’s still useful. You can set both your Shutter Speed and Aperture, and have the Auto ISO expose you’re shots to what the camera thinks is the correct exposure, but then if it gets too dark, you’ll just get dark shots, rather than slower shutter speeds.

5D Mark III - Top View

5D Mark III – Top View

Gapless Microlenses and Larger Pixels

Although we gained a slight resolution boost, jumping from 21 megapixels to 22 megapixels, apparently now there are now no gaps between the microlenses that sit above the photodiodes, and larger 6.25 µm (micrometer) pixels which in turn means improved signal to noise ratio, higher dynamic range, and of course this is partly what’s behind the incredible new ISO capabilities. Basically the camera is gathering almost every bit of light that hits the sensor, which along with the new DIGIC 5+ image processor has resulted in better image quality in every way. I haven’t had time to search around to see if anyone else is talking about this, but I generally find the quality of the images coming out of this camera to be richer, deeper and simply more pleasing to look at.

Greatly Improved Auto-Focus System

I mentioned briefly earlier that the new Autofocus is deftly accurate, but let’s take a little bit more in-depth look at what’s changed.

One of the only things that I was unhappy with on the 5D Mark II was the autofocus system. My other cameras are a 1Ds Mark III and a 1D Mark IV, both with 45 point AF, and especially the 1D Mark IV, had much better AI Servo for tracking moving subjects like birds in flight. Spoilt by that somewhat, I was always disappointed by the 5D Mark II’s ability to track birds in flight, and didn’t like having to select just one of eight other AF points when I moved away from the center point, but that’s changed.

Although I haven’t shot birds in flight yet, from my tests on my first day, it’s easy to see that the new 61 Point AF system is worlds ahead of the 5D Mark II and even the 1D Mark IV with regards to accuracy. It just nailed the focus so much more often than I’ve seen until now. I always felt that AI Servo wasn’t as accurate as One Shot for focusing on even a stationary bird, but having used AI Servo for the relatively fast moving Bulbuls in the tree last week, I found it to be as accurate at nailing sharp focus than One Shot focussing.

Also, low light focusing seems greatly improved. I haven’t had an opportunity yet to do any tests in the field, but just focusing in my studio towards the end of the day, in light that would require around a two second shutter speed at ISO 100, both AI Servo and One Shot seem to be focusing very well. It’s snappy and accurate.

5D Mark III - Autofocus Menu

5D Mark III – Autofocus Menu

You can see (above) that Canon were serious about the Autofocus on this camera, because they gave autofocus a whole menu to itself.

Selecting AI Servo AF Characteristics

The AF Menu starts off with six presets or Cases for various types of subject, with varying Tracking Sensitivity, Acceleration and Deceleration tracking and AF point Auto Switching sensitivity.

All of the modes are based on a sport, and may not immediately seem to apply to what you are shooting, but I’m sure as we use the system it will become easy to know which to use for any given situation. I imagine for example that when shooting the Eagles in Hokkaido, that switch direction and speed very erratically, Case 5 for figure skaters might work well, or even Case 6 for rhythm gymnasts. For birds in flight without so much erratic movement, might be better with Case 4 though, for soccer and motor sports. I’m sure someone’s already posted this stuff on the Web as well, but I haven’t checked. Either way, I’ll be doing some trial and error tests myself to get a feel for each mode. All of these Case presets are customizable by the way, so you aren’t restricted to what Canon has provided us.

Also, in the other AF Menu screens, you can fine tune things like how much priority the camera should give to obtaining accurate focus before you are able to release the shutter for the first frame, and you can set a different priority for the second frame onwards in continuous shooting.

Basically this means that you can say to the camera, I’m not really worried about accurate focus for the first frame, just let me start shooting, but the after that slow down the frame rate if necessary to obtain a better focus. Or conversely you could say don’t let me start shooting until you have focus, but then shoot away regardless from the second frame onwards. These are three value sliders though, so the reality is you’d probably choose somewhere in between and try to get the best of both worlds, as you test to see what works best for you.

By the way, I set mine to prioritize focus for the first frame, and then equal priority from the second frame onwards. I’ll let you know how I get on with this later, especially if I start to make changes.

AF Area Selection Modes

There are six  AF Area Selection Modes, including Single-point Spot AF for pinpoint focusing. This is was I used the most for the Bulbul shots last week, so that I could focus on the birds eyes even through small gaps in the cherry blossom petals.

Single-Point AF is also just one AF point, but it doesn’t have the dot in the middle of the square that represents the Spot AF in the last option I mentioned. AF Point Expansion enables the four AF point above, below and left and right of the selected AF point to also become active. You can also expand this selection to include all eight AF points surrounding the selected point.

Zone AF is where a block of focus points are selected, and can be moved around nine zones using all of the 61 AF points, and finally, there’s 61-point Automatic Selection AF mode, where you leave selection of the AF point entirely up to the system.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III AF Area Selection Modes

Canon EOS 5D Mark III AF Area Selection Modes

Orientation Linked AF Mode and Point Selection

Another nice touch, and something that I’ve had on my 1 Series bodies for a while, is Orientation Linked AF Points. You can now select an Auto-focus mode and manually selected  AF points for each orientation, so if you have one mode and AF Point selected with the camera in Landscape mode, then switch to Portrait mode, and select another AF Point or AF area selection mode, it will remember the difference, and toggle between the two sets of settings as you change the camera’s orientation.

