February 7, 2008
The excitement of getting hold of a new camera can often be tempered by the frustrations encountered when having to learn how to work with a new piece of kit. First off I must say that I have so far been delighted with the EOS 1Ds MkIII camera in terms of the camera’s design and image quality. Canon have made a number of significant improvements that are very welcome. Although there have been some teething problems, the good news is that I have managed to overcome most of these. The main one though has been trying to get the Canon camera to work smoothly with the new Intel 24″ iMac that I bought at the same time as the camera, which has also proved difficult to set up in the studio, but more of that later.
Working in tethered mode with the EOS 1Ds MkIII
If you have been accustomed to working with the EOS Viewer Utility with EOS Capture (as described in my previous article on tethered shooting with Lightroom) then you are going to have to change to the newer EOS Utility that is designed for all tethered operations with later EOS digital SLR camera models including the EOS 1Ds MkIII.
You can install EOS Utility from the CD that comes with the camera, or download it via the Canon website. Once you have done that, here are the recommended settings to use:
1. Start by connecting your camera to the computer, switch it on and launch the Canon Camera Window utility. To begin with I am going to run you through the preference settings that are important. Click on the Preferences… button and this will take you to the following screen dialog.
2. In the Basic Settings you might as well leave this set to show main window (the one shown above). Check the Auto power off if you want the camera to save on battery power while not in use (but you’ll have to reestablish the connection again). If you are using the mains power adaptor then switch this option off.
3. In the Destination Folder section, choose the watched folder that you are going to download the camera capture files to when shooting tethered. This will need to match the folder location you select later in Lightroom.
4. In the File Name section it is vital that you choose any option but the Don’t rename option. I got caught out with this one, because it means that if you happen to break the connection between the camera and the computer, the downloaded files will renumber from 0001 again. If this happens, Lightroom will not auto import any files that it thinks it has imported already. So simply choose one of the other options such as the Prefix+Number. You will be renaming the files later anyway in Lightroom, so it really does not matter too much which other setting you choose here.
5. The Canon Utility will default to launching Digital Photo Professional. If you are using Lightroom, then you don’t want this to pop open each time you set up a tethered shoot, so choose ‘None’. Now click OK to save these preference settings
6. Almost ready now. Refer back to the Welcome screen step 1 and click on the Camera Settings/Remote Shooting button, which will launch the control window shown here. You can use this window to control the camera settings and (should you wish) fire the shutter. You will notice that the watched folder location appears near the top. If you can see this window, then you know you have a successful camera connection.
7. Now go to Lightroom, go to the File menu and choose Auto Import > Auto Import Settings… to open the dialog shown here, where you need to make sure that you have the same Watched folder selected as was chosen in the Canon utility settings. Beyond that, the instructions are the same as before: with the other options, choose a file naming scheme and select the desired information settings. Click OK, check that you have Enable Auto Import checked in the File > Auto Import menu and you are all ready to start tethered shooting in Lightroom!
Working with the new Intel iMac
Why an iMac? Well, I shoot a lot on location or in hire studios, so a portable computer is essential and I find that iMacs offer a high-powered computer with a large built-in. These are easy to transport and suit the way I work. Now regarding the new 24″ iMac I can confirm that there is a problem with the display on my screen. The left half of the display is brighter and it is impossible to set the brightness any lower than 215 cd m2. Worse still, I have not been able to generate a decent monitor profile using the Eye-One pro and ColorMatch software. It is a significant enough problem that I have found it impractical to use for judging how photographs look in Lightroom or Photoshop. The highlight tones are so blown out that I can’t tell the difference between white and off-white, which results in skin tones looking washed out and lacking in contrast. This is definitely the worse quality monitor I have ever had to work with. My solution, as you can see from the intro picture, has been to rig up an Apple 23″ LCD display as a second monitor and use this to view the photos.
USB 2.0 speed when shooting tethered
There have also been discussions on a couple of photography lists where Macintosh users have complained about Canon’s decision to adopt USB 2 as the only tethered connection option for the new MkIII camera. Macintosh users are complaining that USB 2.0 is slower than Firewire, while PC users seem to be saying ‘problem, what problem’? This was the first clue that there might be a Mac/PC issue going on here.
