The excitement of Super Bowl XLIV was viewed by millions, making it the most watched program in American television history[i]. Several professional photographers captured every moment of the action using Canons latest professional digital SLR camera, the EOS-1D Mark IV. With initial camera shipments beginning less than 6 weeks before the game, Super Bowl XLIV was the first major sports event where professional photographers had an opportunity to see for themselves how the EOS-1D Mark IV camera would perform. After the game, Canon U.S.A. chose to interview four of these professional photographers regarding their use of the EOS-1D Mark IV camera and from their comments, it is clear that for these photographers, the EOS-1D Mark IV camera aced its first big test.
“Shooting at Super Bowl XLIV with the EOS-1D Mark IV was a night-and-day improvement compared to previous EOS models. It blew them all away. The 1D Mark IV exceeded my expectations quite a bit,” said Daniel Powers, staff photographer, Gannett Co., Inc.
The EOS-1D Mark IV is designed to be the multimedia camera of choice for professionals across all photographic disciplines, with a new 45-point autofocus system, a 16-megapixel Canon CMOS sensor, Dual DIGIC 4 Imaging Processors, and 14-bit A/D data conversion, all at up to 10 frames-per-second (fps), with the widest ISO range Canon has produced to date. “Overall, in my opinion, the EOS-1D Mark IV is the best camera Canon has put out so far. I would have no hesitation recommending it,” said Scott Audette, a contract photographer who covered Super Bowl XLIV for Reuters.
The cameras ability to quickly track and maintain sharp focus on subjects helped to produce some amazing results for Super Bowl photographers. The EOS-1D Mark IV Digital SLR cameras new autofocus system features 45 selectable AF points including 39 high-precision cross-type focusing points along with a newly redesigned AI Servo II AF predictive focusing algorithm capable of tracking fast moving Super Bowl athletes or other moving subjects accurately at speeds up to 10 frames per second. “Ever since Ive been shooting with it, I find that Im able to get entire sequences of sharp images instead of just individual frames. Thats a huge improvement,” remarked Tom Hauck, of Tom Hauck Photography, who photographed the Super Bowl on assignment for ESPN the Magazine. “The autofocus and tracking are razor sharp. After the NFL Wildcard Playoff game I was submitting 10 to 12 shot sequences all in crisp focus.”
Professional photographers must rely on their equipment for their livelihood and capturing the fast action of the biggest football game of the year is a daunting task. We are proud that select professional photographers shooting for major media companies, have shown us the confidence and trust to rely on the EOS-1D Mark IV camera to shoot such a prestigious event,” stated Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Consumer Imaging Group, Canon U.S.A.
Each photographer that Canon interviewed had used the camera at various sporting events over the past several weeks and their reported results were exemplary. “Ive used the camera in daylight and evening shoots, from professional sporting events to collegiate auditoriums and I got great results regardless of the lighting conditions,” remarked Powers. Ronald Martinez, staff photographer, Getty Images, had similar sentiments: “The AF tracking is excellent in all the lighting conditions Ive experienced, ranging from football and basketball to hockey and press conferences. The 1D Mark IV cameras AF system grabs the subject very quickly and stays with it. Its been very dependable.”
“The AF tracking was spectacular. It reacted very quickly and never skipped a beat, even when subjects were close to the camera and moving fast. One thing that impressed me was the fact that the AF tracking performed just as well at the Super Bowl, which was a night game, as it had a couple of weeks earlier at a day game that I had shot in Green Bay,” stated Powers. When asked about the tracking performance of the EOS-1D Mark IV at the Super Bowl, Audette had a similar reaction: “It just works. Over 90 percent of my shots were tack sharp.”
Each photographer commented on the EOS-1D Mark IVs new AI Servo II predictive AF performance. Hauck stated, “I noticed that the 1D Mark IV holds focus much better than other cameras Ive used when another subject temporarily blocks the main subject. Because of this improvement, my sequences were consistently sharp.” Martinez commented: “I knew I had the shots I needed as soon as I took them. I didnt even have to review them on the LCD. I just handed the memory cards to my runner and kept on shooting.”
AF tracking was not the only improvement Hauck noticed. “I have been taking advantage of Canons new orientation-linked focus point selection feature. Ive got the 1D Mark IV set for center focusing in horizontal orientation, and two points above center for vertical orientation. The camera switches automatically as I turn it, which really makes for a convenient feature when youre shooting fast action.”
Hauck summed up his overall impression of the camera while photographing a pinnacle play in the games ultimate outcome: “I was in the end zone using a 500mm lens on the Mark IV for the game defining interception and I aimed at the cornerback and started firing as he jumped the route. Once the camera locked on, he remained in focus as he ran the full 70 yards to the end zone. Even as other players came horizontally into frame in an attempt to tackle him, the camera never lost focus. When he cut back, breaking free and getting closer, I rotated the camera from horizontal to vertical without taking my hand off the shutter and even the shots taken while turning the camera remained tack-sharp. I dont believe I have ever fired a consistent 68 shot burst of a single play like that before and produced so many perfectly focused shots.”