CameraCal

Until recently I had never used the micro adjustment facility that has been available on all of my more recent Canon DSLR cameras as I have always felt that all my camera/lens combinations produced sharp results.  However that changed when I purchased the Canon 7D MkII which with a number of lenses in particular my Canon EF 300mm f2.8L USM IS II both with and without extenders and my EF 400mm f5.6L produced unacceptably soft images.  My first thought was to return my camera as never having had this problem before I thought the camera was faulty!  On discussing my problem with friends and looking on the internet I quickly discovered that quite a few owners of the 7D MkII and for that matter other cameras were also finding they were getting soft images from lenses they knew were sharp and in many cases were able to correct this with lens calibration using the cameras micro adjustment!  As a result I carried out a number of tests using the micro adjustment and manually adjusted it to get acceptably sharp results with both of these lenses and extender combinations.

Some time later I was discussing the problem with Anthony Sinfield, a colleague in the photographic industry, and told him I felt I needed to make further adjustments as I felt my images weren’t quite as sharp as they should be.  Anthony suggested that I let him calibrate my lenses as he had the pro version FoCal which would take any guess work out of calibrating my lenses.  FoCal doesn’t take just one or two images to make it’s calculation but the software and automated process of using the cameras micro adjustment takes typically between 15 and 30 images before giving you it’s calibration result!

As a result I spent a few hours with Anthony and he calibrated most of my lenses against both my Canon 7D MkII & 5D MkIII.  Even though I had been reasonably happy with my own efforts at micro adjustment the Focal automated software did disagree slightly with my own adjustments and in practice has resulted in fine tuning my focus to achieve even better and more consistent results!  The same software will also tell you your optimum aperture for a given lens.

If you are not confident about carrying out the micro adjustment yourself or want to be assured that your camera/lens combination are as accurate as possible then visit www.cameracal.co.uk.

Anthony offers bespoke training on a wide range of photographic equipment and applications as well as software like Photoshop and Lightroom.

Anthony also offers other services like Sensor Cleaning, Firmware Upgrades, Adobe Lens Profiles and Camera Configuration to best suit your type of photography with a FedEx service using locked Peli cases for those that live further afield.

David

Swarovski CL 8×25 Pocket Binoculars – Green

There are many reviews to be found of the Swarovski CL 8×25 Pockets on the web and all are in agreement that these little binoculars are excellent and punch well above their weight.  Like many reviews in most cases the reviewer doesn’t actually own a pair but has them loaned to them for a week or so for the purpose of the review. However in my case after trying them in store at Clifton Cameras I purchased a pair and have been using them for about 4 months! Swarovski8x25CLPocketbinocularsGreen

 

Like all other reviewers I found the Swarovski CL 8×25 Pockets to be optically excellent, well constructed and very easy on the eye.  This is nothing less than you would expect from Swarovski but for me the stand out feature was how good they felt in the hand and how well they handled compared to previous 8×20 binoculars I have owned.  Previously I have never felt comfortably using miniature/pocket binoculars as they don’t sit well in the hand and the focus wheels are awkward and fiddly!  As a result in the field I find them more difficult to align instinctively with your subject and slow and fiddly to focus which often results in your subject disappearing before you have focused on it!  The Swarovski CL 8×25 Pockets go a long way towards addressing these issues and feel much more like a pair of 8×32 than a pair of 8×20!  Being that little bit bigger than most 8×20 binoculars they sit nicely in the hand and the focus wheel is perfectly positioned for use with your forefinger.  Another downside of miniature/pocket binoculars is that with quite small objective lenses they don’t perform that well in poor light however this is another area in which the Swarovski CL 8×25 Pockets really excel and give a more than acceptable performance in low light situations.  Are they as comfortably to use as a pair of 8×32 or 8×40!  I would guess that most would prefer the ergonomics of a larger binocular but for me they come pretty close and are so good that I am sure there are those who would actually prefer them!

However it’s ‘horses for courses’ and although I also own larger binoculars, as a photographer I am often weighed down by heavy optical equipment and don’t want to add to that weight with a pair of full sized binoculars – these fit the bill perfectly and are now my most used binoculars.

