1D X II, 5DS R and 7D II AF Drive Speed Compared

I’m currently waiting for Capture One to support the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. RAW converter options available at the moment (Canon DPP and Photoshop/Lightroom) do not cut it. Their output is seriously underwhelming compared to Capture One, so I’m trying to avoid to check the camera’s image quality now. That leaves other operational aspects to examine.

My current main camera is the EOS 5DS R – it will definitely remain in this position even with the 1D X Mark II at hand. I highly doubt that the 1D X will be able to challenge its superlative image quality. On the other hand, slow frame rate and especially the small buffer are a headache from time to time.


Swan – 5DS R with the 500/4 IS II and 1.4x III teleconverter

That’s why I had been carrying a 7D Mark II in my bag for the last year and a half. But now the 1D X Mark II casts a shadow on the 7D Mark II’s future…

Today I did a little test to compare the AF drive speed of these three cameras with my Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM – naked lens, as well as with the 1.4x III and 2x III teleconverters.

The measurement was simple: recorded a video of the focus distance scale during a full stroke “infinity to minimum focusing distance to infinity” focus drive operation, and then counted how many frames the operation took.

It took a tad less than 0.8 seconds for the 1D X Mark II to execute this operation regardless of whether a converter was attached or not. What surprised me is that the 5DS R produced the exact same result. I must conclude that stories about the 1D’s more powerful battery in connection with the AF drive speed are marketing bullshit. The 5DS R with a weaker battery can do the same. Even with a teleconverter attached.

The 7D Mark II is a different story, though. The naked lens produced the same 0.8 seconds result, but extenders took their toll. The 1.4x slowed focusing time by some 17%, and with the 2x the full stroke took twice as much time as with the naked lens.

In today’s test the 1D X Mark II scored a win against the 7D Mark II, but the true winner for me is the 5DS R… I expected 7D Mark II level performance from the camera, and being on par with the 1D X just makes me to admire it even more.

Kuuvik Capture 2.4 Released

The latest update to Kuuvik Capture is now available on the Mac App Store. First and foremost, we’ve added support for the brand new Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. This seems to be a great camera with a few quirks – more on the camera itself in a later post. You can connect it to Kuuvik Capture with USB, using the built-in Ethernet connection or via the WFT-E6 or WFT-E8 Wi-Fi transmitters.

We also changed the way shadow and highlight clipping warnings look. In the past we had a hatched pattern that become denser as more channels got outside the exposure range of the camera. The problem was severe moiré and aliasing when you zoomed in and out. Beginning this version the exposure warnings are solid colored, getting more opaque as more channels are affected.

Multi-channel highlight clipping warning

This is an image from last fall, and shows how channels get clipped towards the sun in the frame. First green (the largest patch), then blue and finally red. The more channels are overexposed the less chance to do effective highlight recovery.

Last but not least, I’ve continued the multi-platform code removal process (mentioned in my former post), which brings performance improvements (and battery usage improvements) here and there. For example loading 20 megapixel images from the 7D Mark II got up to 0.1 seconds faster on a 11″ MacBook Air. And overall camera communication is a bit faster and smoother.

The update is free for existing Kuuvik Capture 2 customers. New users can download Kuuvik Capture 2 from the Mac App Store for $79.99 / €79.99 / £59.99.

For more information about the app, please visit it’s microsite, or check out my posts.

It’s All About Color Contrast

Why do I prefer shooting purple herons in the reeds? It’s all about color contrast. During evenings this location is perfectly front-lit, so blue sky and deep yellow foliage is a given. Mix it with the browns and reds of the heron and you’re almost ready.



The only fly in the ointment is that you’ll have to shoot through the reeds. This had been quite a challenge before the 7D Mark II – this fantastic little camera has an AF system that can track the birds even when they fly behind the reeds. No camera before that was able to do it with such a good success rate. I had to spend an afternoon to fine tune the system, but was well worth the effort. (Tracking sensitivity: -1, Accel./decel. tracking: 2, AF pt auto switching: 2 is what I use in case you are curious.)

A Great Reed Warbler from 2012

From time to time I scroll through old images. Especially ones from the same location and same time frame. And usually end up in a ruthless editing session. Technical imperfections, suboptimal compositions – you name it, I delete it. But once in a while I find a gem.

Great Reed Warbler Singing

Great Reed Warbler Singing

Just sit back, and enjoy the song of the warbler on a late spring morning.

The Ballet Has Begun – With a Little Extra

Herons finally arrived and I spent the afternoon with warming up for the season. This year will be radically different from the previous ones because of the rig I use. The issue with photographing herons at this specific location is that they land at varying distances. This usually means frequent teleconverter and body changes, and lots of inadvertently cut wings and feet.

But not this time. The 5DS R has more than enough resolution for cropping if the bird lands further away while I can avoid truncating vital parts with closer landings thanks to the full frame sensor. I’m using the EF 500mm f/4L IS USM with the 1.4x III teleconverter.

Purple Heron Landing Ballet

Purple Heron Landing Ballet

Images are also much better from the 5DS R than they were from the 7D Mark II and 5D Mark III used for the last couple of years. Not to mention the ancient 1D Mark II… Frame rate is a bit slow sometimes, but still manageable. The real problem is that emptying the buffer to the card may take a lot of time even with a speedy 1066x Lexar CF. This is one point where I expect the 1D X Mark II to do wonders.

Besides the herons, a bunch of bearded tits were also hanging out in the reeds. They are funny little birds and I really enjoy working with them. So much that I missed quite a few heron landings.

Bearded Tit - Another Take

Bearded Tit – Another Take

The light was great, so why not take advantage of the situation and the cooperating birds? Heck, I already have a ton of great heron landing images…

Artist’s Viewfinder 4.6 Available

iphone_se_wideconvThe latest update to the Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder adds complete support for the iPhone SE.

This means two things. First, we’ve measured the angle of view of the SE’s camera. Second, since the SE takes iPhone 5s cases, we’ve created a distortion correction profile for each and every wide converter that we support on the 5s. You see the complete list on the left.

As usual, we’ve added a bunch of new cameras to the app’s database. I’d encourage you to take a look on the release notes for the detailed list.

Version 4.6 is a free update for existing Mark II owners. Users of former Viewfinder Basic/Pro/Cine editions can upgrade for a reduced price.

While Waiting

I’m waiting for several things to arrive. For egrets, herons, and my 1D X Mark II. And while waiting, I’m sifting through last year’s images. The one below was made with the 7D Mark II and the then new EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens (plus the 1.4x III teleconverter).

Egret Landing

Egret Landing

This is a deadly combination that brought me a bunch of great images during the last twelve months. I’m curious whether the 1D X Mark II will replace the 7D Mark II in my bag. Weight, size, reach, convenience are all factors – not just speed and image quality. I’m really really curious. But don’t worry, I’ll let you know once the 1D X Mark II is in my hands.

Imminent Storm

On the evening of April 1st, a serious gale hit Lake Tisza. Of course I was out on the lake looking for images. After the first gusts I decided that it’s better to pack and go. But… I quickly made a few frames.

Imminent Storm

Imminent Storm

I wouldn’t have thought that one of my strongest images will lurk among those. It’s a huge departure from my usual style. It’s an image straight out of the camera – even the slightest post processing attempt weakened it.

Unfortunately the web sized reproduction does not let it go through entirely – and even the large version needs time to fully appreciate it. Look at the image. Let is sink. Smell the oncoming storm.

Oh yes, shot with the Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 on the Canon 5DS R. I can hardly wait to see it on large canvas.