Tag Archives: Canon

Canon EOS 1DX mark II & 5D mark IV Autofocus Systems


If you’re like me, you’ve been loyal to Canon for their great lenses and beautiful skin tone.

But that loyalty has come with a price.  Namely, autofocus.  Let’s face it – it’s been crap.

If you’re an f/8 shooter, you’re in great shape.  But if you love your shallow focus with soft creamy bokeh-filled backgrounds, life has been rough for us Canon users.

At f/2.8 or larger, using single-point AF, whether single-shot or servo, and even placing the AF point carefully over an eye with plenty of lighting, the rate at which the camera returns an image that’s actually in focus is somewhere in the neighborhood of 20%-30%.

I’m not saying they’ve been way off, but they’re consistently off just enough.  Web-res is unaffected, but doing larger prints can be tricky when shooting this way.

If you’ve worked shoulder to shoulder with Nikon shooters, you may have even looked over with a little envy at the relatively consistent sharpness they get at f/1.4 and other similar settings.


The 1DX mk II and the 5D mk IV finally incorporate AF systems that can handle shallow-focus shooters.  I’m actually back to shooting at f/1.8 and f/1.6 on a regular basis – and that’s at live events with people moving around like weddings and corporate parties.

I’m not going to comment on auto-tracking or other fancy AF modes designed to figure things out for you.  Frankly I could give a shit about modes like that.  What makes these cameras worth the upgrade is simply this: every single one of my lenses feels like it got a sharpness upgrade, because the damn AF system is actually accurate now.  I get an AF hit rate of 60%-70% around f/1.6.  On my 1DX classic or my 5D mk III, I would have been lucky to get one sharp image out of 10 under these conditions.

So if basic AF performance is key to how you work, go out and get one of these newer Canon bodies.  Finally the wait is over.

Canon EOS 1D-X mark II Viewfinder

Hi All,

It’s pretty well publicized that the 1D-X mark II has always-on illuminated red AF points.  Are you curious what they actually look like?  Sure, plenty of websites show you a drawing and describe it, but I’ve actually got a photograph for you to see.  The image quality is terrible – I did this with my cell phone – but you can actually see what the interior viewfinder view of the camera is.


The red light is constant – it does not blink.  There is also a variety of other display options such as only showing the AF point that is selected.

The camera menu offers two brightness levels, “normal,” and “brighter.”

Canon 1D-x-mark-ii-af-point-brightness-menu

How To Change or Remove the Canon EOS 1D-X Clock / Backup Battery

You know about the big battery in your Canon 1D-X, but did you know all modern cameras also have a small watch battery that keeps the clock and other settings  while the main battery is removed?

While it typically would take many years, sometimes this battery goes dead, causing your camera to lose all its settings while the main battery is out and charging.  Or perhaps you’ve had some kind of technical issue with your camera for which doing a full factory reset would be useful.


Edit to above warning – So that’s not true.  Previous 1D series cameras will lose all settings, but the 1D-X stores many of the settings in flash memory, so they persist even after pulling the backup battery.  To reset back to factory, you’ll also need to visit two menus.  The first is the yellow Wrench menu, page 4, then select “Clear all camera settings.”  This poorly named menu item clears some camera settings.  The next place to visit is the orange Camera menu page 7, and select “Clear all Custom Func.”  These two menu items plus removing the backup battery will put the camera back to factory.

Here are the steps to remove your 1D-X’s backup battery.  The only tool you’ll need is a PH00 or Philips-head 00 size screwdriver.  If you need to replace the battery, look for a 3V CR2025.

The first step to replacing the backup / clock battery in the Canon 1D-X, is to remove the main battery.
The first step to replacing the backup / clock battery in the Canon 1D-X, is to remove the main battery.
The first step to replacing the backup / clock battery in the Canon 1D-X, is to remove the main battery.
Turn the camera upside down.

Continue reading How To Change or Remove the Canon EOS 1D-X Clock / Backup Battery

AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) On the Canon 1D-X

If you’re familiar with the menu system on the Canon 5d mark III, you may know that on page two of the red section there’s a menu item called “Expo.comp./AEB.”  Using that menu, one can make changes to and enable/disable the way the camera exposure brackets.

Coming from that system, I was very puzzled attempting to enable auto exposure bracketing on Canon’s 1D-X.  Other than features that the 1D-X has over the 5d mk III, most of the menus are the same between the two cameras.  And yet the 1D-X is lacking that menu item entirely.  It turns out Canon implemented shortcuts via the hardware buttons on the 1D-X, and eliminated menu-digging.  It’s a very nice feature, but it’s not exactly self-explanatory.  Here’s how you get it working….
Continue reading AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) On the Canon 1D-X

Canon 5d mark III Shutter Replacement

My 5d mk 3 finally crossed the 150,000 cycle mark on its shutter actuations, so I sent it off to Canon’s Irvine service center for replacement.  Do people go way past 150,000 actuations without any trouble?  Sure.  But people also go past 60,000 miles on their car without replacing the timing belt.  If you’re a casual photographer who doesn’t depend on your camera to pay bills, you may not care about the 150,000 actuation mark.  Might as well run the thing until it breaks down, and you actually have to pay the bill.  For me, the idea of my shutter jamming up in the middle of a wedding is the stuff nightmares are made of.  Sure I have other cameras, but why invite risk? Continue reading Canon 5d mark III Shutter Replacement

Canon 200mm f2 L IS USM Test

Day 1

Canon CPS was kind enough to send me a loaner 200mm f2 L IS USM, and I just came back from using it on a shoot.  Unfortunately for my bank account, I think I’m in love.