For the birder who carries little else in the way of optics the better choice would probably be a pair of 8×32 (which I also own and rate as excellent) or 8.5×42 but for photographers or as a second pair when size and weight are an issue or you want your optics to be unobtrusive the Swarovski CL 8×25 Pockets are an excellent choice!

As I said earlier I purchased mine from Clifton Cameras a company I found knowledgeable, friendly and most of all have a very comprehensive range of binoculars and telescopes from all the leading manufacturers and unlike many of it’s competitors many if not most of the optics are in stock!  As you will see if you visit their store they also stock all of the top names in photographic equipment and whilst in the store I also purchased a Canon EF 100-400 f4.5-5.6L IS II USM at a very competitive price.  An excellent lens which I intend to review when I have used it a little more and can find the time.

David

The Great British Web Company Ltd

This will be the shortest review I have ever written as you are able to see for yourself how good or bad you think my web site is, but please bear in mind that the design and layout are what I asked for and probably not what GBW would have presented as the finished product.  However during it’s construction I was kept informed of it’s progress and advised if they felt something I had asked for was not going to work!  To sum up I am very pleased with the finished product and the competitive price I paid.  Obviously you don’t have to design your own layout, you just tell them what you want the website to do for you and they will do the rest!

For me the best part of GBW is that it is owned and run by just two people Christian and Debbie and you will enjoy a very personal experience if you use their services and the after sales is second to none with both of them being only an e-mail or phone call away!

The Great British Web Company Ltd

David

Photo Logistics

In early July, 2015 together with David Tipling I went on a 5 day trip to the Catalonia region of Spain where we were guided by Photo Logistics.  We made our own travel arrangements flying into Barcelona where we picked up a hire car and had a 3 hour drive to Montgai where we were met by Roger one of the directors of Photo Logistics.  This was a fairly new experience for me as in all the years that I have been photographing wildlife I have only once used a commercial/paying hide, this was almost 10 years ago in Finland for Golden Eagle when sadly we were not successful!  So why now with Photo Logistics, two reasons, firstly David T knew both of the directors of Photo Logistics, Roger and Carles and had a very positive previous experience using their hides.  Secondly two of the many species they had on offer were Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, two birds that I had seen before but not well and would love to photograph.  I knew that without assistance my chances of photographing either species well was highly unlikely.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse & Pin-tailed Sandgrouse

Black-bellied & Pin-tailed Sandgrouse at water hole, Spain

Roger had arranged our accommodation close to where we were to photograph the Sandgrouse which was very comfortable and only 25 euros a night.  Up at 0500 hours we were met and driven to the hide by Roger which was spacious and comfortably seated 3 photographers.  At this point I will mention that like many other commercial hides you are shooting through one way glass!  Now I must admit this was a concern of mine as friends who had used hides with glass before had complained of soft images particularly if not square onto the glass and I also knew that you lost a stop of light, which once the sun was up was not a problem.  For both me and David T sharpness was not an issue, yes when images are viewed at 100% you could see that there was a very slight loss of sharpness, contrast and a slight red colour cast but not enough to be a concern as this was easily corrected during processing and the final image for most applications was as good as you would have achieved if you had not been shooting through glass.  It does also have it’s advantages as you have a perfect wide view of  everything outside and you are far less likely to miss a shot!

Black-bellied Sandgrouse

Male & female Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Spain

For the first 30 minutes or so the light was too poor to photograph but even in this half light the bird watching was excellent with Stone Curlew being the first visitors and the Sandgrouse not arriving until shortly after 0900 hours.  However before their arrival there was plenty to photograph including 4 species of lark, Hoopoe, Turtle Dove, Great Grey & Woodchat Shrike and Red-billed Chough – 21 species during the 5 hours in the hide!  I think our head count was possibly a little higher than usual as it was very hot throughout our trip and it had been very dry for weeks prior to our visit!

Stone-curlew

Stone-curlew, Spain

Stone-curlew

Stone-curlew, Spain

Great Grey Shrike

Great Grey Shrike, Spain

Turtle Dove

Turtle Dove, Spain

However the stars of the show for me were the Sandgrouse and because we were a little late in the season and had missed out on a number of other species we would like to have photographed we decided to have 2 more days in the Sandgrouse hides.

