Friday, February 19, 2010

The 800lbs Gorilla in the Room

I'm sure many of you have already read Rob Galbraith's article which condemns the 1D Mark IV's AF system.  It's seems the Nikonians are having a great time with this article, flaunting it as though perhaps it's the definitive judgment of the 1D Mark IV's performance.

Rob was around back when the 1D Mark III was released and he was, to his credit, one of the first people to notice the AF problems found with that body.  It elevated him to something of a photography icon as he wrote extensively about the problems.  Canon even contacted him and had him help them diagnose the issue, an issue Canon originally denied existed.  Unfortunately Rob has removed this article from his website.

Rob's most recent excursion into Canon AF performance reviews doesn't seem to be as well received as his original 1D3 condemnation.  First, we have reports coming in from Sports Illustrated photographers saying the 1D4 is nothing short of amazing.  People like Peter Miller, Brad Mangin and David Bergman are saying the exact opposite of what Rob is saying.  These guys live and die by the images their bodies produce, and they have complete confidence in the 1D4's abilities.  Not only that, they're saying it's an improvement over the 1D3 it replaces.

Even a respected peer of Robs, and fellow Nikon shooter, Scott Bourne seems to think Rob is off his nut with some of his more tersely worded comments about the 1D4's performance.  Scott seems to think that the 1D4 is not only reliable, something Rob claims it's not, but he thinks of it highly enough to invest $25k of his own money into buying 1D4's for his business.  He's still a D3s shooter, but he uses the 1D4 mostly for video production, an area where the 1D4 has a clear advantage over the D3s.

I think Rob probably had a bad day or week.  As Scott said, he apparently has a burr in his butt over Canon.  His review, on its face, is flawed in that he was using firmware 1.0.4 for over half of his testing before upgrading to version 1.0.6.  The new firmware addressed known issues with the 1D4 tracking a subject moving at relatively slow speed towards the camera.  Also conspicuously missing are his custom function settings in his review.  These are critical to any sports photography regardless if it's Canon or Nikon.  Since the 1D4 is completely different than the 1D3 it replaced, I suspect Rob didn't have his custom functions properly configured.  Why do I say this?  Because other sports photogs have gotten exceptional results with their 1D4's.

I think Rob's post was a grab at the spotlight and to drive traffic to his website more than it was an objective review of the 1D4's capabilities.  It's also highly suspect that Rob's review is splattered with Nikon ads.  This doesn't lend itself well to credibility in the eye's of many, especially when peers are finding your review to be a bit off base.

On a final note, lets take a look at some 1D Mark IV images from the 2010 Winter Olympics. All I can say is "WOW!"  Those are stunning.  My thanks go out to the Denver Post for providing us with those amazing shots, and to Canon for providing us with such an amazing camera.

Edit:  The 1D4 has some favorable reviews coming in from the field.  Check out the comments made by several top sports photographers that shot the Super Bowl.

Also this review from the Olympics is quite interesting.

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