I got back last week from the Great Bear Rainforest, and as I have mentioned in other posts, the thing I like the most about visiting the Great Bear Rainforest is that the trips are never the same, and 2016 was no exception.

 

Each day of the trip seemed to have a different highlight, from Humpback Whales, Black Bears, Spirit Bears, Grizzly Bears, and Bald Eagles, this year’s trip did not disappoint with the amount of diversity, and great photographic opportunities. We had a Humpback Whale bubble-netting by himself, and even created one of his bubble nets right under the bow of the boat, luckily the skipper moved the boat so the whale was still able to come up, and it came up right next to the boat.

 

On the trip we usually visit land twice to areas where Spirit Bears will frequent to feast upon the salmon that come during the fall. The first location did not provide us a Spirit Bear, however we had the opportunity to photograph a few different Black Bears, and I got some of the best Black Bear photos that I have taken so far.

Spirit & Salmon

Spirit & Salmon

The second time we visited land we were able to get a few more Black Bear shots, along with the rare Spirit (or White) Bear.

 

Having the opportunity to visit the Great Bear Rainforest for the last three years, I have had the opportunity to see some of the same bears each year. The Spirit Bear we saw was the same Spirit Bear that I saw on my first trip two years ago. Also the Grizzly Bears that we saw, I also saw the last two years that I went to the Great Bear Rainforest. It’s nice to see the little cubs from two years ago, grow, and to still see the different personalities with one always sticking closer to mom, and the other wandering further away.

 

This trip was also a great opportunity to test my new gear including my 1DX Mark II and 5D Mark IV. Both require a bit more stringent testing before I post too much more on their performance, however there were a couple things that I noticed on this trip. The 1DX Mark II performs well at ISO 12,800, which with the 1DX I was always hesitant to take any higher than 6400. I also found that the 5D Mark IV performs quite well at ISO 6400, however one downside is that you need the shutter speeds to be higher than ether the 1DX or 1DX Mark II, this is due to the smaller pixel size packed into the same sensor, so therefore any shake tends to be a bit more noticeable.

 

Look for my images as I continue to add them to my Recent Photos, and Great Bear Rainforest Gallery, but I am already looking forward to my trip next year.

I got back last week from the Great Bear Rainforest, and as I have mentioned in other posts, the thing I like the most about visiting the Great Bear Rainforest is that the trips are never the same, and 2016 was no exception.

 

Each day of the trip seemed to have a different highlight, from Humpback Whales, Black Bears, Spirit Bears, Grizzly Bears, and Bald Eagles, this year’s trip did not disappoint with the amount of diversity, and great photographic opportunities. We had a Humpback Whale bubble-netting by himself, and even created one of his bubble nets right under the bow of the boat, luckily the skipper moved the boat so the whale was still able to come up, and it came up right next to the boat.

 

On the trip we usually visit land twice to areas where Spirit Bears will frequent to feast upon the salmon that come during the fall. The first location did not provide us a Spirit Bear, however we had the opportunity to photograph a few different Black Bears, and I got some of the best Black Bear photos that I have taken so far.

Spirit & Salmon

Spirit & Salmon

The second time we visited land we were able to get a few more Black Bear shots, along with the rare Spirit (or White) Bear.

 

Having the opportunity to visit the Great Bear Rainforest for the last three years, I have had the opportunity to see some of the same bears each year. The Spirit Bear we saw was the same Spirit Bear that I saw on my first trip two years ago. Also the Grizzly Bears that we saw, I also saw the last two years that I went to the Great Bear Rainforest. It’s nice to see the little cubs from two years ago, grow, and to still see the different personalities with one always sticking closer to mom, and the other wandering further away.

 

This trip was also a great opportunity to test my new gear including my 1DX Mark II and 5D Mark IV. Both require a bit more stringent testing before I post too much more on their performance, however there were a couple things that I noticed on this trip. The 1DX Mark II performs well at ISO 12,800, which with the 1DX I was always hesitant to take any higher than 6400. I also found that the 5D Mark IV performs quite well at ISO 6400, however one downside is that you need the shutter speeds to be higher than ether the 1DX or 1DX Mark II, this is due to the smaller pixel size packed into the same sensor, so therefore any shake tends to be a bit more noticeable.

 

Look for my images as I continue to add them to my Recent Photos, and Great Bear Rainforest Gallery, but I am already looking forward to my trip next year.

I’m headed back to one of my favourite places, and really the place that got me addicted to travelling to the coast of British Columbia, the Great Bear Rainforest. I often get asked after all the trips I have done which is my favourite, and although I really like the Marine Mammals trip, the Great Bear Rainforest still holds the top spot due to the diversity that it has to offer. Not only can you get the opportunity to photograph marine mammals like the Humpback Whale, but this location is also home to the rare and majestic Spirit Bear (or White Bear). There is nowhere else on earth that you can see these black bears with white colouring in the wild.