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Spain

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse

Female Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Spain

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse

Male & female Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Spain

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse

Male Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Spain

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse

Male Pin-tailed Sandgrouse collecting water in breast feathers to take back to chicks, Spain

For our last 2 days we drove to Solsona close to the foothills of the Pyrenees about 2 hours north of Barcelona where we hoped to photograph Lammergeier.  In Solsona we booked into our hotel which had been arranged by Carles a director of Photo Logistics – again very comfortable and only 25 euros a night.  Our start time for the vulture hide was much more leisurely and after breakfast Carles collected us from our hotel and drove us to the hide in the foothills of the Pyrenees around 35 minutes away.  As Carles regularly puts food out for the vultures at this site, whilst he was putting food out we could see Griffon and Egyptian Vultures were already circling overhead.  The hide was again spacious and very comfortable easily accommodating three photographers with a large panoramic glass window giving great views of the site making it easy to track birds as they flew in.  Within about 10 minutes of Carles leaving us in the hide several Ravens flew in quickly followed by a pair of Egyptian Vultures.

Egyptian Vulture

Egyptian Vulture, Spain

Shortly after the Egyptian Vultures arrived the Griffons started to come in and this was quite spectacular as over the course of only a few minutes well in excess of 100 birds landed in front of us and fed.  Needless to say with this number of birds the food didn’t last long although they left the sheep legs which were put out for the Lammergeier, as they had no flesh on them.

Griffon Vulture

Griffon Vulture, Spain

Griffon Vulture

Griffon Vulture, Spain

Griffon Vulture 9

Griffon Vulture, Spain

Egyptian Vulture & Griffon Vulture

Egyptian and Griffon Vulture, Spain

However we were to experience our only disappointment of the trip so far as the Lammergeier had not appeared when Carles came to get us out of the hide in late afternoon.  Yes we were a little disappointed but the photography of the other vultures and a visiting Red Fox had still been excellent and the day was not over as Carles took us to one of his woodland drink in pools a little higher up in the Pyrenees.  Again the hide was comfortable and spacious and we spent a little over an hour in the hide where there was an almost continuous stream of small passerines visiting to drink and bathe.  One of the most frequent was Common Crossbill but we also had Citril Finch (new bird for me!) Serin, Siskin and even a male Ring Ouzel to name just a few!

Crossbill

 Male Common Crossbill, Pyrenees, Spain

We wished we had been able to spend more time in this hide but the light was fading so we drove back to our hotel.  On the trip back, Carles knowing that our flight home wasn’t until late afternoon, suggested we might like to try another morning in the Lammergeier hide as he was surprised we hadn’t seen them as they had been very reliable with sometimes as many as three visits in a day!  We jumped at the chance and the following morning met Carles close to the hide.  On our arrival things looked very promising as in addition to a few Griffons circling overhead there were also two Lammergeiers.  Carles had told us there would still be plenty of sheep legs left on the hillside and he was also able to put out a Badger carcass (road kill). Shortly after Carles left again the Ravens were first to arrive quickly followed by the Egyptian Vultures and shortly after the Griffons.  Within about 5 minutes the Badger carcass had gone and as the Griffons slowly departed we could see the two Lammergeier circling much lower.  This was where the large panoramic glass window was a positive advantage as we had good early views of the Lammergeier and were able to capture many flight shots as they passed overhead and also when coming into land.  Having not seen Lammergeier before I was amazed to see them feeding on the sheep legs which were  in excess of 20cm long complete with hoof, they would just swallow them whole!  Had I not been able to take a picture I would still have enjoyed this experience and it is one I will not forget!

Lammergeier

Adult Lammergeier, Pyrenees, Spain

Lammergeier

Adult Lammergeier, Pyrenees, Spain

Lammergeier

Pair adult Lammergeier, Pyrenees, Spain

Lammergeier

Adult Lammergeier, Pyrenees, Spain

In summary our trip was highly successful being, well organised with some great birds in natural settings and we returned home with some super images!  Based on my experience with Photo Logistics and an earlier trip David T had taken with them I would highly recommend photographers and birdwatcher alike using their services.  In those few short days in Spain I got to know Roger & Carles quite well (both speak very good English) and discovered that they have both worked in conservation and are very knowledgable naturalists with a genuine love of wildlife.  They are also keen and accomplished photographers and know what as photographers we are looking for and being very hands-on are also very flexible and where possible will structure your visit to suit your requirements.  You can also be assured that where licences are required for a given species these will have been obtained!