I photograph people.  90% of my work is weddings, and the remaining 10% is wedding-related (engagement sessions and the like.)  I already own the 70-200 f2.8 L IS USM mk II.  Both are excellent lenses, but since I work primarily on primes I’m spoiled in the IQ department.  (IQ = image quality.  I heard you snerking!)  That coupled with the fact that some most churches simply have terrible lighting has always kept me curious about the 200mm f2.

It’s hard to imagine a lens that delivers better IQ than Canon’s 85mm f1.2 L mk II, but this just might be it.  Glowing skin tones, wicked sharp, and perfectly controlled CA all wide open at f2 – this lens is sexier than Marilyn Monroe on a steaming manhole cover.

Yup, it’s big.  Without hoods, the length is only slightly longer than the 70-200 f2.8, but the girth of the 200mm prime… well that’s something else entirely.  It makes the 70-200 look like a scrawny little pencil.

Photo showing size difference between the Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS USM mk I, 70-200 L IS USM mk II, and 200mm f2 L IS USM
Left to right: Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS USM mk I, Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS USM mk II, and Canon 200mm f2 L IS USM.

Continue reading Canon 200mm f2 L IS USM Test

Canon EOS-1D X and 5D mk III, Single Point vs Single Point Spot AF

(If you find yourself wondering what the modes under discussion are, refer to the 1DX manual page 69, available for download here.  These exact same features are also available on the 5d mk III.)

I love the single point spot AF modes in Canon’s 5D mk III and 1D X cameras.  If you’re trying to get focus lock on a small point such as a burning candle, and the camera keeps focusing on the background instead of the flame, the spot AF mode can quickly solve this problem.  Another great use is if you’re trying to photograph a face framed by bushes or tree foliage.  In this case the camera often grabs focus on the surrounding leaves, rather than seeing through them to the face behind.  Spot AF can solve your troubles and keep you moving quickly to the next shot.

I liked them so much, in fact, that I started to leave the camera set to this mode all the time.

Then I began noticing a little less consistency when shooting in low light than I’d like, so I gave CPS a ring.  I’ll be going back to the normal single-point (non-spot) AF mode, thankyouverymuch.

The spot mode is great for the specific situations outlined above, but according to the CPS rep I spoke with, I’m also forcing the camera to attempt focus based on one quarter of the information available in the non-spot single-point mode.  This causes more hunting and less overall accuracy.  According to the rep, the spot AF mode was originally intended for macro photographers who routinely work at incredibly close distances.  Yes, it works great under the conditions I outlined above, but other than that it’s best to give the camera as much info as possible.

Canon 5D mark III Clock Battery Location & Removal

This morning I ran into a battery issue with my Canon 5d mark III, and in the interest of being thorough, I wanted to do a full system flush on the camera.  You know the flush I mean – where you pull the battery, card, and even the clock battery, then let the camera sit for 30 minutes to completely “flush” the system.  Think of it as a thorough system reset.

Anyhow, I quickly discovered that the clock battery is not stored in the same location as it is on my older 5d mark II.  A quick Google search turned up plenty of references to performing the process, but nothing that indicated just where the clock battery was located or how to remove it.  Since I was on my own, I decided to go exploring and post images of the process.

You’ll need a very small Philips-head screwdriver; something you might use for repairing glasses.  There’s only a single screw to remove, but be very careful not to lose it.

First, open the rubber flaps that protect the connectors on the camera body's left side.
First, open the rubber flaps that protect the connectors on the camera body’s left side.

Continue reading Canon 5D mark III Clock Battery Location & Removal

Canon 600EX-RT, Disable Flash Firing but Use As Master

Canon’s ST-E3-RT was a disappointment for low-light and event photographers because, unlike it’s predecessor, it lacks the AF assist beam.  If you need the AF assist, you’re forced to use a full fledged 600EX-RT, but what if you don’t actually want the master unit to produce any light?  Simple.  Pop the flash onto your 5d mk III, and use the following steps (also works on a 1D-X.)

Select “External Speedlight control” on the first page of the red menu.

Continue reading Canon 600EX-RT, Disable Flash Firing but Use As Master

Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs EOS-1D X, Low Light / High ISO

{Note: Sorry about the bug in the commenting earlier.  It’s been fixed!}

I just unboxed my Canon EOS-1D X, and wanted to do a quick-n-dirty high ISO comparison.  In the process, I also discovered how very different the colors appear at the same white balance in Adobe Lightroom, and I thought I’d share the results with you. Continue reading Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs EOS-1D X, Low Light / High ISO