No Auto-Focus at F8

Unfortunately, even with such a vastly improved autofocus system, and despite the fact that it’s been ported almost exactly as is from the 1D X, the 5D Mark III will not allow auto-focus at f8, which means you can’t use a 2X Extender on the f4 super-telephoto lenses, or any combination of lens and extender that takes your lenses widest aperture to f8.

This was always possible in previous 1 Series bodies, but even the 1D X might not have this when it finally hits the streets, which has the birding community up in arms. I’ve heard that this is because the physical sensors in the 1D X and 5D Mark III system are only rated down to f5.6, so there may be a physical restriction. People tape up the connectors on the back of the lenses though, and also use teleconverters that don’t relay the aperture information to the camera to overcome this, and it seems to work on most occasions.

I’ve also heard that Canon are talking about making a firmware change to allow you to turn on f8 auto-focus on the 1D X, albeit a little slower than f5.6 auto-focus, and if they do that, it would be nice to see this change made for the 5D Mark III too. As it is right now, I’ve confirmed that my 600mm f4 lens doesn’t have autofocus with the 2X Extender fitted.

63 Zone iFCL Metering

Before we move on from the Autofocus system, I wanted to briefly mention that the 5D Mark III also incorporates dual layer 63 zone iFCL or intelligent Focus Color Luminance metering. Basically the system takes color and luminosity readings from around the selected focus points to increase metering accuracy.

Ergonomics, Buttons and Dials

A lot has been redesigned in the 5D Mark III and one thing that the people at Canon said they put a lot of time and effort into was the sound of the shutter mechanism. I wasn’t surprised to hear that, because I’d heard the shutter during the launch event, and found it very pleasing. Let me shoot a few frames here, and show you what I mean (listen to the audio).

Also, there’s a Silent mode, that slows down the frame rate, but does make the shutter mechanism really quiet, if you find yourself in a situation where that’s important. Here’s how it sounds… (Again, listen to the audio, it’s at about 31 mins.) Both of these were recorded with the camera about 15cm from the mic, so you can tell that the Silent mode is much quieter.

Both sound great, but I really like the standard shutter sound myself. I think it’s the best sounding shutter mechanism of any Canon camera so far. Great work here.

The camera itself actually now feels much better to handle. It was never a bad camera line, but the grip now feels more substantial, and the addition of the M-Fn, Multifunction button aids operation greatly. In fact, there’s a new Custom Controls menu that we see in this image, from which you can customize many of the buttons on the camera.

For example as you can see in this image (below) I have set my camera so that the new electronic level is displayed in the view finder when I press the M-Fn button, located just above and to the left of the Shutter button. This is also where you can remove auto-focus from the shutter button, so now my shutter button only meters, and then of course releases the shutter. To focus I press the AF-ON button on the back of the camera.

5D Mark III - Custom Controls Menu

5D Mark III – Custom Controls Menu

There is also a Live View and Movie START/STOP button to the right of the viewfinder, which will be easier to use when shooting movies, but I haven’t yet had a chance to shoot any video. Other new buttons include a Quick Control button just above the Quick Control Dial, for easy access to the camera controls on the LCD. The Quick Control Dial is also now touch sensitive when shooting movies, so that you don’t hear the clicking sound of the dial if you change settings while you’re recording.

I found myself instinctively using the new RATE button to give stars to a few of the better images from my shoot last week, and although I didn’t check this myself, I believe these star ratings are universal, and available in Lightroom and Bridge etc.

There is also a new Multifunction Lock switch which can be programmed to lock the Quick Control Dial, the Multi-Controller and the Main Dial individually, or none at all, which will be useful if you sometimes catch these dials while shooting.

Mode Dial Lock Release

I’m also pleased to see that there’s now a button in the center of the Mode Dial, so that you can’t accidentally switch between shooting modes, such as Aperture Priority and Manual etc. With my old 5D Mark II, especially when using the Black Rapid straps, the camera would rub against my leg and change the dial quite often, which used to drive me crazy.

Zooming Blues

One change that I’m having a really hard time getting use to is that Canon decided to take the preview image magnification away from the buttons on the top right on the back of the body. Pretty much every time I go to look at an image I’ve shot, I hit the AF Point Selection button to zoom in, and nothing happens. There’s now a dedicated button in the middle of the five buttons that run along the left side of the back. It was really easy to just hit that AF-Point Selection button before, and it’s become muscle memory for most people I’m sure, so it would have been nice to have left that alone.

Note that you can, and I did change the custom controls so that the Set Button in the middle of the Quick Control Dial displays the image preview and zooms in as well. You can also set a custom function to zoom to a predetermined magnification, or remember the amount of magnification last used, which is also nice.