 

Besides the rare Spirit Bear, the Great Bear Rainforest is also home to Grizzly Bears, and Coastal Wolves, and a variety of birds including Bald Eagles that you can often see perching on some of the most beautiful stumps and fallen trees.

Nature's Bridge

Nature’s Bridge

 

It’s not just the species that puts this location the top of my list, it’s also the amazing backdrop that this location provides. With the large trees, and the vidid greens, it makes this very different then what I am used to seeing in Alberta. Nature’s Bridge was photographed on my first trip to the Great Bear Rainforest, and maybe it will highlight why I have been back every year since. We were probably the only 7 people to ever photograph these three bears crossing this log. By the time the people on the trip after us went back to this location, the tree had already been washed away by rising waters.

 

I’m also going into the trip with two new cameras that I’m excited to try out, especially for ISO performance in some of the low-light conditions that I will be faced with when under the dense cover of the rainforest. This includes the new Canon 1DX Mark II, and the 5D Mark IV. So look forward to my posts related specifically to the performance of those two cameras.

 

In the last two years this trip has provided me some amazing, and unique images, which can be found in my Great Bear Gallery, and I’m hoping I have some great stuff to add from this year.

I’m headed back to one of my favourite places, and really the place that got me addicted to travelling to the coast of British Columbia, the Great Bear Rainforest. I often get asked after all the trips I have done which is my favourite, and although I really like the Marine Mammals trip, the Great Bear Rainforest still holds the top spot due to the diversity that it has to offer. Not only can you get the opportunity to photograph marine mammals like the Humpback Whale, but this location is also home to the rare and majestic Spirit Bear (or White Bear). There is nowhere else on earth that you can see these black bears with white colouring in the wild.

 

Besides the rare Spirit Bear, the Great Bear Rainforest is also home to Grizzly Bears, and Coastal Wolves, and a variety of birds including Bald Eagles that you can often see perching on some of the most beautiful stumps and fallen trees.

Nature's Bridge

Nature’s Bridge

 

It’s not just the species that puts this location the top of my list, it’s also the amazing backdrop that this location provides. With the large trees, and the vidid greens, it makes this very different then what I am used to seeing in Alberta. Nature’s Bridge was photographed on my first trip to the Great Bear Rainforest, and maybe it will highlight why I have been back every year since. We were probably the only 7 people to ever photograph these three bears crossing this log. By the time the people on the trip after us went back to this location, the tree had already been washed away by rising waters.

 

I’m also going into the trip with two new cameras that I’m excited to try out, especially for ISO performance in some of the low-light conditions that I will be faced with when under the dense cover of the rainforest. This includes the new Canon 1DX Mark II, and the 5D Mark IV. So look forward to my posts related specifically to the performance of those two cameras.

 

In the last two years this trip has provided me some amazing, and unique images, which can be found in my Great Bear Gallery, and I’m hoping I have some great stuff to add from this year.

Adobe Lightroom CC has now added support for the 5D Mark IV raw files, so it is now possible to catalogue, review, and process images using Adobe Lightroom CC that were taken with the 5D Mark IV. This means I will now get the opportunity to do a more complete comparison, especially on ISO performance, of the 5D Mark IV compared to the 5D Mark III.

I had a few days of overlap after getting my new 5D Mark IV, and before I handed off the 5D Mark III to its new (grateful) owner. My goal for those few days was to gather as many test shots as I could, and to shoot the cameras side-by-side so I could get a feel for the differences. The main differences that I’m focused on (or affected by) are the ISO performance, and resulting dynamic range at the higher ISO, and the autofocus. As the vast majority of my shooting is of wildlife, and often under low light conditions, those were the two things that will have the biggest impact on determining whether this camera will make a permanent home in my camera bag.

 

The only problem so far is that Lightroom does not yet support the camera, and I find the Canon proprietary software to be slow for file review, and editing. So at this point I have looked at very few images, and these are just a gut feel based on some of the images I have looked at.121a1107_b

 

Although hard to show in images, I found the autofocus on the 5D Mark IV to be quite a bit quicker at initial focus acquisition then the predecessor, even when the case settings were the same for both cameras. I was shooting both birds in flight, and Pikas (as pictured in this post) and I found the 5D Mark IV did a better job at getting that focus quickly, therefore you could actually track the subject, as opposed to spending all your time with it just trying to get focus.

 

For the ISO performance and dynamic range at the higher ISO, so far my findings are similar to that of the 1DX Mark II, the noise tends to be more manageable at the higher ISOs, plus you have way more detail and dynamic range to work with.

 

I will continue to test the camera out, especially on my upcoming trip to the Great Bear Rainforest, and keep posting results of my findings & thoughts.

I had a few days of overlap after getting my new 5D Mark IV, and before I handed off the 5D Mark III to its new (grateful) owner. My goal for those few days was to gather as many test shots as I could, and to shoot the cameras side-by-side so I could get a feel for the differences. The main differences that I’m focused on (or affected by) are the ISO performance, and resulting dynamic range at the higher ISO, and the autofocus. As the vast majority of my shooting is of wildlife, and often under low light conditions, those were the two things that will have the biggest impact on determining whether this camera will make a permanent home in my camera bag.