I’m sure no experienced wildlife photographer or watcher needs reminding that these are wild animals we have come to see and that birds and mammals don’t always put in an appearance when you want them to but they will have done everything possible to ensure you get the species you want.  If a particular hide/location has become unreliable they will tell you in advance, for example we had hoped to photograph the Sandgrouse last year but some early rain meant the water holes were not reliable and Roger was quick to inform us of this, so we cancelled!

Finally the most important part, how much will this cost you?  At the time of writing this review their prices are very competitive and if you take one of their 4 day packages they are very good value for money – you could spend a two weeks in Spain and not photograph as much as you would on a 4 day package and you would have spent a lot more money!

To check out their prices and what they can offer click on this link Photo Logistics

David

Canon EF 300mm f2.8L IS II USM

This is just a short review giving my opinion on how well this lens performs in the real world. Having owned the EF 300mm f2.8L IS USM for 5 years and having been really pleased with its all round performance I decided to upgrade.

Similar in appearance to its predecessor the most noticeable change is the tripod mount which is now integrated and not removeable like the old version. This has resulted in much smoother and more positive rotation of the lens when mounted on a tripod. However most of the other major changes are internal and include completely redesigned optics with improved coatings, faster and more accurate AF system and improved image stabilization which is now 4 stops instead of 2. A third IS mode has also been added to assist when switching between subjects when the IS is only activated during exposure. The lens is also 200g lighter.

I will only comment on the three issues that are important to me as a wildlife photogrpher.

Perhaps the least important for me is the IS as it is rare for me to hand hold this lens and if I do it is for birds in flight when I always switch the IS off (improves speed and accuracy of the AF system). If you think about it when panning with a bird in flight, the panning action negates any up and down movement. So for me the only time IS for birds in flight when hand holding the lens might assist is when the bird is flying directly at you. I have however used the IS mode on a number of occasions when working in low light on soft ground with my tripod and have shot many super sharp images at 1/15 which would not have been possible without a 4 stop IS.

The improvement to the AF system is quite noticeable particulary when using extenders. I must say that I have not noticed much improvement in speed and accuracy when using just the prime lens but when using the new mkIII extenders on my EOS 1D Mk1V the improvement is quite marked especially with the mkIII x2 extender. When using the the latter combination I would say that my success rate of birds in flight has improved greatly.

Optically I have noticed very little improvement when using the prime lens or with the x1.4 extender attached. A good test however for any lens is when you attach a matched x2 extender. No lens is perfect and with a x2 extender you are doubling any slight imperfections and with this lens the results are excellent and althought the improvements over the old lens are not massive they are marked and easily visble.

The below image was taken using a Canon 1D Mk 1V plus EF 300mm f2.8L IS II USM lens with a x2 MkIII extender attached. It was taken in flat overcast lighting to give as true a representation of the lens sharpness as possible. Due to the low light I had to use iso 1000 (not the best for sharpness) but I feel that all these factors have helped to illustrate how good this lens is even when the conditions are less than ideal.

Yellowhammer

Canon 1D Mk1V – EF 300mm f2.8L IS II USM plus x2 MkIII ext.iso 1000 f8 1/250

Yellowhammer

Same image as above only a small section shown at actual pixels.

I cannot recommend this lens highly enough, I am really pleased with its all round performance. My only two negatives are what is for me a completely useless expensive hard carry case (please canon can we have a soft case similar to those Nikon owners have) and the price.

If you are considering purchasing this len may I suggest you visit my preferred Canon main dealer Park Cameras, I have been a customer of theirs for well over 25 years

David

Acratech Long Lens Head

For many photographers the weight of the equipment they have to carry can be a problem and this is especially true of wildlife photographers who often carry a wide variety of lenses and a spare camera body.