View Finder Improvements

We now also have almost 100% field of view in the viewfinder, which is great, and really helps to keep the edges of the frame clean when shooting with the viewfinder. The new Intelligent Viewfinder with Superimposed LCD also allows for lots of information to be displayed right there in the Viewfinder. I really like for example how the focus points and grid illuminate in low light, or just show up as a black squares and grid when it’s light enough to see them. Also the viewfinder flashes red when you achieve focus too when it’s dark, so there’s no ambiguity.

What you see in the Viewfinder is fully customizable too. You can turn the grid on or off, and how the Focus points are displayed is fully customizable as well. I can’t imagine anyone not being able to find a way that really suits there shooting style, including just turning it all off if necessary, and it’s all customizable really quickly, so you can change it for any particular type of shooting too.

Multiple Exposure Example

Multiple Exposure Example (Click for Larger View)

Multiple Exposure

One other feature that I was looking forward to is Multiple Exposure. I used to have this on my old Canon SLR film camera, and Nikon users have had this for a while, but now we have it on the 5D Mark III and the 1D X will have Multiple Exposure too, and I had a lot of fun playing with it over the last few days.

This shot is a two frame multiple exposure. For the first frame, I went to f2.8 and focussed on the Calla Lily, to send the background elements out of focus. Then for the second shot, I stopped down to f11, to bring the background into focus, and I used the Dark (comparative) control mode, which basically gives preference to darker tones over lighter ones. All the modes are useful, and you can create a nice painterly feel quite easily with a bit of experimentation.

I really was like a kid in a candy store playing with this feature over the last few days, but I soon learned that it’s very easy to overdo it. For example, you can shoot your first image totally out of focus, then overlay one that’s nice and sharp, and at first, it looks quite nice, but the more you look at the resulting images, they just look like badly done HDR images, so care is needed here.

Also, you can of course do shots of moving subjects, shooting more than two frames, up to nine I believe, and have them appear at multiple points in the frame, which is fun. The cool thing about this too is that unlike with the old film cameras, you actually get an overlay on your LCD and can line up your shots with what you will overlay them on, so it’s quite easy to get good results too. The most time consuming part was getting use to the different modes, like Additive, Average, Bright and Dark, but the creative options are huge with this, and like I say, it’s a lot of fun.

HDR Mode

I guess I should have spent more time testing the HDR mode, but at the moment I just don’t do that much HDR, and so it fell by the wayside as I tried to find out as much as I could about the 5D Mark III over the past four days as I prepared for this review. I did do a few handheld shots with the natural mode selected, and they looked incredibly good. As I try this in the field I’ll report back with my findings, but I’m sure there’ll be plenty of others covering this in their reviews soon anyway.

5D Mark III - Rear View

5D Mark III – Rear View


Need That Battery Grip!

Apart from not getting used to the repositioned Zoom button yet, the only other thing that I have found awkward, especially while shooting the birds on my first day with the camera, is the lack of vertical shooting controls. Of course, these will come with the Battery Grip BG-E11 that is scheduled for release towards the end of April. I didn’t think I’d miss that grip so much, but I’m really looking forward to that release.

GPS Receiver GP-E2

With Lightroom 4 now having GPS support, I’m also looking forward to the new GPS Receiver, GP-E2 that fits into the flash shoe, and will work with the 1D X when I get that too, which saves me having to buy a dedicated GPS unit for the 1D X. These units record the direction that the camera is pointing when you take a photo as well, which will be useful.


Well, following that review, it’s probably a foregone conclusion, but I have to finish by saying that I give the Canon EOS 5D Mark III a huge thumbs up. You might think that I want to give this camera a good review because I just spent $3,500 on it, but really, I’d tell you if I didn’t like it, and honestly, it has far exceeded my expectations. I was really looking forward to the new Autofocus and ISO capabilities, and the Multiple Exposure. I have 10 frames per second on my 1D Mark IV, but it’s still nice to be able to shoot higher resolution images six frames per second too. It’s not lightening fast, but it was enough to get some tricky action shots with the Bulbuls, and I’m looking forward to really giving the AI Servo focusing a run for its money too.

I know there’s been a lot of fuss about the raised prices for the 5D Mark III, but I tell, from what I’ve seen, there’s easily that amount of R&D gone into this camera, and I don’t regret paying the extra and picking up my copy of this great new edition to the Canon line up. The new ISO capabilities and Autofocus open up doors to us in the Canon camp, and as I say, the images seem to have a depth and richness that I was not expecting, and I’m looking forward to hearing what others think about this. I hope it’s not just me, coming from my infatuation with my new baby.

If you are planning to buy a 5D Mark III, please support this blog buy using our B&H affiliate links…


Podcast End Notes

Aurora Expeditions

Before we finish, firstly, I’d like to mention that I’ve hooked up with Aurora Expeditions putting me on these eight voyages as resident photographer. We’ll be visiting Antarctica and South Georgia, the European Arctic, including Spitsbergen, Iceland and Greenland, and the Russian Coast including Kamchatka, the Kuril Islands, Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya.