 

The only problem so far is that Lightroom does not yet support the camera, and I find the Canon proprietary software to be slow for file review, and editing. So at this point I have looked at very few images, and these are just a gut feel based on some of the images I have looked at.121a1107_b

 

Although hard to show in images, I found the autofocus on the 5D Mark IV to be quite a bit quicker at initial focus acquisition then the predecessor, even when the case settings were the same for both cameras. I was shooting both birds in flight, and Pikas (as pictured in this post) and I found the 5D Mark IV did a better job at getting that focus quickly, therefore you could actually track the subject, as opposed to spending all your time with it just trying to get focus.

 

For the ISO performance and dynamic range at the higher ISO, so far my findings are similar to that of the 1DX Mark II, the noise tends to be more manageable at the higher ISOs, plus you have way more detail and dynamic range to work with.

 

I will continue to test the camera out, especially on my upcoming trip to the Great Bear Rainforest, and keep posting results of my findings & thoughts.

At the end of last week I went and picked up a 5D Mark IV – I almost can’t believe it myself.

 

I have had a chance to get out with it a bit over the weekend, and did some comparisons with the 5D Mark III. The first thing I noticed when switching between the two cameras was the that autofocus does acquire focus quite a bit quicker on the 5D Mark IV than the 5D Mark III. This is likely attributed to the new sensor and possibly an improved algorithm (taken from the improved autofocus on the 1DX Mark II).

 

The burst size and frames per second has also improved compared to the 5D Mark III, getting a burst of about 20 images (in raw format), and 7 frames per second.

 

I’m still waiting for Lightroom and Capture One Pro to support the raw files for the 5D Mark IV, so I haven’t done much reviewing or editing of the images. So stay tuned into future blog posts for images and detailed thoughts including the ISO/noise performance of the camera.

 

I’m looking forward to bringing both this and the 1DX Mark II to the Great Bear Rainforest at the end of next week to test them out in my normal shooting conditions.

I have finally had the opportunity to put the Canon 1D X Mark II through the wringer, and have had the chance to test it in my “normal shooting conditions”. I have already made a few comments about the camera in other posts, but thought I would consolidate all my thoughts into one post. I will follow-up my initial thoughts with some specific blog posts testing each of the areas that I have noted below. (All comparisons noted below were made in comparison to the 1DX).

 

Thought 1 – Improved Image Quality at High ISO
The very first post I made about the 1DX Mark II (after the post that I finally had one in my hands) was that I was impressed with the ISO performance of the camera. Well after working in more low-light/high ISO scenarios, I still stand by that.

 

ISO 12,800

Grizzly photographed with Canon 1DX Mark II at ISO 12800

There are two things that I have noticed with high ISO images (by high ISO I am referring to images above ISO 5000):
1 – Noise is more manageable noise than with the 1DX,
2 – The dynamic range and detail that is still retained in these images.

 

I found that with the 1DX that once you got it over ISO 6400, even if you could manage the noise, I often didn’t have the details left in the image to produce an image with a sharp eye, or where you could see the dimples on the bear’s nose. And if I somehow managed to save all the detail, I had very little dynamic range to work with, and the image looked very flat. However I am finding with the 1DX Mark II that I am able to have both higher dynamic range, and still have the detail to recover in these images.

 

Thought 2 – Improved Autofocus
I don’t know how I can accurately test this and relay in a blog post (in terms of images) but I have found after shooting every bird in flight that I saw over the two trips that initial AF acquisition is significantly faster on the 1DX Mark II than the 1DX. I had the two cameras set up identically (in terms of AF parameters via the Cases), and each time it seemed like the 1DX Mark II was noticeably faster at getting focus.

 

Again, not really sure how I can prove this, other then to say, trust me…or get your hands on one and try it for yourself.

 

The reason for this faster initial focus acquisition is likely the combination of improved algorithmic along with the increased sensor size to 360,000 pixels.

 

I also found that the 1DX Mark II, held focus longer then the 1DX (without slipping off, or losing focus of the subject). I plan to gather some birds in flight images to show a sequence shot with the 1dx and then those with the 1dx mark II, including those out of focus. While reviewing images I was beginning to be able to guess which camera the birds were shot with based on the number of shots that were out of focus without checking the metadata.

 

Thought 3 – All AF Points at f/8:
I guess you could say that this is part of the improved Autofocus, however I think this is worth having it’s own section because I think this is a huge improvement. As opposed to the 1DX which only had f/8 focus at the center point (after firmware update), the 1DX Mark II has the ability to focus at all points

 

Sea Otter - Photographed @ 1000mm

Sea Otter – Photographed @ 1000mm (500 f/4L IS II USM + 2x Extender)

at f/8. This means I had the ability to use combinations such as the 500mm f/4L IS and a 2.0x extender, or the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM and the 1.4x extender, and I was SUPER impressed with the results.

