Paris has been the first opportunity I have had to shoot with Canon’s new 1DX multi-media powerhouse camera. I had only limited opportunity to test the camera before I departed for Europe because the camera arrived only a couple of days before my flight departed. With all the delays since its announcement in September last year I was having serious doubts whether Canon were going to deliver. I managed some initial tests to ensure there was no immediate problem with the camera and these proved very promising, with excellent results.
After two days in Paris and around 500 frames I can now report that the Canon 1DX has exceeded my expectations for low light and autofocus performance in every respect. One of the real highlights in Paris for anyone interested in history and architecture is its incredibly impressive cathedrals and churches. The sheer scale, grandeur, and majesty of Notre Dame, and others, make them wonderfully impressive subjects for photography. They can be hard to capture in their entirety as there is a fine balance between placing the structure in context and the creation of a mere postcard. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the challenge and I could happily spend many days prowling the streets and cobblestone alleys for new and different angles.
As impressive as the Cathedrals are externally, they are equally awe-inspiring on the inside. Unfortunately, all of them are extremely dark inside and tripod photography is forbidden (as is the use of flash – although, this last ‘law’ seems very poorly enforced) necessitating the use of high ISO photography to ensure sufficient shutter speeds and depth of field. It is not uncommon to have to push the ISO as high as 10,000 or even 25,600 in some cases to obtain 1/40th of a second at F4 in the darker areas.
This photograph was taken inside the Eglise Saint Eustache cathedral with the Canon 1DX and 17mm F4L TSE, handheld at ISO 6,400, 1/60thof a second, F 4.5. I want to emphasize that it was extremely dark inside the cathedral and that the light streaming through the stain glass windows was extremely hot. The dynamic range far exceeds the capabilities of any camera to record; yet the 1DX has managed to produce an excellent exposure without intervention from me. This photograph simply would not have been possible with such low noise with any previous camera I have owned or tested. The image has had only minimal post processing and noise reduction in Adobe Lightroom 4.1. There is virtually no appreciable noise of consequence in the RAW file, at least nothing that is not easily corrected with a small amount of noise reduction (a modest setting of 25 in Lightroom was used in this example to reduce the luminance noise grain – no color noise reduction was required). The results are simply astonishing and I am very much looking forward to the new opportunities created by the amazing capabilities of the 1DX. Although in this example I utilized the 17mm F4L TSE which is a manual focus lens I also shot several frames with the 24mm f1.4L MKII and 35mm F1.4L lenses, and in all cases the 1DX was able to immediately nail focus in near total darkness, center of frame. The era of shooting in the dark has truly arrived.Although street and city photography is not my preferred landscape, I have very much enjoyed my time in the city of romance and rate it as one of the most beautiful and charming cities I have visited. There is a wavelength and ambience in Paris that I can immediately harmonize with. Its cobblestone streets are steeped in history and charm and this, combined with my love of the café culture, make it a city I could easily call home. I am looking forward to wandering its streets over the next few days before I head for Venice.
Au revoir for now…