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During the shootings I used the following settings. First I have to mention that you should set in the Custom Button menu the exposure button not to focus but do it by the back AF-On button, it can cause some inconvenience until you get used to it but later it will be a pleasure to work with it. My another favorite is to put the AL-SERVO ONE SHOT option on the depth-offield control button. This way we can react in a moment if the bird moves and the system has to change. You have to get used to it as well if you have never used it before. My third suggestion is as follows. Always photograph with both of your eyes, track the bird with your eye besides the camera and try to keep it in the viewfinder with your other eye. In this case the quickest and most efficient setting is the AL SERVO AF, in the 61-point automatic AF menu with middle focus point start and in the graphic menu the fourth one which shows a footballer in which the focus system is „sharpened on” an intensely accelerating or decelerating theme. The camera works efficiently with this setting, out of a series of 20 pictures 18 pictures are certainly sharp, or if I can track the theme nicely I can even say that I have no blunt images at all. It is much easier to select from the series the one in which the wing motion is just the best and the bird situated in a nice composition.
Photo: © Tamás Imre

Canon EOS-1 DX, EF600mm f/4L IS USM f/5 1/1000 sec ISO 1600

IMAGE QUALITY AND ISO SENSITIVITY

This is a crucial thing for action and nature photographers as if there is light, then birds are not moving well, and in nice dawn or dusk lights usually the shutter speed is not enough to take sharp action photos.
EOS 1DX came up to scratch here too and it could enhance ISO sensitivity by one grade compared to EOS 5D Mark III. Actually I did not find any difference between ISO 100 and ISO 400. Of course, a bird photographer starts working with ISO 400, as shutter speed is needed. Between ISO 500 and ISO 800 a slight noise appears, but the factory setting takes it away nicely (at high ISO range noise reduction mode) – so I got excellent pictures. If it is not on, then a smaller noise reduction filtering is needed, both in DPP and in Adobe Lightroom softwares.
But after doing this you would not tell that I shot at ISO 800. We used this setting at most of the action photos with excellent result. One level up, at ISO 1600 I had tp look for the noise but setting DPP Luminance Noise Reduction to 4 and Chrominance Noise Reduction to 3 I could not find any quality flaw. It’s amazing, you can work even with at this sensitivity which is a big jump compared to the ISO 50 Velvia ten years ago. In the same situation for example with f/4 aperture at ISO 50 shutter speed is 1/30, while at ISO 1600 shutter speed is 1/1000 sec. This is an incredible change in the history of action bird photography!
Photo: © Tamás Imre

Canon EOS-1 DX, EF600mm f/4L IS USM + 1,4x f/8 1/1000 sec ISO 640
I was enthusiastic so I went ahead to see the abilities of this camera. Now comes the deep water, at ISO 3200 it is only slightly noisy, checking it by DPP Luminance Noise Reduction light noise was at 7, while in Chrominance Noise Reduction it was at 9 with factory settings and the quality of the picture was incredibly good. I also checked the ISO 6400 test pictures, these were much better than I expected. So far top cameras have always failed at ISO 6400 sensitivity. Seeing an ISO 6400 picture on a 100x70 cm print in such quality is quite something! We can have a fantastic result by a professional fullframe body at high, 18.1-Megapixel resolution.

SUMMARY

After one and a half year experience with Canon EOS -1 DX, I can state that you can make a good deal with this camera. It is perfect for action photography: sports, contemporary dance, bird, animal and press photography as well.
Text and images: Tamás Imre EFIAP
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