 

I tested both these combinations on my recent Marine Mammals trips, and was thoroughly impressed with the results. Especially when you think about the number of focal lengths you can cover with only two lenses. I can basically cover everywhere from 100mm-1000mm, and using the 100-400 with the 1.4x extender gives me the equivalent focal length of the 200-400 f/4 without the weight (and price tag). With the 1DX I had tried 1000mm (500mm f/4 + 2x extender), but I was never really happy with the images. They were more of ID shots, and maybe good at web-size versus the images that I took with the 1DX Mark II.

 

As much as I really liked the results of the above two mentioned combinations, I will admit that I did have an increased number of images with soft focus then just using those lenses without the extenders. Also, as impressed as I was with the results, it’s not going to be something I use all the time because I don’t want every photo I have to be at f/8 (or more realistically f/11). However I can see times when it will work really well, or provide an opportunity to get in tighter with something when you have already taken all the shots at the native focal range, or when shooting an animal that just doesn’t want to get close, like wolves in Yellowstone.

 

I am going to do more testing on this, and specifically comparing to the 1DX.

 

Thought 4 – Improved Frames per Second and Buffer
The final improvement that I think it’s important to highlight, and I found particularly useful during my last trip, is the increased frames per second, however, more importantly is the increased number of shots before the camera started to buffer. With the CFAST cards I was able to get over 100 shots (in RAW format) before the camera started to buffer. When using the CF cards I was able to get about 50 shots before the camera started to buffer. This is compared to about 35 shots that I was able to get with the 1DX. I would say most of the time this isn’t an issue, because when do you really need that many shots, however, when you have a serial breacher Humpback Whale (as we did during the last Marine Mammals trip), it was very nice to not have to “manage the camera” and take shots selectively to ensure you don’t buffer out, and end up stuck when the action peaks.

 

I will be continuing to test all the of these things over the next few months, and will post updates to the above including more images showing some of the differences.
I have finally had the opportunity to put the Canon 1D X Mark II through the wringer, and have had the chance to test it in my “normal shooting conditions”. I have already made a few comments about the camera in other posts, but thought I would consolidate all my thoughts into one post. I will follow-up my initial thoughts with some specific blog posts testing each of the areas that I have noted below. (All comparisons noted below were made in comparison to the 1DX).

 

Thought 1 – Improved Image Quality at High ISO
The very first post I made about the 1DX Mark II (after the post that I finally had one in my hands) was that I was impressed with the ISO performance of the camera. Well after working in more low-light/high ISO scenarios, I still stand by that.

 

ISO 12,800

Grizzly photographed with Canon 1DX Mark II at ISO 12800

There are two things that I have noticed with high ISO images (by high ISO I am referring to images above ISO 5000):
1 – Noise is more manageable noise than with the 1DX,
2 – The dynamic range and detail that is still retained in these images.

 

I found that with the 1DX that once you got it over ISO 6400, even if you could manage the noise, I often didn’t have the details left in the image to produce an image with a sharp eye, or where you could see the dimples on the bear’s nose. And if I somehow managed to save all the detail, I had very little dynamic range to work with, and the image looked very flat. However I am finding with the 1DX Mark II that I am able to have both higher dynamic range, and still have the detail to recover in these images.

 

Thought 2 – Improved Autofocus
I don’t know how I can accurately test this and relay in a blog post (in terms of images) but I have found after shooting every bird in flight that I saw over the two trips that initial AF acquisition is significantly faster on the 1DX Mark II than the 1DX. I had the two cameras set up identically (in terms of AF parameters via the Cases), and each time it seemed like the 1DX Mark II was noticeably faster at getting focus.

 

Again, not really sure how I can prove this, other then to say, trust me…or get your hands on one and try it for yourself.

 

The reason for this faster initial focus acquisition is likely the combination of improved algorithmic along with the increased sensor size to 360,000 pixels.

 

I also found that the 1DX Mark II, held focus longer then the 1DX (without slipping off, or losing focus of the subject). I plan to gather some birds in flight images to show a sequence shot with the 1dx and then those with the 1dx mark II, including those out of focus. While reviewing images I was beginning to be able to guess which camera the birds were shot with based on the number of shots that were out of focus without checking the metadata.

 

Thought 3 – All AF Points at f/8:
I guess you could say that this is part of the improved Autofocus, however I think this is worth having it’s own section because I think this is a huge improvement. As opposed to the 1DX which only had f/8 focus at the center point (after firmware update), the 1DX Mark II has the ability to focus at all points

 

Sea Otter - Photographed @ 1000mm

Sea Otter – Photographed @ 1000mm (500 f/4L IS II USM + 2x Extender)

at f/8. This means I had the ability to use combinations such as the 500mm f/4L IS and a 2.0x extender, or the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM and the 1.4x extender, and I was SUPER impressed with the results.

