When Canon Singapore contacted me to see if I wanted to test drive a pre-productin shiny new Canon 1DmkIV I jumped at the chance. Up till now I’ve had to lay down my own cash to try the 5DmkII and 7D so this was a great opportunity to form an opinion about the camera without going bankrupt and I was due to be in Singapore anyway for an event at Cathay Photo. I had a few days to really put the camera through it paces shooting mainly at night to see if it lived up to the hype. I’m glad to say that the short answer is that it does and its low light video is truly stellar, easily beating my 5DmkII and 7D.
The film you see here was filmed in just one night of horse racing at the Singapore Turf Club. Shooting at between 1600 and 6400 ASA under just the floodlights I got results that were far cleaner than I’d expected. The rolling shutter effects seem to be improved over the 5DmkII too, its still there but you need to look much harder for it. The one thing that is still evident on the pre-production model I was testing is aliasing, personally I didn’t find it too distracting but make up your own mind.
I had not one but two 1DmkIV bodies from Canon to play with along with a selection for lenses from a 14mm right up to a 300mm f2.8. I wanted to test not just the low light but the slow motion capability as well so I shot this whole film on 720p/60 and then slowed it down to 23.98 fps using Cinematools, before editing in Final Cut Pro. The final footage you see here is ungraded and pretty much straight from the camera. The picture profile was set to neutral with contrast and sharpness reduced to min. If I have time I will try and grade this piece later and re-post it.
I should mention that the LCD screen somehow seems to be better than that of the 5DmkII or 7D, it is the same resolution but I found it easier to focus with. Which brings me on to one of the other new gadgets I had to test. The LCDVF viewfinder from Estonia, although I am used to the more expensive Z-finder from Zacuto, this little gadget worked quite well. It doesn’t have a diopter adjustment but I didn’t find that to be a problem with my eyesight. I actually quite like the image it gave with the 1DmkIV, being slightly smaller than the Z-finder it was still a breeze to focus. I did have one annoying problem though, the magnetic frame that attaches to the back of the camera kept falling off, I didn’t have long to allow it to set on the back before shooting and it was damned hot so maybe that caused the fault. LCDVF recommend a certain way of applying the frame which I had no time to do so maybe I’m being a little unfair. It is also possible that the new LCD on the 1DmkIV has a slightly different coating to the 5DmkII that is less sticky, who knows? sadly I had to give the 1DmkIV back so someone else will have to figure that one out.
I also tested the camera with a new as yet unreleased prototype heavy duty slider by local Singaporean designer Lee Kang Swee, this is like my original Glidetrack slider but far more heavy duty and probably better suited to the weight of a fully loaded 1DmkIV. I used it for all the slider shot you see in this film, I’m going to keep in touch and see how this product develops.
Lastly, I couldn’t have done it without the help of Singaporean photographer and filmmaker Wee Han Yeo who organised the shoot and assisted me throughout, you can see his great work at www.tripeaksimagery.com