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Ambassadors Programme

Ambassador

Jeff Ascough

Mar11

Initial thoughts on shooting weddings with the EOS-1D X Mark II

By Jeff Ascough, Friday March 11, 2016
The bride's reaction to seeing one of her friends. The image quality is lovely in mixed artificial light, particularly with the flesh tones. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with an EF135mm f/2L USM lens; the exposure was 1/200sec at f/2, ISO 3200.

The bride's reaction to seeing one of her friends. The image quality is lovely in mixed artificial light, particularly with the flesh tones. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with an EF135mm f/2L USM lens; the exposure was 1/200sec at f/2, ISO 3200. © Jeff Ascough

I’ve recently been testing the new EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR and while this model isn’t the one I would naturally use for my wedding work it has certainly made me rethink a few things. I tested a pre-production sample at a couple of weddings, restricting its use to those parts of the day when my wife, Sarah, was covering the main photography. I used my normal EOS 5D Mark III cameras for the bulk of the coverage. I shot JPEGs as well as the RAW files since, at the time of writing, Adobe hadn't updated its software to read the new RAW files.

Technically, this camera is as sophisticated as it gets. As a wedding photographer, I probably wouldn’t use 90% of the camera’s capabilities but the two things that always interest me with any new camera are the high ISO capability and the autofocus accuracy in low light.

If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t quite prepared for the autofocus on this camera. It is very sophisticated and customisable and so I left it in default mode – one shot – and used the centre focus point (as I do on my 5D-series). At these settings, the low light accuracy was quite superb. It didn’t hunt or lock on to higher contrast elements in the background even in those situations, where the older cameras always need a little bit of help to focus. It was fast. Accurate. Amazing.

The image quality at high ISO is pretty incredible. I seem to say this with every camera launch! I do believe with this camera we are now at the stage where the usable ISO is way beyond anything that I could see myself using at a wedding. Whereas ISO 12,800 would be for emergencies only with previous cameras, I would be happy to use this ISO setting all day long with the EOS-1D X Mark II. Even at ISO 51,200 I wouldn’t consider the image quality to be just for emergencies only! At these ISO levels, the files retain all of the Canon qualities I love, but with very organic noise and exceptional shadow detail. As silly as this sounds, this DSLR at high ISO takes very ‘film-like’ images, and that makes me very happy.

Ergonomically this thing is built like a tank but is also the most comfortable EOS-1 D series camera that I’ve used. It is a joy to use vertically. In vertical mode the controls feel identical to horizontal mode. However, it is very heavy compared to a 5D-series camera and it doesn’t have a truly silent shutter. These two things alone would make me think about using this camera for an entire wedding. The pictures I was able to take in situations where the 5D-series would traditionally struggle are almost worth the compromise in weight and operational noise. I guess the bottom line is do I want to give this camera back? Not a chance!

Speeches. The image quality is fabulous at high ISO with a wonderful 'film like' quality. The improvement in ISO makes a zoom lens an incredibly flexible tool in low light. Taken from an in-camera jpeg with a quick black and white conversion applied. Take on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with an EF70-200mm f2.8L IS II USM lens; the exposure was 1/100sec at f/2.8, ISO 12,800.

Speeches. The image quality is fabulous at high ISO with a wonderful 'film like' quality. The improvement in ISO makes a zoom lens an incredibly flexible tool in low light. Taken from an in-camera jpeg with a quick black and white conversion applied. Take on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with an EF70-200mm f2.8L IS II USM lens; the exposure was 1/100sec at f/2.8, ISO 12,800. © Jeff Ascough

The first dance. Low contrast light on the subject with bright, contrasting light behind. Spotlights shining into the lens and subject movement. The camera nailed the focus on this image and every other one in this light. The highlighted areas will certainly be improved with correct RAW processing. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 1/500sec at f/3.5, ISO 6400.

The first dance. Low contrast light on the subject with bright, contrasting light behind. Spotlights shining into the lens and subject movement. The camera nailed the focus on this image and every other one in this light. The highlighted areas will certainly be improved with correct RAW processing. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 1/500sec at f/3.5, ISO 6400. © Jeff Ascough