So I had to return it. Reluctantly. I had a long and very nice conversation with Olli Turtiainen of the Canon Finland about my experiences with the camera and he managed to shed light on some of my observations.
And just to prove I shot in bad, bad lighting – and also to prove I have a life outside photography ;-) – two sample images (LR), with no noise removed and the noise reduction in the camera off:
My two year old son was applauding on the bleacher seats. It was so dark that with the bare eye his face looked like a black hole, I could not distinguish any detail:
And some thoughts:
First of all: the difference I noticed in the sensitivity of the sensors between 1Dmrk4 and 5Dmrk2 could MAYBE be explained with the settings of the camera, especially the picturestyles (which I think were both set to “neutral”, but I am not 100% sure) or the ALO (automatic lighting optimization) setting.
When you set the 1Dmrk4 up (picturestyles, ALO, WB, profile, etc,) for shooting jpgs, the same settings apply to video. If you shoot raw (as I do almost exclusively), then actually all the settings affect only video – or they can be reset/cancelled in the raw developing process.
So actually, for my personal workflow this is brilliant. For somebody shooting mainly jpgs and video, a nice addition would be separate control sets for stills vs. video. In 5Dmrk2 you can do this (with C1-C3 settings) – I do not know if this is the case with the 1Dmrk4. But – then again – an easy way around is to use Save/load settings -function. But separate “switch” you flick to switch from “stills settings” to “video settings” would be something some people might appreciate.
Another thing I mentioned was my concern about the lack of slow shutter option, again a minor thing the big picture. Understandably, your maximum speed is 1/30 as the fps is 25 in pal. My Sony EX-1 and others take adjacent frames and blend them to ensure better signal to noise ratio and thus a brighter resulting image. Actually, with an DSLR you can do the same (or simulate it) – or actually do better (at least to have more control): for slower shutterspeeds shoot e.g. small jpegs, say 1/4 sec shutter and then blend the resulting series of images with a 3-5 frame x-fade into a series of moving images (Philip Bloom has a great tutorial on his site how to do this in Mac, see the sidebar). You end up with a “super resolution” clip which enables post-production zooming and panning should you desire to do so.
The only downside of this is the sound of the mechanic shutter plus the wear and tear introduced to the shutter should you use this method regularly (Simple math: e.g. 4 images per sec is 240 images per minute or 14 400 images per hour, etc.). However durable the shuttermechanism is, it has a limit it can take. Also, the batteries will set an maximum time for a prolonged take like this.
Thus: occasionally, as an effect: yes. As your standard m.o.: definitely no.
One more point on video: I have frequently expressed my desire for additional video frame sizes for Canon DSLRs. Lighter files, easier post-production, faster delivery. Our TV still operates in SD for the most part – why do we have to shoot and cut in HD? But: I have to take that back. Using MPEG Streamclip (or similar software) gives you the option of importing the video in whichever format you choose. Sure, it might slow down the workflow to an extent but the couple of conversions I was doing with 1Dmrk4 went rather smoothly – on a laptop which is c. 2 years old (MacBookPro, intel core duo 2.4 ghz and 4 gigs of ram).
Actually, what I NOW might desire is a 16:9 ratio conversion into a small size (iPhone size…) – inside the camera (either directly or post) – which could be sent directly out of the camera – directly thru a cellphone, with no computer needed to do downscaling in between.
Finally, something I did mention in the previous post: in stills mode the option of post cropping would be an nice addition for certain workflows. I wouldn’t be surprised if Canon would introduce that later on as an firmware update.
And now I have to start laughing and take a long look in a mirror: kind of ridiculous of me talking of “firmware updates” when the camera is not even out yet :-) I guess I am too passionate about my work sometimes…
But, you never know, somebody in the Canon R&D might be reading this… ;-)