Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Canon 1D Mk.IV "launch"

Well, not exactly a launch - more of a preview - today at Pro Photo Solutions, held at the Design Business Center in London. All courtesy of the nice people (Colin) at SimplyDV.

I was hoping for a proper "hands on", particularly to do a proper test of the flash metering - which to date on Canon is complete pants. Unfortunately Canon UK only had two pre-production samples of the new camera, both tied very firmly to the deck and with card doors sealed, so you couldn't actually take any photos. All very disappointing.

Due to catching too late a train, I missed most of the initial press briefing, but attended a half-hour seminar later in the day. I was a bit worried what Canon UK were saying about the camera being more "susceptible" to blurred photos due to the resolution being so high and the pixels so densely packed. Not sure I entirely believe their argument - if it happens with this camera, why not also on the D1S Mk.III ?

There was much talk about the various Custom Functions that can be used to tailor the operation of the AF system. You can control how fast the AF reacts to changes, how many of the 45 AF sensors are used, how the selected AF point can be expanded, how large the AF areas are (that's a new one), etc. etc. "Do read the manual", the Canon UK man says, as you can basically duff up the AF operation completely. Let just hope all the AF issues that plagued the Mk.III (and some - including my - Mk.IIn) bodies are firmly behind us now.

Much was also made of the hiked ISO range. The standard range available without recourse to yet further custom functions is 100 to 12800. With a bit of fiddling, however, this can be expanded to 50 to a staggering 102400! Canon reckon the quality is "two stops better" than the already impressive Mk.III - meaning that if you were happy to work with ISO 800, you'd be equally happy with 3200 on the new body. Why hide this extra range away? Canon say its because the quality isn't really what they consider acceptable - I can live with that. Of course, the proof is in the pudding and I was miffed I couldn't see the quality for myself.

I asked, for the benefit of SimplyDV, about the camera's HD video capabilities. Via custom function (there are a lot of them) you can pick between full HD at 25fps or lower the resolution to 720 pixels or even VGA to get 50fps - could be useful for scientific or educational applications,as well as straight-forward slow motion. You can also switch from PAL to NTSC to get different frame rates.

Sadly, in the questions section at the end, predictable - and pointless - questions came from the floor regarding the camera's crop factor and the choice of resolution. Why is it that people cannot understand that if you want a "full frame" (35mm-sized) sensor, you simply buy a different camera? This new body is aimed primarily at sports, news and wildlife photographer who need the extra reach that a crop sensor body provides.

So, what's my verdict? Well, sadly I can't give one. Nowhere near enough real hands-on for my liking - the lack of real cameras for us media types to play with rendered the whole exercise somewhat pointless.