My EOS 1D Mark II with EF70-200 f/2.8 IS © Jan Shim

The Canon EOS 1D Mark II is Canon’s flagship digital SLR highly favoured by professional event photographers and photo journalists for its blazing 8.5 fps continuous shooting speed and highly accurate AF performance. It is now in the very capable hands of WPJA accredited and professional wedding photographer David Cheok. I took a final shot of the MkII before passing it to David (L lens not included).

Some of you may wonder what made me decide to give up the MkII. It helps when someone makes an offer to start the ball rolling. It wasn’t until several weeks later that I said Yes! And during a time when I’m winding down my event photography to limit my work to commercial shoots and selective Chinese weddings. I have since shot a wedding with my favourite Canon body, the EOS 20D, and the lens that stayed on most of the day and night was the EF 10-22mm, while the tighter shots were made using EF 24-70 and 70-200.

So what do I think of the MkII? Well, it seemed at the time I handed over the body, it had what was determined to be a lowly 52,000 shutter clicks in a span of over a year, for a professional body. Cut to the chase, I eventually found reasons or excuses to let it go. Firstly, its sheer weight just bogs me down and when you try to put up with two bodies on your shoulders for an entire day, you finish the assignment with very sore muscles and body aches. And I find myself needing a massage, beyond what my bottle of Yoko Yoko and Osim iSqueeze is capable of providing temporary relief to the pain and fatique from a 21 16hour wedding shoot.

Secondly, the much publicised sophistication of the MkII lies in its engineering. Specs say there’s two RISC processors that handles complex algorithms to ensure accurate focus locks. What this translates to in layman talk is that all this extra processing means the camera will take longer to find and lock focus. True to its design, I am often left frustrated that it almost cannot lock focus when I am shooting in low light situations. This phenomenon has been proven time and again and I’m not alone when it comes to moments I was unable to capture. This is where I personally find the 20D to be more productive, in my hands.

The last and probably the biggest issue I had with the MkII is the layout of the buttons and struggle with the rich menu system. This is perhaps a personal thing, I’m not knocking the camera design but merely admiting I have trouble accepting the MkII as a friendly and usable camera. Having used to a turn dial to switch between shooting modes, the MkII requires a combination of buttons to do the same.

I feel it’s fair to share what I think are the camera’s strong points, and they are quite obvious really. 8.5 frames per second and highly accurate high speed AF is what makes the 1DMkII so unique.

Launched in April 2007, the EOS 1D MkIII succeeds the MkII as the highest performing professional Digital SLR camera in the Canon line-up. However, this exciting news is short lived when it was discovered that the camera suffers from autofocus performance. On June 19, 2007 Rob Galbraith Digital Photography Insights provides an analysis …

After that, [autofocus in] our preproduction EOS-1D Mark III is a mess. It can’t hold focus on static subjects very well and it can’t track moving subjects very well. While Canon didn’t provide any details about the autofocus limitations we would encounter in the preproduction body, we hope this is what they were referring to and this is what engineers have been solving since.The article begins with this statement, “We also found its autofocus to be quicker off the line in dim light than any camera we’d used before.”  This immediately brings me back to the issue I struggled with, low light focus performance. Seriously, what’s the point of blazingly fast AF when it produces backfocused or out of focus? Bummer!

UPDATE: 11 MAY 2007
WHEN THE 1DmkII SHUTTER FAILS Here is one of a number of pictures from David’s camera captured with a failed shutter. Fortunately, it only costs a few hundred dollars to fix. Most unfortunate would be when it fails at the worse inopportune moments of a shoot. This wasn’t one one of them.

Failed 1D Mark II Shutter © David Cheok Photography

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