Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


 

Canon EOS 10D Experience Report

A review by Uwe Steinmueller @Digital Outback Photo

Also photos by Bettina Steinmueller

 

 

 
This review will be written again in the form of a diary. Most recent findings on top.
 


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Testimonial

"If you are just now venturing into the world of fine art digital photography you can immerce yourself in new knowledge about almost every aspect that I can think of. The photographs on the Outback Photo site are stunning, to say the least! The books and handbooks offer a true wealth of knowledge because they are so well thought out and organized in a concise manner, with numerous examples. There are vast quantities of other resources available as well, through linking to other sites. There are interesting and provocative stories and essays written by both Uwe and Bettina Steinmueller and many others. I first found the site while checking reviews of the Canon Digital Rebel and I haven't stopped exploring ... where do Uwe and Bettina find the time to give so much? They are excellent teachers." Eleanor T. Culling 2/25/2004

If you work with Photoshop CS or Capture One our e-books DOP1009 or DOP2000 are the right choice for the Canon 10D.

 

 
5/11/2003 Using the built-in Flash
 

We used the flash with the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and have to report that the lenshood vignettes the flash. You have to take off the hood for flash photography.

We rarely use a flash but the built-in flash comes in handy for some snapshots.

 

 
4/29/2003 10D Raw Conversion Contest
 
Have a look at our raw conversion contest #1 for the Canon 10D.
 

 
4/18/2003 With the 10D in the "Arches National Park"
 


Fiery Furnace (90mm T/S lens)

 

As we needed to fly to Denver to meet our clients for our Moab trip. we opted to use only one camera system. As the Canon 1Ds is currently our flagship camera we took an EOS 10D with us. We have to say that the 10D served us more than well.

While hiking the Fiery Furnace trail (on permit only and you need a guide in this labyrinth) the lightweight 10D, a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and the Gitzo Explorer tripod were the ideal companions.


Spring inside the Fiery Furnace (24-70mm f/2.8 & Gitzo Explorer Tripod)

 

 
 

 
4/6/2003 Capture One DSLR Beta for Canon EOS 10D
 

We have now a beta version of Capture One DSLR for a couple of days that works with the 10D files. You know that we like the Capture One DSLR software (read our full review) a lot and can now report that the 10D feels with this software like the other supported cameras (1D, 1Ds, D1x, D100). For us the software issues with the 10D are now solved.

Capture One DSLR for the 10D will be released soon (stay tuned).

 

 
3/27/2003
 

Our sample camera will be sent back tomorrow. As mentioned before the 10D would be a great backup camera for the 1Ds. With a street price of $1,500 the Canon EOS 10D is also a good candidate for many who want to buy their first digital SLR.

Canon has now with the 10D (excellent price/feature/quality ratio), 1D (the action champion) and 1Ds (defining digital state of the art) a very strong offering of digital SLRs. We hope that this will keep Nikon and Fuji busy to follow up.

Our highlights:

  • Exceptional low high ISO up to ISO 400 and even useable to 800 (for our kind of work)
  • Defining a new price point with $1,500
  • Improved autofocus

The improvements we would like to see at this point are:

  • We wait for improved 3rd party raw converters. Capture One DSLR for the 10D would probably fit the bill. Phase One did not announce whether they will support the 10D. We hope and assume they will have a version in a few months.
  • The autofocus should also support f/8

We will revisit our 10D files once we get any improved software.

 

 
3/24/2003 BreezeBrowser 2.6
 
BreezeBrowser now supports the Canon 10D. If you prefer to use the Canon conversion software BreezeBrowser provides you with a much more useable user interface than the Canon File Viewer Utility (e.g. monitor profile suppor, TIFF files can be tagged with profiles). BreezeBrowser also includes some nice noise removal code. Unfortunately white balance and exposure compensation cannot be processed in real time like with the Adobe Camera Raw. BreezeBrowser is excellent if you use it for batch processing of your 10D files.
 
