Me & My Mini Me

At this time every year we get prepared to start offering our photo tours for the next year.  In the next couple weeks we will be contacting those that put themselves on the priority booking list for 2021, and they will get the first right a refusal for those trips.  If you still want to get added to the priority booking list, contact me for more information.

 

While our photo tour offerings for 2021 will be pretty similar to 2020, there is at least one exciting new trip, and a few changes to some of the existing trips.

 

The go-live date for those not on a priority booking list will be available on my photo tours page around the middle of February.

 

Can’t wait until 2021?  Well we do still have a couple openings in 2020, including Spring in the Great Bear Rainforest, and Marine Mammals, visit my photo tours page for more details. Questions? Contact me at contact@wildelements.ca.

Canon 1DX Mark III:

  • 20.1 megapixels
  • DIGIC X processor
  • 191 total autofocus points (all f8)
  • 155 cross-type AF points
  • Head, face, eye detection
  • 16 frames per second (viewfinder)
  • 20 frames per second (live view)
  • 1000 image buffer (raw)
  • 400,000 pixel RGB Sensor
  • 5.5K and 4K Raw Video
  • Dual CFExpress card slot
  • Weight: 1440g (with battery)
  • $8,999 CAD ($6,499 USD)

Finally, the official announcement for the Canon 1DX Mark III is out!  You can view it on Canon Canada’s website here. This comes almost 4 years after the announcement of the 1DX Mark II (which was announced on February 1, 2016).   And since the teaser by Canon at the end of last year, I have been anxiously awaiting it.

 

Resolution & Processor

The Canon 1DX Mark III comes with 20.1 megapixels, which is the same number of megapixels as its predecessor.  Some people are a little disappointed that there have been no change in the number of megapixels, and while 24ish would have been nice, I am not overly disappointed that there is no change, I find 20 to be a nice sweet spot.

 

The camera comes with a DIGIC X image processor, and the autofocus system comes with a dedicated DIGIC 8 processor that will help to improve the autofocus speed and accuracy.   The image processor is advertised to have better ISO performance and dynamic range.  The ISO range has increased to a maximum of 102400, expandable up to 819200, but those are just numbers.  The question will be what the useable ISO for the camera will be, and whether it will be improved over the 1DX Mark II.

 

Autofocus

The biggest improvement in the camera is the advertised autofocus.  The 1DX Mark III comes with 191 total autofocus points, all of which are f/8, and there are 155 cross-type autofocus points.  With a dedicated DIGIC 8 processor, it is expected (and advertised) that autofocus will be better than the predecessor. This compares to to the 61 autofocus points (41 cross-type) of the 1DX Mark II.

In addition to the increased number of autofocus points, the camera also comes with advanced autofocus with head, face, and eye detection to help improve autofocus of subjects.  I will be curious to see how it works with wildlife subjects, or if it works at all.

 

The 1DX Mark III comes with an improved RBG sensor, going from 360,000 pixels in the 1DX Mark II to 400,000, this should help improve the AF performance and metering.

 

Speed

The 1DX Mark III is built for speed, with an increase in the frames per second, going from 14 to 16 (through the viewfinder), and from 16 to 20 (live view).  What is more impressive is that the camera has a buffer of approximately 1000 images, which is outstanding…and finally I will no longer be cringing while the Nikons are still going and my camera is buffered out.

 

Weight & Build & Other

Overall there is a slight weight savings over the predecessor of approximately 90 grams (with battery) with the 1DX Mark III weighing 1440 grams versus 1530 grams, but the overall dimensions of the camera remain unchanged.

 

The camera is equipped with dual CF Express slots.  FINALLY, Canon has produced a camera with two slots, which both take the same memory card.  However, I am a little disappointed that I invested in CFast cards and read for the 1DX Mark II that cannot be used with the 1DX Mark III.

 

The battery will be the same that is used for the 1DX Mark II, so at least anyone running both cameras will not need two different chargers and batteries.

 

As for video, I am not going to dive into the details, as video is just something I do for fun (and mostly with a GoPro or iPhone), but the 1DX Mark III does come with 5.5k raw video at 60 frames per second, as well as 4K at 60 frames per second.

 

The 1DX Mark III doesn’t come cheap, it is price at $8,999CAD  ($6,499 USD), so I really hope that the AF performance is as good as advertised, because the price tag is steep.