 

I tested both these combinations on my recent Marine Mammals trips, and was thoroughly impressed with the results. Especially when you think about the number of focal lengths you can cover with only two lenses. I can basically cover everywhere from 100mm-1000mm, and using the 100-400 with the 1.4x extender gives me the equivalent focal length of the 200-400 f/4 without the weight (and price tag). With the 1DX I had tried 1000mm (500mm f/4 + 2x extender), but I was never really happy with the images. They were more of ID shots, and maybe good at web-size versus the images that I took with the 1DX Mark II.

 

As much as I really liked the results of the above two mentioned combinations, I will admit that I did have an increased number of images with soft focus then just using those lenses without the extenders. Also, as impressed as I was with the results, it’s not going to be something I use all the time because I don’t want every photo I have to be at f/8 (or more realistically f/11). However I can see times when it will work really well, or provide an opportunity to get in tighter with something when you have already taken all the shots at the native focal range, or when shooting an animal that just doesn’t want to get close, like wolves in Yellowstone.

 

I am going to do more testing on this, and specifically comparing to the 1DX.

 

Thought 4 – Improved Frames per Second and Buffer
The final improvement that I think it’s important to highlight, and I found particularly useful during my last trip, is the increased frames per second, however, more importantly is the increased number of shots before the camera started to buffer. With the CFAST cards I was able to get over 100 shots (in RAW format) before the camera started to buffer. When using the CF cards I was able to get about 50 shots before the camera started to buffer. This is compared to about 35 shots that I was able to get with the 1DX. I would say most of the time this isn’t an issue, because when do you really need that many shots, however, when you have a serial breacher Humpback Whale (as we did during the last Marine Mammals trip), it was very nice to not have to “manage the camera” and take shots selectively to ensure you don’t buffer out, and end up stuck when the action peaks.

 

I will be continuing to test all the of these things over the next few months, and will post updates to the above including more images showing some of the differences.

I arrived back from the Marine Mammals trip a few days ago, and came back with an abundance of photos, knowledge about my new camera (Canon 1dx Mark II), and great memories. I can’t wait until I have the opportunity to get there again.

 

Our trip started in Port McNeil where we boarded our accommodations for the week (a 71 foot sailboat), and then we proceeded to the JohnstoneJS Map Strait Area, which is known for its population of Killer Whales during the summer months. From there we travelled in between Vancouver Island and the mainland up to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, and then back to the Johnstone Strait again.

 

The goal of the trip was to photograph the different species of marine mammals that call the BC Coast home, and I don’t think anyone walked away from the trip disappointed. In addition to photographing the Humpback and Killer Whales along the Johnstone Strait, we were also treated to some awesome interactions with Steller Sea Lions, and Sea Otters.

 

Under the Sea

Under the Sea

Some of the most memorable experiences of this years trip was witnessing a serial breaching Humpback Whale. We also saw some transient Killer Whales try to kill a Steller Sea Lion (who then tried to seek refuge in our zodiac – luckily without us in it). And the trip ended with us having a pod of over 30 (some estimated 50) Pacific White-Sided Dolphins ride the bow of the boat (see image to the left).

 

We also had the opportunity to photograph some of the birds of the BC Coast, which provided an excellent opportunity for me to test different AF settings on my new 1dx Mark II. Some of the highlights of the bird photography included Bald Eagles fishing, and Black Oystercatcher in a parcel of at least 13 birds.

 

What I loved about this trip, in addition to capturing some outstanding images, is that it seemed like each of the 7 days had a different highlight, and no one day was the same. Overall this was a very memorable trip, and is quickly becoming one of my favourites. If you would like to visit the BC Coast to photograph marine mammals contact Brad Hill : Natural Art Images

 

Stay tuned to my recent images and marine mammals gallery for photos as I get them processed.

 

And now it’s just under a month until I head back to the BC Coast, and into the Great Bear Rainforest. The images from the last two years can be found here: Great Bear Rainforest Images

I arrived back from the Marine Mammals trip a few days ago, and came back with an abundance of photos, knowledge about my new camera (Canon 1dx Mark II), and great memories. I can’t wait until I have the opportunity to get there again.

 

Our trip started in Port McNeil where we boarded our accommodations for the week (a 71 foot sailboat), and then we proceeded to the JohnstoneJS Map Strait Area, which is known for its population of Killer Whales during the summer months. From there we travelled in between Vancouver Island and the mainland up to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, and then back to the Johnstone Strait again.

 

The goal of the trip was to photograph the different species of marine mammals that call the BC Coast home, and I don’t think anyone walked away from the trip disappointed. In addition to photographing the Humpback and Killer Whales along the Johnstone Strait, we were also treated to some awesome interactions with Steller Sea Lions, and Sea Otters.