Let’s first look at the speed comparison I carried out with an older G5 2.1 Ghz iMac with 2.5 MB RAM, with both Firewire and USB 2.0 ports, running OS X 10.5 (Leopard). These times represent the average time it took to download a sequence of capture files of a static subject and display them in the Lightroom library module.
EOS 1Ds MkII Firewire
Raw File size: 15MB
Image download time: 5 seconds
Download speed = 3 MB per second
EOS 1Ds MkIII USB 2.0
Raw File size: 25MB
Image download time: 20 seconds
Download speed = 1.25 MB per second
(Note that in this initial test the EOS 1Ds MkII camera has only a Firewire connection)
As you can see, the download time for the MkIII is rather disappointing and this bears out what some Macintosh users have been saying. Once the new Intel 2.8 Ghz duo core Intel iMac computer (with 4 GB RAM) arrived, I was keen to see if files from the MkIII camera would download any faster via USB 2.0. Again, this test was with the same operating system: OS X 10.5
EOS 1Ds MkIII USB 2.0
Raw File size: 26.4 MB
Image download time: 7 seconds
Download speed = 3.8 MB per second
This was more like it. Upgrading to the Intel duo core machine more than tripled the download speed I was getting from the G5. I suppose I might have been content to settle for an increase of 2 seconds in download times for the MkIII. After all, these files are on average 66% bigger than those from the MkII. But then as I read more about the experience of PC users, I read that the OS drivers for USB 2.0 were running much faster on Windows. It was even suggested that you could achieve faster download speeds by running Windows on an Intel Macintosh that was capable of running Bootcamp, which is what I tried next. I won’t go into all the details of how to setup Bootcamp on an Intel Mac, but once I had done so I installed the PC versions of EOS utilities and a PC version of Lightroom. Here are the figures running Windows XP Home edition with Service Pack 2 on the same Intel iMac computer as above.
EOS 1Ds MkIII USB 2.0
Raw File size: 26.4 MB
Image download time: 3 seconds
Download speed = 8.8 MB per second
As you can see, this is definitely more like it! Now I could see what all those PC users were saying about the EOS 1Ds MkIII working fast in tethered mode.
I don’t claim to be an expert on operating systems, but the conclusion I reached is that the Windows operating system (in this case Windows XP Home edition) offers faster support for USB 2.0 than the latest Apple OS X 10.5. So whose fault is this? At first I thought it might be the Apple Macintosh OS, but it appears that it might be that the Canon EOS Utility software is not optimized for connection through the USB 2.0 port via an Intel Mac. I can’t say absolutely for sure yet though. So let’s not be too hasty to judge. What I know so far is that tethered shooting is faster on a PC than it is on a Mac when using Canon’s software.
An important point to note here is that when setting up Bootcamp, you will need to consider carefully how much to partition for Windows and get this right before you start installing the new system. Think how much hard drive space you will want to set aside for your Windows Lightroom library. Another consequence of running via Bootcamp is that you won’t be able to use the wireless keyboard or mouse that you can purchase with a new iMac.
Obviously the route I chose here would incur more expense. I should correct a statement I made on the Prodig list and state that a Mac serial number for Lightroom will also allow you to install a PC version on another computer, providing that you do so within the terms of the End User Licence. But Mac users might have to purchase a Windows operating system. But then, this does mean that you will be able to work significantly faster if you start adding up how much time and money one can save shooting say a 1000 captures in a day.
My quest to find the quickest way to shoot tethered with the latest Canon EOS1Ds MkIII has certainly taken up a lot more time than I had originally anticipated. The solution I have arrived at is one that I feel I can work comfortably with – 3 seconds to download a capture image should be fast enough for the type of work I shoot and an improvement on the download speeds I had been accustomed to in the past. But this may well be just a temporary solution until the Mac/Canon software issue has been resolved and there may also be other solutions and suggestions out there that will work. For example, I have not tried testing the latest Bibble software yet and I hear that Capture One users are still waiting for tethered shooting capability with the EOS 1Ds MkIII. If anyone has any insights to share, these would be most welcome.