 

I am looking forward to getting my hands on one but who knows when that will be.  I am still debating what I will use as a second body, and whether I keep my 5D Mark IV, or my 1DX Mark II.

 

If you have questions, feel free to contact me contact@wildelements.ca.

Well 2019 is in the rear view mirror and I am already looking forward to the opportunities of 2020. But I decided I should take a few minutes to reflect on 2019 and share some of my favourite moments.

 

Let Me See!

My 2019 tour season started with me visiting the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, and there was certainly no shortage of Grizzly Bears to photograph during the nine days.  This included mothers with cubs, and some bears enjoying the estuary on their own.  While we were provided with many great photo opportunities, I think one of the top moments was when a mother and cub both stood up to look over a little hill in order to check out a bear that was on the other side.  It was certainly a jaw dropping moment.  Also a moment that was truly amazing, is seeing one of the oldest bears in the estuary, who was presumed to be dead making his way at a decent pace up the inlet. While you could definitely see that he was aged, at over 30 years old, it was pretty amazing.  If you are interested in seeing all the photos from my Khutzeymateen trips, those can be found in my Khutzeymateen portfolio, or you can read about my blog post here.

 

From the Khuzeymateen I headed to a new area, Gwaii Haanas, a National Park Reserve and Marine Conservation Area.  While we explored the area we had the opportunity to photograph a number of sea and shore birds, and even a few mammals such as Sitka Deer and Black Bears.   It was a great to get a chance to explore a new part of the coast of British Columbia, you can read the blog post here.

 

Crab Dinner

I started August with one of my favourite trips, Marine Mammals, where we explore the coast off the north and west part of Vancouver Island looking for Orcas, Humpback Whales, Steller Sea Lions, Sea Otters and more.  In 2019 we were treated to all our targeted species, with the Sea Otters stealing the show (but not to be outdone by a Humpback Whale which breached for us on our last day).  We had the opportunity to photograph Sea Otters eating a number of things that they brought up from the ocean floor, including urchins, clams, and even crabs, like the one captured in the Sea Otter image to the left.  More photos from my previous Marine Mammals trips can be found in the Marine Mammals portfolio, and the blog post from 2019 can be found here.

 

Launched

My official tours of 2019 ended with me leading two trips in the Great Bear Rainforest, while they only had one week in between them, they both had different highlights.  We had the opportunity on both trips to photograph Grizzly Bears, Black Bears and Bald Eagles which all gather to eat the salmon in the rivers and streams.  We also had the opportunity on to witness some bubble feeding by a lone Humpback Whale. I think the ultimate moment of 2019, watching transient Killer Whales attacking and killing a large male Steller Sea Lion, I don’t think I will ever get an opportunity quite like this again. My photos from the Great Bear Rainforest trips can be found in my portfolio, and you can read more about my first trip and second trip in the links.

 

Elk Expanse

And I ended 2019 with a quick trip to Yellowstone National Park.  While I always hope to get a chance to see wolves, this year I wasn’t so lucky.  I did however get a couple of opportunities to photograph River Otters while they fished and rolled around in the snow, and some beautiful male Elk posed in front of the Yellowstone landscapes.

 

In 2020, most of our trips are sold out, however there are still a few spaces available, and our 2021 trip dates will be released soon, so if you would like to join us on one of these tours, contact me for more details contact@wildelements.ca.

Since Christmas is near, I thought I would put together my letter to Santa (or Canon Santa) on what I would like to have on the new Canon flagship camera the 1DX Mark III. Since Canon made the announcement that it is developing the 1DX Mark III, I have been anxiously looking forward to its release, and thinking about what I hope the camera comes with.

 

I know that the press release was pretty vague on details, but some of the rumours are that the sensor will remain at 20.2 megapixels. This is a disappointment to some, but I think it is a sufficient number of megapixels, especially for someone like me that spends the majority of their time shooting hand-held, a bunch of really tiny pixels are a disadvantage.  Also, if you want more megapixels, there is always the 5D Mark IV, or the rumoured 75 megapixel mirrorless camera.  My hope is actually that there isn’t significant changes in the number of megapixels.

 

One of the details that was provided by Canon in the press release is that Canon has increased the size of the autofocus sensor.  I don’t think you can ever have too fast of autofocus on a camera.  I am really looking forward to trying out the newer, faster autofocus, to see how it performs.

