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Technical

July 2014

The EOS-1D X is Canon’s flagship professional DSLR and offers photographers a host of features including an 18.1 Megapixel full-frame sensor, a 61-point AF system, up to 14 frames per second shooting and ISO capabilities up to 204,800. This highly advanced EOS camera is the choice of many of the world’s top photographers who are seeking to benefit from its potent combination of speed, performance, customisable options and reliability. CPN spoke to a variety of photographers who have recently started shooting with the EOS-1D X to get their opinions on the camera - just click on their names in the black bar below to find out their stories.

Sports photographer David Rawcliffe has been working with Canon EOS-1D X DSLRs and EF lenses since June 2013. Here he gives his expert opinions on working with the EOS System and chooses his favourite image thus far shot with the EOS-1D X.

What Canon cameras and EF lenses are in your kitbag?

“Currently I have two EOS-1D X and two EOS 5D Mark II bodies. I carry quite a range of lenses: from the amazing 8-15mm Fisheye right the way through to a fast 400mm f/2.8 and the versatile 200-400mm /f4. They are the EF8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM, an EF17-40mm f/4L USM, an EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM, an EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, an EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM, an EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x and an ancient EF17-35mm f/2.8L USM [zoom] from when I last used Canon.”

Please tell us the story behind your favourite image taken with the EOS-1D X?

© David Rawcliffe/Propaganda-photo.com

Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring the fourth goal against Fulham, the third goal of his hat-trick, during the English Premier League match at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, on 9 November 2013. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM zoom lens at a focal length of 130mm; the exposure was 1/1000sec at f/2.8, ISO 3200.

“I chose this image not because it’s the greatest picture, or the most dramatic, but purely because for me it represents exactly what the Canon EOS-1D X does for me. It produces stunning quality in the most challenging of circumstances. This image of Liverpool’s Luis Suarez celebrating scoring the fourth goal against Fulham at Anfield was shot whilst the Reds were demolishing all before them in the Premier League and the Uruguayan striker was in red-hot form.

Unfortunately the working conditions at Anfield [Liverpool’s stadium] are some of the worst in the Premier League; added to that the stadium has the poorest floodlights you could imagine. The colour balance on every frame is different and it’s very difficult to get any kind of natural skin tone, as well as [to] reproduce the colour of Liverpool’s famous red shirt at the same time. Yet the 1D X was able to capture Luis [Suarez] at full pelt as he sped past me in an instant, razor-sharp and, despite being shot at 3200, with no noticeable noise.”

How have you found the EOS-1D X DSLR performs in terms of speed/frame rate, for example, up to 14fps?

“The speed is very impressive; 12 frames per second [as standard] gets those in-between shots that you sometimes miss. It means the difference of having the ball in exactly the right place when you shoot a sequence of two footballers in a tackle. The camera is instant when you pick it up; [there’s] no lag whatsoever, and that results in having a lot of confidence in the body, which is crucial when you’re working in high-pressured, fast-moving environments.”

What is your opinion of the overall image quality performance of the EOS-1D X?

“Stunning. It almost got me into a lot of trouble... one newspaper took a full-length photo I’d taken of a football manager at a closed training session that I was allowed in to shoot. He was carrying a clipboard with his notes on and the newspaper had taken the massive file that the 1D X produced, rotated and zoomed in and read all the training notes he’d made on individual players. I hadn’t even given this any notice as with my previous cameras the text would have been too pixellated to read. But the sheer size and quality of the 1D X and sharpness of the 400mm lens meant that a crafty picture editor at the paper could see more detail than ever before. Needless to say I’m now fully aware of the exceptional quality of the files that the 1D X spits out!”

What is your favourite EF lens to work with and why?

