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Friday, April 25, 2014

Canon EOS-1D X Camera - Tips and Tricks

Canon EOS-1D X DSLR camera

* * *  Read the latest post on the EOS-1D X Mk II  * * *

My readers know I have picked the Canon EOS-1D X as the best sports/wildlife full frame camera two years in a row. With the release of Firmware 2.0.3 earlier this year, the camera has even more robust features and capabilities. Below are some tips and tricks from Canon to help users get the most out of the new software. You can see photos taken with the EOS-1D X from my worldwide photo shoots on

Uploading Picture Styles

With Picture Style Editor, it is easy to create your own custom Picture Style that can then be uploaded into the camera ready to shoot with. These Picture Styles will be stored in the User Def. options. Once a Picture Style is uploaded, it is still possible to make changes to it by adjusting the Parameters available in the camera – Contrast, Color Tone, Saturation and Sharpness. If you wish to revert to your saved Picture Style as created in Picture Style Editor, then select “Clear all camera settings.” This will remove any adjustments you have made in the camera to the uploaded Style, but keep the settings you made on the computer.

Auto ISO and Manual

If you need a particular combination of shutter speed and aperture to achieve a desired image effect, the Auto ISO feature will allow the ISO speed to adjust to give the correct exposure. However, leaving the ISO to adjust by itself could lead to over or under exposure depending on where you are metering from. With the latest firmware, it is possible to use exposure compensation for ISO only while the camera is set to Manual shooting. For quick access to Exposure Compensation in Manual mode, use the Custom Control menu to set the SET button to activate “Expo comp.” Now, pressing the Set button and turning the Main Dial will adjust the ISO as exposure compensation.

Minimum shutter speed with Auto ISO

The Minimum shutter speed in Auto ISO is very useful in P and Av modes as it avoids the shutter speed dropping below a certain level, thereby ensuring sharp images of a moving subject for example. However, if you attach a flash to the camera, you should remember that the minimum shutter speed will not be applied and you should therefore be more aware of your shutter speed as it could easily drop below an acceptable level.

AF in low light

If you are shooting burst sequences in low light, firmware version 2.0.3 has added a +2 option for focus priority. This will likely slow the burst rate slightly, but will give the camera more time to achieve focus under poor lighting conditions to ensure a greater amount of sharp images. In bright light, where focusing is easier for the camera, try reducing the setting to 0, which may increase the burst shooting speed.

Selecting JPEG level

When shooting JPEG images with the EOS-1D X, it is possible to select the JPEG quality level setting for either more or less compression. By default, the camera is set to Level 8 (out of 10). If you want to get the best JPEG image quality from your camera, then in the JPEG Quality setting adjust the level to 10. If you do increase the JPEG setting, then be aware that the maximum number of images in a burst may reduce slightly due to the extra data being captured and passed through the buffer.

Maximum frame rate

All EOS cameras quote a maximum frame rate and in the case of the EOS-1D X, this is 12 fps in normal shooting. When a situation requires you to achieve the very maximum frame rate possible, there are some steps to take in order to ensure the best possible performance: keep the ISO speed below 25,600, use a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec. or faster and use the maximum aperture of your lens. Additionally, if you have an IS lens, turn the IS off and also make sure AF is set to One Shot.

AF Case settings

The EOS-1D X features six AF Case study settings to help you choose the most appropriate option for your subject. These case studies provide different setups for the three different AF preference settings of Tracking Sensitivity, Acceleration/Deceleration tracking and AF Point Auto Switching. When choosing a case study, and especially when modifying one, remember that if you make the settings the same as one of the other cases, it will function exactly the same - there is no underlying difference beyond what you can see. The cases are simply designed to give you a better starting point in selecting the appropriate combination of settings.

Still photos during movies 

When shooting movies with the EOS-1D X, it can be easier to set the shutter button and Mfn button to start and stop movie recording as it allows one-handed camera operation. If you do this, you will find that trying to take photos while recording movies is not possible. If you want to be able to capture still photos during movie recording, disable the shutter button/MFn button from being able to start and stop movie recording.

Using Auto Point Selection and iTR indoors

The EOS-1D X features an intelligent tracking autofocus that uses the 100,000 pixel RGB AE sensor to help detect colors and faces within the frame so that they can be tracked more accurately. If you are shooting in low light – for example indoors – you may find that the frame rate is slower than expected, especially if you are trying to shoot at the full 12fps. If this is the case, and you wish to prioritize motordrive speed over AF, then turn off EOS iTR AF to increase drive speed.

C Mode quick switching

One of the benefits of the EOS-1D X is the level of customization that is available. Like several EOS models the EOS-1D X has Custom ‘C’ Modes that can store frequently used settings. If you are shooting fast-paced sports, you may find a benefit in having both a fast and slow shutter speed option setup. Using the C Modes, you can preset one for, for example, Tv (shutter priority) mode at 1/1000 sec. and be shooting in Tv mode at 1/125 sec. Using the custom controls, the M.Fn button behind the shutter button can then be configured to switch between the C modes with a simple press. You can then go from shooting pans to freezing the action without taking your eye from the viewfinder. If you have only one C Mode configured, pressing the M.Fn button will take you back to the mode you were in originally.

Separating movies and stills in-camera

If you shoot both stills and movies on the same memory card, it can be beneficial to keep them stored in separate folders so, when you come to download them later, they are easy to organize. If you need to switch folders quickly, using the camera menu can slow progress and requires extra button presses. With the Custom Controls on the EOS-1D X and EOS-1D C DSLRs, you can assign the SET button to directly bring up the ‘Record func+card/folder sel.’ menu, thus allowing you to switch between folders much faster.

Compression Settings 

With the introduction of the EOS-5D Mk III and EOS-1D X, Canon introduced compression settings in the Movie shooting settings to go along with the resolution and frame rate selection. The two options are IPB and ALL-I. Essentially, IPB is a compressed setting, a lot like the files from an EOS 5D Mark II, whereas ALL-I is an intra-frame codec where every frame is treated as a key frame and uncompressed. ALL-I footage will be around three times larger than IPB. Which you choose will depend on your needs. If you need to keep file sizes down, then IPB is the best choice. However, for almost all other uses, ALL-I is the best choice because the resulting footage is easier to edit on lower powered computers and produces better image quality by allowing you to edit more accurately on a frame-by-frame basis

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