 

I am also looking forward to seeing how the camera will perform with the new card types, and how that improves the buffer rate.  I can tell you, when you are shooting next to a bunch of Nikon shooters, and your camera buffers out, it is a real bummer.

 

Given that the majority of my photography is done on the coast of British Columbia, and sometimes in dark, and rainy weather, improved ISO performance is at the top of my list.  I am hoping for improved noise performance and dynamic range at the high ISOs (over ISO 3200).

 

Another nice to have in the new flagship camera with be in body stabilization (IBIS).  While I am not overly optimistic that the camera will come with this, given that the mirrorless camera (EOSR) didn’t have it, I don’t think I will bet on it.  But some of the rumours are that the camera may come with it.

 

And my final wish, that Canon will just release the 1DX Mark III already, and have sufficient supply so I can get one quickly!

 

Feel free to share your wishes (or any rumors you have) with me at contact@wildelements.ca.

I picked up my 90D this fall, and so far I have had just a few opportunities to get out and start shooting with it. I am looking forward to getting the chance to use it even more in Yellowstone coming up.

 

The first thing I wanted to assess is what the noise is like on the 90D. Given that it is 32.5 megapixels on a cropped sensor, I had a feeling that I would not see much of an improvement in noise, compared to what I experienced with the Canon 7D Mark II.  Well my assumption was correct.  The noise performance falls behind that of what I experienced with the 7D Mark II.

 

This photo of a Great Gray Owl taken at ISO 6400 is quite noisy, however it’s not easy to see on the web version of the photo.  I have not done any noise reduction on the image, I took it from Lightroom, and performed a few small edits in Photoshop, and compressed to to 2400 pixels on the long end.  That being said, the noise is manageable in the post production, and you are able to make a cleaner, less noisy image with it.

 

I also had the chance to compare the 90D with the D500 to compare the ISO performance on the two cameras (using 70-200 f/2.8 lenses).  And I am sad to report that the noise performance on the 90D falls behind the Nikon D500.    When looking at the test images, the Canon is almost a full-stop behind the Nikon D500, so the noise at the Nikon at ISO 6400 is more comparable to ISO 3200 on the Canon 90D.  I attribute this partly to the more reasonable sensor size of the Nikon having only 20.8 megapixels.

 

The following are the images of the Canon 90D at various high ISOs and the sample of the D500 at ISO 6400.  These were all compressed to 2400 on the long end in photoshop using bicubic.

Canon 90D @ ISO 3200

Canon 90D @ ISO 6400

Canon 90D @ ISO 12800

Nikon D500 @ ISO 6400

 

Also, here are two comparisons of ISO 6400 between the D500 and 90D, with the images cropped to 2400 pixels (no other adjustment made to image size).

Canon 90D @ ISO 6400

Nikon D500 @ ISO 6400

 

As you can see, the Nikon is less noisy.

 

I am going to take more time to test it out while I am in Yellowstone, but so far, I am not noticing much improvement in ISO performance. Additionally, I want the opportunity to test out the autofocus and overall image quality of the camera.  But at this point I’m not sure if it will get a permanent spot in my camera kit.  I really think that having a cropped sensor with so many megapixels is really the downfall of this camera.  If I get the opportunity to get my hands on the 7D Mark II to compare it to the 90D, I will report on my findings.

 

If you are interested in more information on the 90D, please feel free to email me contact@wildelements.ca to discuss further.

Canon 1DX Mark III:

  • Improved autofocus
  • 28x Bigger AF Sensor
  • New CMOS Sensor & DIGIC Processor
  • Improved frame rate
  • Dual CF Express Slots
  • Wifi, Bluetooth, & GPS Connectivity

Following in the footsteps of the Nikon “announcement” of the D6, Canon recently announced that it is developing the EOS-1DX Mark III, the successor of the 1DX Mark II, which is the flagship camera body for Canon.  You can read a copy of the Canon Canada press release here.  The announcement is a little light on details, but below are some of the “details” provided.

 

Canon has stated the updated flagship camera body will have improved autofocus speed and accuracy, which as a wildlife photographer (or even for sports shooters) is one of the features that we look forward to the most.  The improved autofocus will be the result of a bigger autofocus sensor, which is 28x bigger than that on the 1DX Mark II.

 

The 1DX Mark III will come with an updated CMOS sensor and DIGIC processor, which they say will improve ISO performance, and also allow for the recording of 4K60p video with the camera.