In the past if I leave home with my Canon 500mm f4 or 300mm f 2.8 in my bag then my camera support would nearly always be my 3 series carbon fibre Gitzo tridod and my Wimberley MkII gimbal head which I find a little on the heavy side if I have to walk very far. When I really need to travel light I often take my Canon 300mm f2.8 plus extenders which I mount on a 2 series Gitzo carbon fibre tripod and Gitzo GH2781 ball head. I have however never been happy with the later combination as in use I frequently find the ball head ends up leaning over to one side which I have to compensate for by turning the camera and lens using the lens tripod collar and your entire set up ends up hopelessly off balance and increasingly more difficult to use. You then have to stop what you are doing and straighten everything up.

For me Acratech have just helped with these problems with their Long Lens Head – you could argue it is the only tripod head you will ever need being almost at home with a 600mm f4 mounted on it as a 100mm macro. I watched the impressive Acratech Long Lens Head tutorial but questioned would it be rigid enough for me with my 500mm f4 mounted on it. Fortunately a friend and his wife decided to purchase one each so I got to try it before I purchased it. The first thing I noticed was how light and well made it was being precision CNC machined out of aircraft quality aluminium. I tested the head using my Canon 1D Mk1V plus 500mm f4 + x1.4 extender mounted on both my 2 and 3 series Gitzo tripods. As you would expect the 3 series felt a little more rigid but in practice there was little to choose between them and when comparing the results between the Acratech Long Lens Head and my Wimberley MkII again there was little to choose between them. In use the Wimberley is more user friendly due to the gimbal design which balances the head perfectly making it virtually weightless at any camera angle and if you forget to tighten the locking knob it will not fall forward. In contrast although you can fine balance the Acratech and use the tension knob if you move the camera and lens too far off of it’s central axis (particularly long telephotos) it will fall forward or backward if you forget to tighten the locking knob. This would apply to almost any non gimbal type head. However in use when you have hold of your camera and lens and are tracking moving objects (in my case birds) I found it smooth, easy to use and almost the equal of my Wimberley.

Acratech LLH(1)

Will it replace my Wimberley, in short no, but when travelling abroad or whenever my long lenses are likely to be on my back for more than 20 minutes my camera and lens support will be my Acratech Long Lens Head and 2 series Gitzo tripod. This combination is very compact, some 1.26kg (3.4lbs) lighter and most importantly solid enough that I do not have to worry about unsharp images as a result of poor camera support.

Up until now I haven’t really spoken about how versatile this head is compared with the Wimberley which is designed for camera lens combinations where the lens has a tripod collar. You can however use the Acratech Long Lens Head with any camera lens combination and the only application I have found when it doesn’t out perform even a ball head is when the camera is mounted directly onto the head and you need to level the horizon. For me this is not a problem as this is not likely to be an action shot and you will have time to adjust the horizon using the tripod legs. Alternatively you might consider purchasing the Acratech Leveling Base. For use with macro lenses the Long Lens Head is the perfect partner and I much prefer my Canon 180mm macro on this head than my old Gitzo ball head.

In brief the Acratech Long lens Head pretty much does what it ‘says on the tin’ – I love it and would highly recommend it for the reasons given.

The Acratech Long Lens Head uses the widely available Arca Swiss style lens and camera plates. Acratechs own lens plates appear not to be available in the UK although you can purchase their camera plates which are competitively priced. This is not a problem as I have both Wimberley and Arca Swiss lens plates and they fit just fine. I have recently purchased 2 Benro Arca Swiss style plates and quite frankly the only difference I can see is the Benro are less than half the price of the Wimberley.

If you are interested in purchasing the Acratech Long Lens Head then visit Bob Rigby the sole importer of Acratech products.

Tip: When using the Acratech Long Lens Head with large telephoto lenses if you roll up a piece of high impact foam or similar material and push it through the opening below the mounting plate with an inch or so protruding out of either side – if you then forget to lock the lens head and it falls forward or back this will cushion it’s stop and prevent it from hitting the tripod leg.

David

FotoMagico 4

I purchased FotoMagico 4 as friends had told me they found it much easier to use than Keynote when putting together Slide Presentations on your Mac and like in Keynote I also wanted a program that would allow me to view my notes on my Macbook that would not be visible to my audience.

I have been playing around with the program for a few weeks now and coming from a generation when computer studies were not on the school curriculum I generally find new software difficult to master. However I have found FotoMagico 4 for the most part very easy to understand. It has an excellent interface which is very intuative and easy to follow making pan and zoom quick and easy to achieve. Adding audio, transitions and video could not be simpler and now with layers and masks you can add up to 6 layers of photos, videos or text with complete control over opacity for that layer. When finished you can save your presentation in numerous formats like You Tube, Vimeo and iPhone to name a few.