 

 
3/22/2003 At Point Lobos
 

We thought the 1.6 multiplier would make the 10D especially useful for bird and wildlife photography. That way our 300mm f/4 + a TC 2x would show a field of view like a 960mm lens. But unfortunately also the 10D (like D30/60) don't allow autofocus at f/8. That would leave us with manual focus, not really what we are looking for. By the way our Canon 1Ds has no problem at f/8 with autofocus.

Point Lobos had today for the first hour strong overcast. This is better than strong sunlight but of course a light overcast would have been better. Today we could test some of our new tools.

The Gitzo Explorer Tripod (carbon, 3 legs - we extend only 2)


Gitzo Explorer Tripod

We very often photograph rock structures like shown in the photo. Freehand gives the most flexibility but we have to stay at high shutter speeds and the means high ISO and shallow depths of field for f-stops like f/5.6 or even f/8. Our normal Gitzo 1325 is far to inflexible to be useful here. This is where the Gitzo Explorer fits in. The main features are:

  • Not centric center collum
  • Center collum can be horizontal
  • The legs can be spread in any arbitrary angle, that means lowering/heightening the tripod is fast and allows great control

The Explorer did exactly what we hoped for. The fact that the 10D is very light is an extra plus as this is a lightweight tripod. We have to check how it feels with our Canon 1Ds, although we don't really expect any problems as we work with very light lenses here (50mm macro).

GretagMacbeth Micro Color Checker


GretagMacbeth Micro Color Checker

Some professional photographers reported that white balance for digital cameras is best done on a lighter gray and that also some Kodak Gray Cards seem to have a color cast. The normal GretagMacbeth Color Checker is way to large for our outdoor work. Here the micro Color Checker fills the gap and allows us to use a Color Checker in the field (about 2x3" in size). Actually we would not mind if there would be a slightly larger version (e.g. 3x5") and would come with come rugged case. But for now we are very happy with our new small Color Checkers.


Point Lobos Rock Pattern

This abstract work might not be something for everyone.

On the tripod we use the self-timer drive mode. We would like to have a shorter wait period as we can use on our 1Ds. Otherwise there was no problem with the 10D working on our abstracts.

Just in the moment we wanted to stop anyway the sun showed up and the high contrast would have been a problem anyway.

After a short picnic we wanted to look for some sea otters at Whaler's Cove. An just the moment we arrived at Whaler's Cove we found a sea otter closer than ever before at Point lobos. We had mounted the 80-200mm f/2.8 lens and the TC2x converter.


Sea Otter

Unfortunately we had some slight blown highlights in the face of the otter that we fixed with some burning. These small areas of overexposure are difficult to detect on the small screen, even on one of the brightest displays we have seen so far.

Here is what we recommend to all manufacturers of digital cameras; Have three small indicator that show clipping in any of the three channels.

 

 

 
3/20/2003 Fooling the Bayer Sensor
 
Visit our related article on "Fooling the Bayer Sensor".
 
 
 

 
3/18/2003 At Villa Filoli
 

Spring time is Filoli time. Today we were at Filoli for some flower shots and brought with us the 10D with the Canon 50mm Macro and the Sigma SD9 with the Sigma 50mm Macro.

The 10D felt well again. But we had to set the power-off setting to 15 minutes because waking up the 10D takes far to much time.

 


10D photo

 

Photographing this kind of flowers with many digital cameras is a challenge. Why? Some of the color channels easily clip whithout any indication on the camera histogram (at least we did not find any). Of course we cannot trust Adobe Camera Raw right now as it is not yet profiled for the 10D. I had the same problem with the D1, D1x and other previous test DSLRs.

Canon (and most of the other camera manufacturer) please give us histograms for all 3 color channels (like the Fuji S2 or the SD9). Also some indicators would be very helpful to signal clipped colors.

So we tested the same photo in Canon's File Viewer Utility. Was not better. Instead we found:

- We marked a raw file with Adobe RGB and the 8 bit TIFF file got saves as sRGB file. Bummer!

Canon wrote us: "...Canon Japan is planning to correct the error in the next version of FVU...To summarize, File Viewer Utility is completely capable of converting EOS 10D RAW files to Adobe RGB color space. Once this has been done the user has the option of embedding an Adobe RGB tag in the resulting file."

