Test Run: A half-technical look at the new Canon 1dx II

herndon_ben_hood004The crowning moment of every photographer’s career is when they can confidently post a top down photo of their gear in neat rows, quick math revealing the net worth to be about that of an affordable country home in Pickett, Wisconsin (“out of the way but not to far”).

While hyping and name dropping fancy shit is sort of petty, so is being a pretentious, anti-industry hipster everytime someone gets excited about a really neat new product release by a large corporation. I’m a big believer in creative independence and blue collared art, but I’m also not going to get marketable results using a pinhole camera made from a potato, as edgy and wonderfully counter-culture as that would be.

That being said. Aside from the gut-punch price tag, I’m pretty excited about Canon’s new 1dx II. Below are some shots from my first time putting it through the paces at Mount Hood. Sorry for the running puns.

It was quite dark when we started shooting just before dawn at the base of the Cooper Spur a couple weeks ago. The camera just refused to be bothered by the lack of light. The dramatic dynamic range improvements over my 5d III were instantly noticeable.

The lightning-fast frames-per-second was frightening at first, the sound so abruptly staccato I wasn’t sure if I had just torn a hole in my pants or nailed the sequence. But I like it. Plus, I don’t shoot in quiet environments and the child in me still likes good punchy, machine gun sound effects to accompany my non-lethal form of shooting people.

The fact that Canon’s flagship body is roughly the size of the original Xbox console doesn’t bother me because, in the occasional instances when I’m shooting in cold temperatures or nervously changing lenses while hanging on a rope, I want to know my fumbly, numb fingers have some serious real estate to grasp. The more grips, the better.

As far as weight savings, a 1 pound or so difference while lugging around 4-pound lenses, tripods, lights, etc, in my book is negligible.

“Did you hear about Bryan’s new setup? He swapped out his bulky nylon neck strap for a spider silk, fishing line weave lanyard.”
“Wow.”
“Yeah. He also swapped his cumbersome plastic lens cap out for carbon fiber. Shaved off 0.4 ounces.”

The autofocus seems faster and more intelligent than ever. Which is great for sometimes-lazy and impatient outdoor photographers like me who have a super A.D.D. shooting style.

I realize Canon is a touch behind on the sensor game. But the release of the 1dx II is at least three 1dx II-width steps in the right direction (a long ways). I know this from pulling levels in post production, because I have eyes, and because other more technically savvy bloggers have said so.

Results from the camera’s impressive video capabilities in the coming months…

Female runner wearing a headlamp prepares for a predawn run up to the base of Mount Hood.

1/125 sec f1.4 @ 4000 ISO

The north face of Mount Hood at dawn. The receding Elliot Glacier is in the middle.

The north face of Mount Hood at dawn. The receding Elliot Glacier is in the middle.

A female trail runner goes for a predawn run along the scenic climber's trail cresting the glacial moraine from the receding Elliot Glacier near the base of the Cooper Spur on Mount Hood, Oregon.

A predawn run along the scenic climber’s trail cresting the glacial moraine from the receding Elliot Glacier near the base of the Cooper Spur on Mount Hood, Oregon. 1/250 sec f1.8 @ 3200 ISO

Golden morning light over the receding Elliot Glacier near the base of the Cooper Spur on Mount Hood, Oregon.

Golden morning light over the receding Elliot Glacier near the base of the Cooper Spur on Mount Hood, Oregon.

Golden morning light over the receding Elliot Glacier near the base of the Cooper Spur on Mount Hood, Oregon.

Morning light over Mount Rainier as seen from Mount Hood.

Mount Rainier

A raven catches morning thermals soaring over the glacial moraine from the receding Elliot Glacier near the base of the Cooper Spur on Mount Hood, Oregon.

A raven catches morning thermals. 1/2500 sec f5.6 @ 2500 ISO

Backlit female runner on a windy dawn run up the Cooper Spur Trail on Mount Hood.

A windy dawn.

A female trail runner goes for a beautiful dawn run along the scenic climber's trail cresting the glacial moraine from the receding Elliot Glacier near the base of the Cooper Spur on Mount Hood, Oregon.

A female trail runner goes for a beautiful dawn run along the scenic climber's trail cresting the glacial moraine from the receding Elliot Glacier near the base of the Cooper Spur on Mount Hood, Oregon.

A femalehiker goes for a beautiful dawn hike along the scenic climber's trail cresting the glacial moraine from the receding Elliot Glacier near the base of the Cooper Spur on Mount Hood, Oregon.

Detail shot of a female trail runner kicking up dirt during a beautiful dawn run along the scenic climber's trail cresting the glacial moraine from the receding Elliot Glacier near the base of the Cooper Spur on Mount Hood, Oregon.

1/800 sec f4 @ 2500 ISO

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