Information on these amazing photography adventures is on my Tours & Workshops page, with links to full details of each voyage on Aurora Expeditions Web site. Do check that out if you are interested in joining me on one of these amazing photography adventures.

Partnered with Stitcher Smart Radio

Also, we’ve recently joined forces with Stitcher Smart Radio, to enable you to listen to the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast using Stitcher on your iPhone, Android Phone and Kindle Fire, as well as in GM and Ford cars that support Stitcher Radio. I’ve put a graphic tile in the sidebar on the blog and Podcasts page, if you need the app, but if you already use Stitcher, just search for Martin Bailey Photography and you’ll be hooked up in seconds.

Show Notes

Adobe Camera RAW 6.7 (currently Release Candidate, not final release):

Music by UniqueTracks


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Canon EOS 5D Mark III – First Few Photos

Canon EOS 5D Mark III – First Few Photos

OK, so I picked up my Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital SLR Camera just before lunch today, and I took some lenses into Shinjuku with me, with the intention of doing a bit of shooting in the afternoon.

NOTE: I released a full review of the 5D Mark III a few days after this post. See here.

I’ll follow up in the next few days, with more photos and some first impressions, but one thing I will say right now is that the new auto-focus system is worth the cost of the upgrade all by itself. Almost all of the 500+ frames I shot of these birds today, granted, mostly using One Shot, were tack sharp, right where I wanted it to be. Far less hit and miss than its predecessor, the Mark II.

For now, here is my best shot from today. Maximize your browser (larger than 1280px at least) and click on the images to view them larger than below. The second image is a 100% crop if viewed with the browser wide enough.

Brown-Eared Bulbul Takes Flight

Shot with the new Canon EOS 5D Mark III – There’s about a 3% crop on the top and right side of this, for artistic reasons, but that’s all I’ve done to this image.

Browned-Eared Bulbul Takes Flight 100% Crop

Browned-Eared Bulbul Takes Flight 100% Crop

By the way, these were shot with a 300mm F2.8 lens with the 1.4X Extender III fitted.

The above two images were shot at ISO 400, 1/1000 at f/5.6. The next image was shot at ISO 2000, 1/1000 at f/4.5 and it’s as clean as ISO 400 on my 1Ds Mark III, and probably comparable to ISO 640-ish, on my old 5D Mark II.

Brown-eared Bulbul at ISO 2000

Brown-eared Bulbul at ISO 2000

And again, here’s a 100% crop of the birds face.

Brown-eared Bulbul at ISO 2000 - 100% Crop

Brown-eared Bulbul at ISO 2000 – 100% Crop

I’ll update this post soon or add a link to a new post with more information very soon…

See Ya!

See Ya!

 NOTE: I released a full review of the 5D Mark III a few days after this post. See here.

If you are planning to buy a 5D Mark III, please support this blog buy using our B&H affiliate links…

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Custom Function Settings

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Custom Function Settings

I’m sometimes asked what custom function settings I select on my Canon EOS 1D Mark IV camera, so I figured I’d share this information so that you can compare my settings with your own. I have also made my custom settings file available below for you to apply to your own camera if you want to try this. First, here are my settings.

Martin's Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Custom Settings

Martin’s Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Custom Settings

This equates to the following custom settings:

C.Fn I: Exposure

1 – Exposure Level increments = 0 : 1/3-stop set  1/3-stop compensation
2 – ISO speed setting increments = 0 : 1/3 stop
3 – Set ISO speed range = * : Highest ISO set to H2 (51200). Lowest set to L (50) – I don’t use H3 (102,400)
4 – Bracketing auto cancel = 1 : off
5 – Bracketing sequence = 1 : -, 0, +
6 – Number of bracketed shots = 2 : 5 shots
7 – Spot metering link to AF point = 1 : Enable (use active AF point)
8 – Safety shift = 0 : Disable
9 – Select usable shooting modes = * : M, Av, Tv, BULB (I turn P off, because I will never use it)
10 – Select usable metering modes = – : Disabled; all metering modes available
11 – Exposure mode in manual exposure = 0 : Specified metering mode
12 – Set shutter speed range = – : Disabled;  settable shutter speed range is 1/8000 sec. to 30 sec.
13 – Set aperture value range = – : Disabled; maximum aperture to minimum aperture of lens attached
14 – Apply shooting/metering mode = – : Disabled; Pressing the <*> button will lock the exposure (AE lock).
15 – Flash sync. speed in Av mode = 0 : Auto
16 – AE Microadjustment = none set
17 – FE Microadjustment = none set

C.Fn II: Image/Flash exposure/Display

1 – Long exposure noise reduction = 1 : Auto; for 1 sec. or longer exposures, noise reduction is performed
2 – High ISO speed noise reduction = 0 : Standard
3 – Highlight tone priority = 0 : Disable
4 – Auto Lighting Optimizer = 3 : Disable (I don’t want anything automatic happening!)
5 – E-TTL II flash metering = 0 : Evaluative flash metering
6 – Shutter curtain sync. = 1 : 2nd-curtain synchronization
7 – Flash firing = 0 : Enable
8 – Viewfinder info. during exposure = 0 : Disable
9 – LCD panel illumination during Bulb = 0 : Off
10 – INFO. button when shooting = 0 : Displays shooting functions

C.Fn III: Autofocus/Drive

1 – USM lens electronic MF = 0 : Enable after One-Shot AF
2 – AI Servo tracking sensitivity = * I change this depending on the subject, between minus -1 click to +1 click
3 – AI Servo 1st/2nd image priority = 0 : AF priority/Tracking priority
4 – AI Servo AF tracking method = 1 : Continuous AF track priority (closer subject ignored as obstruction)
5 – Lens drive when AF impossible = 0 : Focus search on
6 – Lens AF stop button function = 7 : Spot AF (used to use ONE SHOT <-> AI SERVO toggle)
7 – AF Microadjustment = None set
8 – AF expansion with selected point = 3 : All 45 points area
9 – Multi-controller while metering = 1 : AF point selection
10 – Selectable AF point = 0 : 45 points
11 – Switch to registered AF point = 1 : Switch with Multi-controller
12 – AF point auto selection = 2 : Quick Control Dial direct:enable/Main Dial:enable
13 – AF point display during focus = 0 : On
14 -AF point brightness = 0 : Normal
15 – AF-assist beam firing = 0 : Enable
16 – Orientation linked AF point = 1 : Select different AF points (set multiple points per camera’s orientation)
17 – Mirror lockup = 0 : Disable (I add this to My Menu, so that I can access it quickly when necessary)
18 – Continuous shooting speed = * : H is set to 10 fps, and L is set to 7 fps
19 – Limit continuous shot count = – : Disable (I stop pressing the shutter button when I’m want it to stop!)

C.Fn IV: Operation/Others

1 – Shutter button/AF-ON button = 2 : Metering start/Meter + AF start (shutter button does not start focusing)
2 – AF-ON/AE lock button switch = 0 : Disable
3 – Quick Control Dial in metering = 0 : Exposure compensation/Aperture
4 – Assign SET button = 6 : Menu display
5 – Tv/Av setting for Manual exposure = 0 : Tv = Main Dial/Av = Quick Control Dial
6 – Dial direction during Tv/Av = 0 : Normal
7 – Av setting without lens = 1 : Enable
8 – WB + media/image size setting = 1: LCD monitor (pressing <FUNC> button displays menu screen)
9 – Lock/Voice Memo button function = 2 : Play memo (hold: Record memo)
10 – Button function when Quick Control Dial OFF = 0 : Normal (enable)
11 – Start movie shooting = 0 : Default (from LiveView)
12 – Focusing Screen = Standard focusing screen (Laser-matte)
13 – Timer length for timer = – : Disable (default 6 sec, 16 sec and 2 sec)
14 – Shortened release time lag = 0 : Disable
15 – Add aspect ratio information = 0 : Off
16 – Add image verification data = 1 : Enable (I don’t use this system, but you never know when you’ll need it)

Looking at Hands

Looking at Hands

Save Your Settings and Try Mine

If you want to try my settings the easy way, Save your own settings first, then download my settings file below, and apply that.

To save your settings:

  • Go to the Custom Functions menu and select [C.Fn settings register/apply]
  • Turn the Quick Control Dial and select [Register], then select [Set]
  • Turn the Quick Control Dial and select a Set from Sets 1, 2 or 3, to save your settings to, then press the Set button on your camera
  • Select [OK]

You might also want to save your setting to a memory card. I do this anyway, and make a local copy on my hard drive. I also copy these to my SD card, as I don’t format that as often as my CF cards.

To save your settings to a memory card:

  • Select [Save/load settings on media] from the third Set-up Menu (yellow wrench/spanner) and press the Set button on your camera
  • Select [Save]
  • I usually select [Change file name] and enter a name for that camera and/or settings set (1, 2 or 3).

Once you have your own settings backed up, download my settings file and copy it to a memory card, and put that into your camera.


Note that this is a compressed zip file that will expand to a file called MBP1DMIV.CSD.

To Load settings:

  • Select [Save/load settings on media] from the third Set-up Menu and press the Set button on your camera
  • Select [Load] and select the file MBP1DMIV.CSD from your memory card

You will only be able to restore this file to another Canon EOS 1D Mark IV.

Remember, this will change how your camera operates unless you have yours set up exactly the same as mine. You can easily change back to your own settings if you do what I said above, but if you are not comfortable with any of this, don’t do it.

Other Useful Settings:

Here are a few other settings like I ensure I use, but that are not custom functions and are not included in the settings file above.

  • Histogram = RGB. I always use the RGB histogram. It is so much more useful than the standard brightness histogram, although you can now see both when cycling through the information screens with the Info button
  • Color Space = Adobe RGB. This has no real bearing on my workflow, as I use RAW with Lightroom/ACR, but I like to leave this on
  • Live View Settings:
    • Grid Display = Grid 1. The 9 rectangle grid, for rule of thirds reference in Live View
    • Expo. Simulation = Enable. This is now on by default, but I ensure it stays on. I use Live View a lot!

Additional Information:

I arrived at my current settings based on thorough reading of the 1D Mark IV’s User Manual and the following documents from Canon, as well as a lot of tweaking based on trial and error during shooting.

Canon Document: AI Servo AF Custom Function & ISO Speed Settings Guide [link no longer valid]
Canon Document: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV White Paper : The Next Chapter of EOS, A New Standard of Excellence

You might also be interested in my Podcast episode and review of the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV after using it on my Snow Monkey and Hokkaido Photography Tour & Workshop in February 2010.

Martin Bailey Photography Podcast #230 : Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Review

I hope this information is of some help.

Podcast 230 : Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Review

Podcast 230 : Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Review

Just back from my Snow Monkey and Hokkaido Photography Tour and Workshops, today I’m going to give you some initial impressions of the new Canon EOS 1D Mark IV camera, which I picked up a few days before leaving for the Snow Monkeys workshop. This isn’t going to be a thorough review, rather my impressions as a 1Ds Mark III and 5D mark II user, based on a few weeks in the field.

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV

Also note that I’m not a sports shooter, I’m mainly a nature and wildlife photographer. If you want to read about how this camera fairs for sports photography, take a look at Rob Galbraith’s great review of the auto focus system on the 1D Mark IV [removed invalid link] after you’ve read/listened to this. 🙂

Note too that I shot on my Snow Monkeys Workshop with firmware v1.0.4 in the camera, and upgraded to firmware v1.0.6 the night before I flew to Hokkaido for that 10 day workshop. v1.0.6 supposedly improved the AF, and I personally think I noticed some improvement, though it was still a little off on a number of occasions. Let me go into some detail on this first.

When I was in Nagano shooting the snow monkeys, a number of us perched ourselves on rocks near the river to try and shoot monkeys as they jumped across the stepping stones to cross the river. I shot maybe 30 frames, as a number of monkeys jumped across the rocks, and all but one were useless. At first, I tried AI Servo focusing, and tried to lock in on the Macaque as it approached the edge of the river, and while tracking it with the auto-focus, shot a series of frames as it jumped across the river. This wasn’t working, so I tried selecting the center focus point, with focus point expansion as necessary turned on, and this didn’t really help either. Eventually, I changed my strategy and focused on the last rock before the shore, and just waited for the monkeys. With that method of focusing, I was finally able to get one shot with the monkey’s face sharp, although I clipped the top of his head.

Here’s the resulting shot, which was the only one that I got anything like what I wanted.

Leaping Snow Monkey

Leaping Snow Monkey

Granted though, had I not been with my workshop, I would have spent more time trying this, and I’m confident that I would have gotten something better, even by trying different AF custom settings. I shot all of my images with custom function III-4 to 1 – “Continuous AF track priority”, because I read in the manual that this works best when you have automatic expansion of focus points turned on, which I do. There’s also a new guide to setting the AF custom functions and ISO settings out (linked from this page), in which it says that option 1, the “Continous AF track priority” setting can help with fast moving subjects, and also that option 0, “Main focus point priority”, will jump to a subject closer than the one you are initially focused on, if something else moves in front of your initial subject. For the monkey shots, I think option 0 would probably have been better, because the monkey is in front of the water. The main problem when I was using the AF in AI Servo mode is that the water kept grabbing the auto-focus, even though I started off tracking the monkey.

After my Hokkaido trip about 12 days after the Snow Monkey workshop, Rob Galbraith released a great review of the auto focus system on the 1D Mark IV in which I noticed that Rob leaves Custom Function III-4 set to 0, which is “Main focus point priority”. I imagine this is better for sports, and I will at least try option 0, “Main focus point priority”, but quite often, I want to stay locked on my subject, even if something moves in front of them.

Although my experience with the higher contrast water stealing focus from the jumping monkeys had me a little unhappy with the autofocus’ “intelligence”, I have to say that when I was in Hokkaido, now with the firmware upgraded to v1.0.6, I was much more happy with the ability of the auto-focus in AI Servo mode to stick with the subject, once I was locked in to it. In the below image (not a great shot, I know), I purposefully lowered the camera while tracking a group of Whooper Swans flying out of the Akan International Crane Center, to see if the AI Servo would continue to lock on and track them. It did a great job of this.

Swans Flying Away

Swans Flying Away

I was also impressed with the ability of the focus to lock-on to a subject such as sparrows in a narrow strip on the snow, and then track them accurately as they took flight, as in the below photograph.

Sparrow Flight

Sparrow Flight

These guys are relatively predictable, but very fast as they take flight, and the AI Servo focusing on the 1D Mark IV did a great job of sticking with them, even as I moved away from my original point of focus, when the birds were in the snow looking for left-over seeds. This is something that has had my 1Ds Mark III’s focus system searching in the past.

NOTE/APOLOGY — I realized after producing this episode that the above image of the sparrows was shot with my 1Ds Mark III, and not the 1D Mark IV. I guess the 1Ds Mark III auto-focus either got better, or I got better at this sort of shot, but either way, it did handle this much better this year, despite that not being the case in previous years. Sorry about the incorrect information given here.

The new AI Servo Custom Function Guide here, says that if you track a subject with AI Servo for 0.5 seconds before you start to make exposures, the accuracy of the auto-focus increases. I think this might have also been part of my problem with the monkeys jumping shots. Most of the time, I would see the monkey at the last minute, and try to snatch focus as they got to the first stepping stone. In Hokkaido, again with the new firmware mind, once I locked into something, the AI Servo stayed locked in most of the time. Tracking a bird flying around in the sky was very easy, although my 1Ds Mark III also does a pretty good job of this, because there’s little else in the frame to cause problems.

Soaring White Tailed Eagle

Soaring White Tailed Eagle

Even as the eagles dived down and went through a crowd of red-crowned cranes, to steal their fish, the AI Servo stuck with the eagles. There were so many cranes this year that I didn’t get a clear shot of the eagles within the cranes, but I was very impressed with the ability of the 1D Mark IV to track the subject in this situation. Again, this was probably because I had custom function III – 4, set to 1 – “Continuous AF track priority”.

Other times that the auto-focus was unfaltering, was when the subject flew in front of the sun. This has typically been a little difficult, sometimes causing my 1Ds Mark III and 5D Mark II to start searching for focus, but it happened very rarely with the 1D Mark IV. In the below image, we can see three cranes passing right in front of the sun, and the auto-focus handled it without issues.

Cranes at Sunset

Cranes at Sunset

Crop Factor

This is the first crop factor camera that I’ve owned in over four years, since I bought my 5D, and sold my 20D. The Canon EOS 1D Mark IV has an APS-H sensor, which results in a 1.3X crop factor. This isn’t as large as the 1.6X crop factor that my old 20D which had, but it still took a little getting used to again. A number of times I found myself reaching for the 300mm f2.8 and having to drop down to the 70-200mm F2.8 lens, because the 300/2.8 was a little too long, with a 390mm effective focal length. Once I got used to it though, I did like the additional reach that the 1.3X crop factor gives me, and most of the time for eagles etc. I just used the 300mm F2.8 L lens without the 1.4X Extender (Teleconverter) which gives me 420mm with the 300/2.8 on a full frame sensor camera like the 1Ds Mark III or 5D Mark II. I also enjoyed getting an effective focal length of 780mm from the 600mm F4 L lens too, when shooting down the river from the Otowa Bridge in the town of Tsurui, for shots of the red-crowned cranes in the mist, like below. Unfortunately, there was no frost of the trees this year, but still, a little mist rose from the river as the sun started to warm the surface of the water.

Crane's Roost at Dawn

Crane’s Roost at Dawn

Eagles at Sunrise over Russia

Eagles at Sunrise over Russia

One situation where I did have a slightly lower hit rate with the auto-focus, was when shooting some eagles on a piece of stray ice floe (left). Here, a few of the shots jumped back to the sunlit ripples on the sea, because they were higher contrast than the almost totally silhouetted Steller’s Sea Eagles. This may well have been caused by a focusing error on my part though, as it was difficult to see through the viewfinder looking into the morning sun with an effective focal length of 390mm.

I don’t mean to harp on about the auto-focus, but because Canon seemed to make this a focus of their marketing for the 1D Mark IV, I was expecting quite a lot of the new system. I bought my 1Ds Mark III just over two years ago, with high hopes that the 45 focus points and a few more years of R&D were going to provide me with a usable AI Servo focusing system that would be able to handle more than just birds flying across a clear sky. It turned out though that I always ended up going back to the center focus point, and quite often even returning to One Shot focusing as opposed to AI Servo for pretty much all other situations.

When I bought the 5D Mark II, I actually didn’t find the 9 focus point system much worse than the 45 point 1Ds3 system, because of the way I ended up always using my 1Ds Mark III. The 5D2 tracks birds across a clear sky about as good as the 1Ds Mark III does too.

Overall Very Happy

Once I upgraded to the 1.0.6 firmware, I really didn’t have much to complain about with the 1D Mark IV auto-focus. I do have some flying eagle shots that are not quite as sharp as I’d like them to be, even with nice fast shutter speeds, but I also have many incredibly sharp shots too, so I really need to shoot a little more with this camera and maybe do some controlled tests, before I start to shout about problems with the camera and/or its auto-focus. Right now, in general, I’m feeling pretty happy with the camera.

Drop in Image Size

The slight drop in resolution to 16 mega-pixels from 21MP in the 1Ds3 and 5D2 is noticable. Although the image quality from the 1D Mark IV is excellent, when you want to zoom in to really see the detail, it’s a little bit disappointing. This is something that I expected of course. The images are roughly 76% the size of my full frame sensor cameras. Is this going to be a problem for me? I doubt it. I do like the detail I can get in large prints, but 16MP is still a very respectable image size. I’m looking forward to printing out some of my new images on fine art paper, to really see how they fair, but I’m not expecting to be disappointed.

High ISO Capabilities

The 1D Mark IV has standard selectable ISOs from 100 to 12,800, and these are expandable downwards to ISO 50, and upwards to include ISOs 25,600, 51,200 and 102,400! I haven’t had time to do any really controlled tests yet, but from some quick shots in my living room, which was very messy with the contents of the 1D Mark IV box emptied out, and therefore I can’t get permission to use the shots here to illustrate this, I can tell you that 25,600 and 51,200 is very usable. At a pinch, if it was a toss-up between getting a shot, and not getting anything, I’d even go to ISO 102,400, but the noise is pretty bad at this highest ISO. The first two though really are acceptable and would probably clean up pretty nicely with some noise reduction work. They aren’t bad straight out of the camera!

Other Nice Touches

There are a few other nice touches that have been added to the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV that I would like to touch on before we finish.

Focus Point Auto-Selection by Orientation

Firstly, the 1D Mark IV allows you to set a preset focus point per camera orientation, with the Custom Function III – 16, “Select different AF points” selected. With this on, you can preselect a focus point for three different orientations, and the camera will automatically switch to those focus points as you change the camera orientation. So you can have one focus point selected when using the camera horizontally, or in landscape mode, and have another focus point automatically selected when you rotate it to the left, with the grip at the top, and then another focus point selected when you rotate the camera to the right, with the grip at the bottom.

Spot AF

Another nice addition is Spot AF, which is selected as on option under Custom Function  III-6. This allows you to reduce the size of the focus point to enable more accurate selection of the subjects eyes etc. The only problem with this for me at the moment is that I already map my AF Stop button to another function. The AF Stop buttons are the little rubberized buttons near the front of Canon’s super-telephoto lenses, such as the 300mm F2.8 and the 600mm F4 lenses, and I already map this button to toggle between One Shot and AI Servo focusing modes. I did find myself using this button much less with the new improved focusing capabilities of the 1D4, so if I continue to be happy with the focusing, I might be able to map my AF Stop button to the Spot AF feature in the future instead.

Illuminated Focus Points in AI Servo Mode

You can now also see which focus point is being used in the AI Servo focusing mode. This is something that I hated about my 1Ds Mark III, and one of the reasons why I found AI Servo so difficult to use, especially in conditions such as when photographing a bird on water, when the camera would almost always focus on the higher contrast light on the ripples in the water, without me knowing. Note that this illuminated focus point functionality only works when you have manually selected a focus point, and then started to track your subject. As they move across the frame, or you reposition the camera, the focus point moves too, and is illuminated as it does so, to enable you to ensure that you are still focusing on the right part of the subject. I’m really looking forward to trying this in portraiture as well. If I can focus on the eye with the center or manually selected focus point, then the camera continues to track the eye as I recompose, and then focus on it with AI Servo focusing, that would be impressive, not to mention incredibly useful.

High Resolution LCD

One thing that really bugs me about my 1Ds Mark III is the crappy LCD resolution. Granted, since getting my first chance to use LiveView with the 1Ds3, I started to use it to fine tune focusing for still-life and landscape work pretty quickly. When 230,000 dots is all you have, you can certainly use it, but it was far from clear. You basically could tell that you had achieved optimal focus only as you went past it. If the image on the LCD starts to get soft again, you know you’ve gone too far, and you pull back a little. The 5D Mark II though came with a nice sharp 920,000 dot LCD, and that changed the game for me. Now I was able to adjust and confirm sharp focus on the LCD so much faster in LiveView, and the 1D Mark IV has the same resolution. 920,000 glorious dots to help us see what we’ve shot incredible clearly. This is not just useful in LiveView of course. When you check an image that you have already shot for sharpness by zooming in on the LCD, you also benefit from having four times more resolution.


You can’t ignore the fact that this is the first pro-body from Canon with video. The 1Ds Mark III does not have video, and the fact that the 5D Mark II did meant that it soon became my camera of choice over the 1Ds Mark III, when ruggedness and weatherproofing was not going to be important. I do love being able to stick an L lens on my 1 series bodies, and just stand out in the rain with them without having to worry about and mollycoddle my gear, and this is certainly one other reason why I have invested in the 1D Mark IV as well, my second pro body, but video and the much higher resolution LCD on the 5D meant that it’s seen much more use over the last year than my 1Ds Mark III, which is a shame, when you think that it cost me four times more to buy the 1Ds3. 🙁

I haven’t touched on the 1D Mark IV’s video capabilities today though, because I haven’t use it in the field yet. I did shoot some video in Hokkaido over the last few weeks, but it was with the 5D Mark II. When I’ve had a chance to play with the video on the 1D Mark IV, I’ll let you know.


As I said above, I’m generally very happy with my new Canon EOS 1D Mark IV camera. It’s living up to my expectations and then some. I’ll be even happier when I see more totally crisp, sharp shots coming out of it, but I still had a very high percentage of sharp images from my first few weeks, so I’m happy enough for now. I’ll be sure to shout up if this ceases to be the case in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Podcast show-notes:

Rob Galbraith’s review of the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV from a sports shooters perspective is here: [Removed invalid link]

I’m not sure why I can’t find this on the Canon Web site, but here is a link to that AI Servo Custom Function Guide:


Download the Enhanced Podcast M4A files directly.