We find this a serious bug as many 10D users might use the option "convert to profile" (here to Adobe RGB 1998) in Photoshop. This way Photoshop would assume the colors to be sRGB and convert false colors to the final working space. Instead the user has to ignore the embedded sRGB profile and then to assign the Adobe RGB 1998 color space.

Once you understand the situation it can be fixed quite easily. We teach in our seminars also about color management and know how easy people get confused about color management.

- Then we tried 16 bit TIFF and these files do not get tagged with a profile at all. This is not nice either but less dangerous than the previous case. Again the user has to assign Adobe RGB 1998 in Photoshop in this case.

Without Adobe Camera Raw officially ready for 10D and Phase One's Capture One DSLR hopefully in the pipeline getting the right raw converter is an issue right now. We still use Adobe Camera Raw (using the hack) right now as the best compromise.

 


SD9 photo

 

Also the SD9 color might not be perfect but it is much closer to our subjective perception. The main reason is probably that we did not get any clipping with the SD9.

Macro photos from flowers are tricky but Bettina had done some excellent flower shots in the past. Today Bettina shot with both cameras and the 10D was clearly the much more refined body. But we brought more useable shots back from the SD9 than the 10D. Some was related to the clipping we experienced, some related to the wind and bad luck.

We will visit Filoli again, soon. Then we will use a small Color Checker and look more into the color clipping issue.

 
 
3/17/2003 Canon EOS 10D is in
 

Today we received our Canon EOS 10D for review. We expect it to be more exciting than one might think of an D60 "Update" as it seems to improve in some very important areas. Also do not forget that the D60 is a fine camera by itself.

Improvements that we like:

  • Better AF
  • Even lower noise in higher ISO
  • Brighter LCD screen
  • Street price at about $1500
 
The Software Dilemma
 

We will also stay with our tradition to use any digital camera only in "raw" mode and not even have a look at any JPGs.

We always found the Canon software was not really up to the quality of their cameras. In the end it did not matter as with the Adobe Camera Raw and Phase One's Capture One DSLR there are excellent solutions available.

With the Canon EOS 10D it is not clear when these 3rd party applications will officially support this new camera. In the future we hope of more cooperation so that the other applications are ready once the new cameras ship.

Going back to the Canon Fileviewer utility would not feel too good. In the moment there are only some hacks available that let you use Camera Raw with 10D files. You have to be aware that we will not promote such hacks (have no clue about the legal implications) and also Camera Raw is for sure not optimized for the 10D yet. But on the other side these hacks seem to be working well enough for some reasonable (we even think good) results. We will mostly use Camera Raw for our test shots.

 
Los Gatos
 
 

Today we did our traditional Los Gatos trip. We felt at home with the 10D in a couple of minutes.

  • LCD is very bright and we could read the histogram even in bright sunlight
  • Body feels fine
  • AF seems to be no problem (we will check with some bird shots later)
 


Purple Victorian in Los Gatos


100% pixel crop (sharpened)

 
We found the color to be very good and can confirm that the ISO behavior is very good indeed.
 

    
ISO 400 (left) ISO 800 (right) (not sharpened)

 
We have the feeling that going up to ISO 400 is nearly no problem in most cases. ISO 800 works ok and might save your day but would not be our choice. Unfortunately the camera can only set ISO to 100/200/400/800/1600/3200(custom setting required). We would like to see some 1/3 f-stop increments in the ISO settings.
 


Ristorante in Los Gatos

   
Crops at 100% pixels

 
Again with this shot the colors were very good and also the shadow noise is pretty low.
 


St.Luke in Los Gatos


Crop at 100% pixels (sharpened)

 
This contrasty scene is quite difficult to capture. Not only did the 10D very well also the histogram and overexposure indicators (preview with info setting) helped to find the right exposure.
 
We find that we are at a good start using the Canon EOS 10D. We would not hesitate to use it as a second body aside our 1Ds if we would not have some Nikon cameras too (D1x and D100).
 

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