 

Under the Sea

Under the Sea

Some of the most memorable experiences of this years trip was witnessing a serial breaching Humpback Whale. We also saw some transient Killer Whales try to kill a Steller Sea Lion (who then tried to seek refuge in our zodiac – luckily without us in it). And the trip ended with us having a pod of over 30 (some estimated 50) Pacific White-Sided Dolphins ride the bow of the boat (see image to the left).

 

We also had the opportunity to photograph some of the birds of the BC Coast, which provided an excellent opportunity for me to test different AF settings on my new 1dx Mark II. Some of the highlights of the bird photography included Bald Eagles fishing, and Black Oystercatcher in a parcel of at least 13 birds.

 

What I loved about this trip, in addition to capturing some outstanding images, is that it seemed like each of the 7 days had a different highlight, and no one day was the same. Overall this was a very memorable trip, and is quickly becoming one of my favourites. If you would like to visit the BC Coast to photograph marine mammals contact Brad Hill : Natural Art Images

 

Stay tuned to my recent images and marine mammals gallery for photos as I get them processed.

 

And now it’s just under a month until I head back to the BC Coast, and into the Great Bear Rainforest. The images from the last two years can be found here: Great Bear Rainforest Images

It probably won’t come as a surprise to many people that Canon has officially announced their 5D Mark IV, which replaces the 5D Mark III. In Canada they are priced around $4,499, and in the US around $3,499, with an estimated shipping date of mid-September. Initially when I was reading the rumors about the 5D Mark IV, I was thinking that I was going to pass on this body, and instead keep my 1DX as my backup full frame camera to the 1DX Mark II. Maybe it’s my need to consume, but part of me is considering actually purchasing the 5D Mark IV, and selling the 1dx.

 

Here are some of the features that have piqued my interest:

Megapixels:

The 5D Mark IV comes with a 30.4MP full frame CMOS Sensor. I’m very glad that some of the initial rumors of the camera being close to 50MP didn’t come true, because I think it would have really limited the use of the camera (especially with Canon already having 50MP options in the 5DSR). This is a 8MP over its predecessor, and a 10MP improvement over the 1DX Mark II…remember the days when you were only buying cameras with 8-10MP, now was are seeing that as the MP increase.

 

My only hesitation of having a 30MP sensor will be how it fares with hand-holding. I do over 90% of my photography hand-held, and sometimes from very unstable places (such as boats), I am concerned about how having this many MP will impact image sharpness.

 

However having two cameras with different megapixel counts would be an advantage.

 

AF System:

The 5D Mark IV comes with an improved 61-Point High Density Reticular AF system with 41 cross-points. On paper this was the same specifications for the 5D Mark III and the 1DX, however seeing how much of an improvement the 1DX Mark II was over the 1DX, I’m optimistic that the 5D Mark IV will also see an improvement over the 5D Mark III.

 

Additionally, all the AF points are f/8 points, meaning that you can stack a 2x Extender on a 500mm f/4 lens and still have full use of all the AF points. Obviously if you are not a big user of extenders, then this may not seem like that great of a feature. However, I love the flexibility of using extenders on my lenses, and so far I have really been loving this feature on the 1DX Mark II.

 

RGB+IR Sensor:

The 5D Mark IV has been upgraded to a 150,000 pixel RGB+IR light sensor (an improvement over then 100,000 its predecessor). The increased pixels in the sensor should increase AF performance as well as metering performance, and therefore should lead to faster AF, and better metering of the scenes.

 

Other Features:

The camera also has a few other features that I consider less important, such as 4k video with continuous AF (which I haven’t even tried on my 1dx Mark II, yet), and built-in wifi and GPS, and it also comes with a touchscreen. While lots of users would probably put a lot of value in some of these features, they aren’t going to make my buy decision for me.

 

There are a few things that I think are lacking from the 5D Mark IV

 

Memory Cards & Batteries:

I don’t know why Canon is going to continue to force me to carry around three different types of memory cards, which also involves carrying around different card readers. The 5D Mark IV comes with a dual slot, one for CF and one for SD, which is consistent with the 5D Mark III, however I was hoping it would have a CFAST slot to make it more consistent with the 1DX Mark II.

 

Given the increase in megapixels, as well as the increased frames per second, this camera NOT having a CFAST slot may really impact on the buffering of the camera. Therefore the increased frames per second might just lead the camera to buffer faster. This was the problem I have had with both the 5D Mark III and the 1DX, it wasn’t that I wasn’t getting enough shots each second, it was that they could only go for a few seconds before buffering and slowing down. That’s why I’m really surprised/disappointed that Canon wouldn’t use the CFAST cards instead of CF, since their flagship body is already using them.

 

The batteries are the same as the 5D Mark III, however I wish that when you added a battery grip it would change it so you can use the battery from the 1DX/Mark II. Also, the battery grip of the 5D Mark III is not compatible with the 5D Mark IV, so while you can use your existing batteries, you will need to buy a different grip.

