I’ve been shooting with the EOS-1D Mark IV for about three months now. This is the time of year when there are quite a few candlelit wedding ceremonies and receptions, so I’m often shooting events that are taking place in near darkness…
The camera’s performance is really quite staggering at higher ISOs, especially 6400 and 12,800, as the image quality is just gorgeous. There is little noise, no banding and, for a crop sensor camera, the resolution is very good. I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t use the H1 setting (12,800) on the 5D Mark II but I’d happily use 12,800 on the 1D Mark IV all day long.
The Mark IV’s low light capabilities have also allowed me to use a zoom lens throughout the day. In the past I would favour fast prime lenses to deal with dark conditions, but with the increase in high ISO quality I can pretty much shoot the whole event with a 24-70mm zoom, plus maybe a couple of other lenses to cover the bits and pieces which the 24-70mm can't.
Shooting predominantly with one lens has made my shooting style more fluid, as I don't have to worry about switching lenses when the light gets too low for f/2.8 aperture lenses.
However, there was a wedding I shot in Manchester recently when the ceremony and drinks reception were so dark that I still needed to use an EF50mm f/1.2 lens at ISO 12,800! The results were amazing and in post-production I could turn night into day as there was so much latitude in the files. There was one particular sequence at this wedding where the bride and groom walked towards me as they exited the ceremony room - the high ISO allowed me to get a decent shutter speed to freeze their movement where previously I would maybe have resorted to using flash.
I prefer to shoot RAW files and put them through Apple's Aperture software. The colours have been really good with the 1D Mark IV and I’d say they are a little more neutral than the colours of the 5D Mark II… maybe a little bit cooler, but this may be due to the Apple profile that is applied as a default. However, with very little tweaking, I can get really good colour saturation from the camera and the flesh tones are really good - this is quite amazing given the high ISOs that I've been working with. I don’t see the excess magenta or red that I have seen with other cameras, and the flesh tones look natural and not 'plasticky'.
Currently I convert about 70% of my work to black and white and, if the original colour files are great, you can get great black and whites from them. The files are really clean at high ISOs. Even at 6400 or 12,800, if you get the black and white conversion right, it’s just like using film again – there’s a really nice 'film-like' texture to the files.
In terms of autofocus, if I compare the 1D Mark IV to the 1Ds Mark III, the focusing accuracy is much higher. I prefer to use 19 focusing points and this is the first camera where I know I can use all 19 points effectively, and in less than ideal light. In AI Servo mode the actual focusing is very accurate – I've never really used AI Servo as I've never trusted it, but with the 1D Mark IV I've been using it on a regular basis. I'm happy to use AI Servo now in any situation with people walking towards or away from me. In many ways the 1D Mark IV's AF reminds me of the EOS-1D Mark II N – it’s slick, accurate and doesn’t hunt or slip in and out of focus.
I’ll be swapping my 5D Mark II DSLRs for two EOS-1D Mark IVs. For me the 1D Mark IV is a big leap in terms of imaging technology. It was the high ISO capabilities that originally attracted me to the 5D Mark II, but with the 1D Mark IV I can now get better build quality, superior high ISO ability and a vastly superior AF system, so it’s been an easy decision to switch. I would say, hand on heart, this is the best digital SLR I have ever used.
Biography: Jeff Ascough
© Jeff Ascough
UK-based wedding photographer Jeff Ascough has been shooting portraits and weddings since 1989. He is best known for his documentary style approach to weddings and this style has, to date, won him over 170 awards for his work. A Canon Ambassador since 2008 Jeff’s reputation has spread across the Atlantic Ocean as in 2007 American Photo magazine voted him one of the world’s 10 best wedding photographers.