“It depends on what I’m shooting. If it’s football then the 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM (pictured right) has no equal. It’s fast, sharp, produces amazingly clear shots, is a lot lighter than the previous one and just ‘works’. If I’m shooting tennis then it is the versatility offered by the 200-400mm f/4L with the built-in 1.4x extender. This lens is perfect for tennis, allowing me to get ultra close-up shots at 560mm, for example of Serena Williams’ fingernails (see Showcase of this article), as well as instantly being able to zoom out and capture a full length, landscape shot of a player stretching for a forehand. All without having to switch bodies.”

What is your opinion of the autofocus capabilities of the EOS-1D X?

“Forgettable… and I mean that in a good way. I’m never waiting for it to lock on, or find it hunting around. It just works instantly; so much so that I don’t even think about it, I don’t notice it. Even in very low-light situations. In dark rooms at press conferences, or poor floodlights at lower-league stadiums, it handles effortlessly.”

How does the EOS-1D X handle in terms of ease of use and camera settings?

“I find the more ‘digital’ controls of the Canon better than the more mechanical cameras I used before that seemed to have a physical button or switch for almost everything. It also sits nicely in the hands with the upright grip very ergonomic too. It can be a bit heavy with a 70-200mm f/2.8 attached.”

What is your favourite feature of the EOS-1D X DSLR and what does it add to your photography?

“Two simple things. Being able to have a second preset focus point when you turn the camera to an upright position and being able to quickly rate an image. They may not sound like big features but they save a lot of time and messing around with controls and, again, this leaves me free to concentrate on what I’m shooting rather than fiddling with camera settings in the middle of an important fast-moving event.”

Do you have any other overall thoughts about working with the EOS-1D X and EF lenses?

“We’re finally at a stage where the quality being produced by the 1D X and the EF lenses is now far superior to anything we could have shot with film back in the day. With a 1D X shooting digital is no longer a compromise; it no longer has limitations, in fact it now exceeds what we ever thought possible, with the amazing low-light performance. I could only dream of the possibilities had this technology been around to shoot sport with back when I started in the early 1990s.”

What would be your best piece of advice for up and coming photographers in your genre (sports) of photography?

“Firstly, and this goes for any photographer, regardless of genre, never, EVER, give your work away for free. There is always a value. If someone wants to use it, then it has a value. Secondly, if you want to shoot the top-end of sport, specifically football, then invest in a 1D X and a prime f/2.8 lens. You can do the job cheaper with lesser cameras, but you won’t get anywhere near the quality that the 1D X can achieve. Yes, it’s expensive, but when you’re competing against the very best sports photographers on the planet, like we have here in the UK, then you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage to use anything else. It’s an investment you won’t regret.”

If you have worked with the EOS-1 series cameras in the past, before the EOS-1D X, which cameras did you use and what are your memories of working with them?

“My first was the EOS 5 – the ‘eye-sensing focus’ never really worked, was a bit of a gimmick, but it was the first time that the AF tracking really started to work and became usable for sport. After that I used the fabulous EOS-1N RS; combined with a 600mm f4 lens this was perfect for football ‘stock’ [shots]. However, it could eat a 36-exposure roll of film in four seconds, so produced a lot more work after the event! Seeing exactly what you were shooting, with a fixed, semi-transparent pellicle mirror was surreal. The old adage was that if you didn’t see the ball then you’d usually have captured it on film, because the shutter blocked that split-second view. But with the RS you saw everything with no shutter to get in the way. It was a wonderful camera.”

Biography: David Rawcliffe

David Rawcliffe

David Rawcliffe is a sports photographer has been shooting football and other sports, such as tennis and motor racing, since 1992. He specialises in covering Liverpool Football Club and the Wales national football team. He runs a sports photo agency in the North West of England – Propaganda Photo – and has amassed an unrivalled archive of images of Merseyside and Welsh football, which has been captured by covering teams from those regions playing all around the world.



Showcase

Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard (centre, mid-air) celebrates scoring the winning third goal against Fulham from the penalty spot during the English Premier League match at Craven Cottage, London, England, on 12 February 2014. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM zoom lens at a focal length of 123mm; the exposure was 1/800sec at f/2.8, ISO 3200.