 

Frames Per Second:

One of my only complaints about the 5D Mark III was that it was slow, compared to the other cameras in my collection, such as the 1DX Mark II, 1DX, and the 7D Mark II. And so for Canon to only upgrade the 5D Mark IV to 7 fps from 6 seems like they could have added at least one more and I would have been happier…and I’m sure others would have been as well. If I actually think about it, there are very few scenarios when 7 or even 6 would be insufficient, but the breaching Humpback Whale that I saw in BC last week would have been a challenge if I had my 5D Mark III in my hands, and probably not much better if I had the 5D Mark IV.

 

After reading all the things I like about the camera, and the list of relatively minor dislikes I have with the specs, you are probably wondering why my mind isn’t made up about it already. The reason is that it’s always hard to translate what’s on paper to how it performs in the field under the shooting conditions that I’m presented with.

 

Specifically of concern is the ISO performance as a large portion of my shooting is done in low-light settings, such as the Great Bear Rainforest in BC, or photographing owls in Alberta before the sunset, so ISO performance is one of the most critical features of a camera for me (hence my initial gut reaction of keeping the 1DX).

 

Secondly, I wonder how a camera with 30 MP will perform while not on a tripod, given that I do the vast majority of my shooting hand-held.

 

Thirdly, whether the increased MP will have an impact on the buffer, and make the camera less desirable for high-action shooting.

 

Overall, based on what I’m reading, I think this camera is a improvement over it’s predecessor, and provides a great full-frame option to users that don’t want to fork our $8k for the 1DX Mark II. However, the one thing I don’t know based on reading the specs is whether it is enough of an improvement over the 5D Mark III for people to upgrade with the $4299 price tag, or whether you would be better off buying a used 1DX for around the same price.

 

It will remain to be seen whether I end up adding one to my stock of cameras permanently, however I will get my hands on one as soon as I can to do some testing in comparison with the other cameras I have.

My first trip to photograph fishing Grizzly’s in Northern British Columbia started off better than expected. I hand my boarding pass and passport to the boarding agent at the gate and she gets some kind of error on her computer. My first thought is, ah man, I’ve been bumped…but she come back with a new boarding pass, and says “you’ve been upgraded”. Woot woot…I don’t think that there is any better news that could be provided at the airport…unless you brought along a lotto ticket and checked it at the airport and won. So I flew from Calgary to Whitehorse in style. Thank you Air Canada (I can’t believe I just typed that). So far my trip was off to a very good start.

 

From Whitehorse we travelled to British Columbia where we took a helicopter to our remote camp. The helicopter ride was over glaciers, mountains and hillsides and  provided amazing scenery. Once we arrived at our camp, we saw a bear almost right away.

Riverside Rambler

Riverside Rambler

After that first sighting we had a bit of a quiet time before the bear photography really took off, slower than we had hoped.  While you can’t know why for sure, we think it was due to an early berry season, coupled with lower than normal salmon run.  But at the end of the day, it is nature so who really knows for certain.

 

These slower days provided me an excellent opportunity to focus on learning some of the features of my new camera (Canon 1D X Mark II) and to do some testing with my new camera.  Some of the testing I focused on was testing the exposure compensation adjustments, ISO and image noise at different ISO, testing the AF system, and comparing this to the Canon 1dX.  I also worked on setting up the custom settings, and even discovered a new setting that I didn’t realize that the camera had, which is similar to the shooting banks of the Nikons.  I have really learned a lot about the new camera in a short time. Stay tuned to my future blog posts on what I have discovered.

 

Despite being slower than we hoped at the start of the trip, I still walked away with some really great images. This trip was different from other Grizzly Bear trips that I have been on in the past, because you can sit right along the side of the river and have the Grizzly Bears walk right by and fish.  In addition to the Grizzly Bears, this location also provided an opportunity to photograph Bald Eagles, Mergansers, and Dippers.

Sea Lion Snoozing Sleeping British Columbia

Snoozin’ Sea Lion

 

Stay tuned to my recent photos, and journeys album for more photos from the trip.

 

Now I’m off on my next adventure, where I will spend 7 days aboard a sailboat photographing Marine Mammals. Here is a Sea Lion snoozin’ which I photographed during my 2015 trip. Keep an eye on my recent photos and Marine Mammals Gallery for my images from my 2016 trip.

My first trip to photograph fishing Grizzly’s in Northern British Columbia started off better than expected. I hand my boarding pass and passport to the boarding agent at the gate and she gets some kind of error on her computer. My first thought is, ah man, I’ve been bumped…but she come back with a new boarding pass, and says “you’ve been upgraded”. Woot woot…I don’t think that there is any better news that could be provided at the airport…unless you brought along a lotto ticket and checked it at the airport and won. So I flew from Calgary to Whitehorse in style. Thank you Air Canada (I can’t believe I just typed that). So far my trip was off to a very good start.

 

From Whitehorse we travelled to British Columbia where we took a helicopter to our remote camp. The helicopter ride was over glaciers, mountains and hillsides and  provided amazing scenery. Once we arrived at our camp, we saw a bear almost right away.