 

Canon has also advertised the 1DX Mark III as having a faster frame rate, up to 16 frames per second using optical viewfinder, and 20 frames per second in Live View Mode.

 

As part of the announcement Canon mentions that the camera will support dual card slots which will take CFExpress cards.  While I am happy that Canon has finally decided to have two of the same card types in a camera, I am annoyed that I spent money on CFast cards that are no longer going to be useful, and that I will have to invest in more cards and a new card reader.  However, the CFExpress should help contribute to having a faster camera, so the investment will be worth it, and it will be nice to finally not need to have two different cards for one camera, like was required for the 1DX Mark II.

 

Included in the feature list are the connectivity features which include built in wifi, bluetooth, and GPS technology.  These aren’t features that I tend to use that often, however it shows that Canon are continuing to stay up on the technology for photographers that would like these features.

 

What is missing from the announcement is an actual release date for the camera.  I already have my name on the list to get one when the do become available, hopefully before the photo tour season starts next spring, so I can really put it to the test.  If you have questions, feel free to contact me contact@wildelements.ca.

Canon 90D:

  • 32.5 Megapixel cropped sensor
  • DIGIC 8 Image Processor
  • 10 frames per second in viewfinder
  • 7 frames per second in live view
  • 45 cross type AF points
  • 220,000 px sensor for metering
  • High ISO capabilities (to be tested)
  • Face & eye detection
  • Vari-angle Touch LCD
  • 4K Video
  • Weather Sealed

While I was away on my Fall Great Bear Rainforest trip Canon announced the Canon 90D, an updated cropped sensor to replace the Canon 80D, and some are saying that it is also a replacement for the Canon 7D Mark II, and it will be “THE” cropped sensor body.

When I got back from my trip, I got my 90D, and am looking forward to seeing whether it will be a capable compliment to my current camera bodies, the 1DX Mark II, and 5D Mark IV.

The Canon 90D is a 32.5 megapixel cropped sensor with a DIGIC 8 Image Processor.  My first thoughts are, for a cropped sensor, that is a heck of a lot of pixels.  Both the 80D and the 7D Mark II are 24 and 20 megapixels respectively, which to me is a much more reasonable range, especially for a cropped sensor body.  When I get a chance to start using the camera, I have a feeling that it will not be very good at high ISOs, or while hand-held at low shutter speeds.

As a wildlife photographer, the goal is to be able to get sharp shots, well really that’s probably the goal of any photographer.  As a wildlife photographed I am often in situations where I am hand-holding lenses, in low light, and with sometimes quite fast moving subjects.  That means ISO capabilities, and autofocus are really critical.
The 90D has 45 autofocus points through the viewfinder, which I think is somewhat low for a wildlife camera, but the benefit is that they are all cross-type AF points, which is a positive.  By comparison, this is the same number of points as the 80D, but improved because they are all cross type, and it is less than the 65 points that come with the 7D Mark II.

To handle the fast moving subjects, the 90D has 10 frames per second shooting through the viewfinder, which is more than the 7 that comes with the 80D and the same as the 7D Mark II.

For anyone that wants the ability to shoot both stills and video, the 90D has 4k capabilities.

After reading the specs, and getting my hands on one, I am not really that confident that I will like this camera any more than I liked the 7D Mark II (which I didn’t own for long before selling), and I still am not sure whether it will be a capable addition to my photography kit. I will be testing both the ISO performance and the autofocus capabilities of the camera over the next couple months and report back.  If you have questions, feel free to contact me contact@wildelements.ca.

This week Canon has announced a firmware update for the EOS R to version 1.4.0.

 

Clam Digging

In Canada the update is available here.

 

Some of the updates in this new firmware are as follows:

1 –  Improvements to “eye detection Auto Focus” to provide for recognition at greater distances

2 – Improvements to the Auto Focus overall, especially for smaller objects.

3 – Improvement in the lag time between the actual Auto Focus and the AF frame rate display for the images

4 – Other “fixes”

 

Obviously the feature that I am the most excited to try out is the improvements to Auto Focus overall, as I am hoping these improvements will take the camera up a notch and allow it to a more complimentary camera body to the rest of my kit.  I have updated my camera and will provide an update on what I think of the firmware update when I have a chance to go shooting (currently snowing, in September!!!). This clam digger image was shot this year in the Khutzeymateen using the EOS R, however part way through the trip I ended up not using the EOS R much because I found the autofocus too slow, so I am looking forward to this update.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email.

