2014 has arrived! (At least for those of us living in Australia). For those of you in America and Europe you still have a few more hours to go – but I i wanted to get in early and wish all of you a very safe, happy and prosperous 2014. I hope your year ahead is full of lots of photography, wonderful light and that you make some incredible photographs.
I am kicking off 2014 here on my blog with my photograph of the month for January. An image I made in the Arctic in August last year of a large female Polar Bear on a kill on the pack ice north of Svalbard. We were fortunate to spot this Polar Bear on a fresh seal kill and to be able to manoeuvre close in our small ship M.S Origo. Incidentally, this is the same ship I have chartered for a dedicated Polar Bear photography trip in late July in 2015 and I will soon be announcing the details of this expedition here on my blog. M.S Origo is widely regarded as the best ship in the Arctic for photographing Polar Bears due to its low decks and operable portholes a mere fifty centimetres above the waterline. This enables the photographer to get down to eye level with wild Polar Bears living and hunting on the pack ice. I made this particular photograph with the Canon EOS1DX and Canon’s new 200-400 F4L IS with inbuilt 1.4 Teleconverter and photographed the bear through the open porthole in my cabin. By shooting down low through the open porthole I was able to get down to eye level with the bear and create a far more intimate photograph than would have been possible from a larger ship. There is simply no substitute for being able to get down to eye level with the target animal in wildlife photography. In this instance I used the inbuilt 1.4 teleconverter and this image was shot at 560mm full frame.
Speaking of gear: I have been receiving sporadic emails since my pre-release video review of the 200-400 lens last year asking me if I know when Canon is going to release its new high end, high mega pixel camera. I know gear talk (and particularly rumours) is the focus of many photography websites, forums and blogs as it creates more website traffic than any other topic in photography. However, I have made a concerted effort to avoid spurious gear talk here on my blog as a general rule and prefer to focus on images rather than equipment. Canon Rumours is probably the best source on the release of new cameras from Canon and they do a good job of reporting the news and rumours. The truth is I actually have no idea when Canon will release a new high mega pixel camera and can offer nothing more than an educated guess at this point. Even if I did know Canon would likely have me under a non-disclosure agreement in any case which would prevent me from discussing it. For those of you who may be into guesses; my best guess would be an announcement by the end of March with a delivery date of sometime later in the year (but don’t take that to the bank). As to how many mega pixels the camera will have and how much it will cost I wold guess somewhere around 40 mega pixels and likely somewhere around $8000 USD provided it ships in a 1-Series body. If it ships in a 5 series body I would expect the price to be closer to $5000 USD. Quite honestly I no longer pine for such a camera and have stopped paying attention to most of the rumours surrounding its release. I am very happy shooting with the 18 mega pixel 1DX at present. It is quite simply the best DSLR I have ever used. 18 mega pixels is more than enough for most of my application needs and the high ISO and auto focus performance are blisteringly good. The Canon 1DX will remain my primary camera for 2014 along with my 1DSMKIII as a back up. The only other planned addition I will be making to my camera and lens arsenal early this year is to invest in Canon’s 600mm F4L IS MKII lens and a pair of Leica UltraVid HD binoculars for spotting wildlife.