Riverside Rambler

Riverside Rambler

After that first sighting we had a bit of a quiet time before the bear photography really took off, slower than we had hoped.  While you can’t know why for sure, we think it was due to an early berry season, coupled with lower than normal salmon run.  But at the end of the day, it is nature so who really knows for certain.

 

These slower days provided me an excellent opportunity to focus on learning some of the features of my new camera (Canon 1D X Mark II) and to do some testing with my new camera.  Some of the testing I focused on was testing the exposure compensation adjustments, ISO and image noise at different ISO,  testing the AF system, and comparing this to the Canon 1dX.  I also worked on setting up the custom settings, and even discovered a new setting that I didn’t realize that the camera had, which is similar to the shooting banks of the Nikons.  I have really learned a lot about the new camera in a short time. Stay tuned to my future blog posts on what I have discovered.

 

Despite being slower than we hoped at the start of the trip, I still walked away with some really great images. This trip was different from other Grizzly Bear trips that I have been on in the past, because you can sit right along the side of the river and have the Grizzly Bears walk right by and fish.  In addition to the Grizzly Bears, this location also provided an opportunity to photograph Bald Eagles, Mergansers, and Dippers. Stay tuned to my recent photos, and journeys album for more photos from the trip.

 

Sea Lion Snoozing Sleeping British Columbia

Snoozin’ Sea Lion

Now I’m off on my next adventure, where I will spend 7 days aboard a sailboat photographing Marine Mammals. Here is a Sea Lion snoozin’ which I photographed during my 2015 trip. Keep an eye on my recent photos and Marine Mammals Gallery for my images from my 2016 trip.

At the end of this week I am heading on a new adventure, up to a remote part of British Columbia, where we will be completely off the grid. The objective of this trip will be to photograph Grizzly Bears while they fish for salmon – and to have fun, of course!

 

What I love about photographing bears while they are fishing, is that the bears are usually very dynamic – you can get bears splashing in the water, you can see bears that will snorkel (put there eyes under water), while others take the easy way…and grab the dead fish along the shore. Bears will switch to fish, when available, and sometimes travel long distances in order to visit fishing grounds. In years when there are a lot of fish, bears will often focus on eating the brains, and fish eggs, instead of the entire fish, as these are the parts that pack the most calories, so they are the most bang for their buck.

 

Caught One

Caught One

This image was captured on a different trip that I went on by myself a few years ago, showing a Grizzly Bear fishing pink salmon in a different part of remote British Columbia, however it shows how having a salmon can really add another element to a photo (and not just the fish, but the interaction with fish trying to escape while bear tries to eat it).

 

I’m also excited to finally get to really put the Canon 1D X Mark II to the test, and reporting on the results. I have only been out shooting with it a few times in and around Calgary, and haven’t really put it through 5 straight days of work. Based on all the images I have captured with it so far, the AF system seems awesome, with it tracking birds in flight very well, and the ISO performance is right up there. I have gotten usable images at ISO’s over 6400 (which is usually where I stop with the Canon 1dx). I will be bringing both the Canon 1D x Mark II and the 1D X along on this trip, and will be putting them head-to-head when I can.

 

I am super excited about this trip, and I am looking forward to see what I come away with! Stay tuned to my blog, and recent images, for what I ended up capturing.

At the end of this week I am heading on a new adventure, up to a remote part of British Columbia, where we will be completely off the grid. The objective of this trip will be to photograph Grizzly Bears while they fish for salmon – and to have fun, of course!

 

What I love about photographing bears while they are fishing, is that the bears are usually very dynamic – you can get bears splashing in the water, you can see bears that will snorkel (put there eyes under water), while others take the easy way…and grab the dead fish along the shore. Bears will switch to fish, when available, and sometimes travel long distances in order to visit fishing grounds. In years when there are a lot of fish, bears will often focus on eating the brains, and fish eggs, instead of the entire fish, as these are the parts that pack the most calories, so they are the most bang for their buck.

 

Caught One

Caught One

This image was captured on a different trip that I went on by myself a few years ago, showing a Grizzly Bear fishing pink salmon in a different part of remote British Columbia, however it shows how having a salmon can really add another element to a photo (and not just the fish, but the interaction with fish trying to escape while bear tries to eat it).

 

I’m also excited to finally get to really put the Canon 1D X Mark II to the test, and reporting on the results. I have only been out shooting with it a few times in and around Calgary, and haven’t really put it through 5 straight days of work. Based on all the images I have captured with it so far, the AF system seems awesome, with it tracking birds in flight very well, and the ISO performance is right up there. I have gotten usable images at ISO’s over 6400 (which is usually where I stop with the Canon 1dx). I will be bringing both the Canon 1D x Mark II and the 1D X along on this trip, and will be putting them head-to-head when I can.

 

I am super excited about this trip, and I am looking forward to see what I come away with! Stay tuned to my blog, and recent images, for what I ended up capturing.