I ended my 2019 photo tour season in mid-September with my final trip into the Great Bear Rainforest.  The Great Bear Rainforest is special to me because it’s the first place I visited on the BC Coast, and is the trip that got me started down the path of leading photo tours.

 

Spin Cycle

I lead this second trip just after one week off from the previous trip, and I was headed in with some expectations based on my experience the week prior.  The salmon run on most of the streams and rivers we visited was going very strong, especially compared to my previous trips, which could have been partly attributed to the fact that I was visiting the area about one month earlier than I normally go.

 

During the trip we were treated to a variety of bears.  Black Bears, Grizzly Bears, including moms with cubs and even the rare Spirit Bears.  Our Spirit Bear sightings didn’t come easy, with the first one we saw only showing up for a brief moment near the end of the day.  Our second sightings allowed us a little more time with the Spirit Bears, and our final sighting was just a brief glimpse of one on the shoreline from the sailboat.  Despite the number of years I have been visiting the area, I still find every Spirit Bear sighting is a rare treat, and I am as excited as the first time I saw one.

 

Fishing from Kelp

One of the other highlights of the trip was just the number of moms with cubs, with both black bears and grizzly bears.  There were a couple of instances where there were more than one mother and cubs out in our sight at the same time. And it was incredible to see how trusting these mother bears, of both species, were of bringing their cubs out around us, and even allowing the cubs to be closer to us than they were to their mother, which shows an incredible amount of trust by the mothers.

 

But as always, the trip is not only about finding bears.  My favorite thing about this trip is that you never know what you are going to see, especially when it comes to the “not bears” species.  One of the most unique experiences I think we had is the opportunity to closely photograph a Great Blue Heron as it fished from kelp.  Besides being able to closely watch and photograph the Great Blue Heron, I also appreciated that our expert guide, and group, was able to leave the Great Blue Heron as it continued to fish, so we did not impact on the fishing.

 

We also had a couple opportunities to photograph Bald Eagles, Humpback Whales, and Harbor Seals along our travels and while out in the zodiac.

 

If you would like to experience the Great Bear Rainforest trip with us in the future, visit my Photo Tours Page for more information, or contact me for more information.

I just completed my first of two “Into the Great Bear Rainforest” trips.  On this one we started in Bella Bella, British Columbia, and traveled north and ended in Kitimat, stopping at various inlets, and estuaries along the way.

 

One of my favourite things about the Great Bear Rainforest photo tours is that there is a long list of potential wildlife that we could see along the route, but we never know what we will see, and where we will see it.  It’s a true wilderness photo tour.  The other nice thing is, what we enjoy, we enjoy to ourselves, instead of being among a bunch of other photo groups.

 

We started our trip with several Humpback Whales, including one that was lunge feeding and coming quite high out of the water, which was pretty incredible.  However it was a bit hard to predict where he was coming up, and therefore also hard to predict where to point your camera and shoot.

 

Down Low

Throughout the trip we were treated to rivers and streams full of salmon, which had already brought in the Bald Eagles that were lining the trees.  We had the opportunity to photograph them in the pouring rain, sunny days, and even in some fog/mist.  It really provided us the full gamut of Bald Eagles in the Great Bear Rainforest.

 

We also had the opportunity to photograph both Grizzly Bears and Black Bears, including one of each with cubs, so adding a little extra cute factor to the photography.   For the most part the bears were taking advantage of the salmon runs, and trying to start packing on the weight before hibernation.

 

We ended the trip with quite a show from some Transient Killer Whales, who had already started attacking a Stellar Sea Lion when we showed up.  We spent almost two hours watching as they came out of the water and jumped on him, or hit him with their tails, and doing everything they could to get their next meal.  It was the first time that I had witnessed something like this, and while it was incredible to see the Orcas, you were left feeling a little sad for the poor Sea Lion.

 

So if you are interested in a trip along the coast, where you could be treated to both land mammals, and marine mammals, the  Great Bear Rainforest might be a trip for you.  We have several different options, including ones in the spring, summer and fall, with more information available on my Photo Tours page.

 

Stay tuned for Part Two of my blog post after I finish my next trip into the Great Bear Rainforest.