This program was designed by photographers for photographers and for ease of use in preparing a professional slide presentation for me it is the best program available for Mac users.

If you wish to know more click on this link FotoMagico 4

video2brain

I always look forward to using new and innovative software but coming from an era that did not have computer studies on the curriculum I often find that using and understanding everything new programs have to offer a slow process. In the past I have purchased training manuals but I frequently find these difficult to follow. For me by far the easiest way to learn new software is by video, when I will run the training video on my laptop whilst working with the program on my desktop.

The range of videos video2brain have to offer on Adobe Lightroom 4 and CS6 is second to none with numerous courses, different levels of subscription or just paying for individual training videos of which many are Adobe approved courseware. To date I have only purchased two of their products:

Adobe Photoshop CS6 Learn by Video presented by Kelly McCathran

Adobe Lightroom 4 Image Optimization Workshop presented by Tim Grey

Both of these videos are excellent, easy to follow and Adobe Photoshop CS6 Learn by Video being exceptional value with over 14 hours of training for under £30 at www.amazon.co.uk

Many of video2brain training videos are not available in the UK and only available directly from their website.

I will not go into detail about what each video can offer as you will get a far better insight by visiting the video2brain website where you can download and watch lessons from every training video they offer before you commit yourself.

I know that there are numerous free training tutorials available on YouTube not least from Adobe but it is so much more convenient to have them all in one place and presented by recognised experts in their field.

David

Allway Sync

Allway Sync is a file synchronization program which will enable you to syncronize your data between PC’s, Laptops, External Hard Drives, Servers, Online Data Storage and much more.

I use it to backup images contained in multiple folders on 2 of the 4 drives in my computer and these are backed-up to x3 (2TB) external WD hard drives via USB 3.0. The software allows you to synchronize your files automatically as changes take place or at times specified by you or at any time you want. The way in which you backup your data is very much down to you with multiple choices available.

This software not only saves me time but makes sure all my chosen files are backed-up whereas in the past using manual backup I have made mistakes and not backed-up the odd image.

My only negative comment (please bear in mind I am far from an expert in many areas of computing) is the instructions for setting up the interface for me were not that easy to follow. Fortunately I have a friend who also uses the program and he set it up for me in about 5 minutes.

Like many hard drive manufacturers my x3 WD external hard drives all came with backup software included but this only allows you to backup to 1 external drive with many other limitations.

For less than $20 Allway Sync gives you reliable backup software that works.

David

Canon 1D Mk1V

I have been shooting wildlife images for approximately 30 years, professionally for 13 years and digitally since April, 2004 when I purchased the Canon 1D MkII. Since then I have used a number of Canon DSLRs including the Canon 1D MkIII, Canon 40D and Canon 5D MkII which I wouldn’t be without.

This is not an in depth review (if you want this take a look at www.dpreview.com) but the initial views of a working photographer on the cameras AF system and file quality. Following the controversy that surrounded its predecessors AF system my first thoughts were how well would this perform. Birds in flight must be one of the biggest challenges any cameras AF system has to cope with as their flight is often erratic with sudden changes in speeed and direction. Couple with this their small size compared to a sportsman or racing car and you will soon appreciate that when it comes to speed and accuracy of the AF system there is little or no room for error. If it can work well in this environment I think it is safe to say it will be fine for almost any application.

For this test I took a trip to Gigrin Farm at Rhayader in Wales where they have a Red Kite (very agile bird of prey) feeding station where once feeding starts you have almost 2 hours of non-stop action. My Canon 1D Mk1V was used together with a Canon 500mm f4L USM IS lens (EF 1.4x extender used occasionally) which in turn was mounted on a Gitzo 3 series carbon fibre tripod and Wimberley Head version II. Shooting in RAW and AI servo I left my C.Fn III–2 AI tracking sensitivity on default and C.Fn III–8 on 2 the surrounding AF points and Picture Style on Neutral. All other custom functions that might affect the AF system were at camera default.

In this challenging environment my first impressions of the Mk1V AF system was very favourable. The first thing I noticed compared to its predecessor was that the Mk1V rarely lost focus, even when the active focusing points were momentarily not covering the subject matter. I am not saying that every frame would have been critically sharp, but I could count on one hand during the two hour session the times that the camera hopelessly lost focus and this was probably my error. Even when this happened the camera would not lock out, just a quick release and back on the AF button again and I was back in business. Even with busy similar colour backgrounds the camera tracked its subject faithfully. (Update – I have recently been working with Hobby (a small fast and agile falcon) feeding over water and where the background was quite close to the subject (contrast between the blue/grey back of the Hobby and the water was quite low) I found that to use anything other than just the centre AF sensor, which is very difficult to keep on a small fast bird, meant I frequently lost focus to the background. To be honest this is no more than I would have expected and I had Nikon users sat either side of me using D700s and they had the same problem – sometimes we expect a little too much.)

Hobby

Hobby – Canon 1D Mk1V with 500mm f4 IS at iso 800 f5 1/4000 and cropped to a little under half frame giving a file size in 8 bit of 20mb

Hobby

Hobby – same techs file size 28mb

My success rate that afternoon in Wales was much higher than usual with close to 50% sharp to pin sharp usable images. Of the remaining 50% most were only just out of focus and many of these I could put down to user error as your technique is an important factor when photographing moving subjects and mine is not the best. Often in the past when photographing fast moving birds I have captured the bird on the edge of the frame where it is not covered by any of the AF points and it has been pin sharp, yet the next frame where the bird is in the middle of the frame and covered by the AF points is soft. I was always quick to blame the the cameras AF system but this is often classic user error because if you cannot pan or follow your subject smoothly and accurately (not easy) then your cameras AF system not only has to predict the movement of your subject but also has to factor in your panning errors. A difficult and often impossible task for any cameras AF system. On static or near static subjects I had no problem with close to a 100% success rate.

Red Kite

Red Kite feeding – Canon 1D Mk1V 500mm f4 IS at iso 400 f6.3 1/1600 almost full frame

For those readers who feel a 50% success rate is not that impressive I would remind you that of the remaining 50% many were down to user error and when compared to the moving subject matter Rob Galbraith covers in his reviews flying birds are considerably more difficult – I remain impressed by the AF performance.

File quality for a 1.3x crop camera with a 16.1 megapixel sensor is high. Many photographers have said that the noise in the Mk1V RAW files is about the same as those in the MkIII – this is true when you view files from both cameras at 100%. However what you need to remember is that the Mk1V has 60% more pixels and although the pixels are smaller Canon has managed to make the pixels in the 1D Mk1V a little less noisy than the MkIII. When you consider there are 60% more pixels on the same size sensor that is quite an achievement. To sum up if you were to print identicle images from the MkIII and Mk1V the higher resolution of the Mk1V would oversample each pixel giving an improved pixel to noise ratio so when comparing final print output you would see that the Mk1V is an excellent performer and close to one stop better than the MkIII. You can read more about sensor performance if you visit www.dxomark.com

Red Kite

Red Kite feeding – same techs only 100% crop with no noise reduction.

I do very little printing but as far as supplying images for books, high quality magazines and photo libraries the quality is fine to iso 1600 and acceptable at iso 3200 beyond this the images are very usable for many applications but the fall off in quality is quite high which is only to be expected.

I am not going to go into detail as to how the camera handles other than to say the layout is similar to previous Canon 1 series cameras with a few tweaks and handles extremely well.

Red Kite

To sum up I am very pleased with the overall performance of the 1D Mk1V – the AF is accurate, responsive and stable. The file quality for a 16 megapixel camera on a x1.3 crop sensor is excellent and at the time of writing the best available. My initial reaction when the specifications for the Mk1V were announced was that I would have preferred just 12 megapixels with better noise performance. However with action photography composition is usually something you think about later and having 16.1 megapixels to play with is a real bonus when it comes to final composition as you can really crop an image and still have a very high res file. At this time my only real negative comment about the 1D Mk1V is the price.

I hope you have found my observations useful and if you are considering purchasing a Mk1V then may I suggest you visit

Park Cameras my preferred dealer for price and service. I have been a customer of